Carmen Doubrava is on the fine arts faculty at The Hockaday School in Dallas, where she teaches piano and accompanies several choirs, orchestras, and various school concerts. She is also the choir accompanist at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church in Carrollton.

Autumn 2019: Pupil Saver

Olive Dungan's intermediate solo, The Peacock (a Poem without Words) was first published in 1953. I have found that students today still delight in this musical depiction of a beautiful majestic bird. Olive writes in the score, "The composer trusts that the pianist will create the magnificent and slow walk of the peaco...
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November/December 2018: Pupil Saver

Rev It Up! D avid Karp's Toccatina  in D Minor (FJH) is  a high-energy intermediate  piece that  will rev up any student. Written  almost entirely in the treble clef, the  rapid sixteenth notes, syncopated cadences,  and interesting mix of major  and minor sounds add up to an exciting  and riveting conte...
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July/August 2018: Pupil Saver

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A grand setting for C minor by Carmen  Doubrova Some students diligently practice their repertoire pieces, but are less enthused about scales and exercises. Fortunately, long ago, I discovered Ballade from Betty Colley's early-intermediate collection Styles for Piano (Kjos). This piece is a brilliant study of the natural minor scale. The C-min...
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Linda Mannering
Hello Carmen, Thank you for this article. I cannot find Betty Colley's early-intermediate collection Styles for Piano (Kjos) or ... Read More
Saturday, 21 July 2018 09:33
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March/April 2018: Pupil Saver

Got a Pupil Saver? We love to hear from you. If you are interested in submitting your Pupil Saver for consideration, please contact Susan Geffen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Pikes Peak Rag by Melody Bober Sometimes, a jaunty little rag is just what students need to rejuvenate their musical juices. Melody Bober's thirty-measure early-inte...
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Pupil Saver: Set your alarm

Students are sure to make time for Kevin Olson's energetic early-intermediate piece Time's Up! (FJH). The imaginative use of changing meters and brisk tempo give this piece a delightful spontaneity and definitely make it an enjoyable introduction to asymmetrical time signatures. The A section, in 5/4 meter, uses the treble clef for both hands. Thou...
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Pupil Saver: Mendelssohn Song without words, Op. 30, No. 6

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Stress reduction at the piano It's  exciting to see a student advance after years of diligent work, but often the thought of moving on to larger works is daunting and stressful, especially for those students juggling too many activities. That big piece will never be finished, and interest wanes. One solution for student burnout is Felix Mendel...
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Pupil Saver: Elephant Stomp! by Kevin Olson

If you are looking for music for students who can't sit still during lessons, or who bypass rests like they don't exist, Kevin Olson's late-elementary solo Elephant Stomp (FJH) might be just the thing. This clever piece uses two hands, two feet, and the vast imagination of the student, who must "stomp the floor!" like an elephant. Elephant Stomp is...
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Impressionism for intermediates

​Helen Boykin's 1947 impressionistic gem, Seafoam (Schirmer/Hal Leonard), has remained a student favorite for almost seventy years. I've taught this intermediate piece many times, but it is also a solo that profoundly motivated me when I was a young student. The majority of the piece relies on a bold left-hand melody, with the right hand repeating ...
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Repertoire: Tango! (Pupil Saver)

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The intoxicating South American rhythms of Kevin Olson's alluring solo, Tango Argentino (FJH), transport the listener to sunny climes. This piece is loaded with technical variety and sophisticated harmonies, but is without any overwhelming complexity for the performer; it should easily perk up those sluggish students. However, I find Tango ideal fo...
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Imagination and mischief

Students who love stories of magical worlds and mythical creatures will jump at the chance to learn William Gillock's early-intermediate "Elfin Pranks." This whimsical piece set in E minor and cut time is loaded with teaching opportunities. Although "Elfin Pranks" is available in solo form, I prefer to use the version in Gillock's collection Accent...
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Let's order in!

​Occasionally I have a student who is reluctant to move past the first method book, or is easily discouraged when things get the least bit challenging. Some are unwilling even to explore past a C-major pentascale. Fortunately, I discovered "Pepperoni Pizza," a captivating little piece from Mona Rejino's elementary-level collection, Just for Kids (H...
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Warm Music for Cold Days

Catherine Rollin's early-intermediate solo Winter Waltz (Alfred) is a heartwarming way to welcome the coldest season of the year Its mature sound will inspire students to stay inside and practice. The A section looks easy to learn; nonetheless, it is loaded with wonderful technical opportunities for the student. Set in A minor, the left-hand melody...
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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 wo...
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