Pupil Saver: Unique; reflective music

Finding interesting late-intermediate literature can be a challenge. In addition to teaching the repertoire standards, I always look for something a bit more out-of- the box, quite often a contemporary composition. I find that the contemporary music of Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee fits my needs perfectly, and her two sets of preludes provide a wea...
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Unique; reflective music

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Finding interesting late-intermediate literature can be a challenge. In addition to teaching the repertoire standards, I always look for something a bit more out-ofthe box, quite often a contemporary composition. I find that the contemporary music of Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee fits my needs perfectly, and her two sets of preludes provide a wealth of ...
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Drive and surprise

Here's a piece that captures the attention of everyone from precocious seven-year-olds to late beginners of all ages. Susan Ogilvy's Toccatina (Alfred) is suitable for students from the late-elementary to early-intermediate levels, is terrifically fun to play, and is often very easy to memorize. Most importantly, however, it sounds more diffic...
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A heavenly, bravura piece

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I am often confronted with the need for intermediate literature that will not only motivate students, but cover up any deficiencies they might have (I am sure we have all had this experience). Case in point: I had a transfer student who could barely sight-read, which made learning every piece take forever, and proper technique, hand position, and p...
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A bravura piece for the left hand

Melody Bober's multivolume set of Grand One-Hand Solos for Piano (Alfred) offers some really cool pieces for the intermediate-to-late-intermediate pianist.  ​Although they are written for one hand (either right or left), the compositions are interesting, musical, and highly motivational. Many teachers will use this collecti...
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Repertoire: Tango! (Pupil Saver)

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The intoxicating South American rhythms of Kevin Olson's alluring solo, Tango Argentino (FJH), transport the listener to sunny climes. This piece is loaded with technical variety and sophisticated harmonies, but is without any overwhelming complexity for the performer; it should easily perk up those sluggish students. However, I find Tango ideal fo...
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What a Find!

My mother, who is also a piano teacher, enjoys finding and buying piano music for me —even to this day—and she usually finds really great stuff at her public library. Go figure! "Pizzicati" (a polka from the ballet Sylvia) was one of her recent finds. Written by Léo Delibes and arranged by Hans-Günter Heumann, this piece of music was on the top of ...
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Imagination and mischief

Students who love stories of magical worlds and mythical creatures will jump at the chance to learn William Gillock's early-intermediate "Elfin Pranks." This whimsical piece set in E minor and cut time is loaded with teaching opportunities. Although "Elfin Pranks" is available in solo form, I prefer to use the version in Gillock's collection Accent...
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A day at the beach

The Grade 2 Lessons Book of the Michael Aaron Piano Course (Alfred) is home to a tried-and-true pupil saver, "The Breakers." The piece is excellent for recitals, and especially appeals to older beginners who yearn for a more musical and difficult sound.  "The Breakers" is easy to learn and easy to teach. It is a good introduction to 6/8 meter,...
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Let's order in!

Occasionally I have a student who is reluctant to move past the first method book, or is easily discouraged when things get the least bit challenging. Some are unwilling even to explore past a C-major pentascale. Fortunately, I discovered "Pepperoni Pizza," a captivating little piece from Mona Rejino's elementary-level collection, Just for Kids (Ha...
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A Party for the Fingers

Margaret Goldston's Jazztoccata (Alfred) has been a huge success with my late-intermediate students. The composition's strong rhythmic drive exudes energy, and the C-minor key gives the piece an introspective quality that my older students welcome. One student beamed with delight as she told me that it sounded like a piece a professional pianist wo...
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A Show-Stopper from Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio's Simple Sketches (Edward B.Marks/Hal Leonard) provides a rewarding musical and technical challenge for the late-intermediate student. The collection contains three fairly short pieces, the first of which, Allegretto, is my favorite to teach. For some students, the quirky tonality—a trademark of Dello...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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