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Sharon Bill Author & Music Tutor

New Beginnings (New Academic Year Goals) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



The new academic year is my favourite time of year! I love the sense of new beginnings, as you plan out your goals and set new targets for your playing and studies. I’m so excited to hear about my student’s new challenges; new school year, new college, new job, starting University - I’m so happy for them. This sense of a new start is enhanced by the fact that Autumn is my favourite time of year. There’s a zest and a fizz in the atmosphere! I love this time of year!

Practice Schedules - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog

Get To the Point (Graphite Pencil Demonstration for Music Notation) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog

Tempo Tantrums (Music Practice with the Metronome Pros and Cons) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



The metronome is a great aid to practice - but it can be a mixed blessing. Opinions differ on how helpful practicing to a metronome really is. From my own experience I can’t imagine never using the metronome - but it can cause a bit of a tantrum now and then. The metronome tells no lies and doesn’t wait a millisecond for you! I’ve had some metronome nightmares in my time - but I still endorse it and think it a valuable practice aid… in its place…

Gift or Grit? - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog

The Starting Block (The Five Minute Rule for Music Practice) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Procrastination is a musician’s worst enemy - and yet we all put off our music practice. Why? It’s not necessarily because we are being lazy (though, no doubt that is sometimes the problem). Sometimes its simply that we are daunted and overwhelmed at the prospect of what lies ahead. We know we’ve a long list of scales to get through and we know ‘that tricky section’ needs sorting… and so we give up before we’ve started. Breaking that barrier is easy if you try the 'five minute rule’ - commit to just five minutes, and then you can be done. I guarantee that you will nearly always find you’re engrossed and will achieve far more than just five minutes. However, if you’re really busy and five minutes is really all you can manage - at least you’ve done something.

What’s it all About? (My Hopes and Fears on YouTube) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



My YouTube Channel is all about sharing the love of music and sharing what knowledge I have. After many years teaching music I don’t pretend to know it all, but I do have much that I want to share with you, to foster a love of learning music and create an atmosphere of encouragement and learning. However, learning to record and getting over my nerves has taken some practice. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone - this is how we grow. I’ve learned much along the way and I want to thank you for your encouragement and support, and also for all of the hard work that you do in your studies. Onwards and upwards!

Nail Niggles (A Musician’s Manicure Melodrama) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



It’s great to finally get a haircut after months of lockdown, but I know that many are still yearning for a manicure and a visit to the nail salon. I’m not usually keen for a trip to a hair salon but I do feel a little hard done to that, as a pianist, I can’t have nicely manicured and painted nails. Depending which instrument you play your manicure can end up quite strange. This is the one sacrifice to music that I do resent just a little bit.

Digital Development (ABRSM Online Music Theory Exams - A Closer Look) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Now that the dust has settled I have a closer look at what the Grades 1 - 5 ABRSM Music Theory online exams will look like. A big shout-out to my year 13 pupils who took their Grade 8 Music Theory remotely and braved the computer assessed exam in a last minute exam entry - and they all PASSED! In a sense this has been a sort of pilot exam before the actual pilot of the exams starting in July. All change is uncomfortable but I’m sure we can navigate this. Throughout many changes over the years ABRSM have maintained their academic integrity and I’m sure this will continue to be the case. They will also continue to offer ongoing support to students and teachers alike, so I’m sure all will be well. We just need to gather our thoughts and keep studying. At the end of the day music will always be music and study is always the key to success.

Music Theory Video Lesson Playlists
ABRSM Grade 1 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 2 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 3 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 4 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 5 Playlist

ABRSM Past Exam Practice Papers Playlist

Trinity College London Music Theory Grade 1 Playlist

Ignorance is Bliss (The Only Way is Up!) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Starting study in any subject can be daunting. When we first start to look into a topic we can be overwhelmed at just how much we don’t know, and it just doesn’t seem like it’s sinking in. But don’t give up! Learning is a journey, and we all learn in different ways and at a different pace. If you keep at it you can only get better. Let the acknowledgement of your lack of knowledge be the motivation to drive you to want to learn more. We all hit barriers to our learning, but it’s a process. Enjoy the journey and keep studying!

Music Theory Video Lesson Playlists
ABRSM Grade 1 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 2 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 3 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 4 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 5 Playlist

ABRSM Past Exam Practice Papers Playlist

Trinity College London Music Theory Grade 1 Playlist

Digital Drama (ABRSM Music Theory Exams Go On-Line) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



ABRSM have announced their plans for music theory grades 1 - 5 to move to on-line remote exams. They say that the only thing constant in life is change, and so change is inevitable. This move to taking exams via a computer at home raises various concerns and queries. No doubt as more information become available many questions will be answered. However, these are my first thoughts about the move and some of my experiences of on-line music exams, and writing music using computer software.
ABRSM Grade 1 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 2 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 3 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 4 Playlist

ABRSM Grade 5 Playlist

ABRSM Past Exam Practice Papers Playlist

Choir Music Rummage (Music Therapy) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Missing singing in choir concerts and rehearsing with fellow choristers each week sent me rummaging through my choir music stash. To cheer myself up I re-visit old choir scores and recall anecdotal stories that this music triggers. I remember some of my favourite choruses and reminisce bygone concerts. I hope you enjoying sharing some magical musical moments with me as I think of the works from modern composers such as Eric Whitacre Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copeland, as well as older classics from Vivaldi, Mozart and Verdi - and others. The list could go on but I try and reign it in and be selective.

Seal Lullaby

In paradisum

Afton Water - John Rutter

O Can Ye Sew Cushions - John Rutter

Lacrymosa - Mozart Requiem

He watching over Israel

Nicholas and the Pickled Boys

All We Like Sheep

Ching-a-Ring Chaw

Quonium tu solus sanctus -Vivaldi Gloria

Dies Irae Verdi

Agnus Dei, Rossini

Cum Sancto Spirito - Rossini

Back to Bach (Performance Restrictions - Music Will Live to Tell the Tale) Sharon Bill Music Matters



As live public performances are restricted it can be easy to become down-hearted. However, a glance back in history, to the Baroque period, brings me comfort and reassurance that music will fight on and survive. Public performances didn’t occur until the late 1600s, and very often good musicians were scarce (even in the royal court). Music was largely a domestic affair. Realising that Bach himself struggled under such restrictions - and yet his music survived and shone through the constriction, has encouraged me that we too will live to tell the tale. As musicians we are accustomed to a creative approach to problem solving and already we are showing that we will do what it takes to keep playing. Whether it’s from the balcony of your apartment or via the internet we will keep making music!

Shout Out! (You’ve Got This - Working Hard and Staying Positive) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



A Shout-Out and a big “Thank You” to you all for showing such a positive and proactive approach to these trying times. It’s so good to see so many of you (too many to properly name) making such good use of this time. You’ve been working so hard and your studying is really paying off. Well done! Also, thank you for letting me know how you’re getting on. It’s so encouraging to know that my videos are helpful to you and it’s good to know that I’m not just talking to the wall. It’s so good to see musicians working together and learning new ways to be creative and to by-pass the problems. Together we’re making it work and keeping busy. Enjoy your studies!

Oops! (Injuries When You're a Musician) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Damaged tendons and a painful arm don’t bode well when playing an instrument. I’ve overdone it, working too hard and not listening when my body told me to stop! I should have listened to my own advice and not tried to do too much. Now I will have to take my own advice and use my time creatively and allow my arm to heal. Thankfully, I can still play - though writing can be tricky, but it’s a wake-up call to focus and prioritise. Silly me!

Jack of All Trades (Quantity vs Quality) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



There is so much pressure to be brilliant at everything, whilst looking amazing and being surrounded by all that is wonderful. But, if you spread yourself too thin you won’t be able to do anything well - and exhausting yourself in the process. This first came home to me when walking around a National Trust property, when I realised how each member of the household had their particular sphere of influence and field of expertise. The old saying “Jack of All Trades” encapsulates the moral of the story… Jack of all trades, master of none!

It's In The Bag (When You Don't Have a Music Room/Study Space) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



We don’t all have a designated music room, or home office study space. However, it’s so very important to be organised so that we don’t waste valuable study or practice time. Just a few simple tips can make all the difference to maximise your time and create a positive approach of readiness to play or study. From organising your music to having a bag ready to go, as soon as you get the opportunity, you can save yourself valuable time and stress in a few simple steps.

Cheat Practice (Music Practice AWAY From Your Instrument) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Diagram your music, draw a picture, ‘read’ your score or just listen: You can be ‘practicing’ while you’re doing the dishes or sitting relaxing with a brew. Of course you need to spend time at your instrument in regular practice. However, there are other approaches, apart from sitting at your instrument, that can really help your performance. Sometimes it’s good to get away from ‘note bashing’ and take a different view point. There are many ways of getting ‘inside’ the music so that, when you come to play again, you’re already ahead of the game.

Scales - Why Bother? (The Benefits of Technical Exercises) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Scales, arpeggios and Broken Chords are often seen as a necessary evil to get out of the way before you start the main event of practicing your pieces. However, this is an imbalanced approach. Scales and arpeggios are a valid practice routine in their own right, bringing many physical, technical, analytical and even psychological benefits to your playing. They can even be enjoyable! Approach scales and other technical exercises as a positive use of your practice time and your performance technique will thank you!

Why I Love Music Theory - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



I love music theory! Studying music theory gives you the tools to understand the music you love listening to and playing, and it gives you the tools to articulate what you like or don’t like about a piece of music.Also, as you start to analyse a musical work, it’s like peeling back the layers of the music and peeping inside the composer’s life and mind. Unfortunately, studying music theory is often viewed as a necessary evil. But if you can step outside of that negative mindset you can begin a journey, like an archeological excavation and there’s no knowing what hidden gems you might find.

Make the Most of it! (Get the Best from my Music Theory Lessons) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



If you’re watching my YouTube Music Theory lessons I want you to get the maximum benefit from my tutorials, so that your knowledge is secure and you will be ready for your exam. There are study techniques that can help you to retain knowledge more securely, and I discuss psychological theories which aid memory retention. I also explain some short-cuts to help you navigate quickly around the videos. Make sure you are making the most of your study time!

Alone vs Lonely (Life as a Musician) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. In order to progress and succeed in any discipline, it’s necessary to spend long hours alone. As a musician we spend long hours practising, but because our brain is busily employed the time flies by and we can then feel that sense of satisfaction. No doubt we all have our down days; no man is an island. However, being alone isn’t necessarily always a negative situation. Try looking at a period of solitude as a positive opportunity and the world looks like a different place.

Get To the Point (Graphite Pencil Demonstration for Music Notation) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Writing music notation neatly takes a little bit of practise, but if you have the right tools the job is so much easier. Tidy music manuscript could be as simple as making sure you have the right pencil for the job. However, not all pencils are the same. I discuss which pencils are best for writing music with and I explain why. I also give a demonstration of what effects different pencils have ranging from 6H to 8B.

A Long and Winding Journey (My Meandering Academic Journey) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



My academic journey wasn’t straightforward. Life is never a simple, straight path - the journey twists and turns, but keeps on unfolding under our feet. Reorganising a bookcase revealed strategic points in my education history and got me thinking about how, even though it’s a winding road, a progression of study had led me along a path that I didn’t even know I was on for many years. Success can’t always be measured by a single indicator and life is always about balancing priorites. I do love a good sort out and, while I was organising my book shelves, I was also sorting out my mind.

8 Practice Pointers (Following The Business Model) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Maximise your music practice routine by taking tips from the business world. After listening to several business talks discussing time management and maximising productivity it struck me that much of what is suggested is also beneficial for making sure that we get the most out of our time at our instrument. 8 simple tips give us common-sense advice to help us get maximum benefit from our music practice. I even find a quick burst of motivation from the world of sport!

The Show Must Go On (Staying Positive and Proactive amid the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



The current health crisis is impacting us all. I discuss how, as a piano teacher, I’m responding to the social and health implications. The necessary precautions are affecting all of my household but we’re adopting a proactive approach and staying positive. I take inspiration from my Grandparent’s lives and the fortitude they exhibited throughout the war years, and I remember the lessons I tried to install in my children years ago - with old photographs I’m not sure they’ll thank me for!

Music as Art (Artwork and Shabby Chic Up-Cycling) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Of course I love music in the usual sense but music notation is also so very beautiful in an artistic sense. I collect old music for many reasons; I think it is beautiful to look at and it can be repurposed as pieces of art and also for up-cycling old furniture. I also think that there is a sense of social history in these old music books, as we see glimpses of bygone performances. I don’t like to think of such music going to waste and I like to see it live on in another form.

Writing Bureau Shabby Chic Up-cycle Furniture DIY Project with Chopin and Haydn Sheet Music YouTube Video

Midnight Melody (Grieg Notturno Opus 54 No 4) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Grieg’s Notturno (Opus 54 No 4) seems like the perfect piece to choose when sleep evades and the piano calls. I used to play this piece often when the children were small but it’s languished in a pile of music until just now. My family are quite used to me playing the piano at strange hours of the night, so I thought you might like to join me in a little midnight melody. I preface the playing of this nocturne by giving a little introduction to the music and the composer. Enjoy!

Why Bother? (Why is Music and Art So Important?) - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Playing an instrument can be hard work at times. Any artistic endeavour involves many hours of application and effort, and sometimes we can’t help but wonder, ‘Why Bother?’ It’s difficult to express in words the tangible effect that music and art has on our lives but we are much more than mere machines. Pieces of art and video clips help me to express the impact that music and art has on my life . Visits to the National Trust give me ample opportunity to find inspiration and help to explain why music and art deserve a place in our lives. Making music is so very worth the effort - keep on bothering!

The National Trust

Little girl dancing to old church choir Youtube Video

Mozart Mojo Music Exam Prep - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



As exams loom it’s inevitable that we will feel nervous. We might look about us for a magical cure to deal with these nerves and help us to do our best. Although I have a bottle of Fairy Dust and a very special bottle of Mozart Mojo it’s unlikely that such things will be of any real value. The surest way to success is through consistent, regular application. Whether it’s your ABRSM music theory exam or your your practical (piano) exam I’ve lots of tips to help you and a wealth of resource to guide you every step of the way.

Away Day - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Mendelssohn’s “Elijah’ in a day! Nantwich Choral Society’s ‘Come and Sing’ event brought some interesting revelations and the fun began before we’d even sung a note, including stories of choristers being paid in sprouts and choirs singing in their wedding dresses! It was a tiring day (it’s a long Oratorio, with 42 movements) but it was so great to meet choristers from far and wide and I learned so many interesting tidbits about the work and the composer. What better way to spend a Saturday than meeting lots of lovely people and singing marvellous Mendelssohn?

For He shall give His angels charge over thee

Blessed are the men who fear Him

Cast thy burden upon the Lord

Thanks be to God

Lift thine eyes

He watching over Israel

And then shall your light break forth

Are You Sitting Comfortably? - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Good posture is important in general, but is vital when spending time practising an instrument whether it’s singing, playing piano or playing a wind instrument. Whatever you play, bad posture can be detrimental to both your health and your musical performance. It can also play an important psychological role to your mental attitude when you practice. However, a few simple steps can set everything straight and give us a solid foundation for when we spend time at our instrument.

Sounds Like A Plan - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Very few of us have unlimited time to spend practicing. We need to be mindful of how we spend our time at our instrument and time management is vital in making sure we make the best progress we can in what time we have available. Deciding what we want to achieve when we play is so important. Whether it’s playing for pleasure or getting down to hard work, we need to be aware of our goals before we play - that way we won’t be disappointed with the end result.

Gift or Grit - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Is musical ability a gift that just drops in our lap or is it a matter of hard work and consistent practise? Like many topics the answer is multi-faceted with no simple explanation. Some get a head start but musicianship is always related to application and growth in knowledge and ability. There’s always something new to learn but it’s all about enjoying the journey.

NEW 2019 ABRSM Past Exam Practice Papers - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



2019 ABRSM Past Exam Practice Papers are finally here, hot off the press! They’re an excellent revision resource and a great way to make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for your ABRSM Music Theory Exam. I’ve everything you need to help you work through these papers: I explain how to get the most from these practice papers and also how to make the most use of the videos I’ve prepared so that you are thoroughly confident in all the areas you need to understand for your ABRSM music theory exam.

Music Theory For Everyone Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStXIiHU_Z793DPyZLls0t2Xw

Grade 1 Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStVBKgtNpSVNs7lIYtolmnN5

Grade 2 Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStWDYh_u-W9vRzZ_69ew4sRh

Grade 3 Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStWdlDYM-4PCNzIu6Kk7rxCq

Grade 4 Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStWUUZhWTH5Go7hwJs3j1zil

Grade 5 Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpH_mDj0fStUl17Prhfk2tOt1uEYMSLil

The First 5 videos for 2019 ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory Past Exam Practice Paper A parts 1 - 5

Part 1
https://youtu.be/mF2u-gLtjzs

Part 2
https://youtu.be/Cmo27UMlp7E

Part 3
https://youtu.be/6bHrI7eWqUs

Part 4
https://youtu.be/5m24DqR6b6k

Part 5
https://youtu.be/rQx1pB6Xuxc

2019 ABRSM Music Theory Past Exam Papers for papers A grades 1-4 and papers B, C and S will follow over the next few weeks of 2020

Hallelujah - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Handel’s Messiah is a great way to herald in the start back to work. I’ve enjoyed a break but I’m glad to be back on timetable and I’m really pleased to be back at choir (Ceramic City Choir), especially if we’re singing an old favourite like Messiah. I’ve enjoyed singing various unusual pieces over the last year or so, but I’m looking forward to revisiting some more familiar works. As I flip through my old score I’m reminded of some past performances - some of which didn’t go so well. (In fact some were hilariously bad).

Here are some YouTube Snippets
All We Like Sheep
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOaSa78_NM0

Surely, He Hath Borne our Griefs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt9cd0BgcH8

For Unto Us a Child is Born
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owcn6fgYwpw

Hallelujah
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI6dsMeABpU

Happy New Year - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



I love the sense of a fresh new year! It’s a time to plan ahead and refocus your goals. I’ve so many plans for my YouTube Channel for the year ahead. Get your pencils and your music books ready - together we’ve got this!

Thank You - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



The close of the year is a time to look back and reflect. I look back over my YouTube journey so far and I want to thank you for your kind comments, your encouragement and also for your hard work. You have had such amazing success in your ABRSM exam results! It makes all the difference to know that there are real people out there and I’m not just talking to a camera lens. Such amazing exam pass marks and such lovely comments make it all worthwhile. Thank you!

On The Other Foot - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



For a change I’m sitting in the audience for a musical “Celebration of Saint Cecilia” - the patron saint of music. I’m usually chatting away about the various music activities that I’m participating, but this time the shoe is on the other foot and I go to listen to my friend sing with Keele Bach Choir. Sitting in the audience brings a whole new perspective to me about supporting local music. It’s also a great opportunity embrace new music and widen my horizons.

Choral Christmas Cheer - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



I’m all set for our Ceramic City Choir Christmas Carol Concert. We’re singing unusual and beautiful arrangements of carols, quite unknown Christmas songs as well as the usual congregational carol singing. On top of that we’ll be enjoying fantastic pipe organ solos and piano duets. I talk you through our programme and I’ve added links below so that you can join me in spirit. Merry Christmas!

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Sussex Carol

In the Bleak Midwinter

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy

Silent Night

O, Clap Your Hands

O little Town of Bethlehem

The Lamb

Come, Colours Rise

Memories and Musings - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Music has been an integral part of my children’s life, from watching me perform to then performing themselves as part of our local music service. I’m so grateful for the input that so many people have had in their development over the years. Music education in schools, and also funding for extra curricular activities, is a topical debate and there are no easy answers. However, music, as a subject, has so much to give us all - even if it’s not destined to be your chosen profession. Here is my family’s story and my expression of thanks to all those who have been a part of our journey.

Reflections on Rigoletto - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Music always has something new to offer but the new adaptation of Verdi’s Rigoletto, by the Glyndebourne Opera, has a surprising relevance to our modern life. Before I even got to the music there was so much more to this performance than I could have expected. Of course, the music itself was pure bliss! I expected to enjoy myself but Glyndebourne’s Rigoletto just keeps on giving.

Digital vs Acoustic - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Acoustic piano or digital piano - which is ‘best’? It’s like asking “How long is a piece of string?” It’s an impossible question because life is always about context and compromise. Budget, space and practicality are all matters that need to be weighed in the balance. The most important point is to make sure that music is being made!

Incidentally Speaking - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Music is everywhere! Even if you think you’re not ‘into music’ it forms an integral part of everybody’s life. Incidental music makes sense of movie plots and makes advertisements memorable. We also use music to create a particular atmosphere or stamp a piece of our personality into a special occasion. You can’t get away from it - music is all around you.

Music - Art or Science? - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Music is now classed among the Arts and Humanities, but this hasn’t always been the case. Only a few hundred years ago Music was classed as a Science. Although this sounds strange to our ears at first, it actually makes perfect sense. It also provides a helpful foundation of thinking in the way we approach our music practice. Of course, the best case is to take the best of both worlds and make a mix of the two categories!

Practice Schedules - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



When you’re working towards a performance exam there’s so much to practice: Piece A, Piece B, Piece C, Scales, Arpeggios, Broken Chords. If you’re not wise in how you manage your practice time you can let some aspects slip while you concentrate on one particular thing. Don’t worry! With a bit of nifty time management you can keep all of those practice plates spinning and keep on top of everything. I give tips and hints on how to make the most of the time you spend at your instrument - I even give you a template for a practice schedule.

Performance Exam Nerves - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Whether it’s piano, flute, clarinet - any instrument, and regardless of whether it’s ABRSM, Trinity, LCM - any exam board; taking a performance exam can be nerve-wracking! However, a bout of nerves isn’t necessarily a bad thing and there are ways to deal with nerves so that it doesn’t interfere with your performance. I chat about some obvious coping mechanisms and some not so obvious to help you make the best of your performance exam - you might even enjoy it!

Music Theory Exam Preparation - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



With ABRSM Music Theory exams looming it’s easy to become overwhelmed, but good preparation is the solution. If you know that you’re fully prepared then there’s no need to get stressed and you can actually enjoy the fruit of your hard work with a great exam result. After decades of experience in entering pupils for exams I give you revision tips and explain how to be fully prepared for your music theory exam, to help you to work towards your best exam mark.

Mixed Media Music - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



From Scala Radio, Classic FM and Radio 3 to Radio 2 and all the local stations we have plenty of musical variety to choose from. And then we have Amazon music, Spotify and iTunes - the list goes on. I myself am a fan of creating my own playlists. My choices are extremely varied and I can swap between Meatloaf and Mozart depending upon my mood. I have a look at whats on my different playlists and what dictates my choices. Music is for pleasure and we are never short of options.

Singing in a Choir - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



I love singing in a choir! It’s a great way to meet with other musicians and enjoy being part of a live musical performances. Music isn’t just about working hard and practising. Of course, it is important that we keep practising to hone our skills, but we do this because we love music and we should enjoy it. Music is for pleasure too! As a member of Ceramic City Choir I get the chance to be part of all sorts of live performances with full orchestras, as well as piano and orang accompaniment. It’s great to sing some of the familiar favourites but it’s been great to try some new and unusual repertoire too - there’s always something new to learn.

Ceramic City Choir Website

My Journey Into Music - Sharon Bill Music Matters Vlog



Welcome to my first Vlog! I thought it would make a nice change to step away from music theory and piano to just have a chat. It’s obvious that music is an important part of my life and I’ve looked back to to try and find out how it all started. Listening to pieces such as Annie’s Song by John Denver, played on the flute by James Galway, to a Mozart Piano Sontata, to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor - all seem to have made an impact, though I didn’t realise it at the time. As I’ve searched back into my family history I’ve had some surprising discoveries - it makes me wonder just how much we are influenced by things we don’t even notice at the time.

Music and Mindfulness

piano_scales_sharon_bill
There has never been any doubt that music is good for the soul and, now more than ever, music therapy is leading the way in this area. Whether it’s a good old sing-song or listening to uplifting music, the benefits are immeasurable. However, I would suggest that you can go even deeper. Read More…

Fugue Facts

fugues_sharon_bill
The ABRSM Grade 6 Piano (2019 & 2020) syllabus, List A:2, includes a Bach Fugue. This is a particularly pretty composition and relatively attainable as Bach Fugues go. The footnotes in the Exam Pieces book are helpful in guiding you to where the specific elements of the piece can be found. However, it may be that you aren’t familiar with the terminology and form of a fugue. I’ve outlined the basic elements of fugue form to help you understand what it is you are playing. Read More…

Bullet For My Performance Skills

weekly_instrument_practice_diary_sharon_bill

I’m seeing a lot about music practise diaries and music bullet journals. Whilst habit tracking is an excellent discipline there are some pitfalls to be wary of. Read More…

Saying it Straight

grainger_performance_directions_sharon_bill

Musical terms and performance directions take some time to get to grips with. Percy Grainger makes us wonder why we ever bothered to try! Read More…

A Thousand Thumbs UP

one_thousand_youtube_subbies_sharon_bill

Whoop Whoop! I’ve finally crossed over the 1,000 subscriber line on my YouTube channel! I’m a very small fish in a monumentally large YouTube pool - but I’m on the first rung of the ladder now! Read More…

Riotous Rossini

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It was such a treat to revisit Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle after an absence of several years. It certainly isn’t petite and it most definitely isn’t solemn! Read More…

Saturday Culture Spot

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I've been re-watching the Morse TV series on DVD and yesterday I felt like I was part of one - thankfully the only accompaniment was the pipe organ and the 18th Century Concert Orchestra, not a dastardly murder! Read More…

Lights, Camera, Action!

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YouTube is an excellent resource. Whatever you want to learn, you can find it there. With ABRSM Music Theory exam time only just behind us I thought this was a good opportunity to show you behind the scenes when I'm recording my Music Theory Tuition Series. Read More…

Time Stands Still

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Hanon piano scale exercises practised with a metronome inevitably means that a large chunk of time is carved out of your day - every day. So why bother?


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A Requiem and A Requiem

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Three days apart and yet whole worlds apart: From the extreme drama of Verdi to the purity of Fauré - all in the life of an amateur chorister. Read More…

Music Tuition YouTube Videos by Sharon Bill

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After 25 years of piano and music theory tuition my lessons are now available on YouTube in glorious cinematic 4K!

Each of the videos is exactly as I would teach at home - it's as if you were sitting next to me for your weekly lesson.

Beginning with the absolute basics I explain about Read More…

Batter the Clock!

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In the Midlands “Fritter” means a large slice of potato deep-fried in batter and is surprisingly tasty. However, the word has another universal meaning which is even worse news for our health. Read More…

New Academic Year

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The start of the academic year and the autumnal darker, colder nights causes many complaints. After all the moaning and groaning about being back to school I feel I should re-dress the balance. There's a fresh chill in the air in the morning and it's a fresh, new start to the school year. I love September! Read More…

Music Theory - Tell the World!

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Music theory is a subject that never grows old. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned connoisseur, or even if you just want to become a more informed listener - I've got something for you! I just love to teach. From when I was about seventeen years old I've loved to share what knowledge I have and to spread the joy of learning music. I've taught classes of junior school children, I've taught groups of OAPs and I also teach on a one-to-one basis. Now I can tell the world! Read More…

Jane Austen Bicentenery Anniversary

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that we all love Jane Austen. The 200th anniversary of her death is a good time to appreciate the pleasure her work still brings. But why? How does she still capture her audience after all these years? Read More…

Will You? It's a battle of the mind!

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The battle of the mind is the greatest battle we all face. In this article I suspect I'm preaching to myself! The original article had the title "Will You?" but I think I should rename it "Will I?" to keep things in perspective! Read More…

Priceless or Worthless?

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Christmas shopping can be a depressing business, especially when everybody already has what they want or need. I hate just buying a perfunctory gift - it feels like throwing your money to the wind. I’ve taken to making gifts more and more and I’ve always understood that these gestures have been enjoyed and appreciated. I certainly love to receive handmade gifts but I’ve recently had a crisis of confidence as I’ve discovered that not everybody thinks this way. Read More…

True Grit

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The Open University Graduation ceremony was the starting point on my thoughts for a local village magazine. Read More…

Damask Designs

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I've always had a thing for Damask, whether fabric, wallpaper or artwork in general. It reminds me of the William Morris designs that I love so much. I know it isn't considered trendy but it keeps on finding a place in my home.
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The Never Ending Journey

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"How long does it take to learn to play the piano?" It's a question that I'm often asked but it's an impossible question. It's like asking, "How long is a piece of string?" The most important thing when you are learning to play music is that you have to decide to enjoy the journey, because it's a journey that never ends. Read More…

Slay a Few Demons!

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ABRSM piano scales make for effective therapy. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’m ever in a bad mood… but, hypothetically speaking if I was, it’s better to take it out on the piano. There’s nothing quite like bashing up and down four octaves of the keyboard to vent your spleen and ABRSM of the old school provided plenty of material to go at.
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Keep Smiling (but not too widely)

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New Year's Resolutions are usually my thing and so it mortifies me to have to swallow my pride and join the throng in the gym membership fervour. Determination not to be counted as one of the keen beginners, only to drop out in a few weeks, is just one of the factors that are keeping me motivated to keep working…

I don't mind being middle aged, but I do mind the thought of being too overweight as well. I'm also noticing that my asthma isn't so good which is linked to weight and fitness. If I don't sort it now then it's only going to get more difficult. I'm naturally a sedentary person: I sit down to teach piano, I sit down to write and I relax by sitting down and reading. I'm gradually building up my stamina and don't need to take breaks between increasing numbers of lengths.Typical for a musician though - I keep losing count of my lengths. During this particular swim there was an extra motivation keeping me moving. I'd mistimed my session and needed to swim in a cordoned off area during an OAP aqua-fitness class. Although it made the water a bit choppy it would have been OK, however, we had to evacuate the pool because some poor soul had lost their teeth in the pool. The worst part was the fact that nobody could find them. That kept me swimming - I didn't dare put my feet down!

It transpires that the dentures dilemma isn't restricted to the swimming pool. I heard of a conductor who spat his teeth out in a particularly frenzied movement. Unabashed he simply bent down and reinserted them without losing a beat.
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That's me - to a 'Tea' ...

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Flute music and tea stains - it kind of says it all! Read More…

Hesitant Musician

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In my forthcoming eBook “Letters from the Broom Cupboard” I refer to what I have termed the “Treble Clef Brigade”. - an exclusive club that I never dared to join.

Putting up the Christmas decorations this year I realised that I have made some progress in overcoming an inherent fear that I have in this area and I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of musical frippery. It’s something that I’ve never dared venture before. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll live to regret it! Read More…

Musical Moments

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I stumbled upon an old copy of Handel’s Flute Sonatas whilst tidying up my music shelves (instead of actually practicing - an old trick of mine). I found some music that I was playing when I first met my husband. Who was this ‘Sharon Healey’ - I can barely remember her. I remember the flute Sonata better than I actually remember myself back then. In an effort to get to know who this Miss Healey was I had a rummage through some photographs and came across a school picture that captured quite well who I was.
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Keeping My Hand In

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During my A level studies figured bass and four part harmony weren't high on my list of priorities - and I certainly never imagined that I'd choose to attempt an exercise in the small hours of the morning out of choice. Read More…

Executive Away Day

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Team Building and project management formed our business away day - alternatively me and David went for a jolly trip to Llandudno to have a chat about family life and work. Read More…

Fickle Flute Fancies

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The relationship between a woodwind player and their instrument technician is one of trust. I always feel a tinge of shame as I hand over a tarnished flute housed in a dust-ridden case. It's an expression of guilt and an acknowledgement that your beloved instrument is about to get the TLC it has been deprived of for some time and so desperately deserves.
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Productive Insomnia

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Insomnia has its benefits - particularly where eBay is concerned it seems!
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How Long is a Piece of String?

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For the Summer Edition of our little village magazine, in my role as private music tutor, I attempt to answer to question ever present on a new pupil's lips: 'How long will it take?" It's an impossible question but I do my best in my usual article… Read More…

New eBook on the horizon

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My new eBook is on the very near horizon. It's a sort of 'Memoirs of a Music Tutor' written as a series of letters. Here is an extract to give you a taste of things to come. I've really enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it… Read More…

I Just Need to “STOP!”

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“Mutations,” “Diapason,” “Open” and “Stopped” are terms I never thought worthy of consideration until now. I’m really enjoying looking into playing the pipe organ more professionally, rather than as a pianist who can just about manage to swing a left foot in the general direction of a bass pedal. Getting both of my feet going on a two octave pedalboard is only one of the challenges it seems, the whole organ registration and technicalities involved in choosing which “stops” to use appears to be a strange mixture of both art and science! Read More…

Slow but Steady Wins the Race

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Aesop's Fables, in choral presentation, featured in my submission to our local quarterly village magazine. As ever, there was a moral to the story… Read More…

Fascinating Stuff!

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This month’s Women’s Institute competition was to make a Fascinator. The speaker was a lady who ran a modelling agency and the talk was entitled "Making the Most of Yourself." Read More…

Music for the Moment

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In a past article for our quarterly village magazine I comment upon how music makes a soundtrack for our lives… Read More…

Burning the Midnight Oil

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Grieg's 'Notturno' seems like the perfect piano piece for a bout of insomnia. With the volume down (or the practise pedal locked on) it shouldn't disturb anybody - but even if they do wake it's a pleasant piece to fall back asleep to.
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Classical vs classical

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The phrase "Classical Music" can mean two entirely different things. In my contribution, as a music tutor, to our village magazine I attempt to clarify the distinction. Read More…

Is Music Art or Science?

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Is learning to play an instrument a discipline of the arts or the sciences. It's surprising how history and culture shapes how we view learning. As a music tutor I write for a quarterly parish magazine. In this article from last year I grapple with the way society now approaches the arts… Read More…

Productive Insomnia

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When is a bedroom not a bedroom? When it houses a Korg portable digital piano. Read More…

"Quartet" - A Review

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This review of the Film "Quartet" featured in a local quarterly magazine that I contribute to.
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New Repertoire...

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A complete change as we now begin rehearsing Poulenc's Gloria. We'll be back 'at home' in The Victoria Hall, Hanley for this one - with a full orchestra too! Read More…

'Music from Two Shores' Ceramic City Choir Concert

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The concert of Copeland's 'Old American Songs' and 'Songs and Sonnets from Shakespeare' by Sir George Shearing went much better than I could have hoped. Read More…

The Piano - A Closer Look

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As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago explaining the history and basic mechanisms of the piano… Read More…

On the road again - Introducing our bike's names

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More sunshine meant that a Triumph Bonneville, a Triumph Speed Triple and a Suzuki SV650 needed a trip out again. A favourite run of ours is to Buxton through the Peak District National Park. Read More…

Careers' Portfolio

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Years ago I read an article which discussed the concept of a 'Careers' Portfolio'. It stated that more and more people were turning their backs on a single, all consuming career in favour of one, two or even three self employed occupations. Read More…

Peace and Goodwill to all Men

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With all of the recent World War Remembrance I recall the story of local effort - where everybody did their bit. Although the concept of peace and goodwill to all men is traditionally associated with Christmas time, such sentiments needn’t be restricted to just once a year. Here is an article I wrote in our parish magazine some years ago… Read More…

A Night at the Opera

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Madama Butterfly at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent is possibly the most enjoyable opera that I've been to! Perhaps it was down to the good company that I had too. Read More…

Holiday Theory Club

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Although I'm officially on holiday from teaching during the Easter holidays I've timetabled some extra theory lessons as exam entry time is fast approaching. Read More…

Inspiration, then Perspiration

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As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago… Read More…

Grass Roots

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Music can be enjoyed on many levels. As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago… Read More…

Music - An Expression of the Heart

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You'd never put Parry's Anthem "I Was Glad" in the same sentence as Football and EXCPN TV - but we did. As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago… Read More…