A Party for the Fingers
Margaret Goldston's Jazztoccata (Alfred) has been a huge success with my late-intermediate students. The composition's strong rhythmic drive exudes energy, and the C-minor key gives the piece an introspective quality that my older students welcome. One student beamed with delight as she told me that it sounded like a piece a professional pianist would play.
The introduction features syncopation, accents, and precise pedal markings. The opening accented left-hand notes—C chromatically descending to A—will be a recurring theme. The succeeding passage, interspersing left-hand ascending chromatic tones with a C-to-C melodic octave, is a brilliant technical exercise. All this excitement leads to a deceptively simple cantabile five-finger melody accompanied by an Alberti bass, as seen in measures 7-10. Students already familiar with Alberti bass will quickly learn the left-hand accompaniment in this expressive section.
In the next two-and-a-half pages, Goldston weaves five-finger patterns and scales into a hauntingly beautiful melody. The Alberti bass revives the descending chromatic C-to-A heard in the introduction, while quietly maintaining the underlying toccata feel.
A sudden Agitato marks the beginning of a complete change of character. This evolves into a boogie-woogie at measures 39-42,and the piece becomes a party for the fingers.
The Cantabile section—now marked forte—returns briefly, but the melody is enriched with luscious chords for a thicker texture. At measure 59, the coda brings back elements of both the lyrical five-finger melody and the intense introduction.
I strongly recommend teaching the Agitato and final Cantabile sections first. Once these more complex sections are learned, every-thing else will be a breeze.
Jazztoccata is a riveting solo with the perfect combination of jazz and classical elements, a piece that students will want to perform often, and friends and family won't tire of hearing.