Pupil Saver: Jamaican Rumba by Arthur Benjamin

Once again, my high school student—who seems to be involved in every activity possible—needed a unique piece. I had in mind what I wanted: The piece needed to be fairly short, patterned for quick and easy learning, impressive, and infrequently played (that last requirement was more for me than for the student). I found the perfect piece, Austr...
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Winds of Change: July/August 2017

Pianists are blessed with an incredibly rich, diverse repertoire. I have thought a lot recently about how one chooses a recital program—so much to learn, so little time. Risking too much self-revelation, I will share the experience of my most recent attempt to reach an audience. Much of this column is based on the program notes I wrote for the reci...
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Pupil Saver: Mendelssohn Song without words, Op. 30, No. 6

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Stress reduction at the piano It's exciting to see a student advance after years of diligent work, but often the thought of moving on to larger works is daunting and stressful, especially for those students juggling too many activities. That big piece will never be finished, and interest wanes. One solution for student burnout is Felix Mendels...
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Enrique Granados's musical postcards

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The centennial of Enrique Granados's death in 2016 and the sesquicentennial of his birth in 2017 allow musicians an opportunity to celebrate the piano works of the Spanish author, pianist, composer, and pedagogue, who lived from 1867 to 1916. Granados is considered to be the "Father of the Modern Catalán School of Piano." After a two-year...
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William Gillock: A centennial retrospective

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"To provide a musically thrilling experience." --Willam Gillock, on the purpose of student piano literature I often ask my piano pedagogy students to take a few moments to reflect on their motivations for being a music major. After all, studying music is challenging and time consuming, and there's no clear-cut promise of financial riches at the end...
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Pupil Saver: The Song of Twilight

The Song of Twilight," by Japanese composer Yoshinao Nakada (Frederick Harris Celebration Series: Piano Repertoire, Level 3), is an accessible and motivating piece for the late-elementary pianist. When I prepared students for the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program, many students chose this piece as their finale because of its soaring melo...
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Playing composers' slurs: From Mozart to the nineteenth century

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In recent decades, scholars and publishers have reproduced composers' original notations in so-called Urtext editions. In these scholarly editions and facsimiles of composers' autographs, pianists will notice two slurring patterns—slurs obviously cutting off a phrase or a melody, or a slur ending before the bar line when the end of the phrase or me...
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Winds of Change: March/April 2017

Change has been on our minds a lot lately. When I coined the name of this column in 2009, I had no idea how prescient it was (some of these recent changes would have been hard to predict even a year ago). With the future certain only insofar as there will be a future, please allow me some personal ruminations about "modern music" and its role in br...
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Pupil Saver: Elephant Stomp! by Kevin Olson

If you are looking for music for students who can't sit still during lessons, or who bypass rests like they don't exist, Kevin Olson's late-elementary solo Elephant Stomp (FJH) might be just the thing. This clever piece uses two hands, two feet, and the vast imagination of the student, who must "stomp the floor!" like an elephant. Elephant Stomp is...
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Organ music for manuals only (mostly)

The following list is selective, and it is by no means exhaustive. It represents music (for mostly manuals only and with some minimal pedal) composed for organ, representing all periods and styles from the seventeenth century to the current day. Even the experienced, well-trained organist might appreciate knowing about some of this repertoire and g...
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First Looks: January/February 2017

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Closer Look: (S3-4) Béla Bartók: Ten Easy Pieces, edited by Immanuela Gruenberg. Immanuela Gruenberg creates a real gem for teachers and students alike in her study edition of Béla Bartók's Ten Easy Pieces, Sz. 39. As a study edition, Gruenberg's book will fully inform both teachers and students about Bartók, his use of folk music, and the individu...
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New Music Reviews: January/February 2017

(S3) Preludes to Mastery, Books 1 and 2, by Chrissy Ricker. Chrissy Ricker's two books of preludes provide a fresh and varied assortment of pieces in Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary styles. There are twenty preludes in the two volumes; each is in a different key, thus offering students exposure to keys they might not visit often. Boo...
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Repertoire: Bach's Two-Part Inventions

Affect in J.S. Bach's Two-Part Inventions Bach's oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, was born in 1710 when Bach was twenty-five years old. By the time Wilhelm was ten, his father had instructed him in playing—as well as composing—some rather complex pieces. According to The New Bach Reader, Bach used the Two-Part Inventions and Three-Part Sinfonias as ...
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Repertoire: Pupil saver

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A cheerful and dependable flower  by Adrienne E. Wiley I love finding new pieces for my students! One of my pupils is ready for character pieces; she is playing late-intermediate literature, and I wanted to find something besides the rather frequently used— although rightly so—Schumann, Gurlitt, Heller, Streabbog, and Burgmüller pieces. I...
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Repertoire: West Coast Youth Ragtime Competition

Preparing for the West Coast Youth Ragtime Competition We were languishing in the summer doldrums when Ryan, my fourteen-year-old piano student, reminded me of the upcoming West Coast Youth Ragtime Piano Competition held in November. My initial response was reserved. "You know, Ryan, I'm not sure how many of my students will travel to the Sacrament...
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What about that bass?

As piano teachers, we commonly show our students how composers divide pieces into three parts, such as in Sonata or Minuet and Trio forms. What is often missed is that most music is composed with a vertical division of three as well. We are adept at teaching students to focus on—and voice—the melodic content. However, often overlooke...
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Music notation: A brief look at its historical evolution

In early Medieval times, if one wanted to learn a song, one listened to someone sing it. ​It wasn't until the ninth century that monks began to experiment with various ways of notating music in written form, with the goal of helping people across a wide geographical area remember the many musical accoutrements of Roman Catholic religious servi...
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Vivid imagery in a piece from China

The Chinese composition "The Young Shepherd with his Little Flute" (in Chinese Folk Music for Children, Schott/Hal Leonard) is not only accessible for late-intermediate pianists, but has a colorful image that will motivate students. When I presented a poster session about the piece at the Ohio Music Teachers Association Southwest conference, many t...
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Learning John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes

I couldn't use percussion instruments for Syvilla's dance, though, suggesting Africa, they would have been suitable; they would have left too little room [on the stage] for her to perform. I was obliged to write a piano piece. I spent a day or so conscientiously trying to find an African 12-tone row. I had no luck. I decided that what was wrong was...
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Discover Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee: A window into the contemporary realm

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The music of Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee provides a refreshing look into the field of contemporary piano teaching repertoire. Rahbee, born in 1938, is an Armenian-American composer whose works for solo piano have been favorably received by pianists and audiences worldwide. She has written more than 200 works, and her catalog includes music for ensembl...
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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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