Hot off the press from Faber Music, and certainly not to be missed, the two books that make up the Teachers’ Choice Piano Collection have just appeared in partnership with EPTA UK, the European Piano Teachers’ Association.
Between them they include 58 pieces ranging in difficulty from Elementary/Grade 1 to Advanced/Grade 8, “selected by piano teachers for piano teachers”.
I must confess that when I first heard about these books a few months ago, my hopes for them were rather modest, but as soon as the finished collections arrived in the post I realised that they far exceeded my expectations. I think they are really wonderful!
Karen Marshall’s Piano Trainer Series for Faber Music, which includes The Foundation Pianist (with David Blackwell, reviewed here) and The Intermediate Pianist (with Heather Hammond, reviewed here), has reached its conclusion with the publication of The Advanced Pianist (Books 1 and 2, with Mark Tanner).
Taken as a whole, the complete series of seven books can be used as a core curriculum that can be interspersed with the eight grades of the UK examination boards, or used standalone by those not interested in taking exams.
In this review I will firstly take a look at The Advanced Pianist before drawing a few conclusions about the Piano Trainer series as a whole…
Radiohead hardly need any introduction. Since forming in 1985, they have established themselves as one of the most unique and admired bands in the world, selling more than 30 million albums and regularly topping listener and critical polls.
Australian pianist and teacher Josh Cohen will perhaps be a new name to some readers however, although he has garnered an impressive following of some 70,000+ followers on YouTube, drawn to his improvised solo piano arrangements of popular songs by Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Sigur Rós and David Bowie.
Now, thanks to Faber Music, 11 of Cohen’s arrangements are being published (with the approval of Radiohead themselves) in a beautifully presented collection.
Here’s Cohen explaining in his own words the journey that brought us this publication:
Pam Wedgwood has long been one of the UK’s bestselling educational and contemporary piano composers, with several hugely successful series of books in her back catalogue.
Though now in her 70’s, she remains prolific; since starting to review music on Pianodao I have already written about her outstanding Jazzin’ About the Year (which has subsequently become one of the most popular collections with my own younger students), How to play jazz piano, and her 2017 collection Piano Gallery, about which I concluded:
“Pam’s knack for writing engaging idiomatic piano music and for creating satisfying character pieces with ongoing value seems to me perfectly distilled in Piano Gallery, making this a collection to truly cherish.”
Pam’s latest, Piano Seascapes, is the sequel to Piano Gallery, bringing players 12 new original piano pieces inspired by the sea…
That’s the first word that came to me as I unpacked the advance review copy of Lang Lang’s Piano Book when it arrived back in February, and it is rightly the first word of this review.
Because Lang Lang’s Piano Book is without question one of the most lush sheet music publications I have ever seen. So, right away a huge round of applause goes to Faber Music for a job magnificently done.
But beyond the opulent presentation, what actually is Lang Lang’s Piano Book? Let’s take a look…
Lang Lang’s Daily Technical Exercises is a new addition to the Lang Lang Piano Academy series published in the UK by Faber Music.
Subtitled, “Warm-ups, work-outs and scale routines to develop technique”, the book is introduced by its global superstar author with this encouragement:
“Everything you play should be performed with love and musicality, so all of these exercises are designed to be satisfying exercise patterns that lead you smoothly through all the key centres. Enjoy your scale practice, and your piano playing will take off!”
Now the series has grown to include Classical, and a fourth book snappily called Pop is scheduled to follow later in the year.
In my previous review I noted:
“There is always room on the music shelf for easy piano arrangements of well-known and popular songs – players of all ages naturally find it encouraging and enjoyable to tackle tunes that are familiar to them, their family and friends.”
The Classical book in the series follows a similar philosophy, offering 16 pieces with an emphasis on simplified arrangements of some of the best-loved melodies of all time, and with a few original versions of easy pieces thrown in for good measure.
And now they’ve brought out the Faber Music Christmas Piano Anthology, which proves to be a massive and hugely impressive collection of the best and most popular seasonal tunes, expertly arranged for piano solo at intermediate to advanced level.
There’s been a gap in the market for something like this – it’s never easy to recommend a collection for all ages that covers the most wanted classic and contemporary festive songs. So is this it? Let’s find out …
Now let’s see whether Pam Wedgwood’s How to Play Jazz Piano, published by Faber Music this week, can make it a hat-trick.
The book aims to provide a solid introduction to jazz playing and claims to be “ideal for young players with a basic knowledge of how to play the piano (approximately Grade 2 standard)”.
As a standalone course suitable for players at this level, there is little competition – perhaps the nearest comparison would be with the (excellent) support materials for the ABRSM Jazz Piano syllabus.
So far, so interesting, so let’s take a closer look …