UP ALL NIGHT – ONE DIRECTION (Easy Piano – Grade One)

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Squeals of joy will be heard when tween-age girls are presented with this fabulous collection of hits from British boy band sensation One Direction (or so was the case for my students!)

The album contains simple and easy-to-read arrangements of hits from the group’s 2011 debut album Up All Night, the perfect book to reward progress with the 40 Piece Challenge or good exam results!

But the benefits of this resource don’t stop at fun play… In addition to strengthening notational reading skills, students will be extending their chordal vocabulary with ‘sneaky suspensions’, added 2nds, major and minor 7th chords.

Rhythms range from basic crotchet and minim phrases to more complex dotted patterns, tied notes and syncopation. As an added teaching bonus, More Than This features brief time signature changes, a great opportunity to strengthen inner pulsing. The absence of bar numbers could be used to introduce pop-song form, encouraging students to complete basic song analysis to identify verses, chorus, bridge etc. Whole lessons could be spent working ‘outside the staff’ even before playing commences!

A great book with relevant music and ample teaching opportunities… I give it 5 stars!

Thanks to Toowoomba piano teacher Courtney Feldman for this review.

Item code is 124571. This book is available from your favourite music retail store.

Piano Music of Amy Beach

Big thanks to Geelong piano teacher Helen O’Brien for this review.

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The late-nineteenth-century American composer, Amy Beach, was taught by a pupil of Franz Liszt and the virtuosity of her training is evident in these piano works.

The current volume contains many fine examples of her lush Romantic style, and while influences of major Romantic composers are apparent, there is no sense of derivative writing. The compositions are impressive in both technical scope and musical inventiveness. These works are essentially character pieces, sometimes erring towards vignettes, excepting the last work which is a substantial set called Variations on Balkan Themes.

Some of the notable inclusions are: Arctic Night and although seemingly the least dense notation-wise, requires careful legato and voicing; In Autumn, a delicate but quietly virtuosic piece, has obvious touches of Tchaikovsky and Chopin. Fire-Flies is a wonderful study in playing thirds but without the searing complexity of the technical extremes encountered in Chopin’s Etude Op.25 no.6.

Most of the works in this Album are quite advanced: in an Australian context they would be equivalent to Grade 8 and beyond with the exception of Arctic Night.

I would highly recommend this collection to Australian teachers with advancing students as Beach’s compositions offer an untapped resource of material worthy of inclusion in competitions, recitals and general repertoire development. The volume is well-produced, offering clear editing and layout.

Verdict: A great addition to any music collection.

Item code is 121629

This book is available at all good print music retail stores.

 

Piano Puzzlers

We welcome Geelong piano teacher Helen O’Brien to our review team and thank her for this review.

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This book represents an unusual compilation of pieces originating from mash-ups presented for radio. The idea was to combine famous works in a well-disguised manner in order to discover the unique styles of composers. In other words, these pieces are best described as quasi-pastiches.

The works require a certain degree of musical familiarity with many styles and some of the songs referenced may or may not be well-known to Australian students. One of the best uses for this book— apart from the entertainment value, especially for adult students who may be more acquainted with some of the obscure choices— is to use it for composition study. Because of modern copyright laws, the age-old fashion for writing pastiches as part of the learning process —something done in both literary and musical fields— has been somewhat stifled. This book is about compositional exploration, that is, taking known ideas and synthesizing them into a completely new composition, hence the allusion to puzzles.

For anyone familiar with Arthur Wilson’s Beatlecracker Suite, this set of pieces could be best described as belonging to that genre of writing.

Certainly an interesting book but probably best kept for older students.

Item code is 42709 and it is now available from your favourite music retail store.

ChordTime Piano Jazz & Blues

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This year we are welcoming a new team of reviewers who are discovering all kinds of interesting publications that are proving useful when selecting 40 Piece Challenge repertoire. This review is by piano teacher Rachel Yeo from NSW.

ChordTime Piano Jazz & Blues is proving to be an interesting addition to my collection of teaching materials. For those familiar with Faber method books, this book is around Level 2B with an emphasis on mastering chords I, IV and V in the keys of C, G and F. As the title suggests, it is a collection of jazz and blues tunes and it introduces swing rhythms.

This book is a great way to introduce swing rhythms. It provides strategies such as tapping exercises and mini-practice plans to help a student to get into the swing of it (excuse the pun!). It also has questions at the end of each piece to encourage the student to think about the chords, rhythms and musical terms used. The collection features twelve songs consisting a mixture of original tunes as well as popular ones such as Fly Me to the Moon and Tea for Two.

I like this book as it introduces a whole new world of piano repertoire at an early stage. The pieces sound cool and harder to play than they actually are. It is great not just for students in their first or second year of piano lessons but it also provides wonderful sight-reading practice and distraction from exam repertoire for higher grade students. I like this book so much that I want to buy the next level of the same series!

Umi’s Lullaby…happy International Piano Week!

Celebrate The Piano Teacher magazine’s International Piano Week this week by playing Umi’s Lullaby by Sonny Chua.

UMI

You can download Umi’s Lullaby (free!) until September 8th by clicking here.

Young students might sight read it as a duet with their teacher. Older students could sight read it outright. Or play it for your very young students and ask them who they think Umi might be!

Share performances of Umi’s Lullaby on Youtube using the hashtag #IPWUmi

Or just watch these great performances.

Brisbane teacher Angela Turner’s trio arrangement of Umi’s Lullaby as performed at the Australian Piano Duo Festival

Jazz composer, performer and teacher Jeremy Siskind from his studio in Michigan, playing Umi’s Lullaby in the style of Debussy

Or in the Style of Bill Evans

Or in the style of Jeremy Siskind

Keen to find out more about Jeremy Siskind? Here are a few of his books that would be idea 40 Piece Challenge repertoire:
Around a grade 3-5 standard
DoubleAgentDuets

Around a grade 7 standard
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Around a grade 6 standard
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All things Frozen

Once in a while a musical phenomenon comes along that takes the world by storm.

Literally the world!
DakarLast night I was chatting to friends who live in Dakar, a coastal town in the African country Senegal and they said that children in Dakar are Frozen mad! Parents doing school pick-up have the Frozen soundtrack playing in their cars and the children have watched the movie so many times they know each song and line perfectly. So, not any different from children right here in Australia.

 

Luckily for young musicians Frozen is available in any number of formats that makes it possible for just about every musician to play, no matter the skill level or instrument. These books are perfect editions to the 40 Piece Challenge students repertoire, or perhaps great gifts for parents to give as rewards for 40 Piece Challenge successes.

FiveFingerFrozenThe Five Finger (130374) piano version of Frozen is ideal for young beginners who have perhaps been learning for a year or two. Students playing pieces at a P Plate level 3, perhaps.The arrangements are gorgeous and with a lovely teacher (or older sibling/student) accompaniment, they sound just like the real thing. There are a couple of slightly trickier moments in pieces (In Summer, for instance) but the beauty of Frozen is that because the children know the songs, they will be able to play the rhythms well before they really understand the notation. And that is OK!

For pianists Frozen is also available in Beginning Piano Solo 130375 (about a Preliminary level), BigNote piano 126105 (around a Grade One level), Easy Piano 125506 (about a Grade Two level), Piano Solo 128220 (about a Grade Four level) a version for Piano Playalong 126480 (including sound alike online accompaniments) PVG 124307, Vocal Selections 128053 and a choral version called Let’s All Sing Songs from Frozen 127889.

For instrumentalists there are the Songs from Frozen, Tangled and Enchanted.

FrozenInstrumental The solos featured in this collection are ideal for students at a Grade 1-2 standard. Once again, they will know the songs, so the trickier rhythms should not prove so much of a challenge. The books feature online access to audio demonstration tracks for download or streaming.
Songs include: Do You Want to Build a Snowman? • For the First Time in Forever • Happy Working Song • I See the Light • In Summer • Let It Go • Mother Knows Best • That’s How You Know • True Love’s First Kiss • When Will My Life Begin • I’ve Got A Dream • Love Is An Open Door and So Close.

Songs from Frozen, Tangled and Enchanted are available for Alto saxophone (126923) , Cello (126930), Clarinet (126922), Flute (126921), French horn (126926),Tenor saxophone (126924), Trombone (126927), Trumpet (126925), Viola (126929) and Violin (126928).

All of these publications are available from your local favourite music retail store.

40 Piece Challenge Certificates 2014

Certificates for the 40 Piece Challenge are now available to download.

Click here to download either colour or black and white versions of the certificates.

This year, due to popular demand, we have created certificates for students who achieve 20, 30, 40, 50, 80 and 100 pieces of the challenge. Instrumental certificates will be available soon.

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Hot chocolate motivator!

Challenge teacher Rebecca has involved her local community in helping to support and motivate her 40 Piece Challenge students.

Rebecca uses the excellent Coffee Card idea and places a sticker on the students card for each piece learned.

When her students finish 10 pieces they can redeem a free hot-chocolate or ice-cream at her local café. The café provides this free of charge (wow!!!) and it allows the student a chance to celebrate their achievement with their parents.

I wonder how could you could involve other local businesses in your studio 40 Piece Challenge?

Some other little reward ideas to help motivate students along the way…

LipBalm

  Lip Balm Treble Clef: VWS012 Keyboard: VWS014

Bach Bookmark VWP0176

Bach Bookmark
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And something for your adult students! Bottle Opener 54660

And something for your adult students!
Bottle Opener
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International Piano Week

Issue 5 of The Piano Teacher magazine is due out next month and we are very excited to be launching a whole new look! Sneek peek below!

We are also thrilled to be launching International Piano Week!

Melbourne composer, Sonny Chua has written a piece he describes as a ‘musical smile’ especially for The Piano Teacher magazine.

To ensure you receive your copy of The Piano Teacher in the post (free!) click here to subscribe.

We are encouraging all piano teachers to have their students perform it during lessons in International Piano Week – September 1-7th 2014

The piece is called Umi’s Lullaby and there are so many ways you can use the piece.

  • Play it as a duet with beginner students
  • Use it as sight reading for older students
  • Include it as one of the 40 Piece Challenge pieces
  • Encourage students to improvise with it
  • Write a variation or arrangement and add other instruments
  • Add words or write a story or performance notes about the piece. Answer the question: Who is Umi?

We encourage students to upload their performances to Youtube and include International Piano Week Umi in the title. Then tweet about the performance using #IPWUmi.

Students might like to perform it at a school assembly or in a concert for family or friends.

Music stores might invite students in to perform Umi’s Lullaby on display pianos.

Teachers might contact a local newspaper or radio and give an interview about how your studio is participating in International Piano Week; write a blog about their experience preparing for IPW or upload outstanding or unusual student performances to http://www.facebook.com/AustralianPianoTeachersMusicHUB 

The possibilities are endless!

We will collate a tally of performances heard and report back in Issue 6 of The Piano Teacher magazine.

TPT

 

 

Sneak peak of Issue 5! Piano Teachers click here to subscribe. It’s free!

 

The Piano Teacher magazines:

Issue 1

PTM1Issue 2 

PTM2

Issue 3 PTM003_Cover

Issue 4 PTM_4_Cover (1)