Trinity syllabus 2018-20: The Big Review

The publication of a new Piano Exam Syllabus is always (rightly or wrongly) a major event in the piano teacher’s calendar, a “big reveal” in which we learn the repertoire around which our musical curriculum might to some extent orbit for the next few years.

Judging by the response to my review of the current ABRSM Piano Syllabus, I am sure that readers will be keen to know my thoughts on the latest syllabus from their largest UK competitor, Trinity College London, published this month.

I must start with a disclaimer: as a teacher I rarely enter students for exams other than ABRSM. With that in mind, I am delighted that Karen Marshall has again agreed to offer her “Second Opinion” later in the review.

As in my recent review of Anthony Williams’ Piano Teacher’s Survival Guide, Karen’s contribution will take the form of an interview following on from my own comments. She will offer the perspective of a well-regarded teacher who has used the Trinity Syllabus with her students over many years.

But first, my thoughts, essentially coming to this syllabus fresh…

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With Love

Sheet Music Review

An independent publication which has recently come to my attention, With Love (volume 1) is a collection of nine original solo piano pieces by Lesley Ross, a pianist, teacher and composer based in the west of Scotland.

Suitable for pianists at around Grade 3 level, I can see With Love (volume 1) being a hit with students looking for light relief between more serious repertoire, and adults who enjoy relaxing music at the piano.

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Mike Cornick’s ‘Six Jazz Piano Solos’

Sheet Music Review

Mike Cornick has established a reputation as one of our leading composers of jazz piano music. Many of his previous works have been particularly warmly received in an educational context, with compositions such as his Blues in TwoModulations and In the Groove featured in exam syllabi worldwide.

Mike’s enormous output includes more than sixty piano publications, brought to us by Universal Edition, the latest of which is his Six Jazz Piano Solos, written are written “for intermediate-level players and beyond”.

The collection comprises new, original piano solos which are around UK Grade 4-6 level. Each miniature explores different characteristics of jazz piano playing and style, and together they make a welcome addition to the repertoire for players at this level.

Continue reading Mike Cornick’s ‘Six Jazz Piano Solos’

Christopher Norton’s ‘Pacific Preludes’

Sheet Music Review

One of the highlights of last year, in my view, was the publication of Christopher Norton’s outstanding Eastern Preludes Collection, which I reviewed here.

Eastern Preludes continued a series of piano solo collections for the intermediate-to-advanced level pianist, which already included the best-selling Jazz PreludesCountry PreludesRock Preludes and Latin Preludes collections – so naturally I wondered what might come next.

And here it is: The Christopher Norton Pacific Preludes Collection, comprising 14 brand new compositions suitable for intermediate to advanced players (around UK Grades 6-8).

Publishers Boosey & Hawkes welcome us to:

“Embark on a voyage of discovery with this captivating collection of 14 new Pacific Preludes from the creator of Microjazz, inspired by traditional music from the shores of the world’s largest ocean.

Explore the rich and varied musical landscape of the Pacific Rim as each Prelude weaves together native themes from countries including Australia, China, Peru, New Zealand and the United States of America with Christopher Norton’s characteristically innovative popular musical styles.”

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A Piece a Week: Grade 3

Sheet Music Review

Reviewing Paul Harris’s A Piece A Week grade 1 and 2 books last year, I concluded:

“While not all players will have need of these books, a great many will benefit from using them, and A Piece A Week admirably fills a gap in the market for outstanding “quick study” material.

A Piece A Week lives up to the excellent standards Paul Harris and Faber Music have previously set, and for which they are so well known. I would say that the series is a genuine “must have” for all piano teachers.”

In the months since that review, I have started to use the books with students, and can confirm from experience that they succeed in all the respects that I previously hoped and noted. The books really are very good!

Indeed, the quick study format of A Piece a Week is establishing itself as one of my preferred ways of helping students develop their reading ability, which I find nicely complements my generally holistic, multi-sensory approach.

So before reading on, it would be a good idea to recap my previous review of the first two books, which gives a better idea of what the series is all about – you can read it here.

A Special Preview

I have known for some time that a third book was in the works. So I was delighted when Paul offered, after a meal out one evening, to play through the new collection, inviting my comments. I mention this story because Paul has graciously given me a credit in the inside cover, and you may be wondering what my involvement was.

Adopting my best “piano teacher pose” next to his piano, I listened with care as the pieces unfolded, hoping to be able to offer one or two intelligent and helpful comments along the way!

Uppermost in my mind was, of course, an enthusiasm to see whether the Grade 3 book would live up to the standards of the previous two publications. But I came away wondering whether Paul had actually over-achieved…

Put simply, the quick study works that make up A Piece A Week: Grade 3 are in my opinion far more musically interesting than many of the pieces published elsewhere as standard repertoire.

This is testament to the fact that Paul not only has one of the best minds in the music teaching world, but is also a composer of music which is attractive and accessible, and not simply educational fodder.

In short, I very much doubt pupils will want to stop playing each piece after just a week – these are works that I believe many of my students will cherish as Active Repertoire, performing in concerts and to friends.

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Jazzin’ Americana

Sheet Music Review

Wynn-Anne Rossi may well be a new name to UK readers, but in the US she is a well known as a composer and dynamic educator. Commissions include works sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She has over 70 piano publications, as well as original repertoire including orchestral and vocal works.

WynnAnneRossi.ashxWynn-Anne’s passion for promoting creativity in young musicians is reflected in her choice of publications with Alfred Music, which include the ’Musica Latina series of four repertoire and four duet books.

Her latest publications with Alfred are a series of four new solo piano books under the title Jazzin’ Americana, the subject of this review.

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