EVC Appoints Andrew Eales as a Publishing Consultant

7 February 2023 – Independent British music publisher EVC Music Publications (EVC Music) has announced the appointment of Andrew Eales as a publishing consultant. Andrew will advise EVC on the new exciting projects and titles planned for the near future.

EVC Music publishes over 40 titles, many of which can be found on the leading exam board syllabuses. The catalogue, which is primarily focused on the piano performance repertoire ranging from beginner to advanced level, helps teachers and pianists source music which really captures the imagination while simultaneously developing technique, giving genuine pleasure and promoting vision to encourage lifelong music-making for everyone.

The Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, supported by the media partnership with the International Piano magazine, is the EVC Music annual showcase where young pianists from across the world perform piano pieces by EVC composers.

All titles published by EVC Music are distributed by the leading music publisher Hal Leonard Europe (HLE) globally.

Elena Cobb says, “I know Andrew Eales as an expert in the field of piano education and am very much looking forward to working with him. Without a doubt, Andrew will make an invaluable contribution to our new books and projects.”

Andrew Eales says, “it has been exciting to watch EVC Music grow from a small independent publisher to become a significant voice in piano education. Alongside my own ongoing publishing commitments with Hal Leonard Europe, I am now very much looking forward to working more closely with Elena as an independent adviser who shares her commitment to education and enthusiasm for great new piano music!”

🔗 Interview with Andrew Eales

EVC Music titles are available to order: 

Musicroom UK
Musicroom Germany
Musicroom France
Hal Leonard Europe for trade
Your local shop

Call to Women Composers Results

EVC Music has released the names of the women composers selected for the new piano anthology inspired by Chopin’s Nocturnes. The age of the participants was between 15 and 84. The style of the piano works ranged from experimental to Romantic, revealing an untapped wealth of talent.

Elena Cobb:”The search is over, and we are delighted to announce the names of women composers whose works will be featured in the new piano anthology 22 Nocturnes for Chopin. The collection will be released in the Summer of 2023. Several composers who didn’t make a list were invited to work with the EVC on future projects.”

Andrew Eales, who chaired the Selection Committee of Rose McLachlan, Víck Bain, Anna Heller and Kathryn Page, said: “Making a final selection from the wealth of wonderful music submitted, which showcased such a variety of stylistic range and musical personality, proved to be a challenge of the very best sort!

The Committee would like to offer our thanks to all who shared their compositions, offer our congratulations to those who will be included in the 22 Nocturnes publication, featured on the Moving Classics site, and published by EVC Music in the future. And beyond those immediately selected, it will be exciting to see how all the composers who took part develop their careers in the years ahead!”

22 Nocturnes for Chopin

Katie JenkinsNocturne. Cerddoriaeth i Bronwyn Wales
Olga BermanNocturne Elegy DbUkraine
Alanna CrouchNocturne DbUK
Caroline TylerNocturne FantasyBmUK
Caroline WrightNocturne. Reflections DmUK
Marlowe CarruthNocturne Pregando F#mUSA
Helen WalkerNocturne. Like the NightEmUK
Wendy Edwards Beardall-NortonNocturne for LoraFCanada
Jennifer BowmanNocturneEbUSA
Charlotte ButlerNocturne, Moonlight on the Waves C#mUK
Lucy HackettNocturne, The Moth GmUK
Charlotte BotterillNocturne, Waves Collide with the Precipice FmUK
Dianna NeufeldNocturne For a Winter’s NightEmCanada
Nicole DiPaoloNocturne G#mUSA
Nitzan VardiNocturne, As They Come & GoEmIsrael
Agnieszka Lasko Nocturne, AutumnC#mPoland
Stephenie LeungNocturne, La ballerine solitaire EbmUK
Zoe RahmanNocturneFUK
Heather HammondNocturne, Thinking of Frédéric CmUK
Victoria ProudlerNocturne TristeAmUK
June ArmstrongNocturne, Sweet Sorrow BbmUK
Nancy LittenNocturne, Fred and Bertie’s Night-Time StrollFmUK


Moving Classics TV Feature

The following composers were selected for the Moving Classics TV feature by Anna Heller, the founder of the the resource.

Alanna CrouchNocturne in DbUK
Maria Gabriella CappellettiNocturne in Dm ,The UnresolvedAustralia
Charlotte BotterillNocturne in Fm, Waves Collide with the PrecipiceUK
Dianna NeufeldNocturne in Em, For a Winter’s NightCanada

Interview with Wayne Marshall OBE

Kinderszenen: celebrity musician remembers his musical beginnings and childhood development

A new series of interviews with renowned musicians and composers in which they reflect on key experiences, influences and memories that had a significant impact on their future musical careers. Every musician is constantly on an artistic journey of discovery. Every day marks a new beginning- but the very first steps are crucial. This first interview brings fascinating insights into the early musical beginnings of that wonderfully vibrant, positive, and multi-talented internationally renowned musician Wayne Marshall.

British conductor, organist and pianist Wayne Marshall is world-renowned for his musicianship and versatility on the podium and at the keyboard. He served as Chief Conductor of WDR Funkhaus Orchestra Cologne 2014-2020, became Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in 2007 and is a celebrated interpreter of Gershwin, Bernstein, and other 20th-century composers.

Plans for the 21/22 season include his debut at the Edinburgh International Festival with special Rodgers and Hammerstein gala concerts featuring Danielle de Niese and his conducting debut with Munich Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also be conducting Bernstein’s Candide at Opera de Lyon in December 2022 as well as returns to Orchestre de Paris, BR Munich, Tonkunstler Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, North Netherlands Orchestra, Bern and Lichtenstein Symphony Orchestras and concert performances of Porgy and Bess in St Gallen.


Wayne was born to parents originally from Barbados and spent his childhood in Oldham, Lancashire. He began piano studies at age three and heard organ music regularly as a child through Sunday church services, which initiated his interest in the organ. From 1971-79 he was a pupil at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester.

Later Wayne continued his music studies at the Royal College of Music, where he held a Foundation scholarship whilst also working as an Organ Scholar for St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He did post-graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna from 1983-1984. Still, this interview focuses exclusively on his childhood years up to eighteen and musical studies in Manchester and Oldham. It was wonderful to talk to Wayne last month. I began by asking Wayne about his earliest musical memories.


MM Tell us about your family and earliest memories. Were your parents and siblings also music enthusiasts?

WM My parents emigrated from Barbados in 1957, and both my sisters, Melanie, and Louise were and remain passionate about music. From my earliest memories I recall my mother playing the piano at home. Both of my parents sang in the church choir. Sadly, my mother passed away in 2016, but my father is still very active in singing in choirs. Because I was born in the sixties, there was no Internet, no mobile phones. All entertainment was either done by radio or television or live performance.

And that was how it was. And we were very fortunate because my parents took us to many concerts and shows in Oldham and all really saw this is always a fascinating story. We were definitely a musical household, though it was not until I attended Chetham’s and brought home a ‘cello and a violin that there were any instruments there other than with keyboards! We were a very strong church-attending family too. Every Sunday was spent in the church right across the street from where we lived. The services always included lots of music.

MM What is your first memory of making music?

WM I started playing the piano by ear at home when I was about three and continued with no professional guidance until I was about eight. I did not read music. I remember that my father eventually came home one day and announced that I would have piano lessons!

That was absolutely fine by me. I also remember my first concert with my older sister very well. I was about seven or eight. Very early on, we entered the Oldham Music Festival: Melanie sang, and I played. And I remember a performance of a piece called Beguine by Brian Bonsor. It was really for recorders…but we sort of made it into a piano duet anyway!

And I remember lots of music at my first school in Oldham too. I used to play the piano for the school assemblies every morning. Because I was going to church, I sort of knew the hymns and could play them. I used to accompany the choir. I was highly active.

MM How did you find your initial piano lessons?

WM I remember that the first few lessons with my teacher- called Marjorie Bush- were not really lessons at all: I used to always improvise. My teacher would play-then I would have a go at it. Of course, I’d be ‘improving’ it or adding to it in my own way! Lessons continued in this manner for about three or four weeks…and then I was issued an ultimatum: My teacher said that I was going to have to learn to read music if I was going to get any further with my piano studies. I had to stop doing what I was doing by ear and learn to read the notes.

…And so began one of the hardest parts of my musical education. Of course, I could play all kinds of accompaniments and imitate impressively after my teacher played something to me- but essentially, I was using my ears and not understanding anything on the printed page. It took a long time to learn how to read. The long road started. It involved having to sort of play with the right hand alone and then the left hand on its own.

I did lots of counting. I sort of got the gist of everything because I had a perfect pitch. I didn’t know at the time that I had a perfect pitch, but that definitely made things easier. I figured out the ‘mathematics’ side of music: It felt as though I had already constructed a building but had to go back afterwards and, like you, figure out how and why I’d built it!

Of course, I could do all the things I was practicing from the music instinctively, but I had to learn to do it a second way. It was really strange. It was really hard. I was frustrated because I had to constantly focus on counting and reading middle C 1 2 3 4, all the things I did naturally. It was a very strange process in my brain, but I am extremely glad that I persevered. Of course, if I hadn’t learned to read music, I would not have progressed as a musician.

MM Unquestionably there are many young players who have had the same problem as you, though they may not be as gifted as you in terms of playing by ear, they can find that they are able to imitate and reproduce sounds a little, but frustratingly find the process of assimilating notation too laborious. It is sad to note that one of the main reasons people give up playing in the early stages is because they cannot relate their playing by ear to the printed page.

WM That’s it. But I still think that playing by ear is the best way to learn because the ear is the most important aspect of music. It is a mistake to think that the only way you can really play is by reading. That’s why a lot of people can’t improvise. I’d much rather be able to improvise than read if I had a choice between the two. It is awful to think that you would need to ask for music when people ask you to play the national anthem! I’ve been fortunate in the respect that I could always sit down and play without any notes in front of me.

Wayne Marshall aged 11 at Chetham’s
From the Chetham’s School Archive

MM You’re fantastic at it; you are renowned for your improvisation. But how long did it take until reading music became less painful? 

WM, I can’t remember exactly but it was a struggle. Maybe about six months to a year. Occasionally my teacher would sort of like reward me and let me imitate and play by ear. It was just funny, really; I think a bit like keeping a dog on a leash!

MM, You never wanted to rebel? 

WM No, I never wanted to rebel because I always knew what I wanted to do. And music, to me, was everything, really, and that was it. There was no other path I was going to be going down. This music was what it was. That was it.

MM: After you initially came to terms with notation, did sight reading remains a challenge? Did you eventually become an exceptionally talented sight-reader? 

WM  I became a good sight-reader because once I could learn to read and play, I had developed the technical ability to process music, and everything was so much easier. But initially, sight-reading was rather tricky. It is learning the process from the other side. Even today, I view it in this way. When I look at music, I always approach it instinctively. Everything comes from the ear. That’s how I do it, really: I still do it like this.

But of course, I’m lucky as a conductor because I can look at the score and hear it. I can only do that because I learned to read music. How can people do it when they don’t read? When you think of so many people, like jazz musicians, how they play, I mean, you could never learn that skill, but they are able just to sit down and play, and despite what their technique looks like, it doesn’t matter the fact that they can just reproduce or just play this stuff. Yet, if you put a piece of music in front of them, they will have no clue.

And that’s hard when you’re conducting and dealing with jazz musicians who don’t know how to follow the conductor; they don’t know how to read music. So, if we say, oh, I’m going two bars before figure 48, you can get into problems. But then you have to just adapt everything, and it’s a very interesting process.

Wayne Marshall with Philip Sharp (now is a piano tutor at St Mary’s School of Music in Edinburgh) and Tom Hicks (now associate professor of piano at Whitman University in Washington State, US), at Chetham’s in November 2010 
From the Chetham’s School Archive

MM It is wonderful that you have an emotional, aural response to music as your default. It is wonderful that you will never get distracted by the intellectual, mathematical aspect. 

WM Oh, no, no! For me, it’s all about emotional responses. That’s it. It’s not about the academic side of it, it’s all about the feeling, and that’s what’s so important. I mean, I don’t think I could be the musician that I have become if it wasn’t for that. I certainly wouldn’t enjoy it the same way.

MM Tell us about your Chetham’s years! 

WM Chet’s was an especially important part of my musical education. It was the foundation, the concrete. My whole journey there, from Junior A going through to Upper 6th, was so interesting. I was motivated and inspired by older, more experienced students. Listening to the senior organists, including David Hill, was inspirational when I was younger. Then when I was older, I played the organ myself on important occasions such as the Founders Day service and Speech Day. It was basically a journey.

 I remember my first day at Chets when I realised that I was not the only person in school who could play the piano! I wanted to be as good as David Hill, who was higher up in the school from me: He played the organ magnificently, and I wanted to be like him! You know it’s funny. When you grow up, you have role models you watch as you progress to school and beyond.

Then suddenly, you get to the age of sixty-four and then there you are: You’ve arrived. You are the next David Hill. Then you find younger musicians saying they want to play like you and be the next Wayne Marshall! It’s interesting that the whole cycle continues from generation to generation.

MM Who were your main instrumental tutors?

WM Derrick Cantrell and Robert Vincent were my organ teachers. Both were organists at Manchester Cathedral. Gordon Fergus-Thompson was my second piano teacher after Donald Clarke, the teacher who also taught Peter Donohoe in his early years at Chet’s.  

MM Gordon Fergus-Thompson is now based at the Royal College in London with a large class of students and came back to Chet’s for the piano summer school recently.

WM Gordon was amazing. I mean, a phenomenal teacher: rigorous, but it was great! We had a wonderful time. He’s not much older than me.

MM When you were at Chetham’s, did you participate in chamber music and piano duets? 

WM Yes, I enjoyed playing duets with the pianist Nicola Jane Kemp. Do you remember her?

MM Gosh-there is a wonderful track on an old Chet’s black vinyl disc from the 1970s with you and Nikki giving a spirited rendering of Arthur Benjamin’s ‘Jamaican Rumba’ that I haven’t heard in quite a while!

WM Nikki and I used to play a lot of stuff together. But I also used a lot of chamber music too. I remember playing Brahm’s cello and clarinet sonatas and so much else! Of course, I was also busy over at the cathedral

MM In your journey, particularly at Chethams, were there times when you had to battle with things like practising or patience? How did you come to terms with the whole practice procedure? Because it’s a challenge to stay in a room or an organ oft, isn’t it, for hours alone?

WM Practising was my oxygen! For me, practising was never a problem. The problem was when I was told I couldn’t practise, that was the issue. And particularly at home. If I was at home and my parents said I had to do some work, that was always a big issue. And the same at school. I never wanted to do physical games and stuff like that: I’d much rather be sitting in a practice room!

MM I think there is a tremendous sense of enthusiastic energy about the way you describe your childhood, which is very inspiring, so presumably, you were always determined that you were going to be a musician from the start. 

WM It was never an issue. There’s never a question of what it was going to be. Music was what I wanted to do, and that hasn’t changed at all.

MM Looking back on your childhood, is there anything you wish you had done or that could have been done for you that did not happen? If you could turn the clock back, is there anything musically regrettable? 

WM Well, musically, I have no regret at all. In some ways, I just wish that I was probably a little bit more academically minded. I just wasn’t really interested in the academic side of it. It just didn’t do it for me. I mean, I was very quiet vocal in class with subjects that didn’t interest me: I would really make it known! I was quite arrogant in some ways. I remember being particularly unwilling to study history. For me, then, history was all in the past.

I was more interested in the present! Of course, my father was always onto me about mathematics and English. Homework was always something of a battle. But for me, it was all about music. I just wanted to do music. I needed to understand about having O-level geography or mathematics and what that had to do with playing a Vierne symphony on the organ!

But now, of course, now as a father, I have to be careful: I have two children of my own. They’re nine and eleven, and they’ve just started school in Cambridge. We’ve only just moved from Malta over the summer. So, of course, I had to be very careful how I conducted myself because I still don’t feel totally comfortable with homework and stuff like that. For me, when you’re at school, you’re at school; when you come home, you’re at home.

This idea of continuing school at home is still an issue, so I must be very careful with my children. This whole thing of exams for me was again a complete waste of time. This sitting, having to remember things, then going to a three-hour examination hall and having to remember everything. So, for me, nothing has changed: I still feel the same about academic studies. We are all different.

MM Thank goodness. Indeed, we are all different. You are such an incredible, positive musician! There are so many other really talented musicians that are very academic- and that is fine. But your story shows that there are other ways of developing. It will give much hope to many people. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and thoughts. 

WM, It has been an incredible journey. And for me also, to be awarded the OBE in 2021 was a great honour, really, and I am immensely proud of that.

MM Long overdue, I would say. 

WM And it was just wonderful to be at the Palace in July. It was amazing to be there. And now, of course, watching the television, seeing the funeral and everything else. And it is an incredibly sad situation, but it’s very special. Yes, it’s historic.

MM You just cannot imagine life without the Queen.

WM That’s the thing. It’s like a light has gone out. The things that were unfolding last week were incredible. The new Prime Minister, the Queen, passed away. New King. Extraordinary times.

Call to Women Composers

Applications are now closed

The applications are now closed, and there is so much I would want to say, but for now, I am going to leave you with just these facts:
AGE: 15-88
STYLE: from Experimental to Romantic
QUALITY: stellar
How difficult will it be to choose? VERY
Everyone who sent us their scores deserves praise, not least for bravery, as I can only guess how many of you choose not to send the score for fear of being rejected. The compositions will be judged on their merits in a ‘blind’ process as the selection committee will be presented with the ‘nameless’ scores. I want to wish everyone success and good luck from all of us:

Andrew Eales, Kathryn Page, Rose McLachlan, Vick Bain and Elena Cobb

Welcome to the project!

A few weeks ago, EVC announced a new inspirational initiative and invited female composers aged 14+ to participate in the selection for the new anthology of 22 pieces inspired by Chopin’s 22 Nocturnes, a creative project supporting the young prize-winning pianist RNCM student Rose McLachlan. Winning entries will make up the majority of the publication alongside a small number of commissioned works from established female composers. The collection will be presented in June 2023 in the UK with a series of recitals by Rose and a book launch.

Meet the committee members

Andrew Eales (Chairman) is the founder of the influential website Pianodao.com, and he has a well-established reputation as one of the leading piano educators in the United Kingdom. His book How to Practise music is published internationally by Hal Leonard, the world’s leading and largest music publisher. His music has appeared in the ABRSM piano grade syllabus and several other publications.

Rose McLachlan is a young prize-winning pianist from the RNCM, UK, where she currently studies with Helen Krizos. She has performed in recitals across the UK and has played with orchestras on many occasions.

Vick Bain has worked in music and the creative industries for twenty-five years; for six years she was Chief Executive Officer of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors and is a Henley Business School MBA graduate. Vick is now the President of the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), representing over 11,000 musicians in the UK and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was enrolled into the Music Week Women in Music Awards Roll of Honour and Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Music Industry Powerlist.

Anna Heller is the founder of Moving Classics TV and arguably has done more in recent times to promote and encourage new piano music than any other living pianist. Unquestionably highly regarded internationally for her extraordinary contribution to performance and for the promotion of contemporary composers, her sensitive musicality and nuanced playing have been universally admired and praised.

Kathryn Page is a concert pianist, teacher, educator, presenter and the founding member of the Chetham’s International Summer School.

NB please note that more members will be added to the committee to represent a variety of opinions and views.

What’s required: 

1. One previously unpublished legible copy of an original score for piano. 
2. Intermediate-advanced difficulty level: about post Grade 5 – Grade 8 UK standard.
3. Duration: under 3 minutes. 
4. The piece could be closely related to Chopin’s Nocturne or only of passing connection to the set.
6. Submissions: XML, PDF and MP3 files of the score in one ZIP FILE.
7. Your current CV


1. What is XML?
XML file (MusicXML file) is a format in which your music score can be exported from any music writing software to another score writing software. For example: exported from Finale and opened Sibelius.

2. How to create and export an XML file from Sibelius?
To save a Sibelius score as a MusicXML file, go to the Plug-ins menu and select the MusicXML submenu. Then select the “Export MusicXML” item. You will then see a standard save dialog box asking where to save the XML file. By default, this will be the same as your existing Sibelius file name.

3. How to create and export an XML file from Finale?
In Finale, go to File → MusicXML → Export, or File → Export → MusicXML. If your version of Finale can’t export to MusicXML, or if you want a more accurate export, you can download and use the Dolet plugin.

3. How to create Zipfile?
Tap the link to

Please tap to read more about EVC Music >

Key facts: 

1. Submissions via the online form only
2. Submissions open: 15 September 
3. Submissions closed: 15 November
4. Results announced: mid-January 2023 or as soon as we reach the decision

Why should you consider sending your score?  

1. Publishing agreement with EVC Music covering this anthology. 
2. Possibility to work with EVC Music on our further projects.
2. Royalty payments.
3. Press and media exposure.
4. Your composition will be performed in recitals, recorded by Rose, and available in print via our distributor Hal Leonard Europe anywhere in the world.
5. You will receive a copy of the published book.

Please tap to read more about EVC Music >

Elena Cobb EVC Music

Elena Cobb

As a female publisher in the publishing world historically dominated by men, I want to support as many opportunities for women composers as possible. Rose’s initiative is a perfect project to do just that. 

EVC Music

Rose McLachlan

Though the project initially started because of college (I am now in the fourth year at RNCM, and exam requirements need a ‘creative project’), I’m thrilled that Elena Cobb has shown great interest and will publish the collection of 22 new pieces in an anthology for EVC Music.  

After having piano lessons with her father, Murray, Rose attended Chetham’s School of Music and subsequently the Royal Northern College of Music where she currently studies with Helen Krizos. She has performed in recitals across the UK and has played with orchestras on many occasions, including Shostakovich 2nd concerto with the BBC CO which was broadcast twice on Radio 3. Most recently, she won the opportunity to play with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Rose is grateful to be supported by the Waverley Fund, Pendle Young Musicians Bursary and Talent Unlimited.

RNCM student 

Andrew Eales

As a Chairman of the Selection Committee, I am honoured, excited and delighted to be involved with Rose McLachlan and EVC Music’s inspirational project. As Chair of the Selection Committee, it will be my privilege to work with a highly expert team in choosing the final selection of pieces, and it’s my commitment to ensure that we do so with rigour, transparency and a single-minded focus on the music.
As a reminder, the brief that composers have been given is to write a piece suitable for players at post-Grade 5 to Grade 8 level, early advanced, and less than three minutes long. Pieces will be judged on that basis. These requirements offer a huge amount of creative freedom while providing a realistic context of professional discipline that composers taking part will hopefully find inspiring.
I am certain the final publication will prove to be a hugely useful and creatively superb collection of music. And I hope it will equally prove a wonderful legacy that will make a lasting difference to the careers of all the composers who take part. 
Author, composer, educator & reviewer at Pianodao.com

Vick Bain

I am honoured to join the selection panel for this fantastic competition by EVC Music.  The percentage of women signed to music publishers is still vanishingly low so imaginative positive action initiatives like this, encouraging women to submit works that will be published in what I am sure will be a popular anthology, is great news.  And how brilliant this was the idea of a student, Rose McLachlan!  The future of music looks bright in the next generation’s hands. 

Vick has worked in music and the creative industries for twenty-five years; for six years she was Chief Executive Officer of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors and is a Henley Business School MBA graduate. Vick is now the President of the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), representing over 11,000 musicians in the UK and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was enrolled into the Music Week Women in Music Awards Roll of Honour and Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Music Industry Powerlist.

Vick specialises as a consultant and campaigner for diversity and inclusion in the creative industries, training and advising organisations with her clients ranging from record label trade bodies IMPALA and AIM to electronic music festivals to tv & film orchestras. This is grounded in her work as a PhD researcher at Queen Mary University in the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity researching women’s careers in music.

Vick is a regular press commentator on gender diversity in the music industry with regular articles as well as influential report Counting the Music Industry, a gender audit of UK record labels and publishing companies. She is the founder of The F-List for Music directory of female musicians which is a not-for-profit organisation campaigning on behalf of and supporting female musicians in the UK. Vick is also a trustee of charity Parents & Carers in Performing Arts, a board director of music technology start-up Delic and on the advisory boards of numerous music industry panels.

President of the ISM

Kathryn Page

Kathryn Page has given over 20 recitals at the South Bank and Wigmore Hall, both as soloist and chamber music pianist. She has toured Norway, Italy, Ireland and Australia where she gave seven recitals at the Sydney Festival and broadcast for ABC. At home Kathryn has performed at many of the leading music festivals and has given numerous live broadcasts for BBC radio 3 from Broadcasting House, St Georges, Bristol and St Davids Hall, Cardiff. Her interest in contemporary music has led to many world premieres including works by Gary Carpenter, Alisdair Nicholson and Django Bates. She has worked with many established artists including David Campbell, John Lenehan, Joanna MacGregor and Sting!
TV work has ranged from a live recital from Paris on CNN, an appearance on the Korean broadcasting network, several performances on Irish TV and a much treasured Blue Peter badge. In 1991 she recorded the complete set of six Mozart-Grieg duo sonatas for BBC Radio Three.  In recent years Kathryn has worked prolifically as a popular and busy adjudicator for the British Federation of Festivals,  ABRSM examiner, and administrator for EPTA UK, the Chetham’s International Summer School For Pianists and the Manchester International Concerto Competition.  She recorded Bartok’s Sonata for 2 Pianos, Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and Camilleri’s Concerto for 2 Pianos and Percussion with Murray McLachlan, and gave an acclaimed performance in of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at Chetham’s.

Anna Heller

Arguably Anna Heller has done more in recent times to promote and encourage new piano music than any other living pianist. Unquestionably highly regarded internationally for her extraordinary contribution to performance and for the promotion of contemporary composers, her sensitive musicality and nuanced playing have been universally admired and praised.

As a pianist of the modern generation, she is present on social media. Over 30,000 visitors regularly watch and hear her weekly recordings. Anna Heller has lived in Munich, the centre of her artistic work, for more than 20 years. With her concerts, she reaches a worldwide audience.

Anna is the founder of Moving Classics TV and arguably has done more in recent times to promote and encourage new piano music than any other living pianist. Unquestionably highly regarded internationally for her extraordinary contribution to performance and for the promotion of contemporary composers, her sensitive musicality and nuanced playing have been universally admired and praised.

Read Anna’s interview Murray McLachlan > 

Moving Classics TV

Brand new video tutorials

Brand new video tutorials – what is so special about them? 

🎥 Our video tutorials were created to help you and your students with getting the best results when working on the tunes from the best-selling Higgledy Piggledy Jazz and master 12-Bar Blues improvisation with the Improv Exercises for Classically Trained Pianists. 

… and they are absolutely free! 

Both sets include great advice, step-by-step instructions and tips!

1. Higgledy Piggledy Jazz video tutorials

Ten videos, one for each tune in the book, were filmed by the popular British vlogger Julian Lambert:

1. Super Duck
2. I Ate All the Choc’late
3. You Tell Me Why I Wait for Christmas?
4. Nerdy Cat’s Twist
5. Blues for Little People
6. Time to Catch a Train
7. Polka Butterfly
8. Higgledy Piggledy Jazz
9. Take Three
10. Peony Pink

Watch the playlist

2. Improv Exercises video tutorials

Nine videos were created by the British piano teacher and educator Liz Giannopoulos: 

1. Twelve-Bar Blues Block Chart and Formula
2. Chord Names and Symbols
3. Creating Spatial Awareness
4. Rhythm exercises
5. Noodling
6. Noodling Exercises
7. Blues scale
8. Bass Lines
9. Improvisation Ideas

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Win brand new books by EVC composers!

Competition time – win a complete set of six new books released in 2022 and signed by the EVC composers! All you have to do is:

💬 Comment your favourite EVC piano piece below
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One lucky winner will be selected randomly and announced next week on Tuesday 9, August!


Grooves for Piano Dudes, book 2 by Heather Hammond
Grooves for PIano Dudes, book 3 Halloween by Heather Hammond
Winter Piano Music by Donald Thomson
Piano Grades are Go! by Victoria Proudler
Piano Postcards by Nancy Litten
Blues, Boogie, Jazz and More by Paul Birchall

Good luck!

Jazz for classically trained pianists

Below is my article from the Music Teacher magazine UK, November 2013. in 2016, Improv Exercises for Classically Trained Beginners book was published based on my experiences of teaching jazz and improvisation to the classically trained pupils. Buy book on:

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Musicroom.fr France >

Improv Exercises

Improv Exercises for Classically Trained Beginners is a 21st-century educational concept based on the belief that, in addition to the regular routine, classically piano lessons should also include elements of improvisation.

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Over a hundred years ago musical pioneers created a phenomenally popular musical style – jazz! Exciting, rhythmic, harmonious, colourful, toe-tapping and ear-catching, jazz had it all – and people loved it! It was a massive shaking up of the musical world. And, as well, it had something new – it had a swing!
However, this new creation had come from the poor and disinherited in the world; people who had lost much in their lives and had little; people who understood loss, disinheritance, loneliness, isolation – and for many, the associations of these people who had nothing and had lost an enormous amount (even, in the case of slaves, their freedom) meant that the normal music-loving populace could not give the new musical invention its due. Improvisation was not willingly added to the classical music scene and it is not an element that exists in our current musical exams.  But – why not? Besides watching how excited pupils become playing jazz tunes and how fast they learn to play them, would it be a stretch too far to say they would also be happy to include improvisation in their musical learning?

Judging by the number of children entering the classical exams each year, it’s clear that children can be interested in whatever kind of music their teachers recommend. But, however malleable the pupils might be, teachers tend to believe that you need to be a specialist to teach jazz. They think that children who are eager to focus on it, need to learn sophisticated bass lines and intentional dissonances under the watchful eye of an expert and it isn’t considered to be something that an untutored teacher can offer – disappointing news for the average child.

Of course, classically trained teachers do have the advantage that they can tell pupils how to play each piece appropriately for the chosen composition style to make sure no marks are lost, and this works well for how current exams are structured, but what about the one, very important element of jazz which is different from the elements of classical music – improvisation?

Improvisation is believed to be a spontaneous moment of sudden inventiveness and, in reality, it has been around for as long as music exists. Great composers and performers of all classical styles were very good at improvising. But, somehow, it didn’t make it into the books we use today and it seems that only jazz musicians carry on the tradition.

Here is a quote by Snake Davis“I’m an improvising musician. Yes, I read, yes I learn parts by ear and repeat them, but I am most happy when I “shut my eyes and blow”. But improvising can be very frightening. Nowhere to hide, no safety net, very exposed, like going on stage naked. So it needs to be handled with care, taught with passion and sensitivity. I love teaching it, de-mystifying it, I call it “making stuff up” rather than “improvising”. Should classical students be encouraged to improvise? YES! because it will make them braver, more free, more confident players. Should classical teachers teach improvisation and jazz? Yes, but ONLY if they themselves are confident and proficient improvisers.”

Not wanting my pupils to miss out on such an important musical experience I felt that as a modern classically trained teacher, I should be able to cross boundaries to provide a balanced education to my pupils. So I wrote and published Higgledy Piggledy Jazz series for young pianists, (also for sax players and classical guitarists) which, unlike normal jazzy piano books (which don’t have improvisation sections), includes elements for young pianists who have plenty of enthusiasm for improvisation. And I hope that my recommendations will find their way into your lessons so the journey into the world of Jazz for you and your pupils can begin.

The main benefits I have found that jazz improvisation brings to classically trained children include:

–       an increase in confidence and self-esteem

–       a more positive attitude to home practice

–       improved sight reading and eye-hand coordination

–       improvements in the ability to maintain the beat and think on the go

–       greater creativity in the lesson with increased development in independent thinking

–       a sense of achievement for something that is considered difficult by others

–       and last (but not least) let’s not forget the ‘cool factor’ – with lots and lots of fun!

If you’re a classically trained teacher and you find yourself confused as to whether to introduce improvisation to your pupils or not, you could find the following improvisation exercises very useful as a start. There are both rhythm and notation exercises and you could practice them with your pupils from memory or by looking at the sheets associated with this magazine with this article.  Hopefully, you’ll find the exercises logical and easy to remember – and it will be fun for both you and your pupils.

1  Rhythm exercises Tip – Count aloud

Remembering that every crotchet consists of two quavers and we are getting ready to ‘swing’ them, tap the rhythm on your thighs and count aloud one and, two and, three and, four and.  Get your pupil to start slowly and repeat each exercise until they are ready to move on to playing. Note that the left hand always taps crotchets.

2  Notation exercises Tip – Know your notes and fingers

The blues scale is very special and if you play the notes from it you create a ‘blues sound’. The exercises below are based on the blues scale on C and for your pupils to play them effectively, make sure they find the notes on the keyboard first and then stick to the fingering for the right hand of:

– 1st finger for C

– 2nd finger for Eb

– 3rd finger for F

– 4th finger for F#

Transpose the exercises into any key and let your pupils use them for different pieces or just for enjoyable practice.

Putting it together using ‘Super Duck’ Tip – Count the bars

Take a look at the preview of the piece and you’ll see that there is colour in the bass clef notes. C is in the usual black ink, but F is green and G is red. Make sure your pupils memorise this colour usage and when they’re playing, make sure they count the bars (as below).

(4 x C) + (2 x F) + (2 x C) + (1 x F) + (1 x G) + (1 x C) + (1 x G) = 12 bar blues

‘Super Duck’, one of the tunes in the ‘Higgledy Piggledy Jazz’ book, is a twelve bar blues and we can use that tune to start off with. It would be most suitable for a pupil already working on Grade 1 (and above) classical piano. From bar 15 you’ll notice that your pupil has the chance to play what they’d like with their right hands – they can play it as it is or they can use that space to improvise and make it into a solo.

Get your pupil to start practising by playing the entire solo, repeating one bar from the notation exercise in the right hand. When they’re feeling confident, tell them to try mixing the notation exercises up. When they’re feeling very confident and ready to go – let them use their own ideas. Tell them to remember that they are improvising and what they thought was a mistake could well be a real gem of a find! And finally, like a pro, get them to create a fantastic ending by adding the pedal to the last chord and playing it on the tremolo.

Certainly, jazz improvisation can be a little tricky initially and not everything will come easily. But it will be invigorating and rewarding to watch your pupils turn dreams into reality.

All Material Is Copyright 2013

 And for even more enjoyable experience, please take a look at my play-along tracks here >

Coping with COVID

Competitions part 4: in today’s blog, Murray is looking for the answers to whether coping with COVID offered a cure for a crisis. 

Part 5: Alim Beisembayev Interview >
Part 4: Current blog
Part 3: Coping with COVID >
Part 2: Smaller Music competitions >
Part 1: If piano competitions didn’t exist…

After lockdown, competitions have had to re-organise and re-think. But even before the pandemic, the ever-changing musical climate and demands of the 21st century necessitated key changes of emphasis in many of the top events. This can be seen in the drastically fewer numbers of participants who are allowed into the public performance stages of competitions such as the Leeds, Santander, Van Cliburn, and Tchaikovsky. Though the Chopin competition still holds live rounds with around one hundred performers, this is increasingly the exception. As mentioned, video selection has become the key means for recognition as young artists strive for success.

Leeds International competition

Adam Gatehouse, artistic director of the Leeds International competition, is optimistic about the possibilities which the highest quality of recording can provide for the future: 

‘As to how we are trying to make the Competition more aligned with the 21st Century, our strongest priority over the next 3-5 years is to develop a unique and innovative digital strategy and programme that will have the piano at it absolute centre.

Using some of our partnerships and also seeking new partnerships, we are seeking to develop a platform that will encompass our Learning and Engagement in an innovative digital way, to reach out to people of all ages who are simply interested in the piano in all its facets.

During the 2021 Competition, our global streaming achieved some 4.7m hits globally, and we are seeking to capitalise on and expand that global audience’.

The 2021 Leeds competition first round may have been held over seventeen different international venues with the sixty-three selected pianists, but care was taken to make the opportunities for everyone that played as fair as possible: 

‘The International First Round took place within a very tight timeframe of 3 days – 6 – 8 April 2021 – and performances were held without audience or jury present. Instead, each of these pianists’ 25-minute recitals was filmed by individual film crews in each city, each to identical camera specifications and camera angles, and each with identical microphone specifications and positions, as set out by our filming coordinator Simon Weir in London.

Each pianist played on a very good Steinway D. This was to allow as level a playing field as possible. Each pianist had 30 mins warmup on another piano, followed by 15 mins warmup on the recital piano, followed by 25-minute filmed recital. 

Each film was edited live and sent directly to our filming coordinator in London who put up the captions and then put the finished films on Vimeo for our jury to view. Each film was thus available to view by the jury within 24 hours of the recital taking place, which meant that the jury was able to view and judge all sixty-three pianists over a 9-day period.

The jury then voted on an online platform according to strict voting guidelines, and the results of the vote were announced in a jury Zoom on the 10th day. There was provision for revotes, but our voting system was such that this turned out not to be necessary. 

The result was such that the quality of filming and sound recording was of universal excellence and allowed the jury to judge in a fair and realistic way. The jury was unanimously enthusiastic about the filmed results. 

We have decided that, for environmental, economic, and practical reasons we will adopt this blueprint for all our future International First Rounds.’ 

Piers Lane

My aim with the competition is always to make the requirements as near to professional life as possible. We all vowed never to do another streamed competition – the next one has to be live!

As times change, so will competitions continue to develop and re-invent themselves. For Sydney next year, Piers Lane looks forward to significant innovations in the format.

Unquestionably at least some of these innovations have come about directly as a positive response to the two-year lockdown we have all endured. Certainly, the positivity and relevance of future events such as Sydney will be all the more convincing and relevant when they are directly related to the music profession as it currently stands:

‘My aim with the competition is always to make the requirements as near to professional life as possible. We all vowed never to do another streamed competition – the next one has to be live! We had decided to make the competition triennial from 2020 and so the next live one is scheduled for July 2023.

As a result of the requirements I set for the online competition, various things will change next year: there will be spoken introductions by the competitors in the second Preliminary round and also for the Semi-final recital, which will need to be themed. Encores will be required.

The internet audience loved the interviews, so those too will be incorporated. Repertoire choices for solo rounds are completely own choice, though always involve one Australian piece. We ran a composition competition in 2021/22 called Composing the Future which inspired ninety-four new Australian piano works.

Partly as a result of that, partly to support Australian composers generally, I am asking 2023 competitors to play a twenty-first century Australian composition of at least 7 minutes, instead of allowing Grainger or Carl Vine Bagatelles (1997), both of which I adore – but we have to keep things up to date!’. 

In addition to colossal talent and excellent preparation, it is clear that resilience, strength, discipline, determination, positivity of mind and excellent organisational skills are vital for any young musician who chooses to enter international competitions. Of course, this always been the case, and it was fascinating and insightful to speak to another exceptionally gifted young prize-winning artist, the pianist, Albert Cano-Smit, about his development over numerous years through competitions.  

Albert Cano-Smit

Though still barely in his mid-twenties, Albert has had colossal successes, including being selected for NYA (the New York Young Artists scheme) and winning first prize in the highly influential Naumburg competition (which counts Jorge Bolet, Stephen Hough, and Steven Hough amongst its list of winners): 


‘Probably the most important thing I’ve learnt out of competitions is that under the extra pressure and strain they exert, one can only survive and even thrive by being completely honest to one’s convictions as a musician, and by being prepared. Besides the obvious reasons for which pianists enter them (the exposure and benefits of winning a prize), they can be a catalyst for growth.

Whilst they are not social events, I have made valuable friendships and met lifelong colleagues in them, involving host families, fellow pianists, and even jury members who despite what many think, have a very difficult job and are only trying to do their best. In a way, competitions are giving more to the music, so this should make any artist want to give back more as well. The music business (sorry for using that word) is competitive, and competitions are necessary for that, but it’s still possible to enter with a healthy attitude.

I find it important to remember that there is nothing competitive about the music we play, and it should always remain that way. Many of the greatest artists in history never won a competition, and it’s possible that if they entered, they still wouldn’t. And that doesn’t make them lesser artists at all, and some had massive careers. I feel quite strongly that the main competitive aspect in piano competitions is against oneself. Winning a couple has changed my life, but not winning plenty others has made me grow.’ 

With an ever-burgeoning diary of engagements away from competitions, I wondered how Albert prioritised and scheduled his commitments. Was it hard to decide whether or not to decide which competitions to enter when they clashed, and how did he decide whether or not to commit himself to the potential risk of entering a competition when the alternative was to give a concerto or recital performance? How did he manage and organise his schedule? 

‘When competitions clash, my experience tells me that it’s better to choose the competition in which you think you may do best in or that has the repertoire choice that’s strongest or most interesting for you, because that way no matter the outcome you will have gained something or will have had a positive experience.

It’s obvious too that when the outcome is good, the experience is automatically much more pleasant, and the memory of it even better. If it clashes with a concert, I apply a rule of three in which not two, but three elements need to be fulfilled. The concert must be artistically great, a fantastic opportunity for your career, and paid well. In normal circumstances, it would only take two of these criteria to accept an engagement, but if you’ve put a lot of work into a competition, of course it’s unfortunate to let that go.’

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