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.       
    • 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!!  

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

more “Rockschool: A Complete Beginners Guide”

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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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.)

more “Chopin: Poland’s “Cannons Buried in Flowers””

A Little Jazz Piano: Exploring the Building Blocks of Music with Bob Chilcott

Bob Chilcott
(Photo: John Bellars)

You know him as one of the world’s preeminent choral composers and conductors, as well as a former member of the King’s Singers, but like so many of us, even Bob Chilcott was forced to put down his baton this year and find other ways to make music.

Chilcott focused his musical attention on teaching piano and theory to his eleven-year-old daughter, Becky, and her friend, and ended up also writing a set of three short jazz-style pieces for the piano to help show his students and other early intermediate learners explore the technical building blocks of music and develop their musical instincts in a way that would also be fun.

The results, A Little Jazz Piano, is a short piano suite featuring Chilcott’s celebrated jazz style in three movements: “Bobbing along,” “Becky’s Song” and “Walking with Ollie.”

Watch Chilcott play excerpts of the suite here:  

Edition Peters: Reflecting the Composer’s Intentions and the Value of Urtext

Guest post by Linda Hawken, MD of Edition Peters Europe, and Kathryn Knight, President of C.F. Peters, USA

Being a music publisher in the 21st century presents many different challenges to those faced by publishers at the beginning of the industry 200 years ago. Nowhere is this better illustrated than at Edition Peters, founded in Leipzig in 1800 – a time when the idea of music copyright was only just starting to be thought about, with no laws in place to protect the composer. Instead, a successful publishing relationship depended solely on a close and ongoing collaboration with the composer.

Edition Peters’ unique history tells one of the most extraordinary stories of the music-publishing world.  The roster of composers with whom Edition Peters worked directly across the 19th century is dizzying, from Beethoven to Grieg and Mahler.

Edition Peters created the first editions of some of the most famous compositions of all time, with those editions being proofread and corrected by the composers themselves long before the concept of “Urtext” was conceived. Yet despite the provenance of these important editions, it became fashionable in the later 20th century to disregard them – and the unique value of the composer’s direct input – in favor of Urtext “interpretations” by musicologists.

The concept of the Urtext only emerged in the early 1930s, devised by musicologists who aimed to get closer to “the composer’s intentions” by reviewing multiple sources. Indeed it was Edition Peters who released one of the very first Urtext editions with its 1933 edition of J. S. Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias. After the Second World War, other publishers took on this concept, producing their own Urtext editions. However, this led to much confusion about the meaning and significance of the editions, and whether they reflected the composer’s true intentions.

more “Edition Peters: Reflecting the Composer’s Intentions and the Value of Urtext”

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho

William Chapman Nyaho

While teaching at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 1991 to 2002, Ghanaian American pianist William Chapman Nyaho was struck by the utter lack of available piano scores by composers of African descent. To the extent that he could find any at all, they were mostly out of print or in manuscript form.

Shortly thereafter Nyaho found himself wandering the exhibition hall at an MTNA conference. He asked publisher after publisher for music by Florence Price. Publisher after publisher responded, “Who’s that?” Nyaho told them that she was an African-American composer and was told time and time again, “We only have Scott Joplin,” with the excuse being that there didn’t seem to be any demand for Price’s music. Nyaho replied, “The chicken or the egg: which comes first?”

more “Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho”

Prelude, Postlude and All That’s In Between: A Guide for the Church Pianist

Patti Drennan is an active composer and arranger with almost 700 piano books, piano/vocal books and choral octavos published with major publishers.

As a former 28-year high school choral director and then Director of Worship/Music Arts Director for almost 10 years, I have been seated at the piano creating music in so many venues. (Once a musician, always a musician, right?) In both the secular and sacred arenas, the pianist is often the glue that holds together a concert, worship service, wedding or memorial service. This is also the case when accompanying a soloist or small group. Because all music is not usually performed a cappella, a confident, quick-thinking accompanist must be ready to sense the soloist’s tempo and dynamics, phrasing and places for breathing, and the dreaded skipped-the-repeat-and-now-on-the-next-page moment! Fast thinking is a must for the church pianist and the goal is to play beautifully, giving not a hint of the soloist’s “mis-fire” to the congregation! When I was serving on staff, one of my duties as Director of Music was to create a meaningful worship service with inspiring scriptures, hymns, anthems (often two), prelude and postlude, and timing it all to when the pastor returned from a contemporary service a half-block away in another building. There were often times when he had yet to arrive and I needed to walk to the piano and extemporaneously play reflective music under a guided prayer time. For those who do not play by ear, this would be an important moment to have a secondary hymn or piano book in reach to provide that quiet music. more “Prelude, Postlude and All That’s In Between: A Guide for the Church Pianist”

Transcribing Keith Jarrett’s “A Melody at Night, with You”

Keith Jarrett

The 1999 recording The Melody at Night, with You is one of Keith Jarrett’s most popular records. Originally created as a gift to his wife, his versions of songs from the Great American Songbook plus the traditional “Shenandoah” are permeated by a special atmosphere that makes the recording one of his most personal audio documents. Jarrett dispenses with the jazz soloist’s conventional emphasis on dexterity, the “clever” phrase and the virtuosic sleight-of-hand, and instead strips these songs to their melodic essence to gently lay bare their emotional core.

After many years of preparation, the sheet music for The Melody at Night, with You has now been published by Schott Music with Jarrett’s approval and the support of Jarrett’s label, ECM.


more “Transcribing Keith Jarrett’s “A Melody at Night, with You””

Learning to Play Piano for the Very Young: The Perfect Pre-Primer for Preschoolers

Debbie Cavalier of Debbie and Friends, a music educator and Sr. Vice President at Berklee College of Music/DEO Berklee Online and one of the top children’s music artists in the nation, published Learning To Play Piano for the Very Young to provide a fun, engaging introduction to the keyboard. Cavalier created the book with her grandfather, noted arranger/composer Marty Gold.


With this fun, new pre-primer piano method, young children may:

  • learn to read the treble clef and note names using colorful pictures
  • get started playing familiar melodies with their right hand
  • learn to play seven well-loved songs including favorites such as “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Jingle Bells”
  • enjoy family sing-alongs with the guitar chord chart and lyrics included

more “Learning to Play Piano for the Very Young: The Perfect Pre-Primer for Preschoolers”