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2 minutes reading time (300 words)

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 is constructed entirely of dotted half notes. Rollin slurs these notes in groups of two and marks each group with a decrescendo as seen in measures 1-4.

Students should feel the dotted halves in one beat per measure, so that the tempo does not drag. This sixteen-measure melody, which begins mezzo piano, should be beautifully phrased as it builds to a mezzo forte before tapering off to piano. Wrist rotation is needed here in order to help students achieve the proper graceful, flowing sound. The B section continues the broken-chord pattern, but this time the melody is shared between the hands, as in measures 17-20.

To play musically, students must carefully connect notes from one thumb to the other. I also have students analyze the chord progression in the second half of the piece. Discovering the pattern (up a fourth, down a fifth) will certainly help players learn this section quickly. Of course, applying music theory to any piece gives the student a greater depth of understanding. Fortunately, Winter Waltz is not too complicated. 

At measure 33, the simple coda provides a lyrical ending.

Students who need a little push will love something that is fast to learn and polish, yet sounds sophisticated. Winter Waltz is the perfect length for a quick study and is also a fabulous piece for intermediate adults. Not only is it a lovely recital or festival piece, it works beautifully as an etude or theory lesson.

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