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!!  

Vocal Warm-Up Cheat Sheet: An Easy Way to Improve the Sound of Your Choir

Composer Michael John Trotta has prepared a cheat sheet full of vocal warm-ups to help you get your choir back in the swing of things and sounding better than ever.

Download Michael John Trotta’s Vocal Warm-Up Cheat Sheet here:

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Restore Our Song: A Homecoming

Guest post by composers Lee & Susan Dengler introducing Restore Our Song: A Resource for Restarting Your Choir, which includes an opening “kick-off” fellowship and service, devotions on the themes of deliverance and renewal, easy anthem suggestions to get the choir back in shape quickly, service ideas including a hymn sing, recruitment tips, a simple chorus for choir and congregation titled “Restore Our Song,” and more.

Finally, they were on their way!  After years of exile in Babylon, God’s people were returning to Judah.  Though some had decided to remain in Babylon, a contingent, led by the priest and scribe, Ezra, began the journey home.  To them, Babylon was still a land where they simply could not sing the Lord’s song, even when coaxed by their captors.  All they had been able to do was to hang their harps, the instruments that had once accompanied their voices, on the willow trees that stood guard by the river.  The drooping branches of the trees had served as a visual reminder of their own weeping. 

And then, they were home in their beloved native land!  In the second chapter of the book of Ezra, we find the listing of folks who returned to Jerusalem and other Judean towns. There were the priests, the temple servants, the gatekeepers of the temple.  And, there were the singers!

As the foundations of the new temple were laid, the singers began their song, as they praised and gave thanks to the Lord.  For those who listened, there was a mixture of emotions.  While some shouted for joy, others, who had remembered the former temple and all they had endured, wept with a loud voice.  It was hard to distinguish the shouts of joy from the noise of their crying.  Nevertheless, the combined sound of joyous shouts, sorrowful weeping and glorious singing could be heard for miles around.

We have thought about these people many times during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after we learned that singing in groups had the ability to spread the virus more virulently than almost anything else.  How could we sing the Lord’s song in such a land?  But now, it seems that we too are on our way home.  Almost daily, we learn of positive indicators that tell us that choirs can safely return to in-person, close-up, full-choir singing.  Thanks be to God!  This is the news for which we have been waiting over these past, long months!

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Rockschool: A Complete Beginners Guide

RSL Awards Academic Director Tim Bennett-Hart takes us through everything Rockschool

Rockschool is part of RSL Awards, an international awarding body based in London, UK. For the last 30 years we have been producing material to help people learn musical instruments and assess their progress.

What’s more it really works! Artists such as Ed Sheeran, Jess Glyn, and Wolf Alice have all taken RSL Awards qualifications and gone on to have incredible careers.

It’s not just for super stars. RSL Awards assess over 80,000 people each year across 50 countries – this is a world-wide community of creative people.






What’s in a Book

A typical book like Electric Guitar Level 3 contains – 6 full transcriptions of hit songs, 6 original songs, backing tracks and example audio to download, scales and technical exercises for the level.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary
Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69
Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay


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Wounded Alleluias

Guest post by Joseph M. Martin, Composer and Director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press

The quest to combine ministry with artistry has been a lifelong calling for me.  I have always found my place and purpose in this pursuit.  Composing animates me and breathes into my spirit an inner peace that is deeply sacred.

Reassuring rituals are part of my writing process—simple disciplines made special by repetition, reminding me to be grateful for the labor to which I have been called. With faithful regularity the process unfolds over and over, familiar yet surprising, comfortable yet challenging.

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Edition Peters: Piano, Pedagogy, Studies and the Influence of Carl Czerny

Guest post by Christian A. Pohl, Professor of Piano and Piano Methodology, Head of Piano Department, University of Music and Theatre ‘Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’ Leipzig 

The start of the nineteenth century saw a seismic shift in the world of domestic keyboard playing as the piano rapidly displaced the harpsichord and clavichord as the instrument of choice in homes across Europe. Seizing on this new opportunity, a series of piano instruction methods were swiftly published, followed by methods and studies over subsequent generations that covered the rudiments of piano playing, technique and performance practice. A huge number of these studies are represented in the Edition Peters Piano Catalogue.

Major names in the field of piano pedagogy were quickly established – including Beyer, Burgmüller, Hanon and Clementi – but it was one who followed behind them that arguably defined the shape of piano pedagogy for generations to come. Indeed, even today – nearly 200 years after this educational “meteorite” first struck the German-speaking piano world – the waves of his impact are still being felt. There is no getting around Carl Czerny when it comes to pianistic exercises or didactic approaches to building a virtuoso pianist.

Carl Czerny
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How to Make Your Own Virtual Choir

Make your own virtual choir performance in just 8 steps. This guide includes tips for planning the project, recording participant tracks, and editing the submissions into a final performance ready to post and send. For related technology and tools, visit Sheet Music Plus.

You’ve seen them everywhere online: grids of iPhone videos of people singing together in chorus. From Broadway stars and professional choral groups to church and community choirs and even ad hoc regional and global networks of singers, the defining group music making moment of the decade so far is…

VIRTUAL CHOIR

Here we’ll walk you through what a virtual choir is and give you a step-by-step guide to creating your own, whether for the choir you regularly sing with or direct, or for a new group of singers you’ve brought together for a specific project.

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How to Start to Learn Guitar Solos

Guest post by Leo Nguyen, founder of Six String Tips

Playing guitar solos is one of the highest aspirations a guitar player can have. We’ve all heard amazing guitar solos that are so inspiring that they make us want to do whatever it takes to be able to play them, right?

You may be in a situation where you don’t know where to start or how to have a better understanding of how guitar solos work. Keep reading and you will find really cool concepts that will make a difference in how you approach them!

1. What are guitar solos anyway?

To begin with, we can say that guitar solos are instrumental parts, and as such they provide a great opportunity for the guitar to abandon the accompaniment role and be more of a leader.

Guitar solos fulfill a really important role in the song. (No… not to show off, man!) In any song with vocals, the song gets to certain points where a vocal break is needed, noot only from the singer/vocalist’s perspective (to rest), but also for the sake of song construction.

Imagine if you hear a song with no instrumental gaps: it would be terrible! But guitar solos can give those breaks, and keep the song interesting at the same time. That’s why we need to make sure they are well crafted.

There are a great number of different possibilities in solos, but something we know for sure is that guitar solos always need to be aligned with the style of the song.

What kinds of solos are there?

Melodies – Some solos are basically melodies: a melody already used in the song, or a new one, is presented in a highly expressive and embellished way.

Improvisation – There are cases where guitar solo sections are basically left to the interpretation of the player at a specific time. (This mostly happens in live situations.) 

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Chopin: Poland’s “Cannons Buried in Flowers”

Between 1772 and 1795, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy divided and annexed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth amongst themselves in a series of three partitions.

Though one of the largest and most populous countries in 16th– and 17th-century Europe, decades of protracted political, military and economic decline led the country to the brink of civil war, made it vulnerable to foreign influences, and ultimately rendered it unable to withstand the onslaught brought by the encroaching powers, even in spite of a revolutionary new constitution, a war in its defense and an uprising led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko. (As a side note, Kosciuszko was also a decorated hero of the American Revolutionary War and an accomplished military architect who designed and oversaw the construction of state-of-the-art fortifications, including those at West Point.)

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StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group

As our annual Sacred Choral Sale continues, we’d like to highlight a fantastic opportunity to explore new music for spring and Easter.

Join host Mark Cabaniss, President & CEO of Jubilate Music Group, and his special guest, composer Lloyd Larson, for StreamSing, a free virtual reading session.

In this approximately hour-long express session, Mark and Lloyd tell stories, look ahead to our future opportunities for ministry and community as church singers, and preview new music perfect for distanced, streaming and virtual choirs from Mary McDonald, Lloyd Larson, Tom Fettke and more.

Here are just a few of the titles featured in StreamSing:

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