Great Editing: The Difference between Success & Frustration!

Guest post by Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield and Phyllis Alpert Lehrer, editors of Classics for the Developing Pianist and Study Guides for Preparation, Practice & Performance Books 1-5

Classics for the Developing Pianist and Study Guides for Preparation, Practice & Performance Books 1-5

Our 5 anthologies contain the 100 pieces that pianists should learn to play. In the 5 companion Study Guides for each piece. Problems are IDENTIFIED and problems are SOLVED.                                                             

What Makes Our Books Unique

With all the great anthologies out there, why should you buy ours?

  1. ALTERNATIVE FINGERINGS:  Hands come in all shapes and sizes! Our fingerings often give two choices that will encourage students to try alternatives. We suggest they then cross out the fingering they will not use.       
  2. ADDITIONAL DYNAMICS ARE ADDED FOR:
    • VARIETY: Don’t you wish your student would play at different dynamic levels, rather than the same dynamic for every piece? Our edition gives different dynamic levels, just as any great artist does when performing.
    • SHAPING & PACING:  We have found that our students need help in shaping and pacing long crescendos and decrescendos.
    • BALANCE & VOICING: We bet your students, like ours, often need to be reminded that melodies need to be clearly heard over an accompaniment, or voiced clearly within a chord.
  3. ADDITIONAL PEDALING IS SUGGESTED: Anton Rubenstein said that “the pedal is the soul of the piano,” but how many of your students don’t give it a second or even a first thought? You can’t teach students to hear tasteful pedaling without first giving a good example. We clearly mark where to depress and release the pedal, when and where to use una corda, half pedal and other special pedaling effects. Many times it’s okay and even necessary to add subtle touches of pedal in Baroque and Classical pieces.
  4. TEMPO RANGE AND TEMPO CHANGE: We know you’ll agree that no one tempo is perfect for any piece to be played successfully!  For each piece we give a tempo range (for example quarter=100-120) rather than a specific tempo.  Many teachers have told us they love this feature. We’ve also indicated suggestions for rhythmic freedom that will enhance an artistic performance.
  5. ARTICULATION & ORNAMENTATION: Suggested articulations and realizations for ornaments are given to teach students historically accurate style and taste.

Each book contains 20 pieces from the four main style periods: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary. Additional suggestions for repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries are given for each level. Take a look at the Table of Contents and see the pieces that are in each book:

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5

Why Study Guides for Each Book

Are you curious as to how to get your students to play Fur Elise musically AND in one tempo? Ever wonder how to teach those long trills in Mozart K.545, or how to play Clair de Lune like a professional?

During workshops and master classes, teachers often ask us questions about how we teach the pieces. Our Study Guides show teachers and students how to PREPARE, PRACTICE and POLISH the pieces in the companion repertoire books. 

Each piece that appears in Classics for the Developing Pianist appears in the Study Guide for that level. For each of the 100 pieces in the collection, we have detailed:

  • BACKGROUND:  Pianists enjoy knowing about the composer and about the character and mood of each piece. Lesson time is saved and pianists are given a sense of history, style, and general context.
  • FEATURES: This section provides a preview of the stylistic and musical elements that bring each piece to life.  Specifics such as texture, phrasing and compositional devices are highlighted to enhance the pianist’s interpretation and emotional projection.  
  • PRELIMINARY ACTIVITIES: Keep music learning fun and positive by anticipating mistakes before they happen. Pencil points provide suggestions for marking the score with ideas that anticipate rhythm and reading issues. Preparatory Exercises anticipate technical problems and suggest short, but useful warm-ups.
  • GENERAL PRACTICE POINTERS: While we suggest slow practice both hands separately (HS) an together (HS) these basic strategies only work when students know what to listen for and how to connect musical intensions with technical approaches. Practicing strong beats only, experimenting with alternate fingerings, and many other suggestions are included.                      
  • CREATIVE PRACTICE TECHNIQUES: Practice is only fun when students feel like they’ve quickly solved each specific problem in a piece. Strategies for fun and efficient practice include Blocking (BL), Groups Backward (GB), Groups Forward (GF),Two for One (2/1), Rhythm Patterns (RP). These are among the technics shown for isolating AND FIXING problem measures in each piece.
  • FINISHING TOUCHES: “What you see is often what you hear.” Students gain confidence in performing when we help them learn opening and closing gestures, lyrics and choreography for reinforcing the character of the music, and additional suggestions for use of rubato, voicing and dynamics are among the many suggestions given.

Watch 8-year-old Lilian Ji work on Part B of “Für Elise” with the help of our preparatory exercises:

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this new series we developed together. We’ve dedicated out lives to helping teachers and students around the world play with greater artistry and expression. Through this repertoire collections and the corresponding study guides, we hope to help you and your students as well!

Repertoire Books:

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5

Study Guides:

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5

About the Editors: 

Phyllis Lehrer
Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield

Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield and Phyllis Alpert Lehrer are award winning Piano Professors & Private Teachers who have taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Piano Pedagogy for over 30 years and have taught private students of all ages and levels for over 50 years!!