January 2018 New Discoveries

Here are my three new discoveries from last month: a book, a CD and some music!

The Piano Practice Physician’s Handbook (Nicola Cantan)

Many of you will know Nicola from her teaching at Colourful Keys, and from the excellent resources she provides via the Vibrant Music Teaching site. Published last year, this great little book offers ‘cures’ and ‘treatments’ for some of the most common ‘ailments’ suffered by piano pupils. To give an example, I have already made use of Nicola’s remedy for ‘Line Limp’, or ‘The belief that barlines are signs for one to stop or yield’. Also covered in the book are bad practice habits; tempo issues; beat and rhythm inconsistencies; symbol and marking oversight; musical insensitivity; and technique and movement problems. The book is clearly presented with a very useful index. I shall also be recommending it to my teaching diploma candidates, and adding it to my recommended reading list. Although this is a book for piano teachers, much could be applied to other instruments and the voice.

Equinox (Voces8)

This new CD release from the choir, Voces8, is just stunning. There are some well-known items, notably Britten’s A Hymn to the Virgin and Fauré’s Pie Jesu, but the real gems here are the new works included. Of particular note is Graham Lack‘s This Ember Night and Philip Stopford‘s Ave Maris Stella in addition to their composer-in-residence, Jonathan Dove‘s cycle The Passing of the Year. Of that cycle, ‘Ring out, wild bells’ is just magificent – the CD is worth it for that alone! I think this tweet from former Voces8 member, Emily Dickens, sums up this release:

‘Years in the making & SO much dedication to creating the Voces8 sound in hours of sessions.’

Teen Pop Broadway Collection (Hal Leonard)

This book fills quite a sizeable hole in the market for material suitable for younger voices and teenagers. Not only are the majority of these songs vocally suitable, they are also of generally acceptable subject matters. 28 songs are included in this volume, representing 20 different musicals including Zombie PromBilly Elliot and Bare. This will be a really useful book for singing teachers everywhere! A particular favourite of mine was this song, ‘The Secret of Happiness’ from Daddy Long Legs: