Review: Pop Hits in Classical Styles, Keybop and more…

The Piano Teacher - New and Reviewed

Pop Hits in a Classical Style

These popular song titles are arranged in a classical style providing the perfect ground to explore both pop chord progressions and classical features such as grace notes, left hand patterns, and ornaments. Complex keys, rhythms and clef changes make this accessible to the intermediate student.  Decent wrist flexibility and a comfortable octave hand span are required to negotiate LH patterns that stretch beyond an octave and RH chords spanning an octave. The typeset is clear and makes rhythms easy to visualise. The lack of fingering and limited phrasing provide room for interpretation and student discovery that can become part of the learning process. 

First 50 Piano Solos You Should Play

This book has a diverse collection of pieces spanning from well-known classical favourites, to jazz and contemporary pop songs. The arrangements are accessible to a late beginner/early intermediate student and effectively use a large typeset, helpful fingering, and accents for syncopation. Geographical symbols such as 1st and 2nd time bars, D.S. or D.C. al coda symbols as well as octave signs are utilised, introducing these concepts early. Students will require a comfortable octave hand span for some pieces. It is lovely to see compound time signatures, and some chord symbols explored at this level as well. 

Keybop Volume 1 – 11 Jazzy solos for the young pianist

Jason Sifford

In this pedagogically thoughtful collection of original compositions, Jason Sifford offers a powerful exploration of contemporary styles for the later beginner student (approximately Grade 1 AMEB). The short pieces have articulation and dynamic details, effective fingering, pedal indications and plenty of clear bar references. Exploring contemporary tonal sets using accidentals and swung quavers rhythms, teachers are encouraged to infuse aural learning with concept-based discovery while learning multiple pieces. Optional accompaniments are the absolute gem of this volume, supporting the rhythms and melodic material of the solo parts, and developing integral ensemble skills early. These are playable by the teacher or a slightly more advanced student and undoubtably enhance the musical experience. Teacher notes are also valuable, and it is a delight to be encouraged by the composer to seek patterns and also go beyond the printed music.

Keybop Volume 2 – 11 Jazzy solos for the young pianist

Jason Sifford

Jason Sifford offers an insightful and pedagogically sound selection of pieces in typical contemporary styles for the later beginner student (approximately Grade 2 AMEB). The pieces are slightly longer than Vol 1 and explore syncopation, pedal use, swing and triplet rhythms, boogie-woogie LH figures and walking bass lines, chromatic passagework and frequent accidental use. Useful fingering along with effective articulation and dynamics, octave signs and typical geographical markers make the pieces very accessible and stylistically developmental. Sifford also offers invaluable teacher notes for each piece covering interpretive suggestions, pattern recognition and suggested learning approaches. 


Connor is a piano, theory and classroom music teacher as well as accompanist from Melbourne, Victoria. A passionate music educator, he works in both the school and private studio settings. His piano teaching is creative and holistic, engaging students in unique ways that include composition, integrated theory, and applied technique. Connor was a recipient of the Yamaha Piano Teacher Breakout Award for 2021.

Instagram: @connor_pianist

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