Piano Ensemble Repertoire

Do you include group classes in your studio in some way, shape, or form? Do you have at least two pianos? If so, then consider incorporating ensemble playing into this time!

Piano ensembles are a fun and easy way for students to experience collaborative playing and have been a staple activity in my group classes for years. I’ll share some great sources for piano ensemble music in today’s post.

(For holiday-specific ensemble music, check out the post: Christmas Collaborations: Recommended Piano Ensemble Music)

Before we dive in, one point of advice I wanted to mention is that I have always approached this as a sight-reading activity. I do not send music home prior to a group class for them to practice.

Music is chosen based on what I know students can easily sight-read. Since I am lucky to have four keyboards with headphones, they spend a few minutes playing through their part a couple of times, and then we unplug and play together.

Also, erring on the side of easier than I think they could play has proven to be a good rule of thumb for successful experiences. I’ll try to give you some specific examples throughout.


Interested in hearing more on how I run my group classes?
Listen in on Episode #3 of The Piano Pantry Podcast: Group Class Scheduling Experiences and Ideas


 

Hal Leonard Student Piano Library

My favorite over the years has been the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library Piano Ensemble Series.

Reasons I like this series:

  • They don’t require 4 pianos.
  • The spine is perforated so you can easily remove the parts from the book.
  • There is a teacher score.
  • While the difficulty levels are equal for each part, sometimes they will have 2 parts with one hand only and 2 parts with two hands so that’s a small way I can divide between students based on their sight-reading strength.
  • It includes suggestions for fun midi sounds – a different one for each keyboard. I don’t always use these but sometimes it can be a fun twist. Here’s a fun example (two of these teen students were beginners and two had been in lessons for a few years):

Things I don’t love about this series:

  • The kiddy artwork and song titles. While it’s not terrible, I often choose the piece based on how “un-kindergarten-like” it feels.

 

Buy it on Sheet Music Plus

Hal Leonard Piano Ensembles, Level 1
Hal Leonard Piano Ensembles, Level 2
Hal Leonard Piano Ensembles, Level 3
Hal Leonard Piano Ensembles, Level 4
Hal Leonard Piano Ensembles, Level 5

 

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

Similar to Hal Leonard, Alfred has a piano ensemble series as part of their Basic Piano Library method.

Reasons I like this series:

  • Each book includes a lot of pieces – more than 4.
  • There are some pre-reading ensembles in 1A.
  • There is a teacher score.
  • It includes suggestions for fun midi sounds – a different one for each keyboard.
  • The pieces are written for 4 keyboards and every part is two-handed
  • Overall, the titles and artwork feel less “kiddie-like” than Hal Leonard’s so it can work better for older students.
  • There are 4 levels but you can opt to purchase two “complete” sets rather than 4 individual levels.

Things I don’t love about this series:

  • The music is harder. There isn’t a lot (even in book 1) that students who have been in lessons for even a couple of years would be able to sightread and play successfully almost immediately. Again, I think this is a good indication that this series might be better for students that play at the intermediate level.
  • The pages are not perforated like Hal Leonard’s (allowing you to purchase 1 book). You have to either tear the pieces of the spite to distribute or purchase 4 copies of the book.
  • The pages of each song are printed back-to-back so there’s no way to separate them out (like Hal Leonard’s) For example, part one is printed on the backside of the previous piece, parts two and three are printed on the same page back to back, and part four is on the front side of the next piece. That means that you either have to purchase multiple copies or tear the pages out of the book to distribute then (dare I say) photocopy one of the parts (the one that’s on the backside of part 2).

 

Buy on Sheet Music Plus

Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 1A
Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 1B
Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 1 Complete
Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 2
Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 3
Alfred’s Piano Ensembles, Level 2 & 3 Complete

 

Self-Publishers

There are two other good locations that I currently know of for piano ensemble music online. I have not used either one extensively as I have the Hal Leonard or Alfred Ensembles but I like what I see and think they are a great option!

Please note that I am not being paid in any way to promote these products. I’m just letting you know what’s out there! 🙂

The first is Lauren Lewandowsi’s site: Piano with Lauren. She has 12 arrangements available.

Each piece includes:

  • A short summary about the song
  • Rhythm Practice
  • Individual parts for harmony (chords), bass notes, and melody
  • Advanced variations of each part
  • Each part is notated in its simplest form first and then as more advanced variations. The variations allow for a group of multi-leveled students to play together.

 

The newest one I’ve discovered is Miss Dorla’s Piano Pyramids.

Each piece includes:

  • 5 parts (at 5 different levels – a real gem!)
  • Conductor Score

 

Any More?

I hope this post has given you some great resources for gathering your students to make music together!

Do you have any favorites to add to the list? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new resources for piano ensembles.


Please note all of these links are affiliate links which simply means I get a very small percentage back without it costing you extra as a way of helping me run this blog. Thanks!

 

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *