Relaxing Music for Piano Solo

Teachers across Australia and New Zealand have been joining our review team to provide real life reviews of new publications.
Winston Hills teacher Dianna writes…
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Thank you so much for sending me the book ‘Relaxing Music for Piano Solo’ to review. I think it has to be one of my favourites!

It says “40 soothing selections including Beautiful Dreamer, Claire de Lune, Fur Elise, Londonderry Air, Pie Jesu, The Swan, To a Wild Rose”.

The pieces range in difficulty from 3rd grade to 6th grade.

There is no fingering on any of the pieces (not necessarily a bad thing though). Most of the pieces are two pages long, but some are longer and page turns can be tricky, but easy to copy the page that needs to be turned and tape it in for performance purposes (except the piece that goes for 6 pages).

The arrangements of the pieces are fantastic though. Some of my favourites are ‘Nimrod’ (Elgar), ‘Largo’ (Handel), ‘The Ash Grove’ (Old Welsh Air), ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusic’ Second Movement (Mozart) and ‘Jupiter’ (Holst).

I was asked to play last minute at a wedding recently. Usually I play the violin, but this time they wanted the piano, and this book was full of pieces just perfect to play.

The selection of repertoire is great. Lots of classical pieces that aren’t too difficult, but well known.

Looks like this would make an ideal book for 40 Piece Challenge students. Older students would find some ‘quick win’ repertoire and younger students would have a plethora of repertoire to continually work on.  A handy book full of useful pieces for any pianist to know!

Order code is 130679 $29.95 from your favourite music retail store!

 

 

Piano Music of Sonny Chua

0101340976Piano teachers across the USA are travelling to Chicago this week to attend the NCKP. As a special treat this year in the exhibitor hall there is an Australian Music Booth! If you are one of our US readers attending the NCKP, go along and check out  Australian composer, Sonny Chua’s music.

If you are not lucky enough to be in Chicago this week, here is a sneak peak inside Sonny Chua’s collection: Piano Music of Sonny Chua. This collection would be fabulous for 40 Piece Challenge students as it includes pieces at a range of levels, so some quick wins as well as some pieces to work towards.

SonnyChuaSonny Chua writes of his Piano Music Collection…

These miniatures were created to taunt, tickle and teach. I wrote these pieces to amuse myself, as much as for the student to perform, and for the audience to participate as our unsuspecting victims.

Even though these works are preceded by descriptive titles, I hope the music itself is just as evocative without its extra-musical references. I believe music is a unique language and can perhaps communicate more richly and mightily than words.

These pieces were great fun to write as they allowed me to explore many aspects of pianistic technique and timbre. It was also immensely enjoyable to dabble as a “sonic character actor” with a range of musical concepts and styles. I hope you will enjoy the craft and the bluff in this quirky collection of piano music.

Piano Music of Sonny Chua (order number 0101340976) is available through these great stores in Australia and available from all good stores in the US via Hal Leonard. The collection includes:

You Dirty Rat (from a Gangster Suite)

YouDirtyRat

 

 

 

 

 

Angel (intermezzo from Sonatina)

Angel

 

 

 

 

 

No. 3 (from Waltz it All About?)
No3

 

 

 

 

No. 12 (from Waltz it All About?)
No12

 

 

 

 

Hoonmobile (from Bogus Boogies)

Hoonmobile

 

 

 

 

 

Headache Crawl (from Bogus Bogies)
HeadacheCrawl

 

 

 

 

TV Zombie (from Bogus Boogies)
TVZombie

 

 

 

 

T-Rex Hungry (from a Day in the Life of T-Rex)
TRexHungry

 

 

 

 

Jamaican Fumble (from Red Hot Rhapsodies)
JamacianFumble

 

 

 

 

Theme & 12 Deviations
ThemeAndDeviations

Top Hits of 2014 – Grade 1 plus

Big thanks to Samantha Coates who joins our review team!

ISam_Coates_067_cropt is my pleasure to write a short review on Top Hits of 2014

The Top Hits volume contains an impressive array of songs (16 in total), popular in 2014 and still popular now, ranging from Despicable Me’s ‘Happy’ and Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ through to pop hits such as John Legend’s ‘All of me’.

The arrangements are for ‘Easy Piano’ – that is, the rhythms have been well simplified and the bass parts do not contain any large leaps or complicated chords.

Whilst a competent Grade 1 student would be able to learn these pieces, some of the rhythms and coordinated required would be more suited to Grade 2 or 3.

Students in higher grades will still get a lot of joy from this book as the chord symbols shown are extremely helpful and a great start for those wanting to read from a chord chart.

137795
Song List:
All Of Me, Am I Wrong, Best Day Of My Life, Dark Horse, Fancy, Happy (from DESPICABLE ME 2), Let It Go (from Disney’s Animated Feature FROZEN), Love Never Felt So Good, Love Someone, Pompeii, Problem, Raging Fire, Sing, Stay With Me, Summer, Timber

Item code is 137795 and the Australian Recommended Retail price is $26.95 and it is available from all these fine retail stores.

The Piano Guys

A review by Rockhampton teacher, Christina Bond.

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“I was very excited to receive The Piano Guys Simplified Favorites: Vol 1 (Easy Piano/Optional Cello) book in the mail and sat down to play it straight away.

On playing through the pieces, I was impressed that although the arrangements were simplified, they did not sound markedly different from what you hear on the recordings.

The piano parts are written in a way that they can be played and enjoyed on their own but are enhanced even further with the cello part added.

I tested the book out with the string teacher at school and we were quickly able to sight read and play the entire book, much to the surprise and entertainment of the students passing by the piano room.

Even though it is described as “Easy Piano” I personally would reserve assigning these pieces until the student has reached a Grade 2/3 level AMEB and after discussion with our school string teacher, she suggested the cello part included with the arrangements would also be a similar level to the piano (Grade 3 level AMEB).

All in all I was pleased with the quality of these arrangements and look forward to assigning these to my students.

It is exciting that such a book has been published to allow a piano player and cellist to collaborate at an early level, performing pieces they can truly engage with.”

With their clever and inspiring takes on popular music and creative videos, The Piano Guys serve up an eclectic mix of classical, film score, rock and pop favourites that resonates with a wide variety of audiences. Play 12 of their most popular songs in these arrangements for easy piano with optional cello: All of Me • Arwen’s Vigil • Begin Again • Home • Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends • Moonlight • Over the Rainbow • Paradise • Rolling in the Deep • A Thousand Years • Titanium • Without You. Includes separate pull-out cello part.

127421 $29.95 (Australian RRP including GST)

Journey Through The Classics Complete

00110217FCA review by NSW piano teacher, Sharon Ellam.

Journey Through The Classics Complete With 2 CDs

Hal Leonard Piano Repertoire Elementary Through Intermediate

Compiled and Edited by Jennifer Linn 98 Essential Masterworks

What a delightful collection of ‘old faithfuls’ and several pleasant surprises!

My first delight was the pretty paper inside! With an artistic, yellowed, aged look, big note format, clear sections with increasing difficulty, well packaged CDs, a brief musical dictionary of common terms, a page of blank large manuscript and a Repertoire Performance Log inside the back cover, this book is visually and functionally appealing.

This compilation would be my ‘no brainer’ recommendation as a purchase for any young piano teacher needing some inspiration with young students, and students (adult or child) who are looking for one volume that enables a progressive journey through the classics with clearly identifiable goals.

This Collection combines four ‘Journey Through The Classics’ Books – Elementary, Late Elementary, Early Intermediate and Intermediate – beginning with pieces at P Plate Piano level progressing through to about 4th Grade level.

I have to put my hand up for pouncing on suitable 40 Piece Challenge pieces such as The Pennywhistle by Gottlob Turk and Gurlitt’s Little Bird Op. 117 No. 7. Four clear sections (Books 1 – 4) begin with a Reference Chart identifying the CD track number, Title, Composer, Era, Key, Meter and Challenge Elements.

The Challenge Elements clearly identify the progression of musical elements to be mastered in each piece.

The corresponding CD tracks, with quality solo recordings by Jennifer Linn (I was impressed by the clarity of the recordings in terms of articulation and colour), are masterful in their simplicity.

I sat all night listening to the CDs whilst following the music & couldn’t get enough (and that was after two days of sitting at the piano ‘tinkling’ to my heart’s delight)!

Highlights:

Shepherd’s Flute by Tat’iana Salutrinskaya

Bourree in D Minor by Graupne

Trumpet Tune by Duncombe

Waltz by Vogel

Arabian Air by Le Couppey

Morning Prayer Op. 101, No. 2 by Gurlitt

Tarantella Op. 14, No. 8 by Lynes

Church Bells by Camidge

Sad at Heart Op. 47, No. 5 by Fuchs

Sarabande by Pachelbel

Distant Bells Op. 63, No. 6 by Steabbog

The Bear by Rebikoff

Theme and Variation Op. 228 by Gurlitt

Tolling Bell Op. 125, No. 8 by Heller

The Limpid Stream Op. 100, No 7 by Burgmuller

Quiet Morning by Maykapar

Old French Song Op. 39, No 16  by Tchaikovsky

Sonatina in A Minor by Benda

By the Spring Op. 101, No. 5 by Gurlitt

The Avalanche Op. 45, No. 2 by Heller

The Storm Op. 109, No. 13 by Burgmuller

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.