‘Graded Gillock’: A New Series

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I have long been an admirer of the brilliant piano music of William Lawson Gillock (1917-1993), so it is with huge pleasure and a sense of pride that I can now announce that, in conjunction with the Willis Music Company, I have selected and edited a new series of ‘graded’ collections showcasing a varied range of his best pieces.

Graded Gillock appears in three volumes, now available:


There’s little doubt in my mind that Gillock was one of the most significant educational piano composers of the twentieth century, as adept at turning out distinctively memorable and colourful piano pieces in an accessible style as he was at engaging the imaginations and enthusiasm of young learners, in doing so paving the way for today’s educational composers.

Gillock is perhaps best known here in the UK for his evocatively bluesy New Orleans Nightfall, stomping Swinging Beat and Latin-infused Carnival in Rio, all of which have been popular graded exam pieces in recent years. But what of his other music?

For this new series, I have used these favourites as a starting point, working with the composer’s long-term publisher Willis Music to explore and select Gillock’s most enjoyable and pedagogically useful music.

Continue reading ‘Graded Gillock’: A New Series

South African Folk Songs Collection

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Last October, I welcomed Artina McCain’s African American Folk Songs Collection, reviewed here, and took as sideways look at several other titles from Hal Leonard’s uniformly excellent series of elementary to intermediate piano solo arrangements of music from around the world.

Now I am delighted to introduce the latest title to this superb series. The South African Folk Songs Collection contains 24 traditional folk songs arranged by James Wilding and Nkululeko Zungu, and is now available.


Here’s the Pianodao review…

Continue reading South African Folk Songs Collection

Hal Leonard’s ‘Classical Piano Sheet Music Series’

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I love it when a music book exceeds my initial expectations, and the three books in Hal Leonard’s new Classical Piano Sheet Music Series score a hat trick on that front.

Between them, these three handsomely presented and well-edited books deliver a very decent survey of Western Classical piano music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic Eras, and I can warmly recommend them to intermediate pianists and their teachers.

In the review that follows I will include an easy-to-read piece listing for all the pieces in each of the three books, individual purchase links, having first given a general overview of the series…

Continue reading Hal Leonard’s ‘Classical Piano Sheet Music Series’

Naoko Ikeda: Aya

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The Willis Music Company have long been a leading name in the publishing of educational and accessible piano pieces, best known for the Dozen A Day series, the John Thompson Piano Method, and their extensive catalogue of great music by William Gillock.

I recently reviewed their Accent on William Gillock compendium and Jason Sifford’s Keybop series, and in this review I turn to another of their leading names, the Japanese composer Naoko Ikeda, whose music has met with considerable popularity in the States already, and is now gaining long-overdue attention here in the UK.

Ikeda’s extensive back catalogue includes many individually published pieces as well as several collections, a couple of which I picked up last year. I will be looking at her back catalogue in a future article, but for now I am turning to the recently published Aya, “10 Introspective Pieces for Piano Solo”.

The book is suitable for intermediate players (I would suggest around UK Grade 4-5 level), and is a superbly rewarding discovery…

Continue reading Naoko Ikeda: Aya

Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

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Alexis Ffrench’s star has continued to rise since my review of Hal Leonard’s Alexis Ffrench: The Sheet Music Collection a couple of years ago.

Last year Ffrench became Composer in Residence with Scala Radio; readers will be still more interested in the recent announcement of his appointment as the new Artistic Director of ABRSM, the music examination board, a role of which he has enthusiastically said,

“I can’t wait to start working with ABRSM’s Chief Executive, Chris Cobb, and his wonderful team in service of teachers and learners all over the world!”

On the creative front, Ffrench recently released his latest album on Sony. Truth introduces thirteen brand new tracks, including collaborations with singer Leona Lewis, guitarist Jin Oki, and with the lush backing of a 70-piece orchestra.

According to the artist,

“In writing these pieces, as we were all locked down, I imagined what the world would look like if we all asked ourselves the question “who am I and what is my purpose in the world?” and what we, as a human race, could create and change together. Out of that intensely personal moment, and as a reaction to feelings I could barely fathom at the time, these songs were born – as an elegy to the audacity of hope.”


Hal Leonard have just published the official sheet music folio of all the tracks from the album in solo piano transcriptions, the subject of this review…

Continue reading Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

The Mosaic Series

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Mosaic is a series currently comprising four music books, each showcasing fresh and varied repertoire newly commissioned and composed by piano educators from around the world.

The pieces are loosely graded, arranged in order of difficulty, compiled as books suitable for elementary, intermediate and advanced players, and published by Editions Musica Ferrum. A fifth book (reaching towards Grade 8 level) is currently planned.

I am honoured to be one of the composers featured in all four books, alongside such well-established names as Barbara Arens, Ben Crosland, June Armstrong and others.

The collections are a natural addition to the Pianodao Music Library, and while I obviously cannot ‘review’ them in quite the usual way, this article will introduce the series with an overview of the concept, several recordings, and hopefully sufficient information for readers to decide whether to take a closer look.

Continue reading The Mosaic Series

Phillip Keveren’s Three-Minute Encores

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“As the last note hangs in the air, there is a magical moment when an audience will, once in a while, decide they want to hear more! Not a lot more, mind you. The clock is ticking and the babysitter can only stay until 10 pm. But, can we make this evening last just a little longer?”

So enthuses ace arranger Phillip Keveren in the preface to his latest collection from Hal Leonard, the cunningly conceived Three-Minute Encores.

Keveren will be known to regular Pianodao readers from my reviews of his superb Piano Calm (reviewed here) and Circles (reviewed here), both of which have become absolute studio essentials here, favourites with multiple students, and are among the most-used collections I have ever reviewed.

One of America’s leading arrangers, Keveren has also delivered literally dozens of other books for Hal Leonard, collectively The Phillip Keveren Series, to which this new issue belongs. And it’s another corker, so let’s investigate…

Continue reading Phillip Keveren’s Three-Minute Encores

Ludovico Einaudi: Cinema

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Ludovico Einaudi’s music continues to divide opinion, often derided by those whose preferred music is less accessible, while fêted by fans and adored by enthusiastic pianists, students and audiences around the world. And along the way, his music has perhaps nowhere found a wider (or more lucrative) embrace that in the movie theatre…

Cinema appeared as a CD album about a year ago, and features 28 of Einaudi’s memorable works from film and television, including tracks from the Oscar-winning ‘Nomadland’ and ‘The Father’. The sheet music folio from publishers Chester Music is now with us, the subject of this review, in which I will also consider a separate publication of the music from the Nomadland soundtrack…

Continue reading Ludovico Einaudi: Cinema

How to Practise Music: Reviews

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It has been a couple of months since the release of my first book for Hal Leonard in the UK, and it is now available in a US english version, and in digital format from the Amazon Kindle and Apple Books stores.

I have been thrilled and touched by the many wonderful comments I have received and reviews that have appeared.

Here is a selection…

Continue reading How to Practise Music: Reviews

Boogie Woogie Piano Solos

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Of all the jazz styles, boogie woogie surely sits at the “unabashed fun” end of the spectrum, with a musical appeal, approachable good-nature and lack of pretensions that invites classical players as well as jazz-devotees to get down and have a go.

Intermediate players who want to boogie are well catered for by the likes of William Gillock, Martha Meir and Mike Cornick, while for the advancing player Tim Richards’ Blues, Boogie & Gospel Collection (reviewed here) is a great resource.

Meanwhile, those who want to master the style at the highest level and play transcriptions of the classics will welcome the latest addition to Hal Leonard’s Jazz Piano Solos series (volume 60, and you can explore previous highlights here). Simply titled Boogie Woogie, this new collection is terrific, and more advanced players will absolutely love it.

Continue reading Boogie Woogie Piano Solos

Happy Birthday, Musica Ferrum!

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Independent music publisher Editions Musica Ferrum launched ten years ago, and as we celebrate the anniversary this week I am happy to share this interview which I recently conducted with EMF founder and owner Nikolas Sideris.

The interview covers the Musica Ferrum story so far, with many fascinating insights. The interview also appears as a YouTube video at the end of this post, following a transcript of the major points…

Continue reading Happy Birthday, Musica Ferrum!

Music from Minecraft

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When I heard that Hal Leonard were bringing out a Music from Minecraft solo piano album, I was intrigued but unsure what to expect, not least because while interested in the concept of the game, I haven’t actually played it.

The music is composed by Daniel Rosenfeld, a German electronic composer and sound engineer who performs under the moniker C418. Rosenfeld began creating music on his computer as a teenager, and by the age of twenty had an established growing career.

Rosenfeld’s music for Minecraft was created when he was in his early twenties, and has been released on two albums in conjunction with the game itself: Minecraft Alpha (2011) and the longer, lusher Minecraft Beta (2013).

The present sheet music publication draws twenty pieces from across both those albums, presenting solo piano transcriptions suitable for intermediate to advanced players. The target audience will predominantly be teenagers and young adults who play the game, and that’s a huge target!

So let’s take a look…

Continue reading Music from Minecraft

Ludovico Einaudi: Underwater

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Ludovico Einaudi’s early solo piano albums, which included Le Onde (1996), I Giorni (2001), and Una Matina (2004), established him as the most well-known contemporary piano composer, his most classic pieces appearing ubiquitously from soundtracks to school concerts.

Over the years, he has consolidated his phenomenal success with a string of albums that have expanded his sound. Eden Rock (1999) introduced this wider instrumentation, and string parts have continued to take a particularly important role on albums such as In a Time Lapse (2013) and Elements (2015). Electronic elements and treatments have featured too, notably on Divenire (2006) and Nightbook (2009).

Underwater is Einaudi’s first full album of new solo piano music for two decades. The music was composed while the composer was isolated at his home in Italy. Working without any distractions or the usual commitments that come with his busy schedule, we are told that it is his manifesto for life, and a statement on a period during which the world around him was quiet and silent.

“I felt a sense of freedom to abandon myself and to let the music flow in a different way. I didn’t have a filter between me and what came out of the piano, it felt very pure.”

As a sometime fan of Einaudi’s work, I found Underwater strikingly different to listen to (as have others), and have been looking forward to considering the sheet music folio, which has recently been published by Chester Music / Hal Leonard, and is the subject of this review…

Continue reading Ludovico Einaudi: Underwater

Really Easy Chart Hits of 2021

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Hal Leonard’s large and growing range of “really easy piano” books hardly needs introduction, having established a firm foothold and superbly filled its niche in the market.

The latest addition to the series is a collection of “20 Smash Hits” from 2021. Let’s see what is included and how it measures up to the high standards Hal Leonard have previously set…

Continue reading Really Easy Chart Hits of 2021

Ballads without words

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Heather Hammond is one of the UK’s most widely respected and published educational composers, responsible for a string of popular titles that notably include the Cool Piano, Cool Clarinet, Funky Flute and Super Sax series from Kevin Mayhew. She is also much admired for her work with writing partner Karen Marshall; together they created the Get Set! Piano method series (Collins Music) and Intermediate Pianist (Faber Music).

Hammond’s most recent music, published with vision and panache by EVC Music, has further consolidated her growing international reputation, and EVC now brings us the combined Ballads Without Words, a compilation of two previous best-selling titles (suitable for upper intermediate players around UK Grades 4-5), joined by two brand new pieces…

Continue reading Ballads without words

West Side Story

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With Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed new movie version of West Side Story arriving at multiplexes around the world, you surely won’t have missed the buzz once again surrounding the great Bernstein/Sondheim masterpiece.

Looking for an accessible piano score, I found that there are more than 300 search results on Musicroom, narrowing down to several piano solo and duet publications. I’ve selected the “intermediate piano solo selections” version for review here, which has been around for a few years, and is linked (via Musicroom) at the end of the short review which follows…

Continue reading West Side Story

ABBA: Voyage

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The story of Abba’s 2021 reunion album, their final studio outing but also their first for some 40 years, hardly needs further comment such has been the media interest and saturation already.

Voyage may have divided both critical and fan opinion (doesn’t everything these days?) but the arrival of the official sheet music book from Hal Leonard offers an opportunity to consider the merits of the songs in their own right, stripped of their production.

Resistance is probably futile, so we had best take a look…

Continue reading ABBA: Voyage

Elena Cobb: Recital Piano Solos

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Elena Cobb is without doubt one of the single most inspiring educators and committed visionaries that I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

A musical force of nature, she has made a global impact in music education through her Star Prize events at London’s Royal Albert Hall which attract young players from around the world, her festival and awards sponsorships, online networking (her Facebook community for Russian-speaking teachers has more than 10,000 members) and her music publishing.

Building her publishing business EVC Music from scratch, the last decade has seen Cobb supporting new music, in the process launching and expanding the careers of several excellent educational composers. It would be easy to overlook that Cobb is herself an outstanding composer.

Having recently signed to Hal Leonard as global distributors for EVC Music, her music is once again in the spotlight, and there’s never been a better time to remind readers of two excellent collections which showcase Cobb’s own, brilliant creative voice…

Continue reading Elena Cobb: Recital Piano Solos

Celebrating Saint-Saëns

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Centenary years offer an opportunity to celebrate and perhaps reevaluate the works of significant composers from earlier times, and in 2021 (to be precise, on 16th December) we mark the 100-year anniversary of the death of the great French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921).

Though best known for orchestral works, including the universally-known Carnival of the Animals, the Danse macabre, the ‘Organ’ Symphony, and his concertos (including five for piano and orchestra), Saint-Saëns also composed a significant body of solo piano music which, these days, is too little played.

This is no doubt in part because his Liszt-inspired writing renders Saint-Saëns’ solo piano music inaccessible to all but the most advanced virtuosi. Pedagogy occupied little of the composer’s time: a fairly brief stint at the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse in Paris and thereafter occasional coaching (his students including Godowsky). The result: no music composed for formative educational purposes, pre-diploma.

Saint-Saëns’ legacy has suffered in other ways too, including a not entirely fair perception that his music, though sparkling, is essentially superficial. His infamous derision for younger contemporaries such as Debussy and Milhaud no-doubt further alienated him from the public of his later years.

In this revisitation and celebration of Saint-Saëns’ piano music, I will explore three publications from Éditions Durand, who are regarded as the definitive publishers of this repertoire: Œuvres pour piano books I and II, and The Best of Saint-Saëns, a collection of thirteen miscellaneous pieces.

Continue reading Celebrating Saint-Saëns

Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

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Any advanced player with a penchant for jazz and looking for fresh festive fare this holiday season would do well to check out the newly published Christmas Classics, which appears as volume 61 in the Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos series and delivers 24 selections arranged by Brent Edstrom.

Since its recent arrival I have been playing my way through these tunes, and have been equally impressed by the variety on offer and by the consistent quality of Edstrom’s arrangements. Here’s my review…

Continue reading Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

Christmas Songs for Kids

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Too late for inclusion in this year’s Christmas Shortlist: Elementary round up, but as delightful as it is fresh, Hal Leonard’s Christmas Songs for Kids delivers,

“25 Holiday Favourites arranged for Easy Piano, with practice tips for learning each song.”

This tastefully presented collection is definitely worth a look, and will no doubt appear in next years Shortlist, but for now here’s a quick look at what’s inside…

Continue reading Christmas Songs for Kids

The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Advanced Piano Music

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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 couple of new releases alongside several established hits.

The 2021 Pianodao shortlist concludes with collections suitable for more ADVANCED players (UK Grade 6 and above).

You can 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: Advanced Piano Music

The Christmas 2021 Shortlist: Intermediate Piano Music

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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 classic favourites!

The 2021 Pianodao shortlist continues with music collections aimed at INTERMEDIATE players (around UK Grade 3-5)…

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: Intermediate Piano Music

Jason Sifford’s KEYBOP

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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

Herbert Howells: Piano Works

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Last year, pianist Matthew Schellhorn treated us to a splendid recording of the “lost” solo piano music of the celebrated twentieth century English composer Herbert Howells.

It was my Recording of the Month, and you can read my review here.

Now I am delighted to tell you about a recently released sheet music publication which includes all of these rediscovered and reissued works, together with a few other newly resurrected miniatures.

Edited by Jonathan Clinch, and brought to us by Novello Music, Herbert Howells Piano Works is an absolute treat for all lovers of this music, and a very welcome addition to the repertoire of advanced players.

Herbert Howells Piano Works Novello

Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Herbert Howells: Piano Works