from the Spring 2002 issue
What are your students' favorite
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Introduction by Marvin Blickenstaff
electing recital repertoire is an awesome
responsibility. Will the piece capture the interest of the
student, sustaining the investment required to prepare the piece
for performance? Does the piece capitalize on the student's strengths?
Is it constructed so that memory comes easily? Will the piece
have audience appeal? Does the repertoire selected give balance
to the entire program, representing a variety of styles?
Four outstanding, experienced teachers have been asked to list
their students' favorite recital pieces. (Note the emphasis on
the students' favorite pieces.) To make the list more "user-friendly,"
these student favorites are placed in categories: Classical
Favorites, Contemporary Favorites, Favorites by
Educational Composers, and Jazz-Pop Favorites. The
writers have then added a list in the form of a P.S., mentioning
some studio favorites which recently have come into their teaching
If you have not yet selected your spring recital repertoire,
this list may serve you handsomely. If your recitals are planned
and underway, keep this list close at hand. These "student
favorites" suggested by colleagues are likely to be duplicated
in your studio. Your response to this list of repertoire may be
similar to mine: a "rush" order to your music dealer.
Two footnotes: (1) There were only two duplications
in the listings given by the writers. One was the Chopin "Waltz
in A Minor," and the other was Melody Bober's "Canyons
and Waterfalls." (2) Pieces listed without a source and publisher
indicate repertoire readily found in numerous anthologies.
I. Classical Favorites (including Baroque,
Classical, and Romantic composers)
"Minuet in D Minor" by Bach
- The gentle melodic rise and fall and detailed
articulation make this a winner.
"Sonata in C Major, K95, L358," by Scarlatti (Recital
Winners Book I; Alfred)
- A showy piece with the RH crossing over the
"Pastorale" by Le Couppey (Very First Classics;
Boosey & Hawkes)
- Older beginners appreciate the mature classical
sound without the tangle of too many notes; when taught by rote,
young beginners experience the thrill of playing a "grown-up"
"Solfeggietto" by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
- Students love playing the fast arpeggios
that are divided between the hands.
"Allegro Scherzando in F Major, Hob. III 75/4" by
- Sounds playful, even frolicsome. It effectively
uses dynamic contrasts and an energetic ending of pedaled quarter-note
"Waltz" by Clementi (Celebration Series, Book
2; Frederick Harris)
- Sparkling piece. Easily learned and reaches
lively performance speed in short order.
24 Short and Easy Pieces by Reinagle (Alfred
Masterwork Edition; Alfred)
- These easy pieces fit nicely at the beginning
of a recital without sounding "babyish."
- Number 10, the "Minuetto" is a
favorite.553k, WAV sound
filePianist: Hannah Hill, age 10
- Also Number 14, "Allegro" 383k, WAV sound filePianist:
Hannah Hill, age 10
"Für Elise" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
- Both audiences and students know and love
this staple in the repertoire.
"Sonatina III in A minor" by Georg Benda
- The toccata-like writing, broken chords and
hand crossings all contribute to the excitement of a recital
"Allegro Burlesco, Op. 88, No. 3," by Kuhlau
- Lives up to its humorous title with its many
grace notes, octave intervals and descending scale passages.
- 1.5MB, WAV sound filePianist:
Kimberly McGrath, age 16
"Waltz in A Minor, Op. Post." by Frederic Chopin
- Late elementary-early intermediate students
are especially pleased to perform a piece by Chopin. (Parents
and friends are impressed!)
"Prelude in B Minor" by Alexander Morowsky (Easy
Keyboard Music Ancient to Modern; Alfred)
- The melancholy LH theme creates a haunting
sound underneath a very simple RH broken chordal accompaniment.
The expressive nature of the piece enables the most inhibited
performer to sound musical. 680k,
WAV sound filePianist: Hannah Prince, age 13
"Puck, Op. 71, No. 3" by Edvard Grieg
- Appeal comes from the mischievous and animated
writing and from the reference to Shakespeare's "Midsummer
Night's Dream." Memorization is never a problem
due to the repeated patterns throughout.
"L'Orage, Op. 109, No. 13" by Friedrich Burgmüller
- Students love the many dynamic changes that
make the piece so dramatic. The fast tempo makes it very exciting
"Spinning Song" by Albert Ellmenreich
- This is an ever-popular student favorite.
Students like the ascending thirds on the off beats and the accented
II. Contemporary Favorites
"Le Petit Nègre" by Claude Debussy
- Students like the syncopated rhythm.
"Playing Ball" (from 24 Inventions)
by Ross Lee Finney (Peters)
- The immediate appeal is the title. Many triads,
the fanfare style of writing, and the stepwise sixteenth note
movement in the LH make this an impressive recital piece for
the younger student.
"Novelette" (from Op. 27) by Dimitri Kabalevsky
- This is a wonderful piece for students who
play expressively. They love the haunting melody and the drama
of the chromatically ascending bass line in the middle section.
"Andantino" (also sometimes titled "Ivan Sings")
by Aram Khachaturian
- Calling for balanced hand control, it fosters
listening for a projected melody above the accompaniment as well
as clean pedaling.
"Etude" (Children's Album, Vol. 1)
by Aram Khachaturian
- An exciting piece with its accents, almost
continuous staccatos, and rhythmic drive.
"The Blacksmith" by Samuel Maykapar
- A great recital piece for the insecure performer,
for it gives the student time to take control before the imitative
- 850k, WAV sound filePianist: Christy Bellamy, age 16
"Etude Allegro" (Japanese Festival)
by Yoshinao Nakada (MCA)
- Students love the contrast between the technical
brilliance of the A section and the lyrical B
section. This piece sounds impressive!
- 1.7MB, WAV sound filePianist:
Brian Blume, age 16
"Valse" by Francis Poulenc
- Audience members have been known to laugh
aloud during performances of this very humorous piece. Students
love the rebellious spirit and satirical writing in a waltz gone
awry! 1.3MB, WAV sound
filePianist: Abbey Jones, age 16
"Rain and the Rainbow, Op 65, No. 8" by Prokofiev
- The appeal of this short (22 measures) piece
is the pitter-patter of the rain. The students like the dissonant
clusters imaging the splashes of puddles. The B
section has a descending melody that spans two octaves as if
arching across the sky.
"The Bear" by Rebikov
- Low LH left broken octave ostinato, sempre
staccato. The RH is also in the bass clef with a tenuto articulation.
"Alnitah" (The Three Maries) by Heitor
Villa Lobos; (Carl Fisher)
- This piece is an attention grabber from the
opening sfz sixteenth note until the ending accented
C octaves. It features perpetual motion sixteenth
note movement with a syncopated short theme.
III. Favorites by Educational
"Prelude to a Fairy Tale" by Denes Agay (Schirmer)
- This piece provides a challenge for the more
musical students. They relish the contrast between the lyrical
and the dramatic sections.
"A Touch of Gold" by Dennis Alexander (A Splash
of Color; Alfred)
- Loved by parents and students alike, this
reflective waltz has lovely color and feels wonderful in the
"The Bee Hive" by Hansi Alt (Willis Music Co.)
- The agitated bees heard in the minor 2nds
sting and attack. The piece uses ascending, descending, parallel
and contrary motion chromatic scales.
"Vacation Sunrise" by Bruce Berr (At the Seashore,
Volume 1; FJH Music, Inc.)
- Beautiful and gentle, musicality easily comes
to the fore. Patterns are easily taught and pedaling is accessible.
Ideal for an older beginner's first recital piece. 680k, WAV sound filePianist:
Meghan Palmer, age 10
- Also found in the collection is "Igor
- Great tone painting and humor. SNAP! 553k, WAV sound filePianist:
Meghan Palmer, age 10
"Canyons and Waterfalls" by Melody Bober (FJH Music,
- The construction of this solo allows the
student to focus in the A section on arm weight,
in the B section on a singing melody, and in the
C section on cascading arpeggiated figures. The
Coda concludes with majestic chords.
"Rush Hour" by Kevin Cray (Carl Fisher)
- The title says it all. Composed almost entirely
of seconds and chromatic scale fragments with accents and staccatos,
"Rush Hour" has a frantic, hectic feel.
"Cat Prowl" by Nancy Faber (FJH Music, Inc.)
- One hears the cat prowling and springing
on its prey. The use of contrasting dynamics, wide range of keyboard
topography, and pedal in the B section all contribute
to the students' wide range of motion. The last measure crashes
with the RH crossing over the LH to the lowest key on the piano.
- 553k, WAV sound filePianist:
Dylan Kenny, age 11
"Chopsticks de Luxe" by Louise Garrow (Program
Solos Book, Level Three; Belwin Mills/Warner Bros.)
- This set of variations makes the familiar
sparkle. The book has many other interesting pieces.
- 1020k, WAV sound filePianist: Jill Jourdain, age 12
"Jealousy" by Margaret Goldston (Romances,
Book 2; Alfred)
- Students love the driving rhythm and excitement
generated by the repeated octaves and running eighth notes. This
piece is a real audience-pleaser.
- 680k, WAV sound filePianist: Kelly Moffitt, age 13
"Eye of the Storm" by Randall Hartsell (Alfred)
- The piece requires speed, but the patterns
make it easy to move in parallel octave jumps followed by descending
scale work. The constant swirls of sound mimic a raging storm.
"Fantasia" by Walter and Carol Noona (Heritage Music
- The fanfare introduction sets the stage for
the improvisatory A section characterized by hand
crossings. Sixteenth note accompaniment becomes quarter note
melody in the more lyrical B section.
"Toccatina" by Susan Ogilvy (Alfred)
- Driving and energetic; rhythmic alternating
chords explore full range of the piano. Very exciting with lots
of audience appeal.
- 1.1MB, WAV sound filePianist: Alex Engler, age 11
"Nocturne" by Lynn Freeman Olson (Alfred)
- Students never seem to mind that this expressive
piece is in the key of D-flat major. A beautiful melody in harmonic
sixths unfolds above a repeated D-flat, A-flat bass line making
memorization easy. The contrasting B section adds
excitement to this lovely night song.
"On the Run" by Lynn Freeman Olson (Carl Fisher)
- Elementary level. Its use of 5ths throughout
provides an excellent study for shaping the outside of the hand.
Children love the octave jumps preceded by a rest that gives
time to prepare it visually. The dramatic ending with the hands
five octaves apart gives the student a sense of controlling the
entire keyboard. 510k,
WAV sound filePianist: Dylan Kenny, age 11
"Sonatina in A Minor" by Lynn Freeman Olson (Beginning
- Elementary students especially like the energetic
opening rhythmic figure.
"The Duke of Bedford's March" by John Robert Poe.
- Students enjoy the medieval sounds of the
open fifths and working on the control of the two- and three-note
"Waltz" by Catherine Rollin (Spotlight on Romantic
- A wonderful Chopinesque waltz that is accessible
to the late intermediate student. Almost plays itself, and is
just as fun to listen to. "Sunlight Waltz," also by
Rollin, is a great first waltz for an older beginner who can
handle pedaling. (sheet music; Alfred).
"Waterwheel" by Bernard Shaak (Events, Book
2; Moonstone Press)
- As the name suggests, the motion is continuous
with a RH eighth note triplet accompaniment throughout. The LH
projects the melody as it crosses back and forth over the RH.
"Sunrise" by Paul Sheftel (Merry and Mellow;
- A gem! A classic! This can be taught by rote
to the youngest student with stunning, expressive results. Audiences
give a collective sigh of approval every time. 723k, WAV sound filePianist:
Marianna Papageorge, age 9
Preludes, Volume 1 by Robert Vandall (Myklas
- Always on the most-requested list, these
preludes range from pensive to driving. Numbers 1, 3, and 6 are
favorites of the speed demons, but require precision and rhythmic
vitality. Number 7 is a lovely melancholy ballad, with a "Moonlight"
- #16 is in Db 1.2MB, WAV sound filePianist:
Meghan Palmer, age 10
"Hurry-Scurry" by Robert Vandall (Myklas)
- Students hear this piece at a recital and
immediately ask to play it. They love the accents and the staccato
"Lady Allyson's Minuet" by Robert Vandall (Myklas)
- This piece is a wonderful introduction to
the minuet style with its appealing, gentle melody.
"Toccata in F Minor" by Robert Vandall (Myklas)
- One student told me that this was her all-time
favorite piece. It features a driving rhythm and big chords.
IV. Jazz and Pop Favorites
"Reciprocal Rag" by Dennis Alexander (First
Ragtime Pieces; Alfred)
- This collection has several rags which my
students enjoy, especially the happy sounds and bouncy rhythm
of this piece.
"Rio" by Steve Bach (Alfred)
- Syncopated rhythm, improvisatory writing,
along with parallel seventh chords give this early intermediate
composition an irresistible jazz flavor.
"Agent X" by Melody Bober (FJH Music, Inc.)
- My students say that this piece sounds "sneaky."
They love the dynamics.
- 935k, WAV sound filePianist:
Carmen Danhauser, age 13
"Rusty Rag" by Melody Bober (FJH Music, Inc.)
- Students love both the infectious rhythm
of this piece and its dynamics.
- 765k, WAV sound filePianist:
Tony Colalillo, age 12
"Just Struttin' Along" by Martha Mier (Jazz,
Rags, and Blues, Book I; Alfred)
- My students love to play the swing eighth
notes and enjoy the use of accents and syncopation. This collection
has many other pieces that are fun to play.
"Canon in D" by Johann Pachelbel, arr. Nancy Faber
(FJH Music, Inc.)
- Most students request "Canon in D"
at some point in their piano study. The Faber pop-jazz arrangement
is grandiose and an audience favorite. Difficult syncopated and
dotted rhythms along with tricky technical passages make this
piece a challenge for the intermediate student.
- 1.6MB, WAV sound file (partial
performance)Pianist: Caroline Worley, age 14
"Autumn Harvest" by Michael Scott (Mosaics,
Book 3; Warner Bros.)
- Although Mosaics is billed
as a "New Age" collection, two pieces, "Autumn
- 1.2MB, WAV sound filePianist:
Ryan Hedges, age 10
- and "That Grace May Abound" do
not represent that stereotypical "spa"
music. Lyrical, melodious, and timeless, these two always make
their way to the top of the favorites list. 1.4MB, WAV sound filePianist:
Merry Batter, age 8
"Phantom of the Opera" by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Hal
- Students like to show off with the big chromatic
chords in the introduction. Repeated low bass notes in the verses
give a bass guitar effect. Audiences appreciate Broadway favorites,
even those who prefer classical pieces. "Phantom" is
available in Big Note, Easy Piano, Piano solo or Piano-vocal.
"Mississippi River Rag" by Judy East Wells (Myklas
- An allegretto, easy swing tempo with pedal
ad lib attracts the late elementary student who
likes rags but prefers not to perform anything too familiar.
- 723k, WAV sound filePianist: Clayton Greene, age 17
V. Favorites I have recently
"Pioneer Spirit" by Melody Bober (Standing
Ovations; FJH Music, Inc.)
- A rousing romp, and a kick to play! The infectious
theme is developed with increasing range and energy, through
exciting modulations to a finale that will bring the house down!
Although wonderfully crafted to make it very playable, it still
requires a bright talent.
"Nocturne in C Minor, Op. Post." by Frederic Chopin
(Chopin an Album; ed. Phyllis Lehrer; C. Fischer)
- Recently I was pleased to discover this beautiful
and accessible Chopin nocturne. Students enjoy working out the
sixteenth and thirty-second note passages above an eighth note
bass accompaniment. Although the right hand melody is quite florid,
it fits the hand well.
"Summer Song", Op. 45, No. 3 by Agathe Grondaho (At
the Piano with Women Composers; Alfred)
- Alternating sixteenth note thirds and sixths
in the right hand provide accompaniment for a beautiful LH melody.
The 6/8 time signature and andante semplice tempo
contribute to the overall song-like character.
"The Gypsies, Op.138, No. 17/2" by Stephen Heller
(Masterpieces with Flair Book II; ed. Jane Magrath;
- The energetic chord work presents a façade
of difficulty, but the use of parallel music for each hand contributes
to ease in learning. Fluctuation of tempi and dynamics with alternating
syncopated dance and carefree two-note slurs and staccatos interspersed
with dolce and con forza contribute
to a wide variety of moods.
"Etude, Op. 1, No. 4" by Franz Liszt (Piano
Repertoire: Etudes, Level 9; ed. Snell; Kjos)
- Intermediate students who have heard Liszt
pieces are thrilled with this Etude. Ascending parallel thirds
that travel back and forth between the hands and a B
section with octaves make this piece sound deceptively advanced.
"Russian Dance, Op. 39, No. 24" by Hugo Reinhold
(Recital Gems, Book I; ed. Bigler and Lloyd-Watts;
- An energetic dance with its steady ostinato
bass building toward a climactic finish.
"Aria" by Scarlatti (The Baroque Spirit,
ed. Nancy Bachus; Alfred)
- An expressive melody over a running eighth
"Lotus Land, Op. 47, No.1" by Cyril Scott
- Marked andante languido,
it is filled with rich chords, cascades, arpeggios and glissandos.
The overall ethereal spirit convinces me that "Lotus Land"
will be a future favorite in my studio. 1.5MB, WAV sound file (partial performance)Pianist:
David McPherson, age 17
Biographies of Teacher-Contributors
has a large private studio in Logansport, Indiana. She is the
state Junior Festival Chairman for the Indiana Federation of Music
Clubs and is a former state board member of the Indiana Music
Teachers' Association. She has a B.A. in instrumental music education
from St. Olaf College and a MM in piano performance from Boston
University. Her students who are performing on this website:
- Brian Blume
- Tony Colalillo
- Carmen Danhauser
- Kelly Moffitt
SISTER JANE MARIE MCGETTIGAN SSJ, NCTM, has degrees from Chestnut Hill College
and St. Charles Seminary. A board member of Philadelphia Music
Teachers Association, where she served as president for three
terms, and Northern Delaware Valley Music Teachers, Sister is
currently certification chairperson for both. Her private teaching
experience spans fifty-five years. Her students who are performing
on this website:
- Jill Jourdain
- Dylan Kenny
- Kimberly McGrath
lives in the Boston area where she maintains a busy private studio.
A graduate from Brigham Young University, she has taught for 25
years and is currently at Lesley University in Cambridge completing
her Masters in piano pedagogy. She serves on the Board of NEPTA.
Her students who are performing on this website:
- Merry Batter
- Alex Engler
- Ryan Hedges
- Hannah Hill
- Meghan Palmer
- Marianna Papageorge
NCTM, has been a private piano teacher in Tabor City, North Carolina
since 1975 where her students have received numerous awards and
honors, and many of whom continue in the musical profession. Her
students who are performing on this website:
- Christy Bellamy
- Clayton Greene
- Abbey Jones
- David McPherson
- Hannah Prince
- Caroline Worley
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