2012 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Morning – Hal Leonard Showcase: Cutting Edge Releases for Your 21st Century Studio

Hal Leonard is definitely one of the savviest companies I’ve seen! They have showcase sessions at every available time slot and for every showcase you attend, you get your name entered in a drawing for a brand new iPad 3! The drawing will be held at this afternoon’s showcase.

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Jennifer Linn, a favorite Hal Leonard composer, opened this morning’s showcase with an overview of one of the free books in our packet: All-In-One Piano Lessons.

Next, she introduced Teresa Ledford who gave attendees an overview of the new Worship Piano Method co-authored by herself and Wendy Stevens (of the ComposeCreate blog). She said they designed this course to encourage a lifestyle of worship. Instead of just reserving worship for Sundays, we should include God in every part of our lives. They also wanted to help students develop skills that would prepare them to participate in today’s church music.

Ensemble playing is critical. The CDs with the method are invaluable for helping students learn to play with other people and instruments.

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Teresa played and sang several pieces along with the accompaniment CD. The books include original compositions, hymns, and kids’ Sunday School songs. There are also improvisation exercises for the student and teacher to play together or for the student to play with the CD. Book Two gets more into playing chords and reading chord symbols. The first lead sheet experience is with the hymn, O Worship the King with the student providing left hand harmony with root position chords. By the end of the book, the student is using both root position and first inversion chords. They are encouraged to experiment with rhythmic variations with their chords.

Other concepts include major and minor chords, eight notes, key signatures, transposition, and more. The whole goal in developing this method was to equip students to become versatile church musicians while becoming more grounded in their faith at the same time.

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Throughout the showcase, the presenters conducted drawings for the various materials that were introduced.

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Phillip Keveren began his series twelve years ago with the goal of creating supplementary solos that you could use with students of all ages. He now has over 88 books published!

He said that often the problem with writing arrangements of pop songs is an often slavish attachment to the original instead of what feels right to the pianist. When pop songs are written the first consideration is always the singer. When writing arrangements it’s important to be true to the original intent but to write the piece in a way that fits in the hand of the pianist and works best for them. The bottom line is…when you’re done do you want to hear the piece on the piano? That is his hope with his arrangements.


This arrangement of Abide With Me is from his new collection, Treasured Hymns for Classical Piano. He also played bits from his other latest releases.

Mr. Keveren concluded by stating, “Writing music for you and your students is one of the great joys of my life.”

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Jennifer Linn resumed the stage to give an overview of a series she has been working on for the past several years: Journey Through the Classics: 24 Essential Masterworks – a 4 book series. These are designed to be used prior to her individual composer collections.

She placed the pieces in order of difficulty rather than chronologically for ease of use in teaching. Each book has a simple, clean layout, and is comprised of a mixture of favorite and lesser-known pieces.

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A handy reference chart just before the Table of Contents includes the page number, piece title, composer, era, key, meter, challenging elements, and a placed to checkmark when it’s completed.

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Jennifer did extensive research on the pieces and often referenced the original manuscripts while compiling the books.

At the end of the showcase, Jennifer invited two guests to the stage. The first, Lynda Lybeck-Robinson has just published her first solo with Hal Leonard – Williwaw. She is from Alaska, and Jennifer encouraged attendees to check out her website. She literally has whales in her backyard!

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The second guest is a new Jazz artist, Jeremy Siskind. He played from his book, Jazz Etude Inspirations.

The pile of music to take home, play, and distribute to students is growing!

Share and enjoy!

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