Summer 2020: Pupil Saver: Toccatina No. 5 by Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee
Toccatina No. 5 by Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee, Modern Miniatures for Piano Solo, Book 2
I had a dull moment this weekend (doesn't happen too often) and decided it was time to go through my motivating music in hopes that I could find the perfect piece for one of my teenage students for a talent show. The requirements: it needs to be fast and furious, not complicated to learn, and sound more difficult than it looks. Well, I found it! Tucked away was the Modern Miniatures for Piano Solo featuring works by Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee. I remembered reading through these and being quite intrigued by them. This collection features a variety of pieces, in particular the Five Toccatinas. I selected Toccatina No. 5 for meeting all the requirements. This toccatina, only forty-one measures in length, delivers a good punch! Cast in 8/8 time, it is patterned and easy to learn. The left hand always plays the downbeat note, and the right-hand notes typically outline the major triad of that left-hand note.
Goolkasian Rahbee has crafted this piece so expertly to feature a type of blues-style bass line, which is found in the starting note of the left hand: first centering on C, then moving casually to F, and then to G. The concept of the twelve-bar blues is alluded to, but never held, to honor the calculated measures of each note of the pattern.
I played it for my student, and I would modestly say it was a hit! Teaching it really boils down to introducing the specific measures where the pattern is presented and then changes, thus these measures were where we started: measures 1–4 (see Example 1); measures 10–11 (Example 2); and measures 17–20 (Example 3).
These three targeted areas represented the introduction of the C, F, and G patterns. Goolkasian Rahbee varies this up a little towards the end by changing the chord pattern in the right hand to be seconds, not thirds, thus those measures needed to be introduced as well. After the initial introduction, I sent it home with him. The next lesson was a great surprise! He had learned the entire piece and could play it up to tempo as well. We worked on the musical concepts, such as the accents in the left hand as well as the numerous crescendi and diminuendi indicated on the score. My student was all set and ready to "wow" the talent show panel, and hopefully the audience as well. This is a great find for teachers to introduce a contemporary toccatina and to make their students sound terrific! (FJH, $8.95)