Choice of repertoire is a vital ingredient in the development of young pianists. If the piece is too easy, they can become bored very quickly. Whilst some pupils enjoy a challenging piece, others will become frustrated and disillusioned if they are faced with a piece that is too difficult. Over the past few years, I have been searching for interesting pieces that will capture the imagination of young pianists without drastically increasing the level of difficulty. Here, I have selected five pieces for late beginners or early intermediates to get their teeth into. Each piece is around RCM Level 2 -3 standard, although some are more challenging than others!
Key Features: Expression, pedalling, sequential patterns in left hand, piano and pianissimo playing, balancing the right and left hand.
This short Nocturne is a great introduction to the soundworld of romantic piano music. The challenge for a young pianist here is to set a dreamy atmosphere and play expressively throughout. The left hand must be especially soft in order for the right hand melody to shine through.
This piece is always a popular choice! Many pupils will enjoy the challenge of playing this at a quick and urgent tempo. There are some rhythmic challenges in the piece, which can be used as a vehicle for teaching syncopation (bars 15, 16 19 and 20), and the short and frantic introduction includes an impetuous accelerando. This provides an opportunity to introduce the concept of changing speeds to a young pianist.
Shades of Blue is an excellent collection of blues and jazz pieces, with a real variety of moods and atmospheres. ‘Scary Stuff’ gives the pupil an opportunity to create huge dynamic contrasts. More creative pupils might like to create a storyboard to go with this piece, in order to give them a mental picture of what might be taking place along with the music. The tremolando outburst at the climax of the piece should be a new and exciting concept at this level.
This piece is a useful introduction to ledger lines both in the right hand and the left hand. Spotting the repeating patters in the music can be a useful way to begin this piece. The pupil should be able to identify some of the left hand ostinato figures throughout the piece, as well as the return of the melody an octave higher at bar 18. The piece requires a cool, laid back approach, particularly during the final few bars.
This Musette was an ABRSM Grade 2 piece back in 2005-2006. The frequent time signature changes might seem daunting at first, but some work on the left hand ostinato figures to begin with should help with this. The beautiful right hand melody must be played with good legato and with plenty of expression.