repertoire / methods, Resources, seasonal / holiday

List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web

Christmas is on the way, whether you are ready or not!  My students are already starting to ask about Christmas music, so I’m doing some digging on the web to find places to print easy Christmas arrangements for free.

I also have a lending library of Christmas books that I’ve built over the years (mostly used books I find at garage sales and thrift shops), but printing music is great because they can keep it if they like.  When students wish to own their own Christmas books, I’m happy to get them for them — but I’m just as happy to give them printed arrangements from online because they only get used a few weeks out of the year.

Here are a few places I’ve found Christmas pdfs of sheet music for piano: Continue reading “List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web”

Reviews

Interview with Composer Dror Perl

This post features an interview with Dror Perl, composer of the “Red,” “Purple,” and “Blue” book that were reviewed in this post.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 5 . I acquired my first music degree in Israel at Rimon school of Music.  Later my curiosity and love for Jazz brought me to NY where I started taking lessons with the legendary Barry Harris at his workshop.  I really enjoy the concerts and rich music scene that NY has to offer. In 2002, I continued my studies at ESC SUNY. I’ve been a professional musician and lived in NY ever since and have been traveling often overseas. Continue reading “Interview with Composer Dror Perl”

Motivation, Resources, Reviews

Book Review: “Red,” “Purple,” and “Blue” by Dror Perl

A few weeks ago, I received a friendly email from composer Dror Perl asking if I’d be willing to write a review of his music books.  I, of course, said yes, and so Dror sent me complimentary copies of the Red and Purple books.  Here is my full review of his wonderful books!

Summary

repertoire / methods, Reviews

Book Review: “Returning to the Piano” by Wendy Stevens

Summary

  • Title: Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults (click to view on Amazon)
  • Composer/Arranger: Wendy Stevens
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard
  • Number of Pages: 96
  • Level: Elementary – Early Intermediate (pieces are in order of difficulty).
  • Other Information: Includes a CD.

Review

As the title suggests, this book is intended for adult piano students who are returning to the piano.  Even in the first few pieces, the students’ hands are not confined to “positions” as in many methods; therefore, this book may be a good solution for students who already are accustomed to moving around the keys, or for the student who would benefit from becoming more comfortable doing so.  (I would not recommend using this book with beginners because it is clearly not intended for that use.) Continue reading “Book Review: “Returning to the Piano” by Wendy Stevens”

Ear Training, Practice, Reading Notation, repertoire / methods, Teaching Piano

Introducing Students to New Pieces

The first look at a new piece is crucial.  As accomplished pianists/teachers, we automatically know to scan the piece to check the time signature, key signature, texture, composer, title, etc. before playing through a piece.  Of course, we were trained to go through those steps before sightreading through a piece.

Before having students sightread, what do you say/do with them to introduce a new piece?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Here’s some things I’ve tried: Continue reading “Introducing Students to New Pieces”

Forum Q&A's, improving as a teacher, repertoire / methods

SUMMARY | July Monthly Forum: Discussing Method Books

Here is the summary post for the July Monthly Forum: Discussing Method Books.  Thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts!

Your Thoughts

Allow me to summarize some of the main points that were made in the comments:

  • Choose a piano method that will give students (especially beginners) a strong foundation for the future and ensure success.
  • Choose a piano method that will suite each student’s interests and taste.
  • Choose a piano method that has “good” and “real” music.  (A couple of you made such references….perhaps this could be a launching point for further discussion: what does “good” or “real” music entail?)
  • Don’t necessarily use the same piano method for every student.
  • Be sure to supplement the method with books outside of the method, so that they are experiencing different types of repertoire.

Read all the comments for yourself here.

Your Favorites

You also shared some of your favorite piano methods in the comments.  Here are the ones that were mentioned:

  • “Play Piano Now!” from Alfred publishing – for adult beginners.
  • “Music Tree” – for creative and bright students; strong in theory.
  • Alfred Premier – for students ages 8-11; strong in theory.
  • Alfred Prep and Alfred Basic – for young beginner students (ages 4-8).
  • “Piano Adventures” by the Fabers – has imaginative pieces; encourages note-reading.

My Thoughts

My personal philosophy when it comes to piano methods is that there is no single piano method that is “the best” or that works for all students.  Every student learns differently and every student has various goals, interests, and tastes in music.  Therefore, the teacher must seek to find and use the piano method that will be best for each individual student.  It is important for teachers to become familiar with the various piano methods available so that they can choose the proper method for each student.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating Piano Methods: Continue reading “SUMMARY | July Monthly Forum: Discussing Method Books”

Forum Q&A's, repertoire / methods

The July Forum: Discussing Method Books

This month’s discussion topic is about using method books (i.e., Alfred, Faber, Bastien, etc.) in the piano studio:

What do you look for in a method book?  What features are most important to you?  Do you use the same method series for all your students, or do you use a variety?  If you use a variety of different method books in your studio, how do you decide which one is right for each student?  Do you use a method series all the way through the final level, or do you take them out at some point?

Post away!  =)

Photo credit: ragingtornado | CC 2.0

repertoire / methods, Resources

A New Adult Student Book on the Market: “Returning to the Piano” by Wendy Stevens

Check out this announcement at the ComposeCreate.com blog: Wendy Stevens has written a new adult piano book entitled: Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults.  I often have a hard time deciding what adult method to use with my adult students.  Especially when they aren’t true beginners and have had previous experience with piano, I don’t like putting them through overly method-y books!  In addition, many adult students want to learn pieces with tunes that are familiar to them.  This book looks like it may be a good alternative for those types of situations, or simply as a supplement to an adult method.

Here is the description from the Hal Leonard site:

I just ordered a copy from SheetMusicPlus.com and I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can try out all the arrangements myself!  =)

Announcements, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Motivation, Performances, repertoire / methods

Listening and Communicating in 4-Handed Piano Music

A colleague of mine and I are planning to learn some four-handed piano music this summer, and perhaps do a whole recital together of just four-handed music in the fall semester.  So I’ve been digging around on YouTube, looking for repertoire ideas.  And I have couple of cool videos to share with you today:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omuZF6oaCnw

What a great video to show students!  Everything is so perfectly synchronized, and their playing is so beautifully expressive.  They are AMAZING musicians.

Here’s another fine duo team.  Perhaps the coolest thing about this video, however, is the piano they are playing on: a Pleyel Double Grand Piano!  I’ve never seen anything like it!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjYfdB0CvSg

There are some important benefits of playing four-handed repertoire.  Both players must be actively listening and communicating with each other — not only so that they are together beat-wise and so that the melody and accompaniment ideas are balanced, but also so that they are playing musically together: shaping phrases together, executing rubato together, and calling and responding to each other’s melodic motives.  Developing these skills while working on four-handed repertoire can give a whole new perspective to solo piano repertoire!  Besides — working on four-handed music can be a lot of fun!  =)

Watching these videos looks like so much fun, I think I’m going to dig through the duet music on my shelf and find some duet pieces to assign to some of my students to work on over the summer too!

Announcements, repertoire / methods, Reviews

Book Review: Especially For Adults by Dennis Alexander

Book Review: Especially For Adults Book I, by Dennis Alexander.

I just discovered this book of fabulous Early Intermediate to Intermediate Level piano solos.  I bought this book for a student, and it has been a real hit so far!  I am very pleased with this purchase.

This book would make an excellent supplement for a high-school or older student, no matter what method book they are using.  The pieces are appealing to the ear and rewarding to work on.  They would also make great recital pieces.

Titles:

  • Day’s End
  • Feelin’ Fine
  • Flamenco Fever!
  • (Theme from) Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
  • Lost in Time
  • On Ol’ Broadway!
  • Plaisir d’amour (The Joy of Love)
  • Polovetsian Dance (from Prince Igor)
  • Reflections
  • Shelby’s Waltz
  • Sneaky Kinda Rag

My personal favorites from this book are Polovetsian Dance (a modern twist on the familiar orchestral theme from Prince Igor) and Reflections.  All the pieces are great, though, and without being too difficult.  The book covers a wide range of musical styles and moods.

Dennis Alexander also has a Book II and a Book III as well – I have not seen them yet, but am looking foward to trying them out!

My rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)

repertoire / methods, Resources

Links page has been updated

The Links page here at colorinmypiano.com has been updated!  I’ve created a new category devoted to sites with free sheet music, preferably for piano.

My personal favorite:

IMSLP / The Petruccit Library

This site contains TONS of sheet music pdfs of the great classical works!  Just this week, for example, I was looking to round out one of my student’s “musical diet” by giving her a piece from the Romantic Era.  After browsing around on the IMSLP site, I came across the Burgmüller Etudes Op. 100, which includes some lovely little pieces which were among my favorite pieces to play when I was a kid.  Examples: “Arabesque,” “Grace,” “Progress,” “Innocence,” and “Ballade.”

Do you have a favorite site where you print free sheet music?  Please let us know and I’ll add it to the list!