More Flashy Solos that Sound Harder than They Are

Dragon-Fire Fantasy look inside Dragon-Fire Fantasy By Carol Matz. For Piano. Duet or Duo; Piano Duet (1 Piano, 4 Hands); Sheet. Signature Series. Early Intermediate. 8 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.39451)

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OK, I this one is a duet, but I wanted to include it because it's such fun. I have a student and her mother playing this delightful new duet on my Halloween recital. It sounds very snazzy, but isn't very hard. (I will say that I re-barred the piece before I gave it to them. It is written in 4/4, but I find it much easier to think and play in 3 + 3 + 2 which is how I re-barred it. You may find it just fine in its original time signature.) It's exciting and fun to play. In D minor with a few accidentals.

Lyric Preludes In Romantic Style look inside Lyric Preludes In Romantic Style (24 Short Piano Pieces in All Keys). By William L. Gillock. For solo piano. Piano Collection; Piano Supplemental. Form: Prelude. Classical Period and 20th Century. SMP Level 5 (Intermediate). Collection. Standard notation, fingerings and introductory text (does not include words to the songs). 36 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.0649)

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The piece I'm particularly thinking of in this set is called Seascape, the second piece in the book. (It's part of the look inside preview.) It sounds impressive, and can be taught entirely by rote if necessary. If you already know this set, you already love it. If not, this is one of the true staples of my studio. I use it with adult students because the quality of the writing is impeccable . Each piece focuses on a different skill, with loads of opportunities for learning. In some ways, the best thing about this book is that though the quality is high, the pieces themselves are quite short. There are also pieces which can be used for Halloween. (A Witch's Cat, for instance.)  

When I made the recording for Jane Bastien's new Literature book, there were a few pieces that I particularly enjoyed and am looking forward to teaching. These include:

Moszkowski: Etude in F Major, Op. 72, No. 6 is a sparkling, delightful piece. Though it sounds nearly impossible, it really isn't. The recording I did for Jane is fairly slow and it still sounds impressive. I have taught this to students who aren't particularly gifted and they still loved it.

Chopin: Polonaise in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 26 No.1 is a great big-not-that-hard-after-all kind of piece. I am currently teaching it to a sophisticated student of mine who just graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Environmental Engineering. She loves to play, wanted a manageable challenge and is quite taken with it.

Rachmaninoff: Humoresque, Op. 10 No.5 was a piece that was completely new to me. Before I'd received proofs of Jane's editing, I downloaded a public domain copy from the internet to try to get started on learning it. That was a mistake. I couldn't play it. I literally could not play it. Then Jane's edition came in the mail. I sailed right through it. Sometimes the editing makes all the difference in the world and this is one of those occasions. It's the best first big Russian Romantic piece I've ever played. 

Among my other favorites of slightly more standard repertoire, but pieces that I love to teach are many of the MacDowell Etudes, Op. 39. I loved playing  the Tarantella, Op. 39 #2 when I was a kid, and I love teaching it today. (Disclaimer, I love teaching all of it except measures 53 - 61. I have a student playing it on the Halloween recital this weekend and we just cut those measures. Seriously. I felt like the sun had come out.) That one can be found Volume Seven of Essential Piano Repertoire.

Essential Piano Repertoire - Level 7 (Book & CD) look inside Essential Piano Repertoire - Level 7 (Book & CD) (From the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries). Edited by Keith Snell. For piano. Neil A. Kjos Piano Library, Collection. Keith Snell Series. Level 7. Book & CD. 72 pages. Published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company (KJ.GP457)

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Essential Piano Repertoire - Level 8 (Book & CD) look inside Essential Piano Repertoire - Level 8 (Book & CD) (From the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries). Edited by Keith Snell. For piano. Neil A. Kjos Piano Library, Collection. Keith Snell Series. Level 8. Book & CD. 84 pages. Published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company (KJ.GP458)

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Another, slightly harder, one I adore is the Shadow Dance, Op. 39, No. 8. It is a bit more sophisticated, and trickier to read because of the F Sharp minor key signature. It can be found here in Level 8 of Essential Piano Repertoire.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions. I know how tired I get of teaching the same pieces over and over and how grateful I am when a colleague points me toward something that works.

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