Piano Grades Are Go! Grades 2-3

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

I was genuinely excited by the arrival of the first book in Victoria Producer’s Piano Grade Are GO! series from EVC Music, writing in my review that the collection was:

“that rarest of beasts: a genuinely stunning music book for elementary players.”

My enthusiasm for the book remains undiminished, and I suggest you read that review before progressing to this one: many of the points I wrote about the goals and content of the first book equally apply to the second…

So what about this second collection? Well, it offers 21 new pieces suitable for players at UK Grades 2 and 3 level. Read on to find out more…

A Winning Formula

Having delivered such a winning formula with the first book in this series, Proudler has happily stuck with it, composing a string of catchy tunes in a range of enjoyable styles, combining engaging character, musical detail and vivid imagination, all packed with huge pedagogic potential.

Reminding players that an effective musical performance tells a story and stirs feelings, Proudler again includes plenty of expressive directions in these pieces, and explains the musical techniques needed for success. Each piece, as before, draws focus to a specific “superskill” that the developing player will need to employ, and in this second collections these include:

  • phrasing
  • tenuto accents
  • balance
  • dynamics
  • articulation
  • pedalling
  • tone quality
  • two-note slurs
  • mixed articulations
  • legato between hands
  • bringing out the melody
  • rhythmic precision
  • legato broken chords
  • arm movement
  • staccato
  • cantabile
  • co-ordination
  • communicating character

These appear in a speech bubble at the top of each piece, which I think is particularly helpful, both as a trigger that alerts teachers new to using the material, and as a memory aid for the practising student.

Proudler has clearly relished the process of composing these pieces, conjuring music that traverses wide musical territory while maintaining remarkable quality throughout.

Her insights as both piano teacher and examiner are obvious too: the music in this collection impressively and comprehensively addresses the full range of playing techniques, notation understanding and expressive development needed by players at this level.

The musical range is likely to be clear from the list of titles:

  • Butterfly Mountain
  • Rock Etude
  • Shadow Shapes
  • Wildcat!
  • Showtime
  • The Ice Castle
  • Pirate Storm
  • Jam ‘n’ Groove
  • Pirouette
  • Lucky Leaf Rag
  • Frozen in Time
  • Tarantella Twist
  • Calypso Rag
  • Star Stream
  • Strictly Tango
  • When I Remember
  • Rainbow’s End
  • Desert Chase
  • Waltzing in Paris
  • The Blues Train
  • The Skeletons’ Ball

This is one of those collections where selecting favourites would be moot; I suspect that these pieces will all prove popular, and wouldn’t want to skip past any. Hear them for yourself, in this recording from the publisher:

The publication itself appears in EVC Music’s appealing house style, and includes a two-page introduction with brief notes about all 21 pieces. The notation which follows is clearly engraved, and contains excellently conceived fingering throughout.

Closing Thoughts

Victoria Proudler has done it again! This second collection in her series is packed with melodic music in a variety of exciting contemporary styles, all carefully graded to support and enthuse developing players.

Equally remarkable, EVC Music present this book, whose content is so full and splendid on every level, with a simplicity that makes access to the pieces and their benefits both easy and enjoyable.

Every bit as brilliant as the first book, this publication is truly outstanding!

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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.