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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Gretchaninoff's musical gems

My teacher Eugene List once commented, "The piano literature is so vast, that at any level pianists can find beautiful music they are able to play." As a teacher, it is so easy to teach the same pieces over and over and not explore what is available today. Yeeseon Kwon has extensively studied the music of the Russian composer Alexander Gretchaninof...
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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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Learning Bach's Short Preludes: A Sequential Approach

Johann Sebastian Bach's Eighteen Short Preludes are exquisite miniatures and exceptional teaching piecesthat provide a necessary stage of development from the shorter works in the Anna Magdalena Notebook to the Two- and Three-Part Inventions and other larger works of Bach. Far from easy, they are often glossed over in favor of studying the Inv...
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Piano Music Inspired by Art

Piano Music Inspired by Art
Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art. Claude Debussy With the rise of program music in the nineteenth century, composers of piano music turned to the visual arts for subject matter and inspiration. This reflected the Romantic concept of combining arts, culminating in the Gesamtkunstwerk [total work of art] of Richard Wagner.1Gene...
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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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Variations

She always wore a cherry-red coat...​She always wore a cherry-red coat. At least that is what I remember she wore, whether that fact is true or not. Her gray hair surrounded her head in a fluff that looked like a halo pushed slightly askew, and she walked quickly, her back bent slightly forward in what looked like anticipation, but was probably ost...
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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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Solfeggio in C minor (Wq. 117/2, H. 220), by Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach

First, what are we to call the composer of this well-loved piece? Sometimes his first name is given as "Carl," sometimes as "Karl," and thus his initials are sometimes "C.P.E." and sometimes "K.P.E." He spelled his name "Carl," so only misguided chauvinism can account for some German sources giving the more Teutonic "Karl." In fact, however, he ans...
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A Show-Stopper from Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio's Simple Sketches (Edward B.Marks/Hal Leonard) provides a rewarding musical and technical challenge for the late-intermediate student. The collection contains three fairly short pieces, the first of which, Allegretto, is my favorite to teach. For some students, the quirky tonality—a trademark of Dello...
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9000 teaching pieces on YouTube: The University of Iowa Piano Pedagogy Project

​This century's technology provides many tools for keyboard teachers, students, and parents. Internet MIDI, Skype, blogs, YouTube, and many other innovations bring new ways of learning music at the keyboard. The University of Iowa Piano Pedagogy Project on YouTube is an ambitious undertaking Dr. Alan Huckleberry and Dr. Jason Sifford initiated in 2...
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An interview with Gary Graffman

An interview with Gary Graffman
​Editor's Note: This article is the first in an intermittent series of articles dedicated to profiling the teaching ideas and methods of various pedagogues. Gary Graffman is a perfect choice for the first entry in this series, as he is not only one of the most effective and influential pedagogues of recent decades, but he was also a student of Horo...
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Marko Tajčević's Songs from Mur Island

Piano teachers are always looking for fresh music for their students to make lessons and recitals more interesting. One collection that could be a welcome addition to the teaching repertoire is Songs from Mur Island by Marko Tajčević. This collection, largely unknown in the U.S., is an attractive set of pieces useful for developing musicianship and...
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An aural journey through "Spring is Here"

​I recently performed a concert celebrating the arrival of spring with a program featuring songs with the word "Spring" in the title. ​It Might As Well Be Spring, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, You Must Believe in Spring, ​and ​Joy Spring​ proved to be fun to play and provided me with many harmonic and rhythmic opportunities...
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Marga Richter's Character Sketches for piano

Marga Richter's Character Sketches for piano
Easy-to-intermediate level twentieth-century teaching worksMarga Richter has said she might be characterized as the ultimate "accidental" composer (no pun intended), although, in her own words, some of her music is exceedingly, even obsessively chromatic. Richter was born in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, into a musical family. Her mother, Inez Chandle...
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Music for one hand

When I was in eighth grade, I fell while roller-skating and broke my right arm just above the wrist. I assumed that piano lessons would be on hold for at least six weeks as it healed, but instead, my teacher assigned me a piece for left hand alone called "Andante Finale" from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Theodore Leschetizky. I loved the challe...
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Preluding with the Masters

​For centuries, improvising introductions to keyboard works, also known as preluding, helped inspire musicians and prepare audiences for what was to come. (The German verb präludieren and the French verb preluder can simply mean "to improvise.") Preluding had practical functions as well, allowing performers to warm up, test tuning, or adapt to unf...
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Opposing perspectives

Respected as a celebrated concert artist throughout his lifetime, Sergei Rachmaninoff 's compositions were not as universally appreciated until more recent years, and were in fact sharply criticized at times. In this issue, Robert Palmieri provides an illuminating retrospective as he observes Rachmaninoff 's passionate public struggle aga...
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Basic crescendo: What is wrong with it?

Basic crescendo: What is wrong with it?
​The crescendo. It is a basic and universal musical concept, one of those words that has drifted out of the realm of music and into the everyday lexicon to describe anything that is building, increasing, gathering momentum. The concept (getting louder) is easy enough for beginners to grasp in their first lessons, yet accomplished artists expend a g...
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The life of Chopin (and autographed piano)

The Chopin Foundation of the United States has in its possession a rare and unique item: a Pleyel piano with the autograph of Frederic Chopin. This well-traveled piano has touched many lives and resided in multiple countries, not unlike the man who signed it. As we celebrate the 200th birthday of this influential composer, it is notable to con...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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