Donald Thomson’s Halloween Piano Tunes

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Having only just reviewed the Willis Music’s Halloween anthology Spooky Sounds here’s another dastardly publication, this time from EVC Music and scaring us with 19 original pieces from the excellent Donald Thomson.

I have previously praised Thomson’s Celtic Piano Music (reviewed here), and am equally enthusiastic about this collection. Let’s open it up to find out what’s lurking within…

Halloween Piano Tunes

Introducing this publication, EVC Music tell us,

“These cheeky wee tunes will provide endless fun for pianists at the beginning of their musical journey. This collection, with its well-arranged solos, will take your breath away! Also great for lessons or sight-reading for more advanced pupils.”

Within the vividly presented book, there is a simple contents page leading to the nineteen pieces, each of which takes up a single page, together frightening us as a twenty page book.

If the cover of the book cackles and screams ‘Halloween!’ the titles within leave no pumpkin unturned:

  • Midnight Feast
  • The Greedy Goblin
  • Freaky Frogs
  • Scuttling Spiders
  • The Gloomy Forest
  • Cobwebs and Candlesticks
  • The Ruined Castle
  • Sneaking in the Shadows
  • Broomstick Race
  • Ghosts in the Air
  • Halloween Ball at No.13
  • Creaky Door
  • Trick or Treat?
  • Skeleton Guards’ Parade
  • Vampire Vamp
  • Jittery Jig
  • The Haunted Highlander
  • The Witch’s Cat
  • Valse Macabre

You can listen to all of the pieces on the EVC Music website here.

Respecting our comfort zone, the pieces are presented in order to difficulty. Ranging from “Pre-Grade 1-4 Level”, each piece includes a suggested grade at the top of the page, which is a great idea in terms of allocating pieces. In many cases I would say the pieces are easier than the level suggested, but this ensures each is a “quick win”, players easily learning a few of them in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

One thing all these pieces have in common is that they are frightfully good! Thomson again demonstrates, nineteen times, his gift for a catchy tune, while embedding plenty of musical and technical details which astute teachers will want to scare their students with.

Several are particularly picturesque in their imaginative writing, a pertinent example being Squeeky Door, whose slowly swinging dissonances perfectly conjure the image of the title. There is plenty of scope for helping younger players expand the imaginative engagement in their playing.

But perhaps above all, what strikes me throughout the whole collection is the good-natured humour of the composer: now there’s a real charm!

As for the scores, they are presented with clarity and ample fingering throughout, each accompanied by a wicked cartoon illustration that underlines their special magic.

Closing Thoughts

With its gruesome mix of devilishly enjoyable tunes and hauntingly scary sounds, Donald Thomson’s Halloween Piano Tunes is a suitably chilling addition to the young player’s music library, and another of those collections to which players will want to return each year.

Puns aside, I think that these cheeky wee tunes are suitably mesmerising, and will indeed provide endless fun!

Also available • Andrew’s essential handbook:
How to Practise Music

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is the author of HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC, published worldwide by Hal Leonard. He is a widely respected piano educator and published composer based on Milton Keynes UK.

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