The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Elementary Piano Music

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level.

Once again this year, here is the updated and expanded Pianodao shortlist of the best seasonal piano sheet music, including a mix of new releases and established favourites.

The 2021 Pianodao shortlist begins with collections for BEGINNER to ELEMENTARY players (around UK Grade 2).

You will find the Pianodao 2021 Christmas Shortlists for other levels here:


And as ever, remember that Pianodao Tea Room members will receive a 20% discount from Musicroom for any of the publications included below.

Continue reading The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Elementary Piano Music

FREE! More Festive Gifts

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Courtesy of COLLINS MUSIC


When Collins Music published Karen Marshall and David Blackwell’s excellent Get Set! Piano Christmas Crackers collection in 2018, they also brought out a few extra arrangements as downloads only, supporting the book.

I have picked my favourite three and with the permission of Collins Music, I am pleased to present them here with exclusive introductions by David Blackwell

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FREE! David Blackwell: Christmas Crackers

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Courtesy of COLLINS MUSIC


Here is a brand new composition by David Blackwell for Christmas 2021, published Pianodao as an exclusive preview and with the generous support of Collins Music!

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FREE! Away in a Manger

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Courtesy of COLLINS MUSIC


Away in a Manger has long been a special favourite, both in the US version of the melody and this one, more familiar here in the UK.

Wherever you and your piano live, enjoy this beautiful elementary piano arrangement by Karen Marshall and David Blackwell, which comes with a lovely optional duet part and a colouring activity…

Continue reading FREE! Away in a Manger

FREE! Good King Wenceslas

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Courtesy of COLLINS MUSIC


This arrangement by Karen Marshall of the ever-popular festive favourite is the first piece from the best-selling Get Set! Piano Christmas Crackers book, published by Collins Music and shared exclusively online here on Pianodao with their generous permission.

The arrangement is suitable for players who have only just started lessons, while also including a musically engaging optional teacher/parent duet part.

Continue reading FREE! Good King Wenceslas

Jason Sifford’s KEYBOP

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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New from the Willis Music Company, Jason Sifford’s two books of Keybop each offer “11 jazzy solos for the young pianist”.

Not another set of jazzy books for young pianists, I hear you say. But stay with me, because these ones are really worth a look…

Continue reading Jason Sifford’s KEYBOP

African American Folk Songs

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Here in the UK we celebrate Black History Month each October, and with perfect timing Hal Leonard have recently launched a wonderful new sheet music collection. The African American Folk Songs Collection contains intermediate piano arrangements by Artina McCain of 24 traditional songs.


Dr. McCain, who comes from Arlington, Texas and is now based in Memphis, Tennessee, has won multiple Global Music Awards for her recordings of works by composers of African descent.

In her introduction to this new piano collection she tells us,

“African Americans created a rich history of song and dance. I am proud to say that I am the great-great-great-granddaughter of these strong and resilient enslaved Americans and can trace my origins in America back almost 200 years. In the late 18th century our musical history began with the African American Spiritual (or Negro Spiritual) and is the largest and most significant form of American folk song. There are over 6,000 or these anonymous masterpieces! Through oral tradition, they were passed down from generation to generation and brilliantly blended the rich musical culture of Africa with text describing hardships that they were experiencing in America.”

From this extraordinary treasury of song, McCain has selected her 24 classics for inclusion here, making original, wonderfully pianistic and pedagogically valuable arrangements.

I’m happy to tell you right away that this book is really outstanding, but let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading African American Folk Songs

FREE! Borislava Taneva: Autumn Mood

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Courtesy of EDITIONS MUSICA FERRUM


Autumn Mood is one of the many expressive, evocative pieces to be found in Borislava’s magnificent pair of books Riddles, Puzzles and Pieces, which I recently reviewed here.

The complete books make an excellent purchase for any creative piano teacher and their students looking to enlarge their library of superb music, and Autumn Mood straight away confirms the calibre of Taneva’s brilliant writing.

Suitable for late elementary (Grade 2) to Early Intermediate (Grade 3) player, the composer tells us that the educational goal of Autumn Mood is the improvement of legato technique and the crossing of the hands.

I would add that the delicious harmonies found here will work their magic on the developing ear, helping the early intermediate player absorb exquisite chromaticism and learn to hear the directional pull within a chord.

Riddles, Puzzles and Plays is available from Musicroom here and as a digital download or studio license from the publisher here.

In the meantime, it’s time to get into an Autumn Mood



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All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales.
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Gradebusters 2

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Of the various books to have appeared in the last few years offering easy arrangements of favourite popular songs for elementary players, Hal Leonard’s Gradebusters Grade 1 quickly became a favourite here, and a runaway success with my students.

When I reviewed the book here, I loved everything about it, and hoped that a promised Grade 2 book would quickly peek its head around the corner. It’s taken a while for the second book to arrive but I’m very happy to report it’s been well worth the wait, and is a sequel to celebrate!

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Accent on William Gillock

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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There’s little doubt in my mind that William Gillock (1917-1993) was one of the most significant educational piano composers of the twentieth century, and it’s a delight to be reviewing The Willis Music Company‘s new complete edition of the Accent on Gillock series. All of the original eight volumes (still available separately) also now appear in one newly edited and engraved volume.

Let’s therefore take a moment to consider Gillock’s seminal importance before reviewing this essential new compendium…

Continue reading Accent on William Gillock