Artist Interview – Hans-Gunter Heumann (The Classical Piano Method)

 Hans-Gunter Heumann

Hans-Gunter Heumann

By Brendan Lai-Tong

If you’re a music teacher, it’s likely that you are on the lookout for the something new to help teach your students more effectively. Whether this is new repertoire, etudes, or method books, it’s always nice to branch out to see what else is out there. You’ll never know when  something new will work really well for a particular student!

While we were at the Music Teachers National Association Convention in Anaheim, California we had the pleasure of meeting Hans-Günter Heumann. Many of you may know of his contributions to the piano repertoire. His original compositions, arrangements and educational methods for piano are enjoyed by pianists around the world, especially in Germany.

Hans-Günter studied at theMusikhochschule Hannover, followed by further studying of composition in New York and New Orleans. He has dedicated himself to the editing of pedagogical piano material. His particular concern is to present music in an accessible way to reach a broad audience.

His newest contribution to the music world is The Classical Piano Method series.

The Classical Piano Method - By Hans-Gunter Heumann

The Classical Piano Method – By Hans-Gunter Heumann

It is geared towards helping people of all ages and levels to learn how to play piano, including those who are returning to piano after a hiatus. The book also includes a CD that can be used in conjunction with the book.You can find more of Hans-Günter’s work here in our catalog. Be sure to check out his book/debut album Live Your Dream. The book contains a performance of the original works as well as the sheet music so you can perform them as well.

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us!

What inspired you to start a career in music?

My curiosity was the driving force in my interest in music, from an early age. If I heard and wanted to play something, I was able to do this on one of the instruments that were available to me. First I was drawn to the acoustic guitar and electric guitar, through rock and pop music. However, a growing passion for playing the piano and for classical music brought about a change in my musical development and led to my decision to make music my profession.

Who are some of your musical role models?

The most important classical role models for me are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy and Satie. I find stylistic inspiration in musical styles such as pop, minimal music, ambient, new age, easy listening and film music, and from musicians such as Elton John, Sting, Coldplay, Philip Glass, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ludovico Einaudi, Vangelis, Yiruma, and John Williams.

What inspired you to take up arranging, composition and writing method books for piano? 

After studying music I dedicated myself to the editing of pedagogical piano material. The starting point and source of my inspiration was definitely teaching the piano. My top priority was always to find the right piece for the student in order to provide motivation. For this purpose, in addition to well known pieces already available, I arranged and composed many original pieces for piano. In this way, as a result of teaching, the concepts for my many diverse method books for children, teenagers and adults were developed.

Please tell us more about how you approach your composition process.

Some of my compositions are created through improvisation, from the process of tonal and melodic inspiration. Others are constructed on a more technical, formal or theoretical basis, for example in the case of an Etude, a dance or a piece within a pedagogical work.

What music do you like to listen to? Do you feel that this influences your compositions?

I am drawn particularly to subtle musical nuance, surprising harmony, warm, rounded, contemplative sounds and expressive melodies. It is natural that we take something from those whose music we like and admire, either consciously or subconsciously, and then transform, filter, experiment with, and create something new from this. Music is thus a kind of transformative process. In this sense, of course, I can only agree that the music I’ve absorbed throughout my life influences my style.

Do you have any suggestions for those looking to take up arranging?

The method books have been carefully designed to progress in small manageable steps, beginning with simple fingering patterns and exercises, before moving onto some of the most beautiful melodies and pieces from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, such as Bach’s Prelude in C Major, Mozart’s A Little Night Music, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. By leading the student through a range of exercises, repertoire pieces, theory checks, tips on practicing, playing and technique, and composer biographies, the process of learning is made interesting, informed and fun.

This is ideal for older beginners, teens and adults looking to learn the piano from scratch or for those returning to the piano after a substantial break from playing.

Tell us more about your newest piano method book, The Classical Piano Method.

Through many years of teaching experience, I have observed that classical music gives a very solid basis for learning the piano. The melodies are well-known, attractive, varied and above all timeless, so they never lose their appeal. Furthermore, this music allows for the discussion of all relevant teaching points, such as technical and musical training, music theory, the history of music and composers, the study of form, as well as relevant practice material. Even students who have little previous knowledge of the classics, or who are not particularly classical music fans are still drawn to it for relaxation. Classical music covers the whole spectrum of musical expression from the quiet and sustained, to the dramatic and stirring.

What inspired you to create the series?

The Classical Piano Method brings something fresh, and new to the market. It offers a much needed resource for young, and adult learners with a passion for classical music. The Method is unique in that it focuses on classical melodies from the very beginning.

A CD recording of all pieces played on a Steinway grand piano by professional concert pianists is provided, offering model performances to help students learn, and allow them to hear performances which are not obscured by thick orchestrations. This allows the beginning student to appreciate pianistic phrasing, articulation, dynamics and pedaling right from the outset.

This method approaches piano instruction from the European standpoint, which aims to impart solid instruction in the craft of piano playing as well as general musicianship from the very beginning.

What do you feel sets your method apart for all of the other piano methods on the market?

Attractive classical melodies used as a basis for learning from the very beginning, first as arrangements and as the method progresses, original pieces from the baroque, classical and romantic periods are introduced. Quite apart from the ‘Classical period’, the term ‘classical stands for something exemplary, of high quality, regardless of the style. This is music of significance that has already stood the test of time and will continue to survive. For this reason, throughout the method – especially in the accompanying volumes – I have of course also included folk, jazz and pop melodies, which have over time have also become ‘classics’.

What musical concepts are covered in the series?

Attractive classical melodies used as a basis for learning from the very beginning, first as arrangements and as the method progresses, original pieces from the baroque, classical and romantic periods are introduced. Quite apart from the ‘Classical period’, the term ‘classical stands for something exemplary, of high quality, regardless of the style. This is music of significance that has already stood the test of time and will continue to survive. For this reason, throughout the method – especially in the accompanying volumes – I have of course also included folk, jazz and pop melodies, which have over time have also become ‘classics’.

What is the best way for teachers to utilize all of the included materials?

In the Method Books, at the end of each lesson, you will find references to the accompanying volumes: Repertoire CollectionDuet Collection and Finger Fitness.

Pieces from these books are listed in the appendix of each of the Method Books.

The supplementary volumes offer further pieces that are directly linked to the level of difficulty of the method books to help learning at each stage of a student’s development.

These accompanying volumes may also be used in lessons independently as progressive collections of pieces during the early stages of learning.

Do teachers have to use the books in any particular order?

Yes, there is a so called “Family Tree“ (see below) of the Classical Piano Method. This gives you an overview of the whole series with its 4 method books, plus three accompanying volumes at each level, in progressive order. You can click on the image below to see a full sized version of the family tree and you can see what parts of the series Sheet Music Plus has available here.

CPM family tree.pdf-pages

Do you have any new compositions or arrangements coming out soon?

Yes, I’ve written a new album of my own compositions called Light and Shade which will be published this year. This album features 12 very expressive solo piano pieces which reflect the emotional breath, or light and shade, of the instrument e.g. The Dark Side, Shades of Piano, Light and Shade, Tears for Eternity and Into the Light.

Brendan Lai-Tong is the Assistant Marketing Manager at Sheet Music Plus and holds degrees in trombone performance from University of Miami and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

1 Response to “Artist Interview – Hans-Gunter Heumann (The Classical Piano Method)”


  1. 1 Recommended you Read April 27, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I liked this blog post.

    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!


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