Piano For All – Downloads Available


A Performance Opportunity for Beginner Pianists

There is still time to enter for the Piano For all Competition. This is a very special competition as young pianists get to play for perhaps the first time formally in front of an encouraging and appreciative audience, and get to meet the composers of all the music featured.

Alongside the music of Olly Wedgewood and Marcel Zidani, two pieces from my book, ‘Fun, Games and Party Pieces’ are on the list of set pieces; Chinatown and Popcorn.

In addition to hard copies of the book, Each of the pieces featured are now available as single PDF downloads from my website, price £1.90.

You can also purchase the whole book at South London Music in East Dulwich.

I’m looking forward to hearing all the performances and meeting the next generation of musicians!



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Silent Night and O Holy Night

star-wiseman-from-fbI’ve made an easy arrangement of Silent Night for a student. It’s in G which is less stratospheric to sing along to.

Silent Night in G with left hand

Also O holy night, which goes very high and very low, so we settled on the key of F, which suits us. Please commet if you need a different key. Here it is with the tuneline, words and chords.

O Holy Night

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Ding Dong Merrily on High

berry on a pieFree download, easy piano with chords.

This carol is such a joy to sing, kids often request to learn it. One of my students was convinced the words were “Ding Dong Berry on a Pie” which caused quite a long conversation trying to uncover which carol it actually was. “You know, the one about the pie”.

I have arranged it in G and added a bass line for a piano left hand which is quite easy. There chords are there for any more fleshing out of the harmony required. There’s a nice pattern to the bass notes in the chorus which is really satisfying!

Looking forward to a rousing chorus of this at my Christmas Big Fat Music Party.

Ding Dong Merrily on High with left hand


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Twist and Shout

The new term is here! How did that happen? I’d love to share with you what we got up to at our end of term Big Fat Music Party back when the summer holidays were a dream waiting around the corner.

BFMP June 2017

As usual we had a nice varied programme with plenty of audience participation. My favourite moment was when one of my young students sang a pirate song she had written for voice and piano. Every time she sang, ‘Aaaarrrr’! We had to call back, ‘Shiver me timbers!’ And when she sang ‘Shiver me timbers’, we all had to respond ‘Aaaarrrr!’

We performed a mass 12 bar blues jam. I kept a bass accompaniment going on the piano; there was a long line of people waiting to improvise on the treble. They improvised In pairs on a scale of their choice – major pentatonic, flat 3 pentatonic or blues. At any given time there were two students playing question and answer in four bar phrases. When one student had played enough questions, they went to sit down and the answering student shifted up to take the questions, and a new student from the line became the new answerer. Clear as mud? Well it was fun even if hard to describe. We had some really interesting combinations of students who had never played together before, listening well and jamming with each other.

I like to have at least one big fat number where I get everyone playing/singing together. This time it was Twist and shout.
What a tune! I’ve never really realised its potential as an out and out joyful teaching song before.

Twist and Shout – words and chords (downloadable PDF)

It has same simple chord sequence throughout the song which is what we like! (See Cyclical Chord Progessions). Apart from the times you stick on the one chord for the long ascending Ahs. Children love this bit. No, strike that, Everyone loves this bit! You can bring them all off, make a dramatic pause (make them wait, make them listen) and then bring the whole raucous band back in again. It’s instinctively easy to feel where the point is to rejoin, and they all come crashing back in with gusto. Rule one of a big fat jam: don’t be too precious.

Instrumentation on the night

Three people on piano, two playing um cha, one playing this bass part:
T&S piano

(kept simple for the confidence of the sudent – he had quite an important job with this part).

4 soprano ukuleles, 1 baritone ukulele

1 guitar playing strum, hit, strum hit, down up down up down up down up (hit the strings with your hand, not the person standing next to you)

1 trumpet playing this:
T&S Trumpet

This is the sounding pitch; as the trumpet is a transposing instrument I wrote it out for him like this:

t&s trp

1 big drum

Lots of shakers and various percussion instruments

Lots of singers.

And my favourite of all – my daughter and her friend playing this drone on 2 violins:
T&S Violin

I started the bass piano player off first, then brought in the two people playing um cha on the piano, then guitar, ukuleles, trumpet, violins, drum, percussion. By the time I had brought all of these groups in one by one, they had had lots of time jamming around their part to feel confident and get into a nice groove with each other. Then I brought us all in for the song.

We had a lyric sheet written up huge and hung on the wall, with a handy student-assistant (who had helped make the poster) pointing out to everyone where we were.

What I realised was that if I direct it all on the night I don’t have to worry about giving people things to remember, like when to change to this point, when to drop out etc. The students have their simple sequences to play, and otherwise await instruction. They can just enjoy feeling the music together, and they have to keep an eye and ear out for me whilst holding down their part. Great musicianship training, relaxing, and much more likely to succeed when getting 20 people playing a tune together without prior rehearsal!

For the end, we copied what the Beatles did when playing this song live. After the ascending ‘ah’s, they climb up from E to A, semitone by semitone. For those not playing the semitones, they waited to play a big fat A at the end. I sang, “Now it’s time to play…” to the semitone climb up so that we were all in no doubt when to strike the AAAAAA!

What a lovely lively band! I didn’t manage to record it, but a few weeks later, my family along with a couple of other families ended up jamming it around the tents at Priddy folk festival. We enjoyed it so much we performed it on stage at the open mic. This is ‘Big Jam’: as my husband pointed out, our first gig as a family. That’s my 4 year old son there playing the shaker.

(we didn’t really get the final climb up going in this version. Never mind, if in doubt, give the audience a big grin!)

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Anna and Elizabeth, 9th of May 2017

New Beaconsfield Hall

Book tickets here

I’m alerting you to a gig in the Cotswolds, organised by a friend of mine which will be an exceptional evening of music making. I can’t wait, and I hope a lot of you will be able to come and join me.

If you’ve not heard of them before, Anna and Elizabeth are a duo from the States who specialise in American roots music. They find hidden gems in the folk music archives and bring them to life with fiddle, guitar, banjo and wonderful vocals. They tell stories with music and artwork, including captivating moving scrolls called “crankies“.

Scroll down for videos of Anna and Elizabeth in action.

Anna.Elizabeth_0012 (2).jpg

Elizabeth Laprelle is one of the most sought-after ballad singers of her generation and Anna Gevalt-Roberts a mesmerizing, talented multi-instrumentalist and singer, both sharing a desire to inspire people with the beautiful soul of Appalachian roots music.

Creating a huge buzz of excitement on their UK tour earlier this year, they plan to return in May 2017 with their captivating mix of ballads, foot-stomping dance tunes, stories and visual art. Reviving the lost art of ‘crankies’: cloth and cut-paper scrolls depicting scenes from ballads, their show (and workshops) are also ideal for educational settings as well as concert and festival venues.” Alan Bearman Music

 “They came to NPR and brought many of us to tears with some of the most yearning harmonies I’ve heard at the Tiny Desk. These songs are given few embellishments — sometimes a fiddle is added to a single voice, sometimes a banjo or guitar chimes in — but always the power is in the sparseness. If you’ve never thought your tastes would lean to mountain music, take a deep breath and soak it all in.” Bob Boilen, NPR Music

Visit their website

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The Holly and the Ivy – Two Versions

We had another lovely Big Fat Christmas Music Party on Monday. We finished with everyone singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, in which each verse was sung as a solo by a different student. Five in all. I’m so glad have so many enthusiastic singers in my ranks!

Here is the sheet with tuneline and chords.

The Holly and the Ivy in C

The Holly and the Ivy in D

For the solos though, I didn’t play the chords, I just used bare 5ths (C and G) as a long drone underneath. It complemented their young voices well, and was a contrast from the full-chorded and raucous chorus, where everyone piled in and sang. The verse and chorus have exactly the same chords and tune so a bit of variation is good, and it sounded lovely. I would definitely recommend playing it this way.

This tune was noted down by Cecil Sharpe in 1909, from a folk singer in the Cotswolds. Another tune for the same carol was recorded from a folk singer in Herefordshire in the 1950s. Steeleye Span recorded it and made it well known in the 70s. It’s a beautifully lyrical alternative. Here are the dots-

The Holly and the Ivy – Herefordshire Tune

Here’s a ukulele tutorial if you would like to hear how it sounds, or indeed learn it on the ukulele!

Thanks to A Folk Song a Week blog and Wikipedia for information.


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Conrad’s Christmas Catalogue

Loads of Carols and Christmas Songs to Download

carollersIt’s that time of year again, and Christmas carols are so great to use with music students. They are a whole group of tunes that are already familiar and, most of the time, people of all ages love playing them.
They are also fantastic for teaching people to harmonise. Consequently I have a large amount that I have arranged for this purpose. They are clear to read, mostly with the tune line notated and the chords written above. They are in many different keys, which comes from teaching different instruments. What’s easiest for beginner piano or ukulele is not the easiest for guitar or violin.

Here are links to PDFs of them all, hope they prove useful!

Please feel free to request any others, or different keys.

Adeste Fideles in G
Adeste Fideles in F

Away in a Manger in C
Away in a Manger in G with simple left hand part
Away in a Manger in D

The First noel in C
The First Noel in A

Ding Dong Merrily on High arranged for easy piano with chords

Good King Wenceslas in C
Good King Wenceslas in G

the Holly and the Ivy in C
the Holly and the Ivy in D
the Holly and the Ivy, Herefordshire tune

In the Bleak Midwinter in C
In the Bleak Midwinter with left hand

Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells: very simple
Jingle Bells: even simpler
Jingle Bells in D
Jingle Bells: simple guitar
Jingle Bells: simplest guitar

Mele Kalikimaka

O Come All Ye Faithful in F
O Come All Ye Faithful in G

O Holy Night

O Little Town of Bethlehem in F: full chords
O Little Town of Bethlehem in F: simpler chords
O Little Town of Bethlehem in C: simpler chords

Oh Christmas Tree

Once in Royal David’s City in C
Once in Royal David’s City in F
Once in Royal David’s City in D

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in C

Silent Night in C

Silent Night in G
Silent Night in G with left hand
Silent Night in A

We  Three Kings in Am

We Three Kings in Dm
We Three Kings in Em
We Three Kings with simple left hand part

We Wish You a Merry Christmas in C
We Wish You a Merry Christmas in F

While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night in C

While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night in D

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Back to showcasing the duets in my books. Here is Andantino, the third duet in Delightfully Easy Piano Duets: Book 1. It’s a good one for practice at reading the bass clef. It starts off with both players just playing with their left hands, then  you get a swell of volume and texture as the right hands are added.

The beginner’s melody is slow over the Diabelli bass figure of the intermediate part. If a beginner needs encouragement with feeling the rhythm here, I often play their part with them to begin with, in my free right hand.

The question and answer phrases exchanged by beginner and Intermediate near the end of the piece are fun and encourage each part to listen to each other.

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Scarborough Fair

Chords, modes, feisty lyrics and endless variations

Downloadable PDFs of Scarborough Fair: Tune line, chords and full lyrics.

Scarborough Fair in Dm (the key in the LCM book)

Scarborough Fair Am (our key)

Scarborough Fair Em (Simon and Garfunkel’s key)

One of the highlights of my summer Big Fat Music Party was the family of four who sang and played Scarborough Fair.

LCM1Our interest in this song was sparked by an arrangement of it by Wild in the son’s LCM grade 1 piano book. It’s a nice arrangement which sounds lovely as a solo piano piece, but we soon found we wanted to get to know the bones of the music and understand it, so we were quickly off the printed page, looking at the chord structure underneath the melody, singing the words and making our own arrangements.

As with a lot of folksongs, the key isn’t really minor or major, it is modal; it’s in the dorian mode. The scale has a minor 3rd, a major 6th and a minor 7th, which when you’re starting on D, works out as all the white notes.

Dorian D

Dorian mode is a great scale to encourage students to play around. I usually play a jazz waltz like accompaniment – and they can freely play any white notes on top of that.

Dorian Accompaniment

It’s great because they can’t hit a wrong note, so they are free to experiment and let their ears guide them. We do a bit of trading phrases too, and I just keep the accompaniment going in the left hand.

We explored how you can harmonise the melody with block or broken chords in the left hand.

The daughter of the family who has developed a love of singing lately got in on the act and we transposed it from D to A Dorian, which is a little more palatable to sing.

Now we could experiment with A Dorian, which has one black note, F#, on the major 6th.

Dorian A

Because this is Dorian rather than minor, you have a D major chord in the harmony rather than D minor, because of this sharpened 6th (F#) in the scale. It gives it that wonderful old-world feel, as these folk songs are from a time before major and minor modality took off.

The dad is learning guitar, so he accompanied with a nice um cha cha strum.

Scarborough fair chordsNotice the irregular bar structure. Folk songs often have this fluidity about them, as they would likely be sung by an unaccompanied singer.

This isn’t the only way to harmonise this, by the way. It’s the one that suited us best at the time. There are so many variations you could choose, just experiment and find which chords you like best.

So at the party, on the piano we had the mum on broken chords in the bass and son on the tune, dad accompanying on guitar and daughter singing.

I loved the way the son kept something which he liked from that initial arrangement; an echo of the last phrase which softly plays out, beginning on the singer’s last word. I got all the other players to stop on this last word, so the echoing phrase meandered on its own, over the ringing out of the final chord. He milked it well too. Nothing like a playful ending to captivate an audience, and leave them with a good memory of the piece!


Now this was really interesting. I had grown up with the Simon and Garfunkel version which is beautifully ethereal, has an anti-war poem of Simon’s woven in as a counter melody, five verses and doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense.

A quick trip to Wikipedia showed me older versions with a lot more verses, and the song being a dialog between a male and female singer, where basically he says she can be his lover if she performs a series of impossible tasks, and she returns with a pretty neat comeback!

Male part:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to the one who lives there,
For once she was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without any seam or needlework,
Then she shall be a true love of mine.

Tell her to wash it in yonder well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never sprung water or rain ever fell,
And she shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
Then she shall be a true lover of mine.

Female part:

Now he has asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
I hope he’ll answer as many for me,
Before he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Between the salt water and the sea sand,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to plough it with a ram’s horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one peppercorn,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to sheer’t with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And bind it up with a peacock’s feather,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
And never let one corn of it fall,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

When he has done and finished his work.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme:
Oh, tell him to come and he’ll have his shirt,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

And finally, as a Dylan fan of old, I can’t mention Scarborough Fair without mentioning the equally if not more beautiful, ‘Girl from the North Country’, one of the songs Bob Dylan wrote which was directly inspired by a folk song, using some of the form and the lyrics to create something with a feel that is new and old all at the same time.

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Pentatonic in 3

This duet is a firm favourite, and one of the first I wrote. Although it is the only one to venture out of the five-finger position, it is actually one of the easiest. I generally introduce it second after Breeze. It’s great to get them reading and feeling three-in-a-bar this early on.

The two pianists get to swap around with each other, taking turns to play the tune, and a high drone on A (the 5th note to complete the pentatonic scale).

The Intermediate part is swung; play it nice and lazily. It may initially seem like a lot of notes, but it consists of the same pattern repeating, so once you get your head around the pattern, it’s all yours.

The beginner part repeats a very simple pattern, but sounds different when it comes round again, because it is harmonised differently by the intermediate part. The harmonisations are quite jazzy and sometimes a bit adventurous, I suspect a bit too adventurous for one particular Amazon reviewer, but stick with it, you will be rewarded when it all comes together!


This video was taken at the Music Education Expo 2015. This lovely music teacher I had just met is sight reading the beginner’s part. I rather like the ambient sounds in this one!

And now sans ambience.


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