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:
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…
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.
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…
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.
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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!
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…