Nancy Litten’s Piano Postcards

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Nancy Litten has made her mark as a leading educational composer here in the UK, with string, vocal and electronic keyboard publications from Alfred Music, and enjoyable contributions to ABRSM publications such as Keyboards Together, Piano Mix and Piano Star.

Litten has recently joined the roster of composers whose music is published by EVC Music, and her debut piano solo publication has now arrived…

Piano Postcards offers 12 Recital Piano Works Inspired by Travel, suitable for intermediate players at around UK Grade 3-4 level. Let’s take a look…

Nancy Litten’s Travels…

In her introduction to the collection, Litten tells us,

“As teachers, we know that sparking the imagination of the pupil is one of the most important of our tasks, I could even say the most important. When you like a piece, it provides the motivation to conquer it!
These pieces aim to do just that, with arresting scenes for the performer to bring to life. With the vividness of the titles and scores, you are already halfway to success.”

Apparently inspired by Litten’s own travel experiences, often as an examiner or adjudicator, the twelve entertainingly titled pieces are:

  • Robots Go Clubbing (Japan)
  • The Penguin Party (Antarctica)
  • Connemara (Ireland)
  • Rajarata (Sri Lanka)
  • Reynard’s Foxtrot (Memphis, USA)
  • Mosquito and Me (Maldives)
  • Spanish Omelette (Spain)
  • Transylvania (Romania)
  • Chinese Ragtime (China)
  • Willows in the Water (Cambridge, UK)
  • Bumpy Horse Trail (Arizona, USA)
  • Ferragosto (Italy)

You can enjoy listening to all of these pieces here:

Musical Postcards

Playing through the collection, I enjoyed the variety between the pieces.

Right from the start, with the pattern-based dance groove of opener Robots Go Clubbing, Litten showcases her enthusiasm for contemporary and popular musical styles. She certainly has a gift for memorable melody too, which comes to the fore in several of these pieces. Standout pieces include the quirky swing of The Penguin Party, gentle humour of Mosquito and Me and the Latin-infused Reynard’s Foxtrot.

While never stuffy in tone, the pieces are also rich in pedagogic value, introducing musical and technical challenges in a gently progressive manner that is perfect for early intermediate players.

Presented with a cover that handsomely sums up the globetrotting content within, the publication offers further evidence of EVC Music going from strength to strength. Inside the book, the contents page is followed by a two-page spread of background information about each piece, as well as detailed playing tips. The added value here is significant.

The scores are spaciously presented, with a clear and generously sized music font in EVC house style, and with ample fingering to support learners. Most pieces take up two facing pages, while a handful are three.

Closing Thoughts

Litten is clearly more widely travelled than most of us, and in the absence of photographic evidence of her clubbing in Japan, examining in Antarctica or staking vampires in Eastern Europe, these musical postcards present a vivid and entertaining account of her adventures!

Indeed, the collection offers a very enjoyable journey in its own right, and I anticipate that these highly appealing pieces will be enthusiastically lapped up by children of all ages!

With music that conjures a variety of climates, Piano Postcards adds up to a collection which can be given a very warm recommendation.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

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