A Crash Course in Music Theory

This series provides a “crash course” in practical theory for pianists. It covers traditional topics such as harmony and counter point through examples and exercises which will improve your understanding of music and your performance practice.

Contents

Author

Mark Polishook

Mark Polishook, currently based in Leicester in the UK, is known internationally as a jazz pianist and a composer. He's a former director of the music composition and theory programs at Central Washington University in the United States.

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Intermezzo in B minor (Op. 119 No. 1)

Trinity College - Grade 8

In 1893, Brahms wrote his last work for the piano, a set of four piano pieces, op. 119. The Intermezzo in B minor is the first piece of the set. As a composition it is full of riches, arousing keen interest in composers and scholars (including Arnold Schoenberg) as they... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Brahms

Rocherolle: La chapelle (from Souvenirs du château)

Trinity College (Alternative) - Grade 7

This evocative piece by American pianist and composer Eugénie Rocherolle is somewhere between Romantic and musical theatre in style, making full use of the pedal to build up sonorities from sustained bass notes and rolling harmonies. It makes a very effective recital piece and will be popular with players and... Read >>


Reger: Versöhnung (Reconciliation) (No. 20 from Aus der Jugendzeit, op. 17)

Trinity College - Grade 6

Max Reger’s Versöhnung (Reconciliation) demands from the player a vivid imagination, the ability to tell a story in sound. This delightful late Romantic piece describes a character asking someone to be their friend again after a disagreement – pleading, commiserating and even dancing to win back their affection. In the... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Reger

Diabelli: Moderato Cantabile (from Sonatina in F major, Op. 168 No. 1)

Trinity College - Grade 5 (Alternative)

The first movement (Moderato) of Diabelli’s appealing Sonatina in F is a model of sonata form in miniature, an ideal way to teach form and structure to the intermediate pianist. In this video I demonstrate the art of finger pedalling in the left handalberti patterns and show how to use... Read >>


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Sonata in G Major

Trinity College - Grade 3

Here is an opportunity for the developing player to explore various possibilities for touch and articulation. In this short sonata there are also several technical challenges to overcome, including jumps, rotary freedom, delicate grace notes.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Scarlatti

Kukuck - The Rowboat

Trinity College - Grade 2

The Rowboat is a miniature tone picture relying on imagination and a sense of storyline to convey the musical message. Sensitivity to phrasing, developing a cantabile touch and the technique of chord legato are explored in this video. ... Read >>


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Reinagle - Minuet (No. 10 from 24 Short and Easy Pieces)

Trinity College - Grade 1

Alexander Reinagle’s expressive Minuet in C is full of interesting features, and a variety of different dynamics and texture changes for a piece only sixteen bars long. With an emphasis on active listening, touch and phrase shaping, this video explores minuet style and models good practice techniques.... Read >>


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Prelude in C-sharp Minor

(Op. 3 No. 2)

A series of three videos exploring Rachmaninov’s famous Prelude in C-sharp Minor (Op. 3 No. 2) at the piano, with extensive practice tips to solve the technical issues, pedalling suggestions and thoughts on performance – including how to achieve a big sound effortlessly without banging or harshness.... Read >>


Badings - Canon

Trinity College - Initial

In this interesting little canon by Dutch composer Henk Badings both hands are of equal importance. The piece offers a wealth of possibilities for teaching the elementary player how to listen carefully as the melody line is passed back and forth between the hands, and how to phrase musically.... Read >>


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25 Easy and Progressive Etudes

(Op. 100)

Burgmüller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes, Op. 100 have been a mainstay of elementary étude repertoire for many generations - and deservedly so. I cannot imagine any young pianist or elementary player who would not immediately engage with, or benefit from learning them. This series of videos will provide walkthroughs... Read >>


Waltz in E Minor (Op. Posth.)

Chopin’s brilliant Waltz in E minor is justly popular with pianists entering the advanced level. This From the Ground Up edition helps students to lay a solid musical and technical foundation for learning the piece efficiently and quickly, with particular attention given to using rhythmic practice to solve technical challenges.... Read >>


Ken Johansen Learning pieces Chopin

Allegretto (from The London Sketchbook, K. 15hh)

Trinity College - Grade 4

Mozart was 8 years old on a trip to London when he wrote this charming little Allegretto in F major in minuet-style, with a trio section in the minor. The video demonstrates how to use quarantine practice for difficult spots, and how to apply bar-by-bar chaining for secure learning. Various... Read >>


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Intermezzo in A Minor (Op. 76 No. 7)

ABRSM Grade 8 – C2

Brahms’s sets of miniatures are among the best-loved shorter works for the piano. The Intermezzo in A minor, op. 76 no. 7, is currently on the ABRSM Grade VIII syllabus, and will pose several challenges for those who wish to master it. This walkthrough and Annotated Study Edition has a... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Brahms

Lyric Pieces

(Op. 54)

Grieg wrote his famous Nocturne (Night Piece) in the summer of 1891 during his annual country retreat to the Norwegian mountains and fjords. Along with five other pieces, he included the Nocturne in Book V of his Lyric Pieces, Op. 54.... Read >>


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*** (Album for the Young No. 30)

The 30th piece in Schumann’s Album for the Young is one of the composer’s most intimate and tender short pieces, full of harmonic and contrapuntal refinement. Although it is technically accessible to intermediate pianists, it is musically rewarding for more advanced players as well. This From the Ground Up edition... Read >>


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Sonatina in G - Second Movement

This walkthrough of the second movement of Beethoven’s popular Sonatina in G will help students to assimilate essential elements of the Classical style: articulation, balance, ornamentation, and clear phrasing. The series of reduced scores provides students with a step-by-step approach to learning the piece, and makes it easier for teachers... Read >>


Graham Fitch, Ken Johansen Learning pieces Beethoven

Arietta

Lyric Pieces, Op. 12, No. 1

Edvard Grieg’s Arietta, the first of his many Lyric Pieces, is a miniature gem of great refinement and poetry. This From the Ground Up edition helps intermediate to advanced students to understand and communicate its expression, while learning some practice methods that can be applied to many other pieces as... Read >>


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The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) is among Debussy’s best-loved works for the piano. Despite its apparent simplicity, it is deceptively difficult to bring off. This walkthrough with accompanying annotated study edition gives practical solutions to the numerous problems the pedalling in the work... Read >>


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Sonatina in G - First Movement

This walkthrough of the first movement of Beethoven’s popular Sonatina in G will help students to assimilate essential elements of the Classical style: articulation, balance, ornamentation, and clear phrasing. The series of reduced scores provides students with a step-by-step approach to learning the piece, and makes it easier for teachers... Read >>


Ken Johansen Learning pieces Beethoven

Little Prelude in F

BWV 927 (From the Notebook for Wilhelm Friedmann Bach)

Bach’s lovely Little Prelude in F is a harmonic prelude, essentially an elaborated chord progression. In this article, the basic harmonic skeleton of the piece is gradually fleshed out, allowing students to understand its simple underlying structure, and to work systematically on its various layers.... Read >>


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Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 1

Schumann’s Von fremden Länder und Menschen (Of Foreign Lands and People), the first piece of his Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood), is a poetic evocation of the dream-like world of children. In this article, the three strands of the music — melody, bass, and accompaniment — are studied individually before being... Read >>


Ken Johansen Learning pieces Schumann

Nocturne in E-flat

Op. 9, no. 2

Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Op. 9 No. 2, has long been a favourite of both pianists and audiences with it's richly-ornamented melody, supported by exquisite harmonies in the left hand. This From the Ground Up walk-through provides a detailed guide to learning this piece efficiently and with understanding and... Read >>


Ken Johansen Learning pieces Chopin

From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up is a series devoted to learning individual pieces using outlines and reduced scores that help you to practise more effectively, memorize more consciously, and interpret music more creatively.... Read >>


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Black Eyes

ABRSM Grade 4 – C3

Black Eyes (or Dark Eyes as it is often called) is probably the most famous Russian romance song. This excellent arrangement by Moira Hayward provides a setting that offers plenty of scope for both dark, brooding expressiveness and a touch of bravura.... Read >>


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Sostenuto in E flat

ABRSM Grade 5 – B1

Chopin's Sostenuto in E flat or Waltz in E flat was discovered as recently as 1941, by the Director of the Paris Conservatoire, Dr. Jacques Chailley. There are precious few works of Chopin that are suitable for the intermediate level pianist, so Grade V candidates will be extremely happy to... Read >>


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Tom Bowling

ABRSM Grade 3 – B1

This series of articles features tips on how to approach the piano arrangement of the popular English sea-song, Tom Bowling, by Charles Dibdin (Arr. Julian McNamara). This song was first performed at The Lyceum in London in 1789, and later performed annually at the Royal Albert Hall as part of... Read >>


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Romanze from Eine kleine Nachtmusiek

ABRSM Grade 3 – A2

We continue our collection of guides to the ABRSM syllabus with another work from the Grade 3 repertoire list. This series of articles features tips on how to approach the piano arrangement by Clem Virgo of the first part of the second movement of Mozart's popular orchestral serenade for piano,... Read >>


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La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle)

ABRSM Grade 1 – A3

La donna è mobile (“woman is fickle”) is a tenor aria from Act 3 of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Nancy Litten’s delightful piano arrangement gives the elementary pianist an opportunity to enjoy this famous tune and also serves as a valuable study in coordinating different touches between the hands, control... Read >>


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Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Chopin wrote the Nocturne in C-sharp minor, op. posth. in 1830, but it was only published in 1870. He dedicated the work to his sister, Ludwika “as an exercise before beginning the study of my second Concerto". This series of articles provides a comprehensive walkthrough and detailed practice worksheets for... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Chopin

Solfeggietto in C Minor

H220 Wq177:2

The term “solfeggietto” means an exercise, or little study. This much-loved little piece is a study in evenness of tempo and touch, but it is also a study in composition (how a piece of music may be constructed from the simplest of ideas). This series of videos provides an introduction... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces CPE Bach

Fantasy in D Minor K397

This video provides a section by section waltkthrough of Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor K397 (sometimes referred to as Fantasia).... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces WA Mozart

Two Short Pieces

This series features two popular short pieces by William Alwyn, The Sun is Setting and The Sea is Angry which are both ideal for the intermediate level.... Read >>


The Merry Farmer

ABRSM Grade 4 – B2

Schumann’s piano music is a joy to play – it is full of inspiration, fantastic contrasts in mood and character as well as beautiful melodies and breathtakingly beautiful harmonies. This series of articles provides notes outlining how to approach learning The Merry Farmer, Returning from Work from the Album for... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Schumann

Sonatina in G

ABRSM Grade 3 – A1

Handel's Sonatina in G is part of a new series on the ABRSM syllabus designed for youngsters, or elementary players. This series of articles provides a step-by-step (or phrase-by-phrase) approach to learning the piece thoroughly and securely, building a solid foundation for performance in an exam, or if you are... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Handel

Aria in F

ABRSM Grade 1 – A1

JC Bach's Aria in F is part of a new series on the ABRSM syllabus designed for youngsters, or elementary players. This series of articles provides a step-by-step (or phrase-by-phrase) approach to learning the piece thoroughly and securely, building a solid foundation for performance in an exam, or if you... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces JC Bach

Mazurkas

This section contains walk-throughs and lessons on Chopin's Mazurkas, starting with the Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Chopin

Impromptus D899 (Op. 90)

This section contains walk-throughs and lessons on Schubert’s Impromptus Op 90, starting with No. 2 in E-Flat Major.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Schubert

The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

This section contains walk-throughs and lessons on Preludes and Fugues from Book I of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Bach

Sonatine

Ravel wrote the first movement of the Sonatine in 1903 for a magazine competition run by a magazine but wasn't awarded the prize as he was the only entrant and had exceeded the length restriction! Fortunately for posterity, Ravel soon added a second and a third movement in 1905 and... Read >>


Graham Fitch Learning pieces Ravel