Up: a review by Michelle Randall

Sydney teacher, Michelle Randall offers us this review of Up.

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Watching the movie Up will enhance the use of this collection of Easy Piano pieces (about a Grade 2 AMEB level) published by Hal Leonard.

Michael Giacchino composed a character theme-based score that follows and changes as the characters age in the film. A ‘simple piano’ piece can grow with the characters by use of orchestration and other compositional techniques including tonality, dynamics and texture.

Up is a G-rated film dealing with emotive, human situations rarely covered in other children’s entertainment. It would be wonderful if students could play selected pieces and your studio could come together to watch the film. That would surely be a learning experience the student would remember!

Whereas the movie Frozen demonstrated how important and influential songs in a film can be, Up is much more an instrumental score. Giacchino likens it to an opera, although only a couple of songs have lyrics.

There are a lot of on-line resources about the film music, including the composer and producer discussing the music. Compositional elements could be discussed and explored with students.

The book itself is presented with clear easy to read large staves; a great size for students and teachers who don’t like to wear their glasses. Some pieces are neatly 2 pages long, which appeals to a lot of my students and some are considerably longer.  There are some tricky rhythms throughout some of the music, so I would work on those away from the piece and then introduce them and play them for the student.

Easy piano arrangements of 13 pieces from Pixar’s mammoth animated hit. Includes: Carl Goes Up • It’s Just a House • Kevin Beak’n • Married Life • Memories Can Weigh You Down • The Nickel Tour • Paradise Found • The Small Mailman Returns • The Spirit of Adventure • Stuff We Did • We’re in the Club Now • and more.

Au RRP inc GST $26.95 

Order Code: 129727

Available 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.

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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.

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

KIDS BROADWAY FAVOURITES (Easy Piano – Grade Two)

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A fabulous collection of Broadway hits from old favourite and modern musicals alike including Annie, Mary Poppins, Oliver, My Fair Lady and South Pacific, sure to keep pianists of all ages entertained!

Fingering suggestions are provided throughout along with chord symbols and easy-to-follow lyrics.

The music is uncluttered and clearly set out, allowing for easy reading. No bar numbers are marked, but repeats, dal segno and coda sections are clearly shown.

Some pieces will require careful attention, particularly those with ‘instrumental’ like passages between sections, but would be perfect for Eisteddfodau or concerts once performance ready.

Primary aged students will enjoy energetic selections like Consider Yourself, Part of Your World and A Spoonful of Sugar while older students (and adult learners) may prefer to revisit old favourites like Dites Moi, Getting to Know You and Wouldn’t it Be Loverly.

Use of pedal is suggested, but no specific indications are included, so the album may be better learnt (and enjoyed) with teacher guidance.

A fun and challenging resource… 5 stars!

Thanks to Toowoomba piano teacher Courtney Feldman for this review.

Item code is 124316. This book is available from your favourite music retail store.

LET IT GO, HAPPY & MORE HOT SINGLES – Grade Two

00128204FCThis book offers a great collection of chart topping pop and movie hits – with everyone’s favourite song of the moment… LET IT GO (OOOO) *cue theatrical vocal rendition*!

As the most accessible piece of the folio, Dark Horse could be introduced to grade 1 students, with the remaining selections used as motivation to achieve good exam results (starting on the funky Grade 2 pieces just in time for the Christmas holidays!)

The arrangement of Happy is my pick of the bunch, cleverly swapping the melodic line between right and left hand to imitate the solo and echo voices featured in the original (i.e. start of the chorus, bar 18).

Much of the remaining left hand work provides a stable percussive beat to ‘keep toes tapping’!

On a lighter note, this book is ideal for teachers and parents who really can’t bear the thought of more than one Frozen song on the practice list!

The 8 page long arrangement of Let It Go will keep developing pianists entertained for a while and pays homage to the original recording!

Although some passages will require careful fingering and attention, generally, the pieces sound more difficult than they actually are – great for end of year concerts to impress!

A great all rounder… 4 stars!

Thanks to Toowoomba piano teacher Courtney Feldman for this review.

Item code is 128204. This book is available from your favourite music retail store.

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.