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Review: The Music of Jon George

Having lived in my town for just over 2 years now, my studio is comprised mostly of beginner and elementary level students.  A few months ago, I felt that a handful of my beginners were ready for some early elementary level supplemental books — things that would get them moving around the keyboard more and help prevent them from becoming too “method-ized.”  (You know what I mean, right?  I don’t like my students to become overly Faber-ized, Alfred-ized, Bastien-ized, or whatever).  :)

Two years ago at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, I attended an Exhibitor Session for Willis Music led by Glenda Austin.  Most of the session was about composer William Gillock (no longer living) and his wonderful compositions for students.  I remember that Glenda introduced the session by stating that many experienced teachers are well aware of Gillock’s extensive output of music for students, but that many younger teachers might not be familiar with his music.  I enjoyed that session so much — it was great to learn more about Gillock and his music that has stood the test of time.

Jon George is another composer who has left behind a huge output of wonderful pieces for students.  While I am relatively new to his music, no doubt many of you have made great use of Jon George’s music over the years!  A few months ago, I decided to order a few of Jon George’s early- and mid- elementary level books to use with my students.  I’m so glad I did, because I am thrilled with what I found!

3507673Kaleidoscope Solos – Book 1, by Jon George

Early Elementary.

I love this book.  It is very difficult to find such good writing for beginner students.  This book contains some of the best writing for the early elementary level that I have ever encountered.

The pieces in this book require students to play with their hands starting at different places on the keyboard, which helps prevent students from getting “locked” into positions such as the Middle C position.

As a teacher, I do my best to encourage students to shape phrases and play musically even when they are beginners and these pieces make it easy to do so!  These melodic pieces are inspiring to students and appealing to the ear.  The student of mine who received this book is thriving with these pieces.  I will be utilizing this series much more in the future.

There are 4 more books available in this series, progressing to an intermediate level.  

3535806Kaleidoscope Duets – Book 1, by Jon George

Elementary.

Jon George also wrote a series of duet books called “Kaleidoscope Duets.”   The writing is simple yet great-sounding.  If you have a student who enjoys it when you play the teacher accompaniments, get this book instead of the Kaleidoscope Solos.  The secondo parts are simple enough to use with another student (maybe an older sibling) if desired.

I’m currently using this book with three sisters.  The pieces are just right for the youngest sister and are a little bit easy for the other two — which is fine with me because it allows us to focus on good ensemble playing.

There are 4 more books available in this series, progressing to an intermediate level.

3829527

Musical Moments – Book 1, by Jon George

Early Elementary.

I really love this book, too, for ALL of the same reasons described for the Kaleidoscope Solos – Book 1.  It is rare to find a collection of such wonderfully diverse and well-written pieces for the early elementary level.

The pieces are short (a half page or one page in length) and are attainable for students to learn well in one or two weeks.  The music sounds like real repertoire, which makes it appropriate for both young beginners as well as for adult students.

Musical Moments – Book 2 also available.

1553478Jon George’s Festival of Favorites, by Jon George

Elementary.

The pieces in this book are slightly more advanced than Book 1 of the Kadeidoscope Solos and Musical Moments series.  The book contains 20 solos and 3 duets.  Most of the pieces are one page in length, but a few of them are a half-page or two pages in length.

I might sound like a broken record, but again I want to emphasize the quality of Jon George’s writing.  The pieces in this book sound like real repertoire despite the fact that they are simple and attainable for students to play.  Jon George had quite a gift.

Please tell me about your favorite books/solos by Jon George!

Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this review — I purchased these books myself and simply had to share about them! 

11 thoughts on “Review: The Music of Jon George”

  1. Thanks for the info, Joy! I love Gillock’s blues pieces, but I am unfamiliar with Jon George. I’ll definitely look for his music.

  2. ditto A Day In The Jungle. Occasionally I have had talented and focused young students learn the entire book and present a home recital. Sometimes they have made little clay animal figures to go along with the beautiful pieces.

    Don’t miss A Day In The Jungle! (that’s what Barbara Wing told me years ago. Thank you Barbara)

  3. thanks for the suggestions- just gone and ordered some Jon George music for my students- had never heard of him before! I use so much music from USA- so much UK written work is so dull in comparison (and boys, especially, love the wild west type pieces you get in American books!)

    love your blog

  4. I love the Kaleidoscope Duets. I try to rotate the duets I use from year to year in my studio to avoid repetition, but this book seems to get used every year. The songs sound harder than they really are and the kids love them. Book 1 is probably my favorite of the series. Jon George is one of those composers that you can’t go wrong with. There is always more than one favorite piece in each of his books. I’ve never had a kid not like his songs.
    Also check out “A Day in the Forest. Rain and Rainbows is a always a hit with my kids.

  5. This post reminded me of Jon George’s wife, Mary Gae. I saw her present at a state MTNA convention many years ago with a group of students. At the time she was doing a lot of ensemble work with her students-some on piano, some on other instruments. I loved her ideas. I taught group lessons in a university prep program for many years. In this setting it is easy to do ensemble work. Now that I run my own private studio it is much more difficult to implement ensemble playing. I do quarterly group classes (I think I’ll start calling them Piano Parties!), and a duet recital at least once a year because I think it is really important for students to have social music making experiences. This year I’m going to do a “Monster Concert” where every student plays in a trio or quartet. Thanks, Joy, for posting this and reminding me of Mary Gae George’s ensembles!

  6. I placed and order for the Kaleidoscope-Solos- books 1, 2 and 3 I think they will be very helpful in my music program /Thanks Joy!!!

  7. I thought I had posted Mary Gae George’s website (Artistry Alliance) when I first read this post, but guess not. Mrs. George is Jon George’s widow, and has kept up his/their work of training musicians and teachers. She has written some music and coursework on teaching theory, made dvds of how to teach piano, as well as written many books to augment his work.
    Check out her website; it is excellent … http://www.artistryalliance.net/
    And, you can order music and dvds, etc. from this site also. Prompt delivery also.

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