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.
At the beginning of the new year, I like to take some time to look at my teaching roster and create an overview of my students’ current playing abilities by level. This process is helpful for choosing recital repertoire for upcoming events, but it is also useful for creating a benchmark to compare to previous and future years.
Usually, this process of listing out my students by level takes place on a piece of blank scratch paper and my scratch-marks don’t necessarily look pretty.
But this year, I got a little more organized and created a tidy-looking printable for myself!
I’ll be the first to admit that it is a feat to “level” music or to “level” a student’s playing ability. There are so many factors that go into creating music. In many ways, music seems to naturally defy any such categorization by difficulty. Yet, it is incredibly useful to have SOME sort of benchmark system, a starting-point, something to work from — even if the leveling system is inherently imperfect.
Using the printable above, I can see the big picture. I can take my list to the music store with me to restock my library of sheet music solos. I can update my progress notes for each student.
If you would like to use this printable, you can download the free PDF via the link below or the Printables > Other Resources page under the title “Students Listed by Level”.
I’m pleased to review a collection of teacher-student piano duets today called Fairyland in Trebleby London-based Greek composer Nikolas Sideris.
I must first say, the book is gorgeous. The paper is heavy and a lovely creamy color. The cover design, as you can see from the photo here, is beautiful. The typography, layout, and notation is likewise top quality and pleasing to the eye throughout the book.
The book is a whopping 72 pages in length. There are eleven different pieces in the book, all written at a mid- to late-intermediate level and centered around a theme of fairy tales. As the Preface states, the duets are based on music the composer composed over the past eight years primarily for use in computer game soundtracks. Over the years, Nikolas adapted the music into teacher/student duets. To give you some idea, the titles include: A Playful Countess, The Bold Barber, The Duke and the Cook, Fifi on the Moon, and The Pirate Highsea Games.
Before each piece in the book, there is a written-out fairy tale story authored by Nefeli Tsipouridi. In addition, each piece is accompanied by a QR code which can be scanned using any QR code reader app to quickly pull up a recording of the secondo part (teacher’s part) for the student to practice along with.
The duets are of good length, making them a nice option for recitals or other performances.
On to the music! Here is a lovely video of the composer performing the duets with another pianist/teacher, Miriam Kornberg. The pieces are beautiful, expressive, and enjoyable to hear and play. I love the variety of modes and moods used throughout the book.
One of my intermediate students and I learned the first duet from the book, The King and the Dragon, and we really have enjoyed the piece! I would highly recommend this book for you and your intermediate students. Another possible use: I like to use duets for sight-reading. If you have have advanced students, they might enjoy this book for that purpose during lesson time.
Isn’t it great when you find just the right music, for just the right student, at just the right time?
Back when I first reviewed Elena Cobb’s music in 2012, I had mostly beginner students in my studio having recently relocated to Ohio. Recently, I was pleased to have the opportunity to give Elena’s book of jazz-inspired early intermediate pieces, called Higgledy Piggledy Jazz, to my student, Emma. Emma has really gone to town with this book — she loves the pieces and loves playing along with the backing tracks on the accompanying CD.
I asked Emma if she would like to take a video to share with the composer and she was thrilled with the idea. I hope you enjoy Emma’s little wink at the beginning of the video…it pretty well shows her personality!
Jennifer Eklund of PianoPronto.com has kindly offered to sponsor a giveaway for us today! Let me tell you a little bit about Jennifer’s work.
Jennifer is a piano teacher and self-publishing composer with a huge output of materials for piano students. She publishes her own piano method called Piano Pronto as well as a variety of supplemental books/sheet music. Jennifer sells both print copies and digital copies (for immediate download) of her materials. Continue reading “Giveaway: Christmas Music by Jennifer Eklund”→
In particular, I have observed a number of threads asking for repertoire suggestions for a particular student/situation and have been amazed at the collective knowledge and experience shared by the teachers who respond! It is unfortunate that these threads get lost and forgotten over time among the ever-growing number of threads that take place in these facebook groups. Wouldn’t it be great to have a more permanent place where teachers can share their favorite pieces of repertoire for various situations?
Well, now there is! I’ve created a public Google Spreadsheet containing a few different lists:
Motivational Repertoire — Please share only your top hits and your best pupil savers. In the “comments” space, please share why this piece was so great for your student.
Piano Ensemble — Please add any of your favorite piano duets, duos, trios, and quartets.
Concertos — Share any piano concertos that you think are especially valuable and effective for students.
For One Hand — Have you ever had a student injure or break an arm? Please feel free to browse or add repertoire suggestions composed for right or left hand only.
For Small Hands — Do have advancing students with a very small reach? The repertoire suggestions on this list even list the maximum handspan required in each piece.
CLICK HERE to learn more about this spreadsheet. Please take the time to add a piece or two to the list, and please feel free to share about this project with your piano teaching colleagues across the world. The more the merrier!
Our previous Forum Q&A post was about Christmas gifts for piano students. We received a LOT of responses — thank you! I will definitely be consulting that post again next year when Christmas rolls around!
Our new Forum Q&A is a topic suggested by a reader. She says:
“My New Years resolution in my studio is for myself and my students to sight read and prepare more duets. I would love suggestions on duets at all levels.”
Australian composer Daniel McFarlane has composed a number of student-level repertoire books which are available on his website. Daniel was kind enough to send me digital copies of his books so I could review them here.
In appearance, all of Daniel’s books have easy-to-read scores with no illustrations. The titles of each piece are in fun fonts depending on the subject of each piece.
All of Daniel’s books can be purchased in hard copies or as digital copies (be careful that you’ve selected the right one when you check-out! The digital ones clearly say “Digital Edition” in the title, and allow for one print-out of the book). The prices for the music of Daniel’s website are in Australian dollars. Daniel assured me that when you check-out, the conversion to your currency would be made properly. The current rate of AUD compared to USD is about 1:1.
Soundscapes Book 1
The pieces in Sounscapes Book 1 have a pop-ish and almost rock music sound to them, while retaining elements of classical music and good educational writing for students. The pieces feature repetitive patterns and chord progressions, catchy tunes, lyrical RH melodies, syncopated rhythms, and repeated LH notes.
I would use this book with an early intermediate student (probably no younger than age 9) who has good technique and an excellent sense of rhythm. It could also be a great option for teenagers or adult students at that level of playing. The pieces are very appealing in sound and would be a great option for boy students.
Greetings! Today I have two important announcements:
I have finished all the requirements for my Master’s degree! HOORAY! =D
Today we have a new GIVEAWAY! Here are the details:
Andrea & Trevor Dow from yesterday’s interview have kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway of Episode 1 of The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo! This pdf is a $19.95 value and contains Early Elementary, Elementary, and Intermediate Level versions of the pieces, accompanied by a three page comic. Once you’ve purchased the pdf, you are free to print off as many copies as needed for use with your students! Read more about The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo piano music for boys by clicking here.
Tell us about how you would use The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo in your studio!
Or, share any tips you have about keeping boy students motivated in their piano studies.
You may earn one additional entry in the giveaway by sharing the link to this giveaway on your blog or on your facebook page. Be sure to leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this, so that you get your extra entry.
The winner will be chosen via random number generator. Enter before Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ midnight for your chance to win!
The website for their music school, Wildflower Music Studio, can be viewed here.
Their latest project has been to write a series of piano music intended for boys. The series of “episodes” is accompanied by comic book illustrations that tell the adventures of Fearless Fortissimo.
And now for the interview!
* * * * *
Joy: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!
Andrea: I was heavily involved in piano and singing lessons from the age of 4. I started teaching piano lessons when I was 18. I had a rusty old Toyota Corolla packed with supplies and I drove to my students’ homes in between my university classes and on weekends. This quickly morphed into a full-time job when I graduated with my B.Mus and within three years I had a studio of 350 students and a teaching staff of 14. My husband, Trevor, and I created the Piano Pals Early Learning Program (a preschool piano program for students ages 3-5 that teaches both beginning piano skills as well as kindergarten math concepts), which has been extremely successful at our own studio and is currently in development to be available to other teachers online. Right now I teach upper-level piano and singing lessons while managing our studio, and together with my husband we create online materials for piano teachers with the goal of bringing them the same amount of success we have created with our own studio. We co-authored the teaching e-book “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers” last year, are active bloggers, and most recently launched our newest venture with www.pianomusicforboys.com.
I forgot to put up the week’s new Forum Q&A post yesterday, so here it is a day late! Sorry about that…I think the term paper for my music history class is draining all my brain cells. =D
It was so fun to read the variety of approaches teachers use when it comes to summer lessons for last week’s Forum Q&A! I hope you had as much fun reading about them as I did. I just added my own comment which describes a new method I’m going to try next summer (2012), so please check it out and let me know what you think.
This week, though, we are going to discuss methods of obtaining and getting reimbursed for student materials! I’m curious to know….
First of all: Do you tell students to go purchase the new books/materials they need, or do you go and get them yourself?
Secondly, if you purchase them yourself, how do you go about getting reimbursement? Is the cost of books/materials covered in your tuition rate? Or do you charge a yearly or semesterly fee to cover books and materials? Or do you add the cost of the books to that month’s invoice for tuition?
I’m trying to decide how to go about dealing with getting books when I start my independent studio in the fall, so I’d love to hear what method works for you!