Türk: Pieces for Beginners

Sheet Music Review

Schott Music have recently been developing a new series of publications called the Schott Student Edition, presenting core pedagogic repertoire in an attractive, affordable and contemporary format for today’s learners.

With several editions already in the pipeline for string and wind players, pianists can now also start their collection, thanks to the arrival of an excellent new edition of favourite pieces by Daniel Gottlob Türk, edited by Erich Doflein and with new Teaching Notes written by Samantha Ward.

Let’s take a closer look…


Schott Student Edition

Introducing this new Series, Schott Music say,

“The student edition series is designed for use in instrumental teaching. It contains motivating tuition material ranging from easy pieces for beginners to demanding repertoire for advanced music students.”

They go on to explain that the works published in the series are allocated levels of difficulty from 1 (very easy) to 5 (advanced) in order to help students and teachers find suitable repertoire.

The Schott Student Edition, we are told, will include varied repertoire from standard teaching works to lesser known pieces which are perfectly suited to lessons, student concerts and competitions. Every work in the series has been carefully selected and edited by experienced music teachers. The editions contain a wealth of information about each composer and work, offering useful advice on learning to play the pieces, performance practice and interpretation.

The series has been given a fresh contemporary look and feel, with a standardised cover that is simple and effective, clearly stating the level of the music.



Daniel Gottlob Who?

Born in the same year as Mozart, Daniel Gottlob Türk (1756-1813) established a notable reputation as a teacher and conductor in Halle, Central Germany. While his music is little known today (he doesn’t even have an entry in the Oxford Companion to Music), his Keyboard School method (published in 1789) was in its day one of the most important treatises written for keyboard players, ranking alongside C.P.E. Bach’s seminal Essay on the True Art of Keyboard Playing.

Türk subsequently published two supplementary books of Handstücke (1792, 1795), each containing sixty pieces for ‘aspiring players’. Most (notable for the time) have descriptive titles; the best of these pieces have populated method books ever since, and are regularly featured in early grade exam syllabi and student concert programmes.

While Türk also composed more serious concert works (including 48 Piano Sonatas), it is his educational music for which he is chiefly remembered.

The Collection 

This collection includes 46 of Türk’s most attractive pieces, edited for Schott by Erich Doflein. Most of the pieces are just 8 bars long, but include considerable musical imagination, developing reading and playing skills beyond what we might expect.

According to Schott Music,

“After composing his piano method, Türk, a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, composed a large collection of little “Handstücke”, or instructive pieces, for beginners with poetic titles. This volume contains the easiest of these pieces, in such order that they constitute a little course which gradually introduces all keys of up to three accidentals, increasing independence of the hands, different ways of playing and various rhythms.”

Those of us with many years teaching behind us will quickly recognise many favourites here, pieces which we have witnessed so many children and adult learners genuinely enjoying.

Türk, we are reminded, was a true master of melody and invention, creating some of the very best easy pedagogic pieces in the classical idiom.

The presentation is clean, with generously sized and spaced music engraving on light cream paper maximising ease of reading and clarity.

Original fingerings are included, but Doflein makes the following interested observation in his Preface:

“Türk’s fingering has not been changed but frequently thinned out and has been omitted altogether in some pieces so as not completely to stunt the pupil’s ability to find his own.”

The pieces have been helpfully organised so as to highlight progression in reading and playing, for example with pieces introducing new keys grouped together.

As well as being useful for teachers and students learning these works within their main curriculum, ordering them in this way also makes this collection an ideal crash-course in sight-reading practice, both in lessons and at home.

The Teaching Notes, written by Samantha Ward (whose outstanding Relax with Piano series I have reviewed here) takes the form of a short essay published at the rear of the book. This is well written and easily digested; it offers general guidelines, referencing some of the pieces to illustrate the main points.

My hope is that teachers will read and digest this, as the advice is practical, straight-forward, and certainly valuable.

Concluding Thoughts

Turk’s easy piano pieces are a genuine classic of the pedagogy repertoire, and I consider them indispensable for any piano teacher.

Until now, the main alternative is from ABRSM, who have published the full 120 pieces as two volumes within their old Easier Piano Pieces series, a useful reference for teachers but surely overkill for today’s pupils.

The Schott Student Edition seems to me a far more attractive proposition, with its mixture of lovely presentation, clarity of editing, the progressive organisation of pieces and the supporting teacher advice.

In short, this is a brilliant and essential addition to the teacher’s music library, and a book to seriously consider using with all elementary pianists.

OUTSTANDING

Available online from Amazon UK here.


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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

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