40 Piece Challenge- How we roll!

It’s great to read how the Challenge is working in piano teaching studios around the world! We love the “playing bank” especially…

Creative. Piano. Professional

For quite some time my studio has run a certificate system for students completing songs. For completing 10 pieces, they received a green certificate, orange for 20, silver for 30 and gold for 40. This was quite an easy achievement for the beginner students with lots of shorts songs being completed.

Then some time ago, Elissa Milne wrote this about the 40-piece Challenge here. Then Tim Topham wrote about it and the Hal Leonard 40-Piece Challenge website was also launched. An article on this was also published in the Piano Teachers’ Magazine here.

40 Piece Challenge

For my beginner students there was no question of their participation in this challenge. It was very close to the system we were already using.

For my late beginner to intermediate students this presented something of a shift in thinking. My students were normally learning 15-20 pieces of repertoire each year, about a year ago…

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40 Piece Challenge welcomes Instrumental Teachers!

The 40 Piece Challenge has been such an enormous hit with piano teachers across Australia and around the world in 2013 that we thought we’d welcome on-board all Instrumental teachers to the challenge in 2014.

Instrumental teachers know that it is difficult enough to get students to take home their instruments, let alone get them do practise on a daily basis.

The 40 Piece challenge encourages students to learn around one new piece each week of the teaching year, so taking instruments home and daily practice is not only implied but mandatory!

Teachers: encourage a bit of healthy competition by putting a 40 Piece Challenge poster in your teaching studio.

Email us to let us know you are joining the challenge and which instrument/s you teach and we will send you a gift from the HUB desk to get you started.

We will publish repertoire ideas here throughout the year as well as your feedback and ideas.

Throughout the year we would love to hear how the challenge is working out for you.

Grade Two Piano: Popular Repertoire ideas

Christmas holidays are an ideal time for young 40 Piece Challenge participants to put their piano playing skills to good use!

These collections will provide instant musical gratification for students who have already mastered Grade Two, or who are playing at a Grade Three or Four level.

Encourage and motivate your young players by suggesting these collections to their parents. They will be some of the cheapest Christmas gifts ever!


Chart Hits of 2012-2013 (118290)

Song List:

  • The A Team – Ed Sheeran
  • As Long As You Love Me – Justin Bieber
  • Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – P!nk
  • 50 Ways To Say Goodbye – Train
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
  • I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
  • It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
  • Little Talks
  • Live While We’re Young – One Direction
  • Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
  • One More Night – Maroon 5
  • Skyfall – Adele
  • Some Nights – fun.
  • Too Close – Alex Clare
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift

FunTimeGrade Two

Faber Studio Collection FunTime (119436)

This collection includes a range of pieces from the FunTime series. Arranged by Nancy and Randall Faber you just know these arrangements will sound fantastic AND be pedagogically sound!

Song List:

  • Addams Family Theme
  • Barber Of Seville Overture
  • Chopsticks
  • Glad Cat Rag
  • Home (special bonus hit!)
  • Hound Dog
  • Howl At The Moon
  • In The Mood
  • Misty
  • The Phantom Of The Opera
  • Scheherezade Theme


My First Movie Themes Songbook (102856)

This is a really beautifully presented book – it really looks like a gift! Full colour illustrations inside and nearly 30 movie themes. Great value!

Song List:

  • As Time Goes By
  • Chariots Of Fire
  • Falling Slowly
  • Gabriel’s Oboe
  • Hallelujah
  • Hands Of Time
  • How The West Was Won (Main Title)
  • If We Hold On Together
  • James Bond Theme
  • Jessica’s Theme (Breaking In The Colt)
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Mission: Impossible Theme
  • My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From ‘Titanic’)
  • A Narnia Lullaby
  • New York, New York
  • Over The Rainbow
  • The Pink Panther
  • Raiders March
  • Singin’ In The Rain
  • Sisters
  • Somewhere In Time
  • Somewhere, My Love
  • Soul Bossa Nova
  • Star Trek(R) The Motion Picture
  • Star Wars (Main Theme)
  • We Are The Champions
  • You’ve Got A Friend In Me


Teenage Dream (109267)

Again, you might not want to ‘teach’ Katy Perry songs in your piano lessons, but if it keeps them playing the piano over the Summer holidays, we’re all for it!

These arrangements are easy, but very true to the original songs.

Song List:

  • California Gurls
  • Circle The Drain
  • E.T.
  • Firework
  • Hummingbird Heartbeat
  • Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
  • Not Like The Movies
  • The One That Got Away
  • Peacock
  • Pearl
  • Teenage Dream
  • Who Am I Living For?

Australian and New Zealand teacher and parents can purchase these books at THESE STORES, all our lovely readers outside of this area can purchase at your local music store!

How the Challenge has helped James

James is a child who really struggled to read music.  He is very aural and didn’t want to look at music which was a big frustration for his teacher.

James was the reason why his teacher ended up purchasing a digital piano with a recording/USB function, so she could record his pieces for him to listen to at home.

As you can imagine, James’ progress was quite slow.

The 40 Piece Challenge has really inspired James. He is loving it and is really motivated by the competition and reward aspect of the challenge, which his teacher has set up within her studio space.

The challenge has:

  • Facilitated greater self learning opportunities and accountability for his own learning, as the weekly challenges are levelled at his skills and abilities enabling him to work alone to learn and play pieces
  • Provided a forum for James to ‘learn’ key practice strategies (which he usually ignores! but non-the-less!!)
  • Provided a very personalised repertoire able to be tailored to teach specific skills; build strengths and focus on weaknesses
  • Created an incentive to learn pieces faster
  • Reinforced the idea that no matter how good you are, every piano player goes through a process to learn and play new pieces

James’ teacher is happy to report that he is now way ahead of everyone as the leader of the 40 Piece Challenge in her piano studio!

Grade One Piano: Popular Piano Repertoire

There has been lots of discussion lately on piano teacher forums about whether you should teach ‘pop’ music during your piano lessons.

Whatever your personal feelings about ‘pop’ music, any music being explored at home (in addition to diligent practice of the assigned exercises and pieces of course!) has surely got to be good for your students!

So, here are some instant musical gratification ideas for your 40 Piece Challenge piano students who have already achieved a Grade One level of playing.

Ideal for parents to give as Christmas gifts!



Offering a spectacular mix of styles, this book is sequenced to emphasise chord recognition and chord practice, particularly of the I, IV, and V7 chords.

  • The Entertainer
  • Do-Re-Mi
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • Yesterday
  • Pizzicato Polka
  • New River Train
  • Long Long Ago
  • Tuxedo Junction
  • Amazing Grace
  • Watermelon Man
  • Polovetzian Dance No 17
  • Havah Nageel
  • What Makes You Beautiful.



Really well written easy arrangements of really current pop songs in easy key signatures with lyrics and chords included. This edition contains:

  • Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen)
  • Heart Attack (Demi Lovato)
  • Home (Phillip Phillips)
  • Just Give Me a Reason (Pink)
  • Next to Me (Emeli Sandé)



Super current popular music that teenagers will love to play! Lyrics, fingering and chord symbols are included to help you make the most of each arrangement.

  • Ho Hey (The Lumineers)
  • It’s Time (Imagine Dragons)
  • Some Nights (fun.)
  • Stay (Rihanna)
  • When I Was Your Man (Bruno Mars)



An ideal collection for students interested in musical theatre and older adult beginners!

  • Bali Ha’i
  • Climb Ev’ry Mountain
  • Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?
  • Do-Re-Mi
  • Edelweiss
  • Hello, Young Lovers
  • Honey Bun
  • I Have Dreamed
  • I Whistle A Happy Tune
  • If I Loved You
  • It Might As Well Be Spring
  • It’s A Grand Night For Singing
  • June Is Bustin’ Out All Over
  • Love, Look Away
  • Maria
  • My Favorite Things
  • No Other Love
  • Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’
  • Oklahoma
  • People Will Say We’re In Love
  • Shall We Dance?
  • Some Enchanted Evening
  • Something Wonderful
  • The Sound Of Music
  • The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
  • Ten Minutes Ago
  • There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame
  • You Are Beautiful
  • You’ll Never Walk Alone
  • Younger Than Springtime

These books are all available from any Australian or New Zealand retail store.

If you don’t live in Australia, just ask at your local music store!

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Another great source of ideas for 40 Piece Challenge repertoire is the Piano Teacher Magazine.

Issue 4 of the Piano Teacher Magazine is out now and available FREE from your favourite Australian or New Zealand music retail store, or by emailing your request to australianpiano@halleonard.com.au

Or you can read it online by clicking the links below:

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 3

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 2

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 1

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 3Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 2Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 1

Assorted Fairies by Sonny Chua


Assorted Fairies is a unique collection in that it contains pieces graded from Grade 1 to about Grade 6 level, by one of Australia’s favourite composers: Sonny Chua.


The beauty of this collection; while being full of amusing melodies, catchy rhythms, thoughtful colours and subtle references to childhood songs, is it will be a book that students will dip into year after year as they progress with their piano studies, making it ideal 40 Piece Challenge material.

Many of the pieces are on the syllabus for exam boards including AMEB, St Cecilia, ANZCA and others. As well as being delightful concert repertoire for any young musician, this collection will provide lots of great extra list material.

Assorted Fairies Contents:

Twinkling Fairy

Flapping Fairy

Dizzy Fairy

Cuckoo Fairy

Lonley Fairy

Dripping Fairy

Slimy Fairy

Funky Fairy

Morning Fairy

Hysterical Fairy

Airy Fairy

Jiggling Fairy

Nagging Fairy

Fishy Fairy

Twirling Fairy

Assorted Fairies is available from all good Australian and New Zealand music stores.