Christmas Catch-up

Well it’s Christmas time and the long awaited Summer holidays are upon us. How do you spend your long Summer break? Do you get stuck into practice, read, or go on a holiday? Whatever it is this season, we hope it is a beautifully restorative time for you. Have you ever wondered what some of The Piano Teacher writers do? Wonder no more. Here we have a quick-fire Summer quiz!


First up we have Samantha Coates. Internationally regarded piano pedagogue, teacher, author and publisher of the BlitzBooks (and dark chocolate enthusiast!) 

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
Late evening walks

Favourite Summer/festive treat?
Just mangoes, mangoes and more mangoes

Do you have any family traditions?
We play the chocolate Dreydl game 🙂

What’s your favourite festive treat?
Just the treat of it being a quiet time of year (work wise!)

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
I’m hoping I’ll be asked to play carols on our Tasmanian glamping holiday this year! But otherwise no not really 🙂

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? ( any particular thing you’re hoping for?)
Good health for everyone!


Paul Myatt can be found coaching ocean swimmers to brave the sometimes shark-infested waters off Sydney’s Bondi Beach or inspiring the next generation of music makers and piano teachers through Piano Teaching Success.

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
Swimming at Bondi Beach and spending time reading and listening to podcasts and audio books. And, taking the time to practice and compose.

Favourite festive treat? 
Healthy Chocolate Brownies – I lost 10kg this year even through COVID. One of the recipes that I’ll be making for Christmas this year is Healthy Chocolate Brownies with no dairy, flour and virtually no sugar. Recipe HERE.

Do you have any family traditions?
In my family, Christmas is always our traditional time to come together. We left presents behind about 20 years ago – so now it’s all about great food. Always hot roasted meats with exotic fresh salads, homemade bread and French champagne followed by Aussie Reds.

What’s your favourite Christmas day treat?
French Champagne with Tasmanian cheeses.

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
My business partner, Gillian Erskine and I always try to record a Christmas Carol duet, we tend to make it up on the spot on her two grand pianos. Unfortunately, this year we’re not going to be in the same city before Christmas. 

As is always the case I will be listening to whatever my partner wants to listen to, which is everything from Bach to the Top 40!


Kathryn Raats  is the founding Director of West Coast Music School. She is an advocate for the holistic benefits of music education, not just for skill development but also as a tool for enhancing everyday life! 

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
I LOVE the beach. Growing up in Johannesburg, our closest beach was 6 hours away! So when we moved here, it was love at first sight. Chances are you will find me on or near water most days in the summer holidays – whether it’s starting the day with a run along the coast, or heading to the beach for a swim.

Favourite festive treat? 
It’s a slightly unpopular opinion, but I can never say ‘no’ to a mince pie with a bit of custard on top. It always feels like Christmas to me once the mince pies come out.

Do you have any family traditions?
Our biggest family tradition is a HUGE family dinner on Christmas Eve. Ever since I was a child, Christmas Eve has always been the time of the year where we all get together to relax, eat and have fun – plus there is always plenty of music flowing as I come from a very creative family. 

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
Carols by night, chilled summer hits by day. During the day you can catch me listening to Rufus Du Sol or Flight Facilities, and once the sun goes down, my old friend Bing Crosby comes out for some good ol’ fashioned carols. 

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? ( any particular thing you’re hoping for?)
My big ticket item this year was an electronic drum kit for my home! I treated myself a little earlier in the year, so I’m feeling very happy about that.


Randall Faber is co-author of the bestselling Piano Adventures® method. He lectures and performs at major universities and conferences around the world.

What is your favourite Christmas holiday activity? 
Family Christmas shopping in downtown.

Favourite festive treat? 
Eggnog is my favourite!

Do you have any family traditions?
Christmas morning family readings with musical performances.

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
Improvisations with our Christmas arrangements are my go-to!

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? ( any particular thing you’re hoping for?)
I would love an Apple Watch this year. Fingers crossed!


Angela Turner is a Specialist Lecturer in Piano at the Young Conservatorium Queensland Conservatorium, an AMEB Examiner and Syllabus Consultant. She’s also the editor behind the Exploring Piano series and pianist in the award-winning Lyrebird Trio.

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
There are many favourite activities. Perhaps the most consistent one is watching the boxing day cricket test on TV with good friends, on a comfy couch, enjoying the air-conditioning, struggling with food coma. 

Favourite Christmas recipe?
Classic pav for the win. If I have time, I go to Donna Hay’s recipe. If there’s no time, I go to the supermarket! Close behind would be Nigella Lawson’s Ruby Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly. (Ruby Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly | Nigella’s Recipes | Nigella Lawson) This tradition started when I was studying in London, living in the run-down international student’s boarding house that was across the road from Nigella’s (much nicer) house. I received one of her books for Christmas that year, and made this recipe for a group of fellow Australians away from home. It was a real treat for all of us on a student’s budget! It still fills me with a feeling of decadence.

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jacob Collier, who has been constant in my playlist this past year or so. The pureness and joy in the music-making is deeply heartening. Along with JC, I’m starting to listen to repertoire first up on the concert calendar for next year. Brahms, Ravel, Beethoven, and Brisbane-based composer Cathy Likhuta.

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? ( any particular thing you’re hoping for?)
Time! An extra couple of months would be great. That’s a hard one to wrap…  


Matthew Nutley is production editor of The Piano Teacher. He is the Piano Print guru at Hal Leonard Australia and can also be found in orchestra pits around the Melbourne Community Theatre scene, or playing for cabaret shows.

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
This summer I will be hanging out with my new nephew.

Favourite festive recipe? 
A cheeky festive cocktail! 1 part Muscat, 1 part Gin, 1 part Pineapple Juice and a squeeze of lime. Served over ice.

Do you have any family traditions?
Like most families, our Christmas starts on Christmas Eve sitting around watching the carols on TV and adding our own commentary.

What’s your favourite festive treat?
I am not really a ‘dessert’’ person, but there is something about Christmas that makes a trifle extra yummy!

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
Christmas carols started early for me this year as I had a “Christmas Cabaret” to play in early December – a real, live, in person gig. A real Christmas miracle.

My Summer Tunes playlist is pretty simple – if there’s no cricket to listen to, then it is late 90’s and early 2000’s hits playlists.

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? ( any particular thing you’re hoping for?)
A new suitcase! With not much travel over the past couple of years, I haven’t had the need to replace mine, but with so many events coming up (Samantha Coates and Paul Myatt workshops and APPC just to name a few), I think it is time for a new one.


Carly McDonald is a piano teacher, music education consultant and likes to knit. She likes to create things to help teachers connect with ideas and tools that enhance their professional experience. She also has two crazy puppies and two teenagers.

What is your favourite Summer holiday activity?
Relaxing with my family somewhere near the water and having a good book to get into! 

Favourite festive treat?
I really enjoy seafood at Christmas time. Prawns are my favourite, and if we are lucky, crayfish is a special treat I love with a glass of bubbly. 

Do you have any family traditions?
We have a three day family Christmas extravaganza! Starting with a swim in the pool Christmas Eve, then a big family lunch on Christmas Day and wrapping up with a BBQ on Boxing Day. It’s a festival of family (and delicious food!)

Holiday music: Do you play carols? Summer tunes on hot days? What music are you listening to this holiday season?
Pre-COVID we used to host a carols night at our house which was great fun. I love carols, but my family had firmly put an embargo on carols until December 1st. So from then until Boxing day I have carols in the house, the car, on the piano stand….my favourite is Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun. 

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? 
Honestly? I really really want these boots! Those, and a 2022 that is calm and a more predictable sense of normalcy for everyone.

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