Angelina and I met almost 30 years ago, as primary school students who shared a piano teacher. In her wisdom, our teacher put us together as duet partners for a Christmas concert one year. Many of my very favourite childhood memories involve Angelina and I and playing piano duets. I remember travelling to a country competition, only to arrive to find ourselves the only ones entered in the duet section (we won!). I remember performing for a school concert and laughing so much at our own theatrics during the performance that we literally made the piano shake (we still managed to perform to the very end of the piece though, despite tears of laughter!). We played duets together for 10 years at school and have since remained friends. We have attended each other’s weddings, and now when we get together we dazzle (?) each other’s children with rousing renditions of our favourite duets the Norwegian Cradle Song and the Cat’s Meow.
Through that early introduction to ensemble playing I discovered that the real joy of making music is not playing on your own but playing with others. So, here are a whole bunch of collections that you can use in your piano teaching that will make the world of difference to a young pianist.
Sonny Chua’s Many Hands – One Piano includes treats such as Day in the Life of a T Rex, Three Blind Latino Mice Duet and We’ve got Rhythm Sextet and many more. Each piece is exhilarating to play and has little challenges – watch out for instructions to “knock players 2 and 3 off their chairs” so that player 1 can take over that section of the keyboard!
Bernstein’s 10 Selections from Candide arranged by Charlie Harmon are ideal for Intermediate Pianists (about AMEB Grade 4-5) Includes: Overture • The Best of All Possible Worlds • I Am Easily Assimilated • Make Our Garden Grow • among others.
If you are looking for something festive this year, perhaps Duet Time Piano Christmas would suit your needs. A lovely selection of carols your students will know, the tunes pass from one player to another and they mostly stay around the 5-finger position. Definitely one to check out for your littlies.