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  • Davis Dorrough

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


Hand-size limitations: Great for small hands. Mostly consists of 2nds and 3rds with one melodic minor 6th (could easily be played by crossing over the left hand in m. 16)

Technical Challenges:

-Patterns and sequences make this piece a good candidate for rote teaching.

- Students need to have a good handle on legato pedaling before starting this piece. The pedaling is not consistent throughout and students will have to pedal for different lengths of time. Pedaling is usually a pattern of two measures held followed by two measures pedaled consecutively. However, there are areas with no pedal, and occasionally, four-bars pedaled continuously.

-LH melody alone on the downbeat makes it very easy to produce expressive phrasing. Since the composer has marked "quickly flowing," I would encourage students to feel one beat per measure and visualize the longer phrase. Imagine there are no barlines for each four-measure phrase.

- There is one left-hand finger crossing in m. 9. Make sure students support this with the arm and do not reach for the note with a flattened second finger.

-There is a ritard and a molto ritard in the same piece, allowing the opportunity to explore the subtle distinction between these two markings.

- A gentle, flowing RH is needed over a prominent LH melody. Work for balance between hands. A smooth, rotating RH and arm will be needed so that the accompaniment does not sound overplayed or unmusical.

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