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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Women composers and Graded Exams

Guest Post by David Duncan
Publications Officer, LCM Examinations

Should we care about the representation of women composers in graded music exams?

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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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Three types of Repertoire

Active Repertoire Project

Since writing my article What can you play? readers have shown quite an interest in my concept of Active Repertoire.
Now I am going to explain a little more about how Active Repertoire fits into the wider picture of your piano journey.

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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.

Continue reading A Piece a Week: Grade 3