Reviewed by You: Thembi Shears

Thembi Shears
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Animal Crackers (Eric Baumgartner). Pianovations Composer Series.

406531
406531

This book is my favourite recent discovery for early intermediate repertoire. Descriptive titles such as Donkey Dance, Fruvous the Ferret and Cat and Mouse evoke imagination and a sense of play. The pieces use a wide range of articulations that let students bring the animal characters to life. The more peaceful Gentle Giant (Song for the Manatee) is quite beautiful and is popular with my tweens and teens. The difficulty level is around AMEB Grade 2, with a little sway either side. There are some lovely options for Own Choice / Extra List pieces, and all pieces would be entertaining recital choices.

Available to buy here


 

5 Easy Duets (Carolyn Miller)

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138687

I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard to ignore the two adorable little penguins here sitting side by side at the piano. This book is perfect for student – student duets as the parts have equal difficulty, something that can be hard to find. I use duets as much as possible with siblings or students who have back to back lessons. It’s easy to share the last 5 and first 5 minutes of students’ lessons to work on duets, helping students learn to listen, count and create music together. These are lots of fun, with the inclusion of hand clapping, grace notes, and even a high-five to finish in the first piece.

Available to buy here


 

Piano Solos in Lyrical Style (Carolyn Miller)

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124389

Listed as early intermediate, and averaging at around Grade 3, these pieces have proved popular with my teen and adult students. The final piece Remembrance has a film-music style reminiscent of the ever-popular Yiruma pieces, but a little easier. There’s a variety of styles to suit changing moods, with the rhythmic Tango Espanol, the bold and majestic Knights of the Castle and the delicate Falling Snowflakes. Carolyn has deliberately written lyrical melodies that need to be shaped, allowing students opportunity to learn how to phrase and play with a beautiful tone, and create sensitive and artistic performances. A lovely collection for developing pianists, advancing or transfer students who need ‘quick win’ pieces while working on phrasing, and adult students looking to play beautiful expressive music at an easier level.

Available to buy here


 

Spirituals. 6 Great Arrangements by John Thompson. John Thomspon Recital Series.

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137218

Beautiful rich and soulful arrangements of pieces such as Deep River, Heav’n Heav’n, and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, for students Grade 6 and above. Pieces could definitely be used as extra lists or own choice pieces for exams, or simply for enjoyment and supplement for advancing students.

Available to buy here

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