Music from Chopin’s Land.
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…
Krystyna Gowic is a well-known composer and educator in Poland, and it’s clear from her music that she has a deep understanding and commitment to education, alongside a real artistic flair.
In this article I will be considering her two collections published by PWM Edition: My Little World and My Favourites, as well as sharing the tutorial videos that I and my Japanese colleague Marie Kiyone have made to support teachers using this music…
My Favourites, suitable for elementary players (approaching UK Grade 2), comprises eleven delightful pieces which tell their own story, and are likely to spark many a child’s imagination:
- The Tale of the Glass Slipper
- Witch on a Broomstick
- A Sunny Trip
- The Magic Show
- The Funfair
- Chocolate Ice-Cream
- 3D Cinema
- A Little Disco
- “The Little Fish” Awua Park
- At the Cake Shop
The pieces are wonderfully melodic, with a simple charm that will be appreciated by children, while the logical form and presentation of the pieces makes them ideal for developing a sense of structure. Most of the pieces include repetitive elements, facilitating the development of the child’s musical memory, while making them ideal for rote teaching where used.
Most of the pieces include a colour illustration, often filling a full page. The work of Olga Gruberne-Buk, these are surely some of the most extraordinarily good pictures I have yet seen gracing any children’s music book (my tutorial video below includes several).
My Little World offers a perfect follow-on collection, comprising twelve ‘character pieces’ which again very much speak to a child’s imagination, and are suitable for primary-aged players at late elementary level.
The piece titles here are less fanciful, but very much reflect the young child’s world, and one which seems to be universal:
- Agatha on her bike
- Jo beneath her umbrella
- Ill Bianca
- Brave Matthew
- Veronic’s Cat
- Nathalie in Fairyland
- Sleepy Caroline
- Waspish Alexandra
- Casper’s Dog
- Agnes’s Polka
- Simon on the Trampoline
- Julie’s Shadow Games
Many of the techniques that players need to establish at this level are cunningly embedded throughout these pieces, making it an excellent collection to use in our teaching.
Here again, Olga Gruberne-Buk’s vivid and charming illustrations bring several of the pieces to life.
While Olga Gruberne-Buk takes credit for the marvellous illustrations with these books, the similarly delicious covers, printed on flexible matt card, are the work of PWM regular Joanna Rusinek:
It must be clear by now that I am totally enamoured with these fabulous books. Quite apart from the brilliant illustrations, the notation itself is spaciously and clearly engraved, the landscape format helpful for children, and the cream paper making legibility still better.
These are, quite simply, books to treasure.
In my tutorial video for PWM below, I highlight several of the pieces from the collection My Little World and discuss their pedagogic benefits.
This further video, presented by Japanese teacher Marie Kiyone, looks at My Favourites:
Krystyna Gowik’s children’s piano books are full of great character and appealing pieces which I believe teachers and younger pupils will absolutely love!
Do check out both collections.