For our annual Spring Recital, I maintain a tradition of letting my piano students choose their own special piece to memorize and perform. In December or January, I restock my library of sheet music solos at all the various levels, so that I can demonstrate 3-4 pieces for each student to choose from.
I’ve started to try to keep track of some of the pieces that I feel were favorites or especially successful in performance over the past few years. I think every teacher should keep track of their favorite teaching pieces! I suggest doing so using a YouTube playlist or a spreadsheet file (Excel or Google Sheets). In fact, I have started a Collaborative Repertoire List project here that you may be interested in viewing.
Today, I’d like to share with you a selection of favorite sheet music solos my students have played over the past few years. In this video, you will hear me talk about and play excerpts from 18 pieces. Below the video, you’ll find written comments for each piece as well as links for purchasing the sheet music. Enjoy!
- 1:20 Dancing Drums, by Joyce Grill — A lively piece in a minor key that has a catchy and interesting melody. Teacher duet.
- 2:00 Japanese Garden, by Jennifer Linn — An expressive, pentatonic piece for beginners. Teacher duet.
- 3:20 In My Dreams, by Jennifer Linn — This piece has an absolutely gorgeous melody. 36 measures in length. Teacher duet.
- 4:10 Reflections in the Pool, by Margaret Goldston — Not your typically elementary-sounding solo! Flowing piece with beautiful harmonies. Features LH crossovers. Students will sound mature, sophisticated, and expressive. Great for adult students. Requires legato pedaling. Key of G major.
- 5:15 The Lady and the Dragon, by Christopher Goldston — Oriental-sounding, contrasting ABA piece representing the lady and the dragon. Simple pedal work required. Makes the student sound impressive.
- 7:00 Mist on the Lake, June C. Montgomery — A soft, mysterious piece in D minor. This expressive piece requires shifting hand positions, crossing LH over, and long pedaling (optional). A great piece for encouraging interval reading.
- 8:10 Beautiful Dolphin, by Mary Leaf — A gorgeous piece in 3/4 time that makes the student sound advanced. The sprawling range of the melody requires the student to make frequent fingering changes and hand shifts. The melody is accompanied by simple LH countermelody or blocked intervals.
- 9:05 Castle Days, by Kathleen Massoud — A flowing, medieval-sounding piece in E minor. Requires legato pedaling. A great piece for encouraging interval reading.
- 10:12 Dream Echoes, by E.L. Lancaster — An expressive, patterned-based piece that makes the student sound impressive. Two pages in length. Requires legato pedaling. Great for adult students.
- 11:10 The Comet’s Tale, by Melody Bober — A lengthy, expressive piece in A minor. The melody is memorable. Explores the full range of the keyboard. Requires legato pedaling.
- 12:20 Starfish, by Melody Bober — A well-composed piece with beautiful harmonies. Great piece for developing expression. Requires legato pedaling. C major.
- 13:05 Lost Star, by Kevin Costley — A flowing yet melancholy piece featuring LH crossovers. The patterns in the piece make it easy to memorize. Requires legato pedaling.
- 14:00 Arabian Tale, by Martha Mier — A flowing piece in A minor and 3/4 time. The LH’s shifting pattern helps make this piece easy to memorize.
- 14:45 Prelude Majestic, by Margaret Goldston — This stately piece in E minor features a “ground bass” — a repeating pattern in the bass accompaniment. Many different chord inversions are used throughout the piece. Requires a handspan of an octave. There are some tricky areas in this piece, but it is rewarding to play. I loved playing this solo back when I was an intermediate-level student!
- 16:33 A Long Goodbye, by Carolyn Miller — A beautiful, longing piece in D minor with lovely harmonies.
- 17:23 Allegro Furioso, by W.T. Skye Garcia — A fiery, classical-sounding piece in 6/8 with a LH octave melody. Students will love the sense of drama and excitement in this piece!
- 18:20 Tokyo Twilight, by Melody Bober — An expressive piece with an oriental influence. The B section features a murmuring sixteenth-note accompaniment under a pentatonic melody of parallel fourths.
- 19:30 Ballade of Don Quixote, by Lynn Freeman Olson — A programmatic piece of music filled with both drama and beauty. Many tempo changes, shifts in styles, and section breaks. This piece requires great imagination, expression, and flair on the part of the performer and will make an impactful impression on the listener.
Do you have favorite sheet music solo titles to share? Please post them in the comment section below!
15 thoughts on “My Favorite Sheet Music Solos for Piano Students”
Several of the pieces on your list are in my sheet music file- I think I better take a look and see what other treasures are in there that i haven’t taught in a while!
Thanks so much, Joy! Here’s a few of our favorites: Midnight Escapade – Bober, Rhythm Roulette-Alexander, Footprints in the Snow – Linn, Midnight Ride of Paul Revere-Johnson. My students love getting single sheets instead of a whole book!:)
Thank you for sharing this list! Some of these I am familiar with, but I am always looking for new music, especially for my beginners. I appreciate you taking the time to compile this list and record some excerpts, that really saves time for me!
Wonderful list–thank you! I’m saving it and will refer back often. Thank you for your great blog–I have learned a lot from reading your posts. Congratulations and best wishes with your teachers’ workshops and the grant you recently received!
Great idea, Joy. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I can’t wait to check out some of these pieces I hadn’t heard of before. All the best!
Thank you! I have saved some of those titles for the future! 🙂
Great list! I love The Hunters by David Carr Glover, Staccato Caprice by Willard A. Palmer, and Midnight Rhapsody by Melody Bober.
Thanks, Joy! I just watched your video and it was very informative and spurs me on to look for those pieces. Always so helpful to give suggestions. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the things we want to do and the things we music get done asap! 🙂 This video was so helpful!
Carol DuBe, NCTM Littleton, Colorado
Thanks for the list, Joy. I just ordered a bucket full of them.
I enjoyed every minute of your presentation.
Thanks very much. I love all of your choices for songs.
So glad you enjoyed it, Sharon!
oh my goodness I am so happy. I gave Prelude Majestic to one of my non practising teens and he loves it so much he’s gone from not practising to obsessing about learning it. thank you for sharing.
Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear!! I’m so glad that piece was a hit with your student, Wendy. Thanks for sharing!!