This series of unique, distinctive piano arrangements of popular songs consists of seven books (and growing, so my friends at Hal Leonard tell me!): Classic Rock, Jazz Pop Songs, Epic Songs, Pop Hits, Pop Ballads and two Christmas titles. This series really stands out next to other pop compilations, firstly because they are actual piano arrangements. There are no guitar chords or vocal stave, and often the melody switches between hands, such as in ‘Hello’ in Pop Ballads. The melody for the first verse is in the left hand, with a beautiful, cascading right hand accompaniment, with the melody switching to the right hand in the chorus.
The second reason these arrangements stand out is their difficulty level. While many arrangements of popular songs are for easy piano, these arrangements all sit at around 6-7 grade AMEB level. There are some distinct challenges in these pieces, including rapid semiquaver passages, complex rhythms in many of the pieces, voicing that requires skill to bring out the melody, and some large stretches.
These books include a wide variety of styles, not only of the original pieces (including songs such as ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, ‘Just The Way You Are’, and ‘Royals’, to name a few) but also of the arrangements. Throughout the series we see a reggae arrangement of ‘Breakeven’ by The Script, a jazz arrangement of ‘Rolling In The Deep’, and a quick waltz version of ‘Mack The Knife’, to name a few. Not every piece has been given this treatment, however, with many pieces retaining their original style.
One thing to be aware of in these pieces is that a number of them include very large stretches, including chords spanning 9ths and 10ths, although many of these can be adapted for smaller hands.
These books do an excellent job of filling a void for advanced students wanting to play arrangements of popular music at their ability level, and are particularly suitable for teenage or adult learners.