NEW Piano Music from Breitkopf & Hārtel

Sheet Music Review

Over recent months, esteemed and enterprising German music publishers Breitkopf & Hārtel have unleashed a succession of interesting new piano sheet music publications, and in this group review I’m going to introduce you to the whole lot:

  • Ulrich Mahlert (editor): Spielbuch für Klavier
  • Friedrich Grossnick: More Catchy Tunes
  • Luis Zett: Busy Lizzy & Lazy Daisy
  • Alexey Shor: Childhood Memories
  • Martin Reich: Primo & Secondo  (4 hands)
  • Manfred Schmitz: Jazz Parnass  (6 hands)
  • Jairo Geronymo: 4 Prima Vistas  (2 pianos, 4 hands)

Here goes…

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First Term at the Piano

Sheet Music Review

Bartók’s Mikrokosmos has – since the first half of the 20th century – been a potent force in the pianist’s repertoire, hugely impacting pedagogy worldwide, while his charming collections of pieces For Children have delighted elementary to intermediate players of all ages. But what of his other little collection, The First Term at the Piano?

Largely overlooked, except as a curiosity for completists to consider, this seemingly innocuous sequence of 18 short pieces has passed under the radar of most piano teachers, and even though some of the pieces are brilliantly inventive and melodic, they have too rarely surfaced in other collections, exam syllabi or student performances.

Now the US-based pianist, teacher, lecturer and editor Immanuela Gruenberg is looking to turn the tables, resurrecting this work for a new century, and for a new audience.

Her stunning new edition of the pieces – which comes with complete commentary, imaginative lesson plans, and a series of online videos – has recently been published by Hal Leonard in association with Boosey & Hawkes. And as we shall see in this review, it is a genuine must-have purchase for anyone who teaches beginners.

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Pedal your way to Perfection!

Sheet Music Review

Over the last couple of decades I have enjoyed the privilege of teaching many teenage beginners, but have often found it difficult selecting the best material for them. These days we have become somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to child-friendly beginner material, but music and method for the teenager remains a bit more thin on the ground.

Composer and teacher Marcel Zidani believes his new publication Hey Presto! Pedal your way to Piano Perfection offers a solution to the problem of older beginners losing interest due to musically dull method books. Describing the book as a “Fast-track Piano Method for ages 11 to Adult” which will help the beginner “sound like a pro in minutes”, he writes:

“You will find that this method is a modern approach to learning the piano and is designed to help beginner pianists create a professional sound very quickly. With the use of the sustain pedal, a good piano teacher and the creative writing of this composer, you will be inspired to complete the course.”

From the outset, it is clear that the unique selling point of Hey Presto! is the immediate use of the sustain pedal. But just how does this work in practice?

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Easy Concert Pieces

Sheet Music review

Easy Concert Pieces is a brand new series of three piano collections edited by Monika Twelsiek and Rainer Mohrs, and published worldwide by Schott Music. The first book came out last year, while Book 2 has just been published. I will look at both, and let’s see how the series is shaping up!

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Interview with “Totally Mad” composer Chris Dann

“100 Totally Mad Really Easy Piano Songs for Kids” is an exciting collection of songs written especially for the young pianist. Wacky and original material makes learning fun, while progressively building skills in piano technique and music reading, providing a wide range of content suitable for use from the first lesson up until around Grade 1.

The use of songs – and hence singing – makes this an ideal resource for helping children developing their musicianship and aural engagement. And the quirky sense of humour that pervades the songs is sure to have huge appeal, hooking children into a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

It is without doubt one of the most innovative and imaginative alternatives to the conventional Tutor Book approach that I’ve come across. So it was a delight to catch up with the book’s author/composer, Chris Dann, and ask him all about the book – and the other resources he has produced.

But first, I wanted to find about more about Chris’s own musical journey…

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Piano Junior – the Big Review

Sheet Music Review

The current decade is proving to be a significant one for beginner tutor books, with new publications appearing thick and fast. In many cases these are a breath of fresh air following on from several years in which ageing “favourites” have maintained market dominance.

Latest arrival, Piano Junior from Schott Music, is one of the most ambitious yet. The series progresses through four levels, with four books at each, totalling a projected 16 books. The series is written by the well-known German composer and author Hans-Günter Heumann, with support and advice from experts Carolyn True, Melanie Spanswick and Sally Cathcart.

The first two levels are now available. Levels 3 and 4 will follow later, and I look forward to reviewing them in due course.

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Piano Safari: The Review

Sheet Music Review

Piano Safari is a beginner piano method series written by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr, first published in the USA in 2008. A distinctive approach which has won over many American piano teachers, it is now available in the UK from Alfred Music.

I invited American teacher Brian Jenkins, who has used Piano Safari over a number of years, to write an introduction for Pianodao explaining how it has changed his approach, and why he loves it. I recommend you read his piece here before mine, because he speaks not only with enthusiasm, but with the authority of a teacher who has put the resource into practice.

As Brian has already given a comprehensive overview of the approach, my own points will be supplementary to his. I will review the product itself after reflecting on the methodology…

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Introducing ABRSM Piano Star!

I am delighted to inform readers that ABRSM commissioned me to compose a number of pieces for their new Piano Star series of pre-Grade 1 books, which they formally unveil today. I feel honoured to have been involved with these fabulous new books…

As a direct contributor, of course I am unable to offer a full independent review of the publications here for ethical reasons. Instead, I have reproduced today’s Media Release from ABRSM, which gives full details of the publications below.

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