This collection of Elementary-Early Intermediate Piano Solos is lots of fun! Composer Christine Donkin does an excellent job capturing the imagery her titles inspire. Here are my comments on each of the pieces:
Royal Fanfare – A piece composed entirely of parallel 5ths, once the fingering is solidified this piece should be easy for almost any student to learn. A combination of staccato and legato touches and forte and piano dynamic levels make a great study in contrasts. The piano parts are always played a 5th lower as an imitation of the theme, which creates a nice echo effect.
The Enchanted Palace – This delicate piece in a minor has a pretty little melody in the right hand with scattered bits of harmony in the left. A great piece to work on phrasing concepts!
A Secret Letter – Although written in e minor, this interesting piece employs A#s throughout. The staccato vs. legato touch between the hands alternates, requiring good attention to detail.
Heroes of the Galaxy – Open 5ths throughout this piece convey the valiant sound you would expect from the title. Triplets and some unexpected chords will require good keyboard facility.
Witches and Wizards – In spite of the title (I’m not a fan of witchery and such), this piece is one of my favorites in the book. Written in 6/8, it definitely has to be felt in 2s. Accents on the 1st and 4th beat of the continuous triplet figure moving between the hands will help the student achieve that. In the B section the left hand crosses over the right several times. This lively and engaging piece is one that I might even opt to teach a student by rote.
Soaring – A beautiful piece with lovely harmonies that give it a rich sound. It’s very patterned, making it accessible to most elementary students.
Song of the Pirates – If you have any students “chomping at the bit” to play Pirates of the Caribbean music who aren’t quite ready for the difficulty level yet, this could be a great alternative! A parallel melody between the hands at the opening gives it a bold start and then the hands take turns playing the melody while the opposite hand accompanies with an easy open 5th harmony.
Dream Journey – The ethereal quality of this piece captures the imagination and will help students get past the sometimes dissonant harmonies because of the overall effect they are creating. Plus, they’ll love the glissando at the end!
Clock Talk – One of the more rhythmically challenging pieces in the book, this piece will require a precise sense of pulse. The left hand staccatos followed by short legato phrases in the right hand will also present a challenge…but it’s worth it!
The Dragon’s Story – Student’s could have a blast elaborating on the story behind this musical picture. There’s lots of room for creativity and expression in order to make it really come alive!
Happy Ending – Just as you’d guess, this G Major piece has a cheery quality with a short melodic theme alternating between the hands. Both hands are written mostly in the treble clef and the eighth note rhythms are usually followed with a staccato quarter note that helps capture the mood.
Conclusion: A wonderful book that is destined to become a favorite in my studio!