June Armstrong: Take Ten

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW written by ANDREW EALES.
Consultation Lessons Available • BOOK AN ONLINE SESSION.
Supporting Piano Players Worldwide • VIDEO FEEDBACK SERVICE.


June Armstrong is not only one of the UK’s most creative composers, but one of the most prolific. Having only reviewed her Dreams and Dragons last December, she’s already now back with her next publication, Take Ten.

Capitalising on the immense popularity of her piece Dusty Blue, recently a Grade 2 favourite here, Armstrong’s new book delivers 14 brand new ‘Jazz Miniatures for piano solo, suitable for elementary players.


With so many competing publications in this territory, and the prevalence of jazzy pastiche, it’s inevitable that Take Ten is a less musically distinctive collection than some Armstrong publications.

But I have no doubt that it will be a best-seller, and deservedly so, because it’s excellent and has some cool twists…

So read on for my detailed review…

Continue reading June Armstrong: Take Ten

Exploring Janina Garścia’s Educational Music

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


Janina Garścia (1920-2004) was one of Poland’s great piano educators. In addition to teaching in primary schools for close to 50 years, she composed around 700 pieces for younger players, mostly for piano.

Much of her best educational piano music remains in print from PWM Edition, and in this review I will focus on three collections which were selected to feature in the recent Music from Chopin’s Land promotion, together with tutorial and demonstration videos filmed as part of that project.

The three collections I’ll look at here are:

  1. Musical Pictures for the Youngest
  2. Teasers for piano
  3. Little Sonatinas for piano
Continue reading Exploring Janina Garścia’s Educational Music

Sonny Chua’s ‘Cool Keys’

Sheet Music Review

“Sonny Chua was an Australian composer, educator and pianist, known for his characterful and energetic musical style, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Today, on what would have been his 53rd birthday, we are honoured to announced that we will be publishing his ‘Cool Keys’ books for solo piano later this month.”

With these words Faber Music last month announced the imminent arrival of Cool Keys, two books of pieces suitable for Elementary and Intermediate players respectively, while also drawing attention to the sad circumstances of their publication.

Happily, the books offer a superb testament to the talent and imagination of Chua: one which will undoubtedly be welcomed warmly by those who knew him, while introducing his best educational music to a wider global audience.

So let’s take a closer look at these very special publications, which are now available to purchase…

Continue reading Sonny Chua’s ‘Cool Keys’

Krystyna Gowik: My Little World

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


Krystyna Gowic is a well-known composer and educator in Poland, and it’s clear from her music that she has a deep understanding and commitment to education, alongside a real artistic flair.

In this article I will be considering her two collections published by PWM Edition: My Little World and My Favourites, as well as sharing the tutorial videos that I and my Japanese colleague Marie Kiyone have made to support teachers using this music…

Continue reading Krystyna Gowik: My Little World

Feliks Rybicki: I Begin to Play

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


The piano educational music of Feliks Rybicki is one of the great treasures of the pedagogic repertoire, and deserves to be known by teachers and students everywhere…

Let me tell you more…

Continue reading Feliks Rybicki: I Begin to Play

The Best Christmas Piano Music 2020

Sheet Music Review

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, Pianodao has a round up of favourite choices…

Continue reading The Best Christmas Piano Music 2020

Gradebusters: 15 Awesome Solos

Sheet Music Review

Grade exams getting you down?
Who are you going to call?…

GRADEBUSTERS!!

Gradebusters is the cheekily-titled new series from Hal Leonard. Serving up a rich feast of universally popular music that players everywhere will be hungry to play each book is packed with instantly recognisable hits and infectious tunes. The series so far includes books for piano, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet, alto and tenor sax, nominally ‘Grade 1’ level.

The Gradebusters grade 1 piano book includes “15 awesome solos from ABBA to Aladdin”, and is available now. Grades 2 and 3 follow over the next few months.

Here’s a quick rundown of the resource, the music included, and some ideas about who this book would suit…

Continue reading Gradebusters: 15 Awesome Solos

Agnieszka Lasko’s ‘Little Stories’

Sheet Music Review

Once in a while a music book comes my way which quite simply “blows me away”, and such a book is Little Stories, a new collection of 16 late elementary pieces by Polish composer Agnieszka Lasko, published by Euterpe and distributed by Universal Edition.

With it’s truly lush illustrations and presentation of Lasko’s highly original and attractive compositions, the book is a natural winner. The inclusion in several pieces of opportunities for children to improvise and compose takes the book to another level again, making it a truly essential addition to the childrens’ pedagogic literature.


Let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading Agnieszka Lasko’s ‘Little Stories’

Schott Music’s Mini Maestros

Sheet Music Review

Those looking for good anthologies of easy piano music are fairly spoilt for choice these days.

Latest to arrive (on the same day as ABRSM’s rather disappointing Core Classics series reviewed here), a set of three new books from Schott Music, compiled by the ever-prolific Hans-Günter Heumann, and collectively titled: Mini Maestro.

With each of the three books containing 50 solo pieces and 3 bonus duets, Mini Maestro certainly offers great value and plenty to dig into, so let’s take a look…

Continue reading Schott Music’s Mini Maestros

ABRSM “Core Classics” – The Review

Sheet Music Review

Once in a while, a publication arrives for review which is based on a great concept and is itself essentially a very good product, but where the mismatch between the original intention and its actual delivery is a glaring one, as though at some point in the developmental process there was a communication breakdown.

Core Classics: Essential Repertoire for Piano, a set of seven progressively “graded” solo repertoire books published worldwide today by ABRSM, is a striking example of this phenomenon.

That is a particular disappointment, given that this is actually a beautifully presented and musically interesting series. So let’s find out exactly what Core Classics has to offer…

Continue reading ABRSM “Core Classics” – The Review