Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween

This is the first of three posts highlighting some of my favorite sheet music piano solos for students.

These favorites lists are the result of a year-long focus in my studio, exploring the wide range of sheet music solos in publication. If you would like to read about the 9 things I learned from that project, check out this post.

Since I have quite a few to mention, I decided to divide the list into three posts. Today I’ll be sharing favorite Halloween-themed sheet music piano solos including the reason I love it and a link where you can purchase. I’m doing it first because Halloween will be here before we know it!

(Stay tuned for two more posts. The first will include favorite pieces at the Early Elementary, Elementary, and Late Elementary levels and the second post on Early Intermediate, Intermediate, and Later Intermediate pieces.)


Please note I am an affiliate in the Sheet Music Plus Easy Rebates program which simply means if you purchase any of these pieces using the links I provide, I will get a small percentage back without it costing you any extra.


P.S. I just saw that if you’re a member of MTNA, you can get an additional 10% off your order at Sheet Music Plus on top of their 8% Easy Rebates program!


 

Early Elementary

Halloween Costumes by Tom Gerou

Why I love it: The piece includes both the leading tone and subtonic in Am (G and G#) giving it a little more interesting flair.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus  

 

Zoom, Zoom, Witch’s Broom by Nancy Faber

Why I love it: Its fast-moving tempo is a nice challenge for students. The piece also gives them a chance to experience the fermata, pedal, octave leaps.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

Continue reading

Favorite Intermediate-Level Sheet Music Piano Solos

This is the final of three posts highlighting some of my favorite sheet music piano solos for students.

These favorites lists are the result of a year-long focus in my studio, exploring the wide range of sheet music solos in publication. If you would like to read about the 9 things I learned from that project, check out this post.

Since I have quite a few to mention, I decided to divide the list into multiple posts by-level. Today I’ll be sharing favorite pieces at the Early Intermediate, Intermediate, and Late Intermediate levels including the reason I love it and a link where you can purchase.

If you missed the first two posts, here they are:

Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween,

Favorite Elementary-Level Sheet Music Piano Solos


Please note I am an affiliate in the Sheet Music Plus Easy Rebates program which simply means if you purchase any of these pieces using the links I provide, I will get a small percentage back without it costing you any extra.


 

Early Intermediate

A Melancholy Night by Naoko Ikeda

Why I love it: It uses a waltz accompaniment pattern, warmed with 7th chords, and features a portion with the melody in the left hand.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

An Enchanted Castle by Pat Boozer

Why I love it: The left hand is challenged using a single-note accompaniment pattern with a leap of a 10th.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Garden of Dreams by Naoko Ikeda

Why I love it: I would argue that this piece is more Intermediate level as the LH waltz accompaniment in the key of A major changes chord inversions frequently posing quite a challenge for an early intermediate student.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Midnight Express by Christopher Fisher

Why I love it: The Presto tempo and alternating 5th-octave accompaniment patterns make this a great challenge piece.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Moonlight by Lee Galloway

Why I love it: Written in 12/8 time, the left-hand broken chord pattern walks down by half steps and changes harmony each measure.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Nocturne by Paul Sheftel

Why I love it: Once again, the left-hand features an extended broken chord pattern that is great for students at this level.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Snowflakes in Spring by Naoko Ikeda

Why I love it: Various textures and an absolutely beautiful melody. Like many of the pieces by Naoko, I would counter that this piece is slightly more challenging than early intermediate.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Tarantella Viva! by Melody Bober

Why I love it: Vibrant triple-meter piece

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Continue reading

Favorite Elementary-Level Sheet Music Piano Solos

This is the second of three posts that will highlight some of my favorite sheet music piano solos for students.

These favorites lists are the result of a year-long focus in my studio, exploring the wide range of sheet music solos in publication. If you would like to read about the 9 things I learned from that project, check out this post.

Since I have quite a few to mention, I decided to divide the list into three posts. Today I’ll be sharing favorite pieces at the Early Elementary, Elementary, and Late Elementary levels including the reason I love it and a link where you can purchase.

The first post featured Halloween-themed music and the next one will introduce Early Intermediate, Intermediate, and Later Intermediate pieces.


Please note I am an affiliate in the Sheet Music Plus Easy Rebates program which simply means if you purchase any of these pieces using the links I provide, I will get a small percentage back without it costing you any extra.


 

Early Elementary

Dancing Drums by Joyce Grill

Why I love it: It’s in Aeolian (Natural Minor) tonality and has a really catchy beat.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

I Like Bananas by Julie Knerr

Why I love it: A fun and silly piece that helps beginning students explore the range of the piano.

Buy it at PianoSafari.com

 

I Love Coffee from Piano Safari

Why I love it: A rote solo piece, I Love Coffee is a theme with six variations. There is a multitude of fun ways to use this piece both as a student solo and even in a small group.

Buy it at PianoSafari.com

 

IN MY DREAMS BY JENNIFER LINN

Why I love it: It has a beautiful melody that seems to plays around the tonic to start then moves into a lovely contrasting B section.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

 

Start Your Engines by Kevin Olson

Why I love it: Most early elementary pieces are catered to young children, but this one appeals to older students. I even had a 14-year old boy who played and love this piece.

It includes a B section where the student works on slowly accelerating (like a car) until the final three measures where they play “as fast as they can” culminating in a note cluster “crash” of the car.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

Continue reading

9 Lessons-Learned From My First Zoom Recital

Well, this is a post I never expected to see myself writing! LOL.

Over the past two months, studio teachers from all over the world have taken the plunge into unknown territory

Here are  7 things that I learned from our first Zoom recital. I hope this will make your recital a little easier!

 

#1 Do a practice run

For our in-person recitals, we always do a rehearsal the day before. I’m glad I didn’t let the online format change this norm.

Holding a practice recital the week prior gives students, parents, and ourselves a chance to know what to expect. Even more importantly, it allows you to practice “managing” the recital online.

Definitely plan on requiring a parent to attend the rehearsal so they can practice holding the device and we could pick the best location. This will avoid you having to give instructions during the recital like “move a little further back”, or “turn your camera sideways” or “no, no, that’s too close – we want to see their hands!”

The practice run will make everyone feel much more relaxed going into it recital day!

 

#2 Send an Invitation Email

Send families an email at least a week ahead of time that is specifically for them to forward on to family and friends. Here is mine. Feel free to use it or any portion of it as needed.

Continue reading

A Summer Coffeehouse Recital

Last night my studio had our final Summer performance for the first time at a coffeehouse!

(My summer session only ran from the last week of May through July 18 this year because the last two weeks of July I’m away at NCKP and Joy Morin’s Piano Teacher Retreat.)

Summer lessons are optional in my studio and while most years I have around 70% of my students still take summer lessons, this year was a lot less.

(That was OK with me though, because I was planning on taking a Sabbatical Summer but since our house was not finished, I decided to continue to teach but really needed a lighter load – both for a little breather, and to have time to work on the house.)

I had fourteen students taking lessons but four of them were siblings that I did as a group class. Six students played in our summer recital.

Most years, when I have a lot more students, I’ve done an outdoor picnic which has always been great. With a lot fewer students performing, I wanted a small but still unique setting.

I was able to rent out a local coffee shop for $30 for the evening and we did a dessert and coffee carry-in.

Continue reading

Studio Awards Update (Including Some Awesome Trophies!)

This year marked the eighth year of my full-time piano studio. Suddenly, this spring, it just felt like it was the year to go through a revision of the studio awards I give at our year-end Spring Recital.

My original post Studio Awards: Policies and Procedures (which I just updated),  includes details on the types of awards, specific trophies, and how I track them from year to year.

This year I went through a pretty good overhaul. Not only have I changed what awards students get for their years of study as part of the MTNA Music Study Award (again, see the first post), but I changed trophy companies and I am very happy with the results.

Continue reading

Improve Your Audience’s Recital Experience with these Simple Signs

Organizing a studio recital involves lots of different aspects beyond student repertoire preparation. Many of us, I’m sure, have stories we can tell of the lessons learned in our first few years of recital-planning.

One of my first lessons-learned was to put up some kind of signage, especially when the recital is not in the same location every year.

Is it a necessity? No. Can people generally find their way to the recital hall or auditorium eventually? Yes.

So why use direction signs?

If you’ve ever attended a graduation party, baby shower, or conference, I’m sure you will agree that the minute you see a sign indicating you are in the correct location, you breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s comforting to not have to wonder if you’re in the right location or to have to search for where you’re going. Relieving this small anxiety for your audience will not only make a great first impression but will add a professional touch with little effort. All it takes is a few signs posted around the building where the recital is being held.

The signs are very simple. No-frills. I kept them pretty plain rather than with a design so they can be used at any kind of recital, no matter what your program looks like.

They’re being made available to you in Microsoft Word format so you can download the document and make tweaks to your heart’s content or print only the signs you’ll use.

I like to include my logo at the top of the page.  Feel free to import your own!

Signs include:

  • Arrows pointing to the correct direction to find the recital location/room.
  • Asking the audience to wait in the foyer until the doors open.
  • Reminding attendees food and drink should be taken into the recital hall. (Unless you’re having a special recital like a picnic of course! 🙂
  • Asking the audience to sit toward the front half of the room. (I use these when we’re in a large sanctuary so it doesn’t feel like they’re all spread out. I set them on either end of the row/pew encouraging people to keep moving forward.

 

Consider taking your signage a step further and purchase a yard sign you can reuse from year to year that has your studio logo and says “Recital Here” or something generic that could be used for any kind of performance(s) you organize in your studio.

What was one of the first things you learned when planning a recital that helped it go smoother the following year and each year since?

 

Spring Recital 2018

“Songs We Know”

This past Sunday was my studio’s 7th spring recital. Every year I try to do something different to keep things interesting. Last year we did a studio-wide collaborative project (a narrative suite). In 2016 we did collaborative pieces (duets, trios, 2-pianos 4-hands).

Sometimes in the fall, I hold a themed recital. This past fall we did a church music recital and three years ago we did a color recital (this recital was prior to Piano Pantry so I don’t have a post on it).

This year the theme was “Songs We Know.” Usually, I reserve the majority of pop-tune playing and such for our summer picnic performance. With our house project and all that’s going on this year though, I decided to forego the summer performance. Thus, the popular-themed music for spring recital.

I’m going to share a couple of highlights from our recital including a list of the repertoire books we used.

Continue reading

Recital Help

Since we’re entering Spring recital season, I thought I would just give you a quick run-down of some of the posts here on Piano Pantry that might help you with your recital preparations.

 

Recital Planning and Organization

 

 

Recital Theme and Student Repertoire Ideas

 

 

 

Click on the photo below to see my 2016 recital which featured collaborative pieces including duets, trio’s, and more.

What are you doing for your recital theme this year? Ours is “Pieces Everyone Knows.” That would mean anything from pop, Broadway, movie hits, worship, etc. Students are having fun picking out pieces. It usually doesn’t take them too long to know exactly what they want to play!

 

Favorite Hymn and Praise Piano Books

(and a Church Music Recital)

Have you ever done a themed-recital?

Two years ago I decided I wanted to start doing themed recitals on occasion.  My Spring recital sometimes has a partial theme, but I wanted something that was a 100% all-in theme. Participation is optional for students, but both times I have had nearly 75% of my students participate. Mid-October seems to be a good time, right before Fall break.

My first one was a “color” theme. That recital happened prior to Piano Pantry so I don’t have a post about it  – maybe someday. 🙂 This year, since so many of my students are already using their skills in church, it felt like the right time to do a “church-music” theme.

Today I’m going to share with you a few highlights from our recital as well as some of my favorite resources for church music repertoire for students. Be sure and share your favorites in the comments!

Continue reading