Keen to learn your favourite Beatles song on the piano, but sensing that it’s going to be a long and winding road?
Well, after a hard day’s night, the paperback writers from Hal Leonard have dropped the latest addition to their “Really Easy Piano” library, and it’s only The Beatles Collection…
A Really Easy Piano Collection …
Hal Leonard’s Really Easy Piano Collections are aimed at late elementary players, around UK Grade 2-3. I am told they sell like hot cakes, and more than a few teachers have told me they enjoy using them with students alongside more traditional material.
The new addition to the series features the following “40 Fab Four” hits:
- All you need is love
- And I love her
- Can’t buy me love
- Come together
- Day tripper
- Eight days a week
- Eleanor Rigby
- A hard day’s night
- Hello, goodbye
- Here comes the sun
- Here, there and everywhere
- Hey Jude
- I am the walrus
- I feel fine
- In my life
- I saw her standing there
- I want to hold your hand
- Lady Madonna
- Let it be
- Love me do
- Lucy in the sky with diamonds
- Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
- Paperback writer
- Penny Lane
- Please please me
- She loves you
- Strawberry fields forever
- The long and winding road
- Ticket to ride
- Twist and shout
- We can work it out
- When I’m sixty-four
- While my guitar gently weeps
- With a little help from my friends
- Yellow submarine
It is a song list which is unlikely to disappoint, and nor is the presentation. The book has a suitably shiny cover housing 96 white pages:
The book seems suitably durable (given that it is likely to remain a favourite for many years to come) and stays open nicely when bent back. Further adding to its appeal, each song is preceded by a written introduction to its background, as well as some helpful playing hints and tips.
The songs themselves are presented with generously sized and spaced music engraving, suitable for the elementary player. Some fingering is included, but at this level I would have preferred to see more.
Lyrics are included between the LH and RH staves, and above the latter there are chord symbols, useful for those wanting to augment the arrangements or use a keyboard’s automatic backing styles.
Really Easy Piano Arrangements …
This brings me to an important point about playing this style of music on the piano. While the arrangements are nicely suited to the late elementary player, this is in part because the natural vocal syncopations have been ironed out of the rhythms. Playing them literally as one would a classical or exam piece will cause frustration and sound lacklustre.
This is one of the challenges – and benefits – of including commercial song collections in a learning programme: the songs “please please” beg for creative adaptation. The notation delivers the nuts and bolts, but the player must assemble the piece, actively listening to and internalising the original song “sound before symbol“. Regardless of level, the dots on the page are never sufficient to breathe life into such arrangements.
Another point here is that the texture is quite sparse; players can fill this out using the given chord symbols. That this can and should be done again widens both the usefulness and appeal of the book.
For the elementary player, here’s an opportunity to work at developing chord recognition and playing skills, while for the more advanced player the book leaves space for them to play the songs their own way, by ear and building on the simple framework provided.
And there’s plenty of scope to enjoy these pieces with a little help from your friends, singing along and using the chord symbols to join in.
A Really Easy Conclusion …
The Really Easy Piano Beatles Collection is one of those books which delivers exactly what it says on the cover, and doesn’t seem to put a single foot wrong in the process. The arrangements offer all the ingredients needed to play decent covers of all 40 songs, including all the important elements of the originals.
All You Need is Love includes its famous introductory quote from the 1812 overture, Blackbird has all the correct time signature changes, and as I dipped into the songs throughout the book I was consistently impressed with the efforts made to retain the essence of each song, faithfully recreating each component part.
It has surely never been easier to play these songs: all you need is love for the Beatles and this excellent collection. Have fun!
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