Outside Repertoire for Reading
Hi friends, I’d like to start a thread about outside pieces we’ve used during the Development program as reading projects. I know it’s tailored to the students’ interest at this point in the curriculum, but let’s share some ideas for those who need some ‘inspiration’. Here are a few to get started: Great topic, Laurie! My sons take lessons from Nicole Ouwenga-Scott. She played “He’s a Pirate” at her last Piano Party and one of my sons took that on as a reading project. It’s been a challenge (he’s about halfway through reverse engineering it) but he loves playing it. It also seems be a piece that grabs other students’ attention and I hear a lot of “Can you teach me that?”
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I’d like to start a thread about outside pieces we’ve used during the Development program as reading projects. I know it’s tailored to the students’ interest at this point in the curriculum, but let’s share some ideas for those who need some ‘inspiration’.
Here are a few to get started:
Great topic, Laurie!
My sons take lessons from Nicole Ouwenga-Scott. She played “He’s a Pirate” at her last Piano Party and one of my sons took that on as a reading project. It’s been a challenge (he’s about halfway through reverse engineering it) but he loves playing it. It also seems be a piece that grabs other students’ attention and I hear a lot of “Can you teach me that?”
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
That sounds like a fun one. Will definitely check it out.
Another GREAT one is The Matador by Carolyn Miller. Every student I’ve used this with – child or adult – has loved it. It sounds impressive but is very pattern-y and fun to play. Good rhythm stuff too.
Elizabeth G., Australia
I have used the compositions of Catherine Rollin for many of my new readers…they are very pattern based and nice sounding. She has written many pieces but the ones I have found my students love are:-
Sounds of Spain, Book 1
Preludes for Piano, Book 1
Shelly E., Utah
I’ve had students love “Shooting the Rapids” by Bennett. It is very much pattern based and fast! For those who love to play fast this is a winner and easily learned.
Anne S., Nebraska
Hhere are a few that I’ve used with my students:
- Whirlwind by Melody Bober (Alfred Signature Series): very pattern-based, and the ending always makes me think of when the house lands on the witch in the Wizard of Oz.
- Lyric Etude by W.T. Skye Garcia (FJH Spotlight Solo Sheets): I’ve used this with more advanced students. It’s a beautiful piece with the melody in the LH over the RH, great for hand-over-hand practice.
- Dream Echoes by E.L. Lancaster (Alfred Signature Series): Laurie uses this one a lot too. It’s a great piece for early readers because it’s very 5th-based. I’ve used it as a supplemental piece early in TFMM.
My students LOVE these outside pieces!
Cheri S., Utah
Books that are student favorites, very pattern-based, and accessible during or right after TFMM:
Martha Mier Jazz, Rags, Blues: wide variety of very catchy songs, in the styles the title suggests. Fun to play for all students of any age.
Martha Mier Snapshots: the songs vividly capture different musical flavors from around the world. Both these Martha Mier books are high quality enough that my traditional students kept playing them for fun, even when they’d progressed to higher skill levels.
Catherine Rollin The Beanbag Zoo: especially appealing to younger students; each song has the personality of a different beanbag animal–monkey, frog, owl, fish, etc.
1) First Favorites Classics edited by E.L. Lancaster & Kenon D. Renfrow, published by Alfred. Having tried several others, I think this book has the highest percentage of really appealing pieces that are still easy for younger students to learn.
2) Older students (in my studio 10+) can jump right into 60 Progressive Pieces You Like to Play, published by Schirmer & distributed by Hal Leonard: a really engaging, memorable collection of classical pieces that gets progressively harder through the book. I believe Robin Keehn uses this with all students right after TFMM. It has favorites from different periods in the classical music canon, but also includes other pieces and styles (perhaps written specifically for that book?).
A couple great sheet music pieces:
1) Robert Vandall “Feelin’ Good” (sheet music, not a book): maybe the happiest piece you’ll ever play, sounds harder than it is, often the first outside piece I teach
2) I second the recommendation for “Shooting the Rapids” by Bennett (also sheet music). Fast, fun and impressive, but all based around a simple chord progression. Another one of the first pieces I teach.
I used to teach traditionally, and I worked to collect a big library of music so that my students could experience a large variety of genres. So …here are a few more ideas.
Dan Coates Kids’ Rule: Box Office Hits for the Elementary Player: songs from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz … You can always count on Dan Coates for excellent arrangements that fully capture the essence of the music but are easy for beginning readers to learn.
Great intermediate classical collections, could probably begin right after (but not during) TFFM:
1) Jane Magrath Melodious Masterpieces: delightful, engaging pieces in a wide variety of styles; a very strong melody makes each piece rewarding to play
2) Jane Magrath Masterpieces with Flair: energetic, showy pieces that are not too hard to learn; includes favorites like “Spinning Song,” Heller’s “The Avalanche,” and Schumann’s “Happy Farmer” and “Wild Rider”
Both Jane Magrath’s books include major composers from Baroque through 20th century, technique and style tips, and a suggested teaching order.
What a fantastic resource this is becoming for all of us.
Here’s a thought I wanted to share. As a classroom teacher it’s common to talk about a student’s reading materials in 3 categories:
- Independent level (slightly below what they can manage so they read with ease and high success);
- Instructional level (material that, under a teacher’s guidance, will challenge them with a few new skills/concepts and keep them developing as readers); and
- Frustration level (materials beyond the student’s current ability that will keep them in a constant state of frustration and failure).
Generally as a student learns to read you want to keep supplying them with lots of independent level materials that they read on their own, while guiding them through appropriately selected instructional level materials. I do think this concept applies to reading skills in music as well. The Frustration level can be different in the music world than in the language arts world, however. A student can take a piece that appears beyond their ability, work at it one measure at a time, gradually master it if they are highly motivated and experience a great deal of success. Probably better defined as material that creates a constant state of frustration and failure.
My youngest son really benefitted from working through a book that was at his independent level (Martha Mier’s Favorite Solos book 1). It was important for him to be able to master some pieces independently and experience success vs struggle with his reading. And he loved the idea of finishing the whole book. Not all kids are like that, but for the ones who are, this book is great, especially for the younger crowd, and has some duet parts that a teacher or another student could play as well.
Speaking of Martha Mier, I really enjoy her Jazz, Rags and Blues series. Each series has books at 5 different levels. I’m looking forward to trying some pieces in the Christmas books with some of my students this year. She puts a nice twist on the old familiar Christmas carols.
I have also been avidly following this thread as I emerge with my students into the world of yummy written music.
An organisational question has come to me as I wonder what to do with the information, gaze at my messy manila folders and concertina files and think about my dropbox electronic storage.
I would love to know how you teachers FILE pieces for themselves so you can access something for a students or class. Under what headings? Easy? pattern-based? young active boys? dramatic? I just don’t know where to start here.
Or do you just KNOW about it and get them to order it? Or is everything electronic? And how and where is that filed? I guess it’s accessible overarching topic headings that cover all Simply Music educational bases I would love to know about and set up for myself.
Three cheers for good organisers.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I organize my sheet music by level (determined by me, not the sheet music publisher).
I keep my compilation books together, and any composer-specific books alphabetically by author.
I also keep some photocopies on file (that are NOT copyrighted!) that I use regularly. I have the following files for these:
- Accomp – Easy
- Accomp – Intermediate
- Accomp – Advanced
- Sheet Music – (same 3 categories)
I do have some of my personal repertoire on my iPad using the ForScore app, but I haven’t used it for that purpose in my studio yet.
From time to time I try different ways of organizing everything. Always a challenge!