Philip Godfrey’s ‘Hotchpotch’

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

2022 is turning into a vintage year for excellent new music composed for elementary pianists. I’ve already raved about Victoria Proudler’s Piano Grades are Go! and Anna Robinson’s Cats on the Keys, and I’m equally excited about Philip Godfrey’s Hotchpotch, newly published by Editions Musica Ferrum.

This small collection offers ten new compositions, each one page long, suitable for players at around UK Grade 2 level. And it is great!

Read on to find out more and have a listen…

A Tasty Mixture

noun British
1. a confused mixture: a hotchpotch of uncoordinated services.
2. a mutton stew with mixed vegetables.

The key to creating a collection of new music for elementary players is to bring together pieces in a range of styles, that are all enjoyable to play, uniformly catchy, and full of educational value.

Philip Godfrey’s Hotchpotch ticks all those boxes.

Godfrey is a freelance musician living in London. He concentrates mainly on composing, but is also a pianist, organist and teacher. His compositions include instrumental, choral, and theatre music, are tonal and accessible in style, and have been widely performed and published.

His experience and craftsmanship as a composer shines in this collection of easy miniatures, his first foray into writing educational solo piano music, which are invitingly titled:

  • Game On!
  • Strict Teacher
  • Ragtime Waltz
  • Rio Remembered
  • Burning Ambition
  • On the River
  • Monkey About
  • Sunshine on the Prairie
  • My Lady’s Lament
  • That Friday Feeling

But wait – you can listen to the full collection here:

The pieces cleverly bring together a variety of jazz and popular styles, with occasional Neo-classical flourishes, but without descending into lame pastiche at any point.

Although the publisher hasn’t mentioned progression, the ten miniatures seem to be organised in approximate order of difficulty, meaning that a player could start at the beginning of the collection and learn to play their way through the whole set.

And I don’t think they would lose interest at any point. Brimming with melody, humour, colour and imagination, this is a set that I am certain players of all ages will enjoy.

And herein lies an important sales point for the publication: so much material aimed at elementary players is child-focused, as though adult learners only want to play old chestnuts and aren’t interested in newer, creative pedagogic music. I believe that Hotchpotch will equally appeal to adults and children alike, and that makes it an unusual and very special treat.

My compliments to the chef

Musica Ferrum have done Godfrey proud with an edition in their unmistakable house style, with lovely cover image, the twelve pages (including title and contents pages) printed on cream paper and cleanly, spaciously presented.

The music engraving is (as ever) spot on, and in a generous sized music font. Suitable and ample fingering suggestions are included throughout, and Godfrey’s writing is detailed with its articulations and dynamics, but without being pernickety.

There’s little to add. When the review copy arrived I had not previously encountered this composer’s music and had few particular expectations. But Hotchpotch proves to be an obvious and easy recommendation.

I really can’t stress enough how impressive it is to see so enjoyable an elementary collection that will appeal to adult learners every bit as much as to children. I would love to see a sequel for intermediate players.

Hotchpotch is a genuine joy.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based on Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.