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Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written (Read 99055 times)

Offline bernhard

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Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
« on: January 27, 2004, 02:57:00 AM »
There are several threads in the forum about the most difficult pieces ever written for piano.

But what about the opposite?

What do people reckon is the easiest yet great piano piece ever written, a piece that in spite of being easy is a delight to play and listen to?

Consider the following situation: you’ve just got a complete beginner who knows zilch about the piano or about music. You must give him/her a piece that s/he can learn in a week or less by rote (since s/he does not know how to read music). The piece must be fun and highly musical. Instead of the usual dismal stuff you find in beginners’ books.

Which piece(s) would you suggest?

Here are some that I use:

Joe Gargiulo – Cory’s Space (Atmospheric and very easy to memorise and play. Fits well under the fingers and sounds difficult – even though it is ridiculously easy. Big hit with adult students). You can listen to Joe Gargiulo’ music at http://www.jozart.com/


Bergerac – Marshmallow Sundae (nice and simple chord progression – looks difficult since there are jumps all over the keyboard – fun to play. I teach this one to three years old!)

Vladimir Rebikov – The Bear (Scary piece with an ostinato left hand at the lowest register of the piano. Not much of a melody, but it really sounds like a heavy bear walking in the forest).

Ivone Adair – The wild Swans (Very nice arpeggiated piece. Adults like this one too. Ivonne Adair has some real gems.)

Ivone Adair – Thumbelina (Another very nice little piece with a good catchy melody, that alternates between hands – and yet it is below grade zero. Great hit with the little ones).

Jon George – Reflets dans l’eau. (Beautiful impressionist style piece, fitting small hands and yet a big hit with adults).

These are all short (less that 20 bars) and could all be taught in a week or less to complete (and not particularly talented) beginners.

Do you have more?

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline allchopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #1 on: January 27, 2004, 03:58:50 AM »
This question is kind of unanswerable, as pieces can only get so easy (whereas pieces get infinitely hard).
I don't know exactly the skill level of your student, but Traumerie is a good piece to experiment vocalisation with- also his Album for the Young.
Mozart is a pretty consistent composer of some fairly playable pieces.
A modern house without a flush toilet... uncanny.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #2 on: January 27, 2004, 11:25:13 PM »
I've played "The Bear," and for some reason still enjoy it.  I've never figured out why, but I just like that little piece.

Anyway, perhaps some of the Minuets, Arias and such from Anna Magdalena Bach's notebook?  Those are easy enough, and pleasant sounding; I wouldn't be suprised if they helped beginners gain experience with touch.

Offline steveolongfingers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #3 on: January 28, 2004, 04:18:25 AM »
How about Sonata Pathetique, thats not TOO hard (as compared to some of the other sonatas) and is really cool to listen to.
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a stupid thing to want to do- Frank Zappa

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #4 on: January 28, 2004, 04:32:01 AM »
No, it's not too hard in the overall scheme of piano literature, but compared to the ones Bernhard listened it is.

Offline steveolongfingers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #5 on: January 28, 2004, 09:54:55 PM »
I got an idea, what about the prelude in E minor opus 28 by Chopin?  Thats a pretty piece! And its dead easy!
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a stupid thing to want to do- Frank Zappa

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #6 on: January 28, 2004, 11:55:05 PM »
Thanks for all replies. I guess I was not clear enough (or perhaps people did not read the original question.

I am talking about “below grade 1” pieces. Pieces that are so easy that a complete beginner with no experience in music, no knowledge whatsoever of music notation and no natural co-ordination (yes, this means clumsy) could learn by rote in a period ranging from a day to a week.

I also provided a few examples of pieces that I was able to do just that: teach them to complete beginners in less than a week.

So here are some of the suggestions:

Allchopin:
Quote
Traumerie is a good piece to experiment vocalisation with- also his Album for the Young.
Mozart is a pretty consistent composer of some fairly playable pieces.


Traumerei is ranked as grade 6 (ABRSM). They expect you to take grade 6 after 6 – 7 years study. Schumann’s “Album for the young” may be for the young but is certainly not for the beginner. Even the easiest pieces (e.g. “Melody” – which has a tricky co-ordination in the left hand) are not really appropriate for a complete beginner. The most difficult pieces are ranked as grade 8 (ABRSM).

Mozart has some very easy pieces, but I find them incredibly dull. Incidentally the same is true of Beethoven. There are some dances that are below grade 1, but no one really wants to play that sort of drivel. Hence my two conditions: extremely easy piece, and extremely musical.

Steveolongfingers
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How about Sonata Pathetique?


Sonata Pathetique? :o For a beginner to learn in a day or a week with poor co-ordination no knowledge of music or notation? What next? Islamey? Prokofiev’s Toccatta? ::)

Liszmaninopin:
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No, it's not too hard in the overall scheme of piano literature, but compared to the ones Bernhard listened it is.


Thank you, Liszmaninopin! :D

Steveolongfingers
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what about the prelude in E minor opus 28 by Chopin?  Thats a pretty piece! And its dead easy!


We are starting to get there, but this is still a grade 4 (ABRSM) piece, hardly material for a complete beginner to learn as a first piece. It is also very lugubrious, so most beginners would not appreciate it (specially children).

Liszmaninopin
Quote
Anyway, perhaps some of the Minuets, Arias and such from Anna Magdalena Bach's notebook?


This is much closer to what I am looking for. I must say that most beginners would find such pieces dull though, and they are still too difficult (The easiest I have used are the menuet in G major and the Musette, but not right at the beginning). The polyphonic character of these pieces is a major stumbling block for someone who has not yet developed a minimum of hand independence.

So what am I looking for? I am looking for a first piece. I want a student to go home after his very first lesson being able to play something. And I want this something to be impressive. To be musically satisfying. To be technically undemanding. Something one would not be embarrassed to perform.

Over the years I collected a handful of such pieces (I gave four examples on my first post), and I was wondering if anyone else had stumbled upon such hidden gems. These are not pieces for a professional performance. These are first pieces. Which is why I placed the thread in the Teaching board, rather than the Performance board.

Anyway thanks to all for replies so far, I hope I have made it clearer.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #7 on: January 29, 2004, 12:06:11 AM »
Bernhard,

I have a book with something like 100 pieces for complete beginners.  Maybe I could play through some of them and get back to you on them.  By the way, since you're a teacher, you might be able to answer this question.  Why is it that students are supposed to be in grade 6 after 6-7 years of study?  I have only been playing for three years and have been playing repertoire harder than the grade 8 pieces for some time.  Why do they take to long to reach that point of grade 6?

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #8 on: January 29, 2004, 01:06:10 AM »
Quote

By the way, since you're a teacher, you might be able to answer this question.  Why is it that students are supposed to be in grade 6 after 6-7 years of study?  I have only been playing for three years and have been playing repertoire harder than the grade 8 pieces for some time.  Why do they take to long to reach that point of grade 6?

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) has a “Frequently Asked Questions” list on its website. Amongst the many questions answered, one finds the one below:

“How long does it take to prepare for each Grade?

Many teachers give their students the opportunity of taking an exam each year, as one part of a varied programme. At the higher grades, more time is sometimes needed to develop the musical maturity and technical competency to tackle the more difficult repertoire. For complete beginners, the time taken to reach Grade 1 can vary significantly. Piano students often take two years from the first lesson to Grade 1 - hence the usefulness of the Preparatory Test after approximately nine months. After Grade 1 most piano pupils are able to take a grade each year.”


This is the tradition (at least in the UK). Students are expected to take 9-10 years to get to grade 8 (when they usually drop out of piano study). It is also a reality. Students do take that long.

Do I think this is necessary? Au contraire (to paraphrase Ed). I think this is an absurd state of affairs. I think anyone (normal, that is without learning disabilities or physical problems) has the ability to reach grade 8 in 1 – 3 years. So why don’t they? It is really simple. You cannot get good at anything with 30 minutes lessons once a week and half-term breaks every two months plus summer holidays. Add to that that most students will not practise or practise wrongly and a long period of drudgery will ensue.

My students usually take grade 5 after 6 months to one year (I don’t bother with grades 1- 4 anymore) and grade 8 after 2 years. (I also don’t bother with grades 6 – 7. If you can do grade 6 you can do grade 8 ). I am not boasting, because I do not think it has much to do with me. It has to do with the way I teach. Anyone prepared to teach this way will have the same results (basically you have lessons everyday to start with)  Actually the whole “grading” of pieces is slightly crazy – mostly because degrees of difficulty are highly personal  - what is grade 1 for someone may well be grade 8 to someone else. My opinion is that a piece is never difficult. It is either easy or impossible. And lessons plus correct practice are the recipe to turn an impossible piece into an easy piece.

So I guess the ultimate answer to your question is that students who are not at grade 5 after 1 – 2 years are not really serious about it.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #9 on: January 29, 2004, 01:15:25 AM »
Thanks.

By the way, here are a couple pieces that are simple, and I consider them reasonably musical, you might be familiar with them:

Song "So small is the street of Istavand"  by B. Bartok
Autumn by S. Maykapar
Tale by S. Maykapar
Hunting Music by C. Gurglitt
Arabesque by J. f. Burgmuller

I have more, but I just picked interesting looking titles, and played through them; they're not hard.

Offline steveolongfingers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #10 on: January 29, 2004, 04:20:12 AM »
I believe easy has such a large definition, i find Pathetique easy, even when i learned it five or so years ago, i guess many people do not.  Prelude in E minor was like a walk in the park....i bet it is for most people.  

But if were talking super easy, i would say something from Bartok....i cant find my syllabus at the moment.....
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a stupid thing to want to do- Frank Zappa

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #11 on: January 29, 2004, 04:26:53 AM »
Pathetique is easy, when compared with the later Beethoven, or much Romantic music.  But it is also definitely not a piece for a beginner.  It would make a good first Beethoven Sonata, though.

Offline Jemmers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #12 on: January 29, 2004, 01:30:42 PM »
It takes 8-10 years to get to grade 8 (i took all of ten..) because people are simultaneously juggling school, a social life, and whatever else you have.

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #13 on: January 29, 2004, 03:18:53 PM »
Quote
But if were talking super easy, i would say something from Bartok....


The Second Concerto perhaps ;D,
Ed

Offline IgnazPaderewski

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #14 on: January 29, 2004, 05:36:38 PM »
The easiest thing for me to play would be the funeral march at eds funeral.

Offline srdabney

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #15 on: January 30, 2004, 08:50:14 PM »
How about Bach W.T.C. Book 1, Prelude #1?
Or is this too long?

Some others ...
Chopin Prelude A major
Debussy "Girl with flaxen hair"  
MacDowell "To a wild rose"
Prokofiev's Music for Children

Just throwing wood on the fire ...

Offline steveolongfingers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #16 on: January 31, 2004, 07:56:29 PM »
Chopins Prelude in C minor is easy too, a kid couldnt play it though, there hands would be kind of small, i think it goes to a 9th on a couple of the chords
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a stupid thing to want to do- Frank Zappa

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #17 on: January 31, 2004, 10:00:50 PM »
Thanks for all replies so far. Keep them coming! (anything easier?) ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline kilimanjaro

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #18 on: February 01, 2004, 02:02:40 AM »
Hello Bernhard,

I am an adult beginner who has been playing the piano for a year and a half and found this topic very interesting.

Here are some of my favorite peices from Alfred's Adult Beginner Book 1 and half of book 2 that I have completed during this time (I practice only 2 hrs a week + half hour lesson each week, so probably won't finish book 3 for another year!).

I am curious what Bernhard would rate these peices as in his system of rating.  Sorry they are mostly not calssical.

In order of Beginning of Book 1 to middle of Book 2 (most of these are in Book 2).

1) Greensleeves
2) Scarborough Fair
3) The Entertainer
4) Down in the Valley
5) Tumbalalaika
6) Light and Blue
7) La Raspa
8) Scherzo (A classic?)
9) La Cucaracha
10) The House of the Rising Sun
11) Waves of the Danube
12) Rock-A My Soul
13) You're in my Heart
14) Brahms Lullaby
15) The Hokey-Pokey
16) Night Song (Most difficult of the above)

I think most of these are not complete in Alfred's since they never go over two pages.


Offline Jemmers

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #19 on: February 01, 2004, 10:15:45 AM »
I'd just like to say... that it is a very refined art trying to make extremely simple pieces sound good musically. I find that below grade 2, very little can sustain my interest for more than a few bars. So if you find any TRUE gems, share! (on the other hand, I loooovvee pieces of grade 2 standard. They are ridiculously easy to sight-read, and are actually musically adequate. mostly, anyway.)

Offline L.K.

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #20 on: February 02, 2004, 11:10:26 PM »
I know a lot of easy masterpieces by Finnish composers. I just can't make a good translation
of the titles. :-[

But here's some others:

Rameau: the famous minuet in G
Burgmüller Op. 100
Many etudes by Berens

I hope they aren't too hard for level 2.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #21 on: February 03, 2004, 12:17:26 AM »
Thanks for all suggestions. :)

Kilimanjaro:
Quote
I am curious what Bernhard would rate these peices as in his system of rating.  Sorry they are mostly not calssical.


Yes. This is exactly the level of piece I am talking about. The only thing I dislike about some of these pieces is that they are simplifications of original works. I have a strong bias towards that and I try to always give students original pieces. I reckon these pieces would all be around or below grade 1.

Jemmers:
Quote
I'd just like to say... that it is a very refined art trying to make extremely simple pieces sound good musically. I find that below grade 2, very little can sustain my interest for more than a few bars. So if you find any TRUE gems, share!


How very true! In fact I am much more impressed with a composer that can write superlative music for beginners than with composers that can only produce virtuoso after virtuoso piece.

Interestingly enough, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Liszt (to mention three top of the pops in the forum) have nothing in this area. On the other hand, J. S. Bach, Debussy, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev (again just to mention a few not so hot in the forum) produced amazing beginner’s pieces (not as easy as I would like though…). I wonder if this is related to the fact that they had no children of their own (Chopin didn’t, Liszt and Rachmaninov I am not sure), while the others – Tchaikovsky excepted  - were dotting fathers.

L.K.
Quote
I know a lot of easy masterpieces by Finnish composers. I just can't make a good translation  
of the titles.


Are they available commercially?

Once again, thanks for the suggestions, and as Jemmers said, if you have any true gem do share!

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #22 on: February 03, 2004, 12:33:53 AM »
Quote
I wonder if this is related to the fact that they had no children of their own (Chopin didn’t, Liszt and Rachmaninov I am not sure)


They did,
Ed

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #23 on: February 03, 2004, 01:11:33 AM »
Somehow I find difficult to imagine Liszt with a bunch of kids. ;D

What happened to them? Do you know if any of them displayed any musical talent (same for Rachmaninov)?

I know that Arrau's children had nothing to do with music (apparently he discouraged them), but Brendel's son is a cellist.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #24 on: February 03, 2004, 01:38:09 AM »
Quote
Somehow I find difficult to imagine Liszt with a bunch of kids. ;D


One of his daughters married Wagner,
Ed

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #25 on: February 03, 2004, 01:44:54 AM »
Quote


One of his daughters married Wagner,
Ed


Of course. I must be getting senile :(

And she married Hans von Bulow as well (before Wagner).
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #26 on: February 03, 2004, 02:00:05 AM »
Quote
And she married Hans von Bulow as well (before Wagner).


Quite,
Ed

Offline BET23

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #27 on: February 03, 2004, 02:37:07 AM »
liszt had 3 children with marie de'gould, his mistress (they never married because she WAS married)...

daniel liszt (youngest)
cosima liszt
blondine liszt (oldest)

daniel died at 19, blondine at the time of giving birth (r a surgery there after), and cosima married von bulow, and then got into an affair with wagner...

all children were pretty much left to the care of wet nurses... and ANA liszt (their grandmother),

neither marie nor franz were good parents... in fact, terrible is more like the term...

Offline Clare

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #28 on: February 04, 2004, 01:44:45 AM »
There was a wikkid piece everyone I knew used to play in primary school because we all loved it like crazy. It was called something like "Dance of the Gnomes" and it was by Miriam Hyde or another Australian female composer.
It sounds pretty impressive but it is from a Preliminary book. I will hunt around at my parents' house for it this weekend.

Offline pianomexicocity

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #29 on: February 04, 2004, 07:21:13 AM »
I think the russians have great very easy pieces, the most famous of course Kabalewsky but there are many more(Khachaturian has some that my students really lurve), they are well composed with pedagogic thought and are overall nice, I also love bartok's children's pieces becuase of how he uses folk music to help the childrens aproach to the piano.
chopin also has a posthumos waltz in a minor, it is very easy and I think a good piece to introduce Chopin to a student, it is beautiful too.

minsmusic

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #30 on: February 04, 2004, 12:29:07 PM »
Original easy pieces.  Try Martha Mier.  She publishes through Alfred and my kids l(students) love her work.  She has a number of early elementary pieces and I like her the best out of the Alfred composers because she does exactly what you're after - simple with lovely musicality.  Look her stuff up on the Alfred web for page samples of her work.  Musicsheetplus sell eveything she's published.  Sorry, they're comtemporary pieces not classical :o

What age group are you talking about anyway?  I'd teach something different to a small child than to a 50 year old.  

Why not write your own music?  I do.  I call them 'memory pieces' because I don't use written notes , just by 'rote' as you're saying.  Always both hands, always different octaves.  Kids love 'em - and what does a kid know about Chopin or Stravinsky anyway - they're excited just to hear their own fingers playing something musically coherent.

Offline lc3606

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #31 on: February 04, 2004, 10:25:34 PM »
Primer pieces - fun to play, not too difficult.  Don't know names right off the top of my head, but you will find many reliable pieces at FJH publishing, listed under Primer sheet music- including pre-notation pieces.  Also Philip Keveran early level pieces - he's with Hal Leonard - can't remember the publishing house.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #32 on: February 06, 2004, 01:00:27 AM »
Thank you to all for your suggestions.

Bet32:
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liszt had 3 children


Thanks for the information on Liszt’s children.

Clare:
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"Dance of the Gnomes"


This sounds interesting.

Pianomexicocity:
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I think the russians have great very easy pieces


True. But they are also a bit dull (not my opinion – student’s opinions).

Quote
chopin also has a posthumos waltz in a minor


Yes, this is a great piece, and I use it a lot but for more advanced students. Not something that I would give in the first lesson.

Minsmusic:
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Martha Mier

I have just checked Martha Mier’s stuff at the Alfred website. You are right, she is brilliant (and also very prolific!). This is exactly the sort of thing I am looking for. Thank you very much for pointing her out. The pieces I am looking for do not need to be classical, but I prefer originals. And anyway she writes in a variety of classical styles, so this is perfectly OK.

The age group I am interested is 3  - 65! (That’s the age range of my students). So anything is fine. (And of course you are right – different ages have different requirements)

Ic3606
Quote
Philip Keveran early level pieces


Thanks. I had a Look at Hal Leonard’s website, but they only had easy arrangements by Keveran of orchestral music (I am prejudiced against easy arrangements – I am looking for original pieces for piano – but thanks anyway).
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline surendipity

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #33 on: February 07, 2004, 07:38:46 AM »
One week, begginer student, knows zilch.

Well, I bet you can all hear it in your heads now.
And it's got great rhythm.

INDIAN DRUMS

many variations.  But I can hear it now.


Offline kerry

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #34 on: February 08, 2004, 10:54:22 AM »
Bernhard,  Where can I get the Jon George piece?
Thank goodness for music.  I love this forum.  Thanks for this.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #35 on: February 08, 2004, 08:01:18 PM »
Quote
Bernhard,  Where can I get the Jon George piece?
Thank goodness for music.  I love this forum.  Thanks for this.


Jon George & Mary Gae George wrote a whole series of books called “Artistry at the piano”. The method is divided in “Musicianship” (4 books), Repertoire (4 books), Workbook (4 books) and Ensemble (4 books) plus a volume on “introduction to music”. There are more 150 original pieces (written in various classical styles) in these books. You can also buy cassettes with all the pieces so you can listen to them.

“Reflets dans l’eau” is in “Repertoire”, Book 2 (in case you don’t want the whole package).

Usually I do not follow methods, but if I did, I would give this one serious consideration.

You can buy it at:

http://www.burtnco.com/

Best wishes,
Bernhard
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #36 on: February 08, 2004, 08:04:51 PM »
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One week, begginer student, knows zilch.

Well, I bet you can all hear it in your heads now.
And it's got great rhythm.

INDIAN DRUMS

many variations.  But I can hear it now.



More details? (composer, publisher, etc.) ???
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline allchopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #37 on: February 08, 2004, 11:09:44 PM »
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a composer that can write superlative music for beginners than with composers that can only produce virtuoso after virtuoso piece.
Interestingly enough, Chopin [has] nothing in this area.

Incorrect- Chopin's mazurkas are at a very low level of virtuosity.  They may even be on the lowest scales of difficulty (I don't know the rating system exactly).  Here are a few of the easiest, yet great, mazurkas:
C# minor (not sure which #)
Op. 30 #1 in C minor
Op. 24 #2 in C (a little harder, but my favorite- it's kind of spooky/mysterious)
Op. 63 #2
Ab major (#?)
Op. 33 #1 in G# minor

There are also a few easy preludes, which include:
#9 (my fav, it's beautiful and is a good study of chords), #6, #15 (a bit harder), #4 (another chord structure piece, but is harder)

Did you know that Chopin also wrote a fugue (A minor)?  You may want to find this piece, though I don't know much about it.
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Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #38 on: February 09, 2004, 12:48:55 AM »
Quote

Incorrect- Chopin's mazurkas are at a very low level of virtuosity.  They may even be on the lowest scales of difficulty (I don't know the rating system exactly).  Here are a few of the easiest, yet great, mazurkas:
C# minor (not sure which #)
Op. 30 #1 in C minor
Op. 24 #2 in C (a little harder, but my favorite- it's kind of spooky/mysterious)
Op. 63 #2
Ab major (#?)
Op. 33 #1 in G# minor

There are also a few easy preludes, which include:
#9 (my fav, it's beautiful and is a good study of chords), #6, #15 (a bit harder), #4 (another chord structure piece, but is harder)

Did you know that Chopin also wrote a fugue (A minor)?  You may want to find this piece, though I don't know much about it.


er ???

As I said more than once in this particular thread:

You get a 9-10 year old who knows nothing of piano, who is not particularly talented and who does not have a natural co-ordination - in other words - a completely normal kid. S/he is not very interested in music either, but has come to you for his/her first piano lesson. S/he is curious, but not overwhelmed by the prospect of learning the piano.

This is his/her first lesson, and I believe it is important that s/he goes out of the lesson knowing how to play a nice tune, something that will have to be taught by rote, but that will make him yearn for more.

Have you got the picture now? I have over the years selected a very small number of such pieces (they are in the first post). Most pieces that would serve this purpose are unbelievably dull (yes, I am talking Bartok Mikrokosms, book 1 - sorry Bartok fans. And you can include Kodaly there too. For all his cleverness he is dull, dull dull).

So are you telling me that in such a situation you would use your first half hour lesson to teach this 9-10 year old a Chopin Mazurka? that he would be really excited about Prelude no. 9?

I don't think so.

Just to give you an idea of what we are talking about, here are the ABRSM grades for each of the pieces you suggested (it should a student 2 years to do grade 1, 3 years for grade 2, 4 years for grade 3 and so on)

C# minor (These are the C# minor mazurkas: op. 6 no. 2 and op. 63 no 3 are grade 7; Op, 41 no. 4 is grade 8 and op. 30 no. 4 and op. 50 no. 3 are both above grade 8)
Op. 30 #1 in C minor – grade 6
Op. 24 #2 in C  - grade 6
Op. 63 #2 – grade 6
Ab major (These are the Ab major mazurkas: Op. 24 no. 3 is grade 6.  Op. 7 no. 4, op, 17 no. 3, op, 41 no. 3, op. 50 no. 2 are all grade 7. Op. 59 no. 2 is grade 8)
Op. 33 #1 in G# minor – great 6

Preludes
#9 – grade 6
#6 – grade 6
#15 – grade 7
#4 - grade 5

An orthodox, ABRSM teacher (which I am not), would consider assigning these pieces after 7 - 8 years of piano study.

By the way, here are the easiest Mazurkas (grade 5):

No. 9 in C major (op. 7 no. 5)
No. 48 in F major (op. posth. 68 no. 3)
No. 49 in F minor (op. posth. 68 no. 4)

And the easiest preludes (again grade 5)

No. 4 in E minor
No. 7 in A major
No. 20 in C minor (that one will really cheer total beginners  with its catchy tune and dancing rhythm! By the way I’m being sarcastic)

Apart from that you have (all grade 5)

Waltz no. 17 in A minor
Waltz no. 18 in Eb major
Cantabile in B flat major
Feuille d’album

So I stand by my assertion. Chopin did not write any easy piece. If they are not difficult technically they are difficult musically.

Yes, these pieces may be easy in the context of Chopin’s other pieces, or in the context of music in general, but they are not easy at all if your client is a total beginner.

Even though they may not be virtuosic, you need a student who is mature musically to tackle them. According to the ABRSM this would mean someone who had been studying the piano for some 5 – 6 years. Even I, who rarely go by the ABRSM book would not think of assigning Chopin before 2 years study.

Have a good look at the score of Martha Mier’s Busy fingers (suggested by Minsmusic somewhere in this thread). You can get it at the Alfred’s website. This is what I am looking for.

Nevertheless I am grateful for you taking time to suggest pieces that although inappropriate for a total beginner in his first lesson I may consider for an intermediate student.

Finally. Chopin’s fugue. Yes I know this work quite well. Have you ever listened to it? I doubt anyone would say it is by Chopin. Then again he loved Bach. It is not very difficult (grade 7) – although completely inappropriate for a beginner. It is a two –voice fugue with a six bar theme, stretto, partial entries and all that you have come to expect from a Bach’ fugue. It was composed in 1841 – 1842, and the score is published in the volume of minor works of the Paderevsky edition. Ashkenazy recorded it for Decca.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

minsmusic

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #39 on: February 09, 2004, 04:19:29 AM »
Bernhard,

Have you thought about my suggestion of writing your own pieces?  So far I've written about 15 or so, most of my students have played them (or sung them - I also teach singing) and have never asked "Who wrote this?"

Of course I'd tell them if they asked.  

I write then using the finale notepad.  But that's for my own records.  I teach them by rote.  Then I ask them to go home and "arrange it".  They have to work out where to play on the piano (what octave), and how many times they should repeat it, as well as loud and soft, quick or slow.  They really enjoy it.  (Yes, I'm talking about absolute beginners - 5, 6, 7 year olds at their first or second lesson.)  

For even younger students I make up songs using their fist on the black notes.  I make up words to go with it.  First I sing the song (with quite an elaborate accompaniment), then teach them the words and sing with them a couple of times so they know how the song goes, then we learn how to play it.  I write down visual reminders in their notebook and explain to the parent what I'd like them to do.   Every one has come back knowing the song, enjoying the playing and making up an arrangement.  And it's heaps of fun for me too.

But yeah, I'm no Martha Mier.  ;)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #40 on: February 09, 2004, 02:04:29 PM »
Quote
Bernhard,

Have you thought about my suggestion of writing your own pieces?  


Yes.

But I am afraid, that as a composer I am even more dull then Bartok or Kodaly  :'(

Unfortunately I am no Minsmusic! ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard


The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Greg_Fodrea

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #41 on: February 28, 2004, 11:48:39 PM »
Bernhard ~ I often use Czerny #11 as my student's first piece, and I often have them playing it within 2 weeks - even if they've never touched a piano before.  I emphasize hand position and finger numbers, and teach them the three (3) chords in the piece, then I send them off with encouragement and some practice tips.  I use Czerny all the time because, although they are exercises, they sound like songs, and if taken progressively, they build an incredible repertoire of skills.
Greg Fodrea ~ Piano Instructor
Accelerated Performance Institute
www.APIMusic.com

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #42 on: February 28, 2004, 11:54:37 PM »
Thanks.

Which opus?
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline allchopin

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #43 on: February 29, 2004, 05:11:12 AM »
Quote

that he would be really excited about Prelude no. 9?
I don't think so.

Why not?  Chopin first grabbed my attention I believe around 9 and 10 with one of his waltzes.  I was excited to play after that- why would a prelude or a mazurka be any different?  Kids will get excited over their own style of music- you can't just assume that a prelude would bore them- that's not fair.
Quote

So I stand by my assertion. Chopin did not write any easy piece. If they are not difficult technically they are difficult musically.

Yes, I was saying that the mazurkas are techincally do-able for a beginner - not necessarily musically.

About the fugue, yes I have heard it and it is so odd to hear that from Chopin.  I have to wonder why he wrote it (or more specifically, published it) - perhaps he just wanted to test the waters or just to experiment?  If this fugue is grade 7, what level are Bach's?

btw, if you know that a student is going to play musically lacking and probably monotonously as a beginner no matter the piece, why not start with a mazurka?  They may not nail all the crescendos or make each section come out like a soft breeze, but at least they will have classical experience under their belt and will get that variety (and to see if they will be further interested in that kind of music in the future)?
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Offline Greg_Fodrea

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #44 on: February 29, 2004, 05:20:04 AM »
Sorry, I guess I should have been more specific.  Opus 599 - Czerny's "First Tutor" is the collection I'm talking about.  It's a compilation of 100 progressive exercises for building the basic skills on the piano.

Unlike Hanon, however, Czerny's pieces are actually songs, and they're fairly fun to play.  I start at #11 with my students because, frankly, 1 - 10 are too boring for most.

I love what you're getting at with your question.  I, too, feel that it's important for students to be playing songs right out of the gate!  I've played with the Bastien method and other beginner books, but they're too simple (read: "boring").  Czerny allows my students to play chords and simple melodies, and as they progress, they gain sight reading, technique, expressiveness, and a heck of a repertoire.  Good luck in your search for the perfect beginner piece.  I'll be watching this thread with interest...
Greg Fodrea ~ Piano Instructor
Accelerated Performance Institute
www.APIMusic.com

Shagdac

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #45 on: February 29, 2004, 07:47:26 AM »
It's funny this should come up....I really had to take a trip down "memory lane" as it's so many years ago. But it's funny that even all these years later, I can still remember my fav's when I was very very young with practically no musical knowledge at all. Those would be...

Ode to Joy
Minuet in G
Chopsticks
Heart and Soul

I'm sure everyone has played these, and in fact I can remember teaching friends the "other" parts to Heart and Soul and Chopsticks just so we could play a duet.
Ode to Joy has extremely easy versions, which I have shown someone to play in less than an hour, and Minuet in G can also be learned as quickly. Both Minuet in G and Ode to Joy themes have been used in so many other types of music. I hear the melody of both so often, even if just part. I think these pieces are also recongnized by just about anyone, even if they do not have a musical background. I certainly would not vote for Chopsticks or Heart and Soul as a great piano piece, but Ode to Joy is fantastic I think.....anyone else?

Shag

Offline DuLudvig

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #46 on: March 03, 2004, 02:59:39 AM »
Have you ever seen the books by Lucile Burnhope Swenson? They are all original pieces. However the pieces are uneven some are great and some are really terrible(read BORING) so you have to pick and choose.

let's see titles of the books,
-Melody rhymes though all the Keys
-More Melody rhymes through all the Keys
-Melody Preludes through all the keys

Spatula

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #47 on: June 01, 2004, 04:49:46 AM »
I remember grade 8 stuff wasn't all that tricky, I could even do some of it while back in grade 6.  Now I'm doing grade 10  :P so its getting steeper.  

Btw Bernhard, what standard or institution do you mean by grade 8?  

By the grade scheme I'm refering to the Royal Conservatory of Music based in Toronto, Canada, and I don't know how prestigious this institution is compared to other music programs.  

Examples of grade 10 pieces are:
Beethoven Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement
Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
Rachmaninoff Prelude Op 23 No. 5, elegie

 :-/

so I don't know how this compares with other music institutions.

Offline amanfang

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #48 on: June 02, 2004, 12:14:08 AM »
Berens - 50 piano pieces for beginners Op70.  Some are harder than others.  They are etudes.

Alderighi - Signi Lieti

Hansi Alt also has some good elementary pieces

Alexander Tansman - Happy Time (bk 1), Pour les Enfants (set 1)

Kabelevsky - 24 pieces for children - Op 39

When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Easiest, yet great, piano piece ever written
«Reply #49 on: June 02, 2004, 01:39:59 AM »
Quote

Btw Bernhard, what standard or institution do you mean by grade 8?  




ABRSM

Grade 8 is the highest grade, and it probably compares with your grade 10.

Grade 8 ABRSM does not even begin to include the easier virtuoso repertory. All but two of the Chopin etudes are considered well beyond grade 8. :(

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)