My recommended resources for April contain an eclectic group of piano related practice books, sheet music, a book and an online resource, which I hope will be of interest.
Beginners and Elementary
Music Practice Notebooks
Practice notebooks are becoming increasingly popular, both with teachers and students. Whether they contain colourful pictures, cartoons or stickers, children certainly enjoy this addition to their piano lessons. Composer and teacher Rosa Conrad, has designed this notebook and although devoid of bright colours or any pictures, it does contain manuscript, plenty of space to write weekly comments at lessons, and a selection of Rosa’s compositions at the end of the book, including duets and a solo piano piece. It’s priced competitively too; just one pound! Get your copy here.
Improve Your Theory!
Last month I mentioned Faber Music’s new selection of Simultaneous Learning editions, Improve Your Piano Grade! Faber’s latest release in this series, Improve Your Theory! provides more very useful material. As before, I looked at Grades 1, 2 and 3; Grade 1 contains all the expected information, from time signatures, ties and dotted notes, and intervals, to note learning and basic key signatures. They are presented in a logical, easy-to-learn method, in tandem with the Simultaneous Learning ethos as established and honed by educator Paul Harris. They will serve as a thorough grounding for theory, especially for those sitting exams. Get your copy here.
On the Lighter Side
A collection of 16 short piano pieces for those of approximately Grades 1-3 standard. Written by John Kember and published by Schott Music, these little pieces will appeal to anyone just starting their piano playing. The jazz-inspired selection provides a wide-ranging introduction to swing and rock phrasing, use of blue notes and pentatonic melodies, walking bass and syncopated rhythms, plus some more reflective pieces exploring jazz harmonies. These works would appeal to young learners as well as more mature players. Get your copy here.
Welsh Folk Tunes For Piano
I picked this volume partly due to my Welsh heritage (!), but essentially because the arrangements work well in this piano version. Written by Barrie Carson Turner, and published by Schott Music, the book consists of 32 traditional solo pieces. Welsh fans will love the collection which contains favourites such as The Ash Grove, The Maid of Sker and The Bishop of Bangor’s Jig, all transcribed tastefully for those of around Grades 4-5 level. The score is relatively detail free, which gives performers scope for plenty of imaginative touches and dynamic colour. Get a copy here.
Glo for Piano
This work, written by celebrated composer Roxanna Panufnik, is a beautiful little reflective piece. Composed in 2002, in memory of a family friend who died of cancer, it meanders around the keyboard, featuring widespread note patterns. Requiring controlled piano and pianissimos, and careful pedalling, Glo would suit pianists of intermediate level (perhaps Grades 5-7), who want to learn less familiar Twenty-First Century repertoire, and who enjoy experimenting with tone colour and timbre. Recorded by pianist Clare Hammond, Glo appears amongst a whole collection of piano works by Roxanna and her father, Andrzej Panufnik; the recording is called Reflections (cover pictured above). Glo is published by Edition Peters; get a copy of the score here and buy the recording here.
On My Travels
This is the latest in the series of After Hours volumes written by composer Pamela Wedgwood and published last month by Faber Music. These pieces would suit those of Grades 6 upwards, and have a relaxed, blues feel, requiring thoughtful tonal control and colour. We are taken on a journey from the French Alps to Canada via South Africa and Australia in this dynamic volume which travel lovers will enjoy: it’s perfect for stress relief after a hard day at work or school, and these pieces are also great material for sight-reading too. Get a copy here.
A lovely solo piece written by pianist and composer Marcel Zidani and published by EVC Publications. This will suit advanced players of Grade 8 and beyond, and is Romantic in character. Containing oscillating harmonies and filigree passagework, a beautiful melody is laced with semi-quaver movement covering the entire keyboard, but particularly the upper echelons of the instrument. Continuous figurations represent Butterfly wings flapping in the midst, providing lots of opportunity for advanced players to shine. To listen to this piece and buy a copy click here.
Piano Technique Demystified
I’ve only just discovered this interesting book about piano technique. Written by American pianist and pedagogue Neil Stannard, it focuses on breaking down piano technique and revisiting it in a different way. The ideas presented are based on the principles of the Dorothy Taubman method and is a must for anyone interested in honing their playing, or those just wanting to understand how to move around the piano economically. Each chapter deals with various technical and musical issues, and ideas are presented logically and are easy to grasp. Get your copy here.
My Piano Trip To London on Piano Maestro App
Earlier this month, Elena Cobb’s new piano method My Piano Trip To London was added to the piano method book library on the superb Piano Maestro app. This method was recommended in my New Year List, and has since proved very popular. Elena has taught the piano for over 30 years, and during this time she became more and more convinced that beginners are not interested in talking about how to play, they simply want to play something – however simple. In this book, students will play tunes at once. The little pieces are universal and will suit any style of teaching. Piano Maestro App by Joy Tunes is a great way to practice on your iPad.