Tip Top Tutoring

We provide one-to-one tuition in the Chesterfield area and online lessons according to your needs; all tuition is tailored just for you. Juniors to GCSE.

English, Maths, History. Piano, Flute & Music Theory.

Operating as usual

Domenico Scarlatti Sonata f minor K 466 Benjamin Åberg, harpsichord 10/01/2024

Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in F minor K. 466
Scarlatti (26 October 1685 – 23 July 1757), was an Italian composer famous for his keyboard sonatas, also called Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas, is a group of 555 sonatas for harpsichord by Domenico Scarlatti, dating from the early 18th century. In modern performance the sonatas are usually performed on the piano. Listen to the following two versions of the piece; one on harpsichord, the other piano. The piece is largely homophonic but with imitative elements full of ornaments.
- What kind of ornaments can you hear?
- How many beats are in a bar?



Domenico Scarlatti Sonata f minor K 466 Benjamin Åberg, harpsichord Domenico Scarlatti Sonata f minor, K 466Benjamin Åberg, harpsichord

G.F.Haendel - Watermusic (PART III: Hornpipe-Menuet-Rigaudon I/II-etc.) 09/01/2024

Handel (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759 German/English) is another Baroque master and yes, people enjoyed dancing to music in this period!

Watermusic ( Hornpipe)
Handel’s Water Music is a collection of three suites for orchestra. often published as three suites, composed by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July 1717, in response to King George I's request for a concert on the River Thames. Our listening piece from this larger work is “Alla Hornpipe,” the 2nd movement from the Suite in D major. It is a perfect example of Handel’s emphasis on the louder, brass instruments that is heard throughout Water Music.
Structure: “Alla Hornpipe” is written in ternary form (ABA) with the opening A section repeated once before the B section begins.

Listen out for ornamentation, flowing, homophonic passages. Keyboard range of the harpsichord – the smallest range of the periods you are dealing with, usually within 2 octaves either side of middle C.

Baroque music is also characterised by an increased emphasis on contrast. This is heard in a number of ways:
loud and quiet dynamics (volume) – Baroque composers used block dynamics – this is where the volume of the music changes abruptly rather than through a gradual crescendo/diminuendo. You can often hear this effect between the quieter solo and louder tutti sections of orchestral music.

Can you sing the main tune of this Hornpipe?
Can you clap the rhythm of the opening theme?
Does the movement open in a major or minor tonality? What happens to the tonality in the B section?
Is this in duple, triple or quadruple time?
What features indicate this was composed in the Baroque period?


G.F.Haendel - Watermusic (PART III: Hornpipe-Menuet-Rigaudon I/II-etc.) This video was ripped from a VHS:The Banqueting House - Whitehall LondonTRILION PICTURES (1987) present:George Frederick Handel's "THE WATER MUSIC"English Ba...


Students working towards an exam are advised to practise their aural skills using the following series which has a book for each grade. You can pick these up at Clarke's Music in Chesterfield. The book contains exercises to work through along with a CD (or downloadable music)

J.S. Bach: 15 Inventions, BWV 772-786 - No. 14 in B-Flat Major, BWV 785 08/01/2024

This week, I will be sharing a piece of Baroque Music every day. This is for my students to listen to and develop their aural skills.

Baroque Music was composed between 1600 – 1750. Main Composers of the period include Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi.

Grade 5 and above students need to be familiar with features of this style.

Here is a beautiful piece by Bach, 2 Part Invention No.14 in B flat Imitative (polyphonic) texture of 2 independent parts; continuous flow.

J.S. Bach: 15 Inventions, BWV 772-786 - No. 14 in B-Flat Major, BWV 785 Provided to YouTube by Universal Music GroupJ.S. Bach: 15 Inventions, BWV 772-786 - No. 14 in B-Flat Major, BWV 785 · András Schiff · Johann Sebastian BachBa...

Exam dates and fees 02/01/2024

Please look at the fees for ABRSM exams. I will be entering students on 18th January so any students wishing to take exams during the spring term will need to have given me payment for the exam. The exams could be from as early as 28th February so please ensure students are putting in the necessary practise.

Exam dates and fees Breadcrumb Home Dates and fees Exam dates and fees Exam dates & Fees 2024 To avoid 28-day exam deadlines falling during the Christmas holiday period we’re closing booking for all digital exams from 23.59 on 24 November to 00.00 on 5 December (UK times). We’re sorry for any inconvenience this cau...


Delighted to receive piano and flute certificates today! Looking forward to handing them to our wonderful musicians in the New Year. 👏👏👏 We start back 8th Jan. 😊😊😻


10) Talk, praise and Encouragement

Talk to the child so that they know you are interested and that you understand what is difficult. Ask questions about what they have learned in their lessons today. Also ask them to show you what they are playing. Talking about their piano playing also encourages them to use musical vocabulary and to think about their learning. Celebrate your child’s successes and acknowledge their commitment, concentration and achievements . If your child gives and impromptu performance, stop and listen and talk proudly about how his/her hard work has paid off. Praise your child for a good posture, nice curved fingers, counting, playing a scale evenly, improved attention span and talk about their effort and determination in mastering something that was difficult. Ask your budding musician to put on a little performance. At Christmas ask them to play carols for you all, or play Happy Birthday for a celebration!

In conclusion: Learning the piano is not easy but it is certainly possible for anyone who is willing to put the time into regular and effective practise. As with anything that is difficult, children go through times of wanting to give up but until they are mature and mentally resilient enough to manage these challenges, it is up to you, the parent, to encourage and guide them.


9) Listening and enjoying piano music

Listen to piano music, go to concerts – this sparks imagination and motivation. Listening to music is equally important to playing music. What does your child like playing or listening to? Ask them what their best piece is and why. Play music around the home, especially recordings of the pieces they are learning and going to see live music is often very inspiring. Creating a musical life and home helps them develop has a powerful impact on motivation and awareness.


8 ) Pieces

Some pieces will be set that should only take a week or two to learn, this means that the student is seeing different music regularly (not relying on memory) and therefore improving the repertoire and their ability to sight read. Other pieces are more challenging and will need 4 to 8 weeks to play securely. Please ask me which pieces are short term goals and which ones are more challenging. I often send links of recordings to help both parent and child listen to good examples of how their pieces should be performed. I often

You should NOT hear pupils simply playing through a piece start to finish, with lots of errors. This is NOT practise and it forms very bad habits. Ingrained mistakes are extremely difficult to undo and it becomes frustrating for the child. Ask them?

- Which piece has some bars that need work?

- Try that section again and do slow practise, hand separately so that it is accurate seven times in a row.

**Seven times correctly might sound a lot but if this is only a few bars of music, sometimes even just one bar, it is not onerous**

Making a video recording of your child playing and watching it back together also helps the child to see what needs improving. You won’t even need to say anything because they can assess themselves and diagnose their own problems.


7) Sight Reading

Sight reading is a precious skill, if your child reads well, they can learn music more quickly and who doesn’t want to do that?! Children often forget to check the key signature, or to count and a bad habit is looking at their hands. Be there with a scarf or a tea towel to cover their hands! This means that their eyes will not leave the page and fluency improves!


6) Scales & Arpeggios

Be aware of the scale chart and ask them how they are going. (Beginners learn tetrachords before scales)

- Show me which scales you play well.

- What’s important to remember when you play a scale?

- Which ones are the more tricky scales/arpeggios? Have you checked the key signature, fingerings and done slow work on it?


5) Rounded Musician

You will find that there are tasks set which involves technical work, including scales and arpeggios, sight reading and also pieces. Most pupils are also given music theory to complete each week and aural skills need to be worked on. The pupil needs to commit time to each area daily and not neglect aspects. Encourage them to do some work on each area every time they practise so that they develop all aspects of musicianship.


4) Teacher advice

I write in note books and on the pupils’ music regularly. This gives the young musician guidance of what to work on in the week ahead. Parents should check what I have written and simply remind the child of what I have said. If parents would basically remind their children what I have advised the pupil to do, this would be ENORMOUSLY helpful.


3) Be Present.
Younger children will need their parent around, in the same room. They will not ‘get on with it’ rather like when you had to help them learn to read or use a knife and fork or even clean their teeth – they need help. Learning piano is one of the most difficult skills to master Most children find this a difficult discipline and will require prompts and encouragement from Mum or Dad.


2) Incentives

If you need a sticker chart or Lego stack to log practise done in order for a reward, please do it! I am not opposed to a little external motivation!


1) Good habits

Good habits need to be formed. Get into the habit of assigning time to practise each day and put away all distractions such as phones, toys, TV and computers. Habits are formed through a cue, which is a signal to begin an action. For example, if you want your child to practise piano after school, the cue might be eating an afternoon snack which is immediately followed by piano practice. With young beginners, don’t expect more than 15 mins, as they mature the length of practise time can increase and it’s OK to incorporate comfort breaks during that time. Advanced students will eventually need to be managing 45 to 60 minutes a day in order to progress. When you see an outstanding performance from a young musician, it is not because they are super gifted, it really is down to regular, committed work. Luke warm effort a couple of times a week will not yield satisfying results.


How can I help my child practise piano?
Many parents say they don’t know how to help their child practise because they are not musical. While it might seem somewhat overwhelming; parental involvement is crucial to a child developing as a musician. The success of a musician is like a three legged stool, the process requires support from ALL three participants! Without three legs, the stool collapses. I am writing this blog entry to help clarify ways in which parents (even non musicians) can play their part in the process.

Firstly, young children will not be able to work through the process of learning an instrument with only input from the music tutor once a week. Like learning to read and write, most of the learning takes place away from time with the teacher.

Here are ten ways that parents can help their young musician.

Go to this latest blog from Julie.....



All musicians need a metronome, perhaps a Christmas gift? Some lovely ones available at Clarke's Music, this is their display. https://www.clarkesmusic.com/

Electronic ones useful for older players out and about but the old type are the best.


Congratulations musicians! All passed with merit or distinction!


Well done to students who took piano & flute exams today! You were all smiling when you finished!


All musicians need a metronome, perhaps a Christmas gift? Some lovely ones available at Clarke's Music

Electronic ones useful for older players out and about but the old type are the best.

Photos from Tip Top Tutoring's post 20/11/2023

Sight reading.... it is extremely important to work on this skill daily. Just received a new book and me and Spider think this is a good one....
As you can see, it's worn him out; but he has gone through the whole book this afternoon!


I found this interesting information from the ABRSM because parents often ask when their child will be ready for their next grade. The table below shows that preparing for an exam is a considerable commitment of effort and time. If students only practise occasionally and don't practise properly, it will take a loooong time to get to the next grade. Please encourage daily practise which should includes scales & arpeggios/technical work and sight reading alongside pieces.

Pianoworks Christmas - alanbullard.co.uk 18/11/2023


Another useful collection of Christmas music suitable for grades 1-2 pianists. Clarke's Music can order this for you. 🤓

Pianoworks Christmas - alanbullard.co.uk Pianoworks Christmas (2008) for solo piano Written and arranged jointly with Janet Bullard, this collection of easy-to-play arrangements of Christmas carols and songs includes the words and historical information. 24 festive favourites Traditional carols, Christmas songs, and modern classics Words i...

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Videos (show all)

Going to have to move this cute furball.....
This is such good experience for young musicians,  please encourage them to perform for friends and family.  Well done A...
More work on ensemble playing...we worked on the last section of this Minuet by Beethoven. It's still important to pract...
Xinyi and Youhua have been working on the end of their duet 'Habanera' to improve ensemble and dynamics. Good work 👏
A bright duet to start our Saturday! Just received this video as these young pianists rehearsed without any help from me...
Love hearing Anya and Darcie working on their beautiful piano duet! A wonderful Schubert Waltz. 🎶🎹👏🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Mr Csorba is having a Tip Top 60th birthday but we look forward to starting the new term tomorrow 😎🥳😎
Wonderful to see Kerry fitting in some piano playing in between ✈ flights ✈!Great way to brighten the day for weary trav...
Certificates arrived from the ABRSM today! All distinctions and merits. 👏👏👏 Well done musicians, I'll be handing them ou...
Anya has enjoyed exploring chords in the key of G major, playing a triple time waltz accompanying figure but thrn the ch...
Reuben is exploring relative minor keys and chords and is making a good contrast between G major and E minor,  good bala...




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