Little Bo Peep’s Troublesome Sheep

Little Bo Peep can’t find her sheep (a common complaint), and sets off to find them. Little Boy Blue suggests there might be a book in the library that could help her strategise a means of locating her lost flock, so Little Bo Peep heads straight for her local library.  A local library which boasts Mother Goose as the head librarian.  A local library where books are browsed (and one would presume borrowed) by the Big Bad Wolf, the Queen of Hearts, the Three Bears (of Goldilocks fame), and Little Red Riding Hood. So, the perfect local library for the likes of Little Bo Peep. She’s unsure of where to look for the kind of book that might offer some guidance to finding sheep, and her hunt for exactly the right kind of book about sheep is where the real delight of this children’s book lies; for as Little Bo Peep wanders from section to section of the library, we

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The Price v The Value of Music Books

There’s that lovely Oscar Wilde quote about cynics being people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.  I suspect that piano teachers are the very furthest thing from being cynics, but in regard to print music they certainly exhibit cynical tendencies. I frequently hear piano teachers telling me that they simply cannot ask parents to buy music books for their children, as the cost is simply beyond the reach of the family budget. On the other hand, I’ve never (ever) had a parent protest that they want their child to learn to play the piano without having to purchase music. It is a fascinating dichotomy: the teacher who is convinced it is beyond the means of parents to provide print music for the student, and the parent who enjoys providing musical opportunities to their child. Leaving aside the psychology and the economics for a moment, let’s take a look at the function served by a book

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How hard is a piece of music: exhibit A

The trouble with grading a piece of piano music is that one has to agree that certain things that one can do on the piano should be learned in a particular order.  The traditional view is that the easiest music is where the thumbs share middle C and only white notes are played. Oh yes, and the rhythm should be a simple sequence of crotchets. Meantime, school kids from all ends of the globe gather around classroom pianos to teach each other a sequence of tonic chords (moving around the keyboard, in a swing groove) to be played in duet with a friend playing a melody that requires shifts in hand position (or, I suppose, turning over the thumb) and an extension beyond the five-finger position. And nearly every school child with access to a piano seems to be able to learn this feat of keyboard skill. Should we be taking a new look at what makes a piece of

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