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Toccata Festivo by Jennifer Linn

This uplifting toccata, with its active rhythms and spectacular ending, is sure to delight those students with a penchant for flashy repertoire. An exercise mostly in triads, students will quickly latch on to familiar patterns and be able to play from memory in no time. Despite the percussive character of this composition, there are many opportunities to cultivate expressive nuances. With the right approach, this piece will provide both a thrilling and musically expressive performance. "Toccata Festivo" at a Glance Level: Early Intermediate Key: D minor Tempo: Allegro vivace (quarter = 168) Hand-size limitations: Great for small hands. Blocked 5th is the largest interval. Technical Challenge

Starry Night by Carol Matz

Starry Night, by Carol Matz, has a flowing, ethereal vibe that opens the imagination to all things celestial. Through the use of an expressive left-hand melody, syncopated pedal, and interesting harmonies, the finished product is a sophisticated sounding piece that is quite manageable for elementary students. The title "Starry Night" could also provide an excellent opportunity for students to take a look at Van Gogh's painting, Starry Night. What types of imagery and comparisons could you create with your students by considering these two works of art side by side? "Starry Night" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: D minor Tempo: Quickly flowing Form: ABA CODA Hand-size limitations: Gre

March of the Gnomes by Martha Mier

This sprightly tune conjures up visions of mythical creatures of the underland...gnomes. In Martha Mier's "March of the Gnomes," I sense mischief. Perhaps these gnomes come to life, marching on a midnight caper that produces all kinds of comedic shenanigans. Once they have thoroughly played out their parade of tricks, they return to lifeless statues, making us wonder..."What happened here!?" Students will be enthusiastic about the bouncing accompaniment and minor tonality, which evokes a sneaky, mischievous character. Great use of dissonance and accents further heightens the dynamic quality of this piece. There is a lot the student can work on regarding story, interpretation, and musical exp

Dream Echoes by E.L. Lancaster

Dream Echoes is an exceptionally well-written, accessible teaching piece for late-elementary students. The melodic fifths are incredibly comfortable for students, and the fact that the hands never play together at the same time allows for more focus on phrasing, dynamics, and pedaling. The placement of pedal changes on each bass-note downbeat makes this an excellent piece for the early development of legato pedaling. Those who have taught college-level group piano may recall that this composition is included in Alfred's Group Piano for Adults Book I. This is a winner for older students who crave sophisticated-sounding repertoire at a reduced cost in terms of difficulty. "Dream Echoes" at a G

The Pines by Lynn Freeman Olson

Majestic. Resplendent. Magical. These are all words that accurately describe the mood of this classic teaching piece by Lynn Freeman Olson. "The Pines" creates a special connection with both the grandeur and solitude of nature. The wide-ranging texture and sonorous harmonies entice the listener to remain captive to nature's otherworldly charms. Students will enjoy playing the dramatic blocked fifths and experiencing the mixture of tones created through long pedals. "The Pines" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: A minor Tempo: Slowly, grandly (Half note = 88) Hand Span: Blocked sixths are used sparingly. Consists almost entirely of blocked fifths and triads. Technical Challenges: - requi

Chimes by Margaret Goldston

This is a lovely piece that features interesting chord progressions, use of legato pedaling, and a modulation to the relative minor. The repetitive sequence makes this composition comfortable and quick to learn. At the same time, the harmonies and pedaling provide a dreamy atmosphere that sounds mature and is appealing to older students and adults students. "Chimes" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: G Major Tempo: Peacefully (about quarter note = 80) Hand-size limitations: Must be able to play blocked 6th. Technical Challenges: - some measures require playing blocked intervals with the thumb on a black key. Students must be able to play comfortably forward in the black keys in order to

I've Gotta Toccata by Bill Boyd

This playful toccata is a thrilling, yet accessible, technical piece for the late-elementary student. The combination of broken fifths and primary five-finger patterns makes it possible for young students to quickly memorize and develop technical fluency. I often reach for this composition when trying to find a smart-sounding piece for a young student. "I've Gotta Toccata" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: C Major Tempo: With drive (half note = 84) Hand-size limitations: A broken fifth is the largest span needed. Great for small hands. Technical Challenges: -the short, contrapuntal B Section is tricky for most students to navigate. It may be helpful to write in a few finger numbers for

Tonnerre sur les plaines (Thunder on the Plains) by Jennifer Linn

"Tonnerre sur les plaines", from Jennifer Linn's Les Petite Images, is an enchanting composition that creates the impression of a spring thunderstorm. You might imagine crashing thunder when you hear the dramatic blocked fifths and later a rain shower evolving from a few droplets into a torrential outpouring of sound. The piece ends with a calm resolution to F major, evoking peace and tranquillity. Could this be a magnificent rainbow at the end? This piece is full of interpretive possibilities that you will enjoy exploring with all ages--what a great early study in impressionistic style! "Tonnerre sur les plaines" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: D minor (ending in F Major) Tempo: Qua

Raindrops by Lee Galloway

Raindrops, by Lee Galloway, contains some of the most beautiful melody writing I've come across in elementary piano repertoire. The singing quality of the right hand is accentuated by a simple one-note left-hand accompaniment reminiscent of Chopin's Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15 (the "Raindrop Prelude"). The added harmonies at the return of the A Section add even more depth and feeling, giving the performer good cause to take time and enjoy. Marked Andante, con rubato, students should strive for a performance that is neither too slow nor too strict in tempo. "Raindrops" at a Glance Level: Late Elementary Key: C Major Tempo: Quarter = 80 Form: ABA Hand-size limitations: LH melodic m

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