Focus On: Piano Star

ABRSM's Piano Star series continues to expand, with the latest release, Piano Star Skills Builder, following on from Piano Star Duets, which appeared in July.

Piano Star Duets

Piano Star Duets features in the ABRSM piano exam syllabus for 2021-22. Compiled and edited by David Blackwell and Karen Marshall, it is designed to develop the musicianship and ensemble skills of young pianists. The twenty-six pieces, from an impressive array of composers who are all expert in writing effective and attractive pieces for the developing student, are in various configurations - pupil-pupil duets, pupil-teacher duets and some trios - and a variety of styles.

The editors write: 'We have designed this as a go-to album for piano teachers, with a wealth of material that can last for several years of a child's musical development. We hope it will inspire pupils to make ensemble playing a regular part of their music making'.

Piano Star Skills Builder

The aim of Piano Star Skills Builder is 'to provide a young, Pre-Grade 1 pianist with a firm foundation in general musicianship skills' (according the the introduction by the editors David Blackwell and Karen Marshall). The book comprises ten units, each covering scales, aural and sight-reading. A student can work through the units in turn, or dip in and out according to their programme of study. With a wide variety of aural activities, pieces to read and play, songs to sing, puzzles and games, Piano Star Skills Builder is that rare thing - an early years publication that handles technical instruction in a student-friendly and engaging manner.

Both these volumes boast that the contents have been tried out on - and approved by - children, and both are welcome additions to the ABRSM catalogue.

Other books in the Piano Star Series: