My mother, who is also a piano teacher, enjoys finding and buying piano music for me

—even to this day—and she usually finds really great stuff at her public library. Go figure! "Pizzicati" (a polka from the ballet Sylvia) was one of her recent finds. Written by Léo Delibes and arranged by Hans-Günter Heumann, this piece of music was on the top of the stack that she sent in the mail. (If you're not lucky enough to have your mother send you the score, this Henry Lemoine edition is available at

On reading through the piece, I soon realized how much fun it is and why it would appeal to an early-intermediate piano student. Students will enjoy "Pizzicati" not only because it sounds good, but also because it sounds difficult! One of the challenges for the student will be to maintain the light staccato touch in the right hand; the dancelike passagework frequently shifts registers, thus requiring nimble fingers and a loose wrist. The left hand, from start to finish, maintains a simple broken-chord accompaniment, as seen in mm. 2–5.

The piece is in ABA form, and the flowing right-hand legato line in the middle section (beginning at measures 31-34) provides a brief contrast to—and relief from—the continuous staccato playing found in the outer sections

Here, the right hand needs to provide a wealth of shape to keep the piece moving and provide interest above and beyond the notes. 

Although there are very few tempo or dynamic indications in the score, it is recommended that the student push the barriers, especially regarding tempo: a certain amount of push/pull is needed to make this piece work. In the last section, a decisive accelerando makes for an exciting ending at measures 51–54.

"Pizzacati" offers a refreshing change from the typical method-book transcriptions. Because of its ternary form, the arrangement is also easy to learn, and it allows the student to practice staccato technique while working on a piece that sounds difficult. This is a great show-off piece for any student!

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