Here's the perfect piece to introduce treble clef in the left hand and the stretch of an octave. The octave is approached gradually and systematically while the high notes in the left hand reflect the high pitches of a music box. In addition, I have simplified the look of the piece on the page by changing the meter from 3/8 to 3/4 thereby doing away with those nasty looking 16th notes!
As you play Three Moods think of the contrasts between the pieces. First is an easygoing 4/4 entitled "Carefree", then comes a slow piece in minor, and finally there is a piece with spirited scales in D major--I call it "Scaling the Heights." Three Moods is a great set for older beginners who can easily reach octave skips. All three pieces are from Daniel Gottlob Türk's "Kleine Handstücke," a set of 49 very short compositions, most a mere 8 measures long.
When you find your new June pieces you will also notice lots of new practice tools for every single piece on the page. There are new audio files, some with playback at a slow speed and some with right and left hand alone, and there are new Youtube videos of talented musicians playing the pieces you want to learn. All this new material will give you more valuable resources for your goal: learning to play the piano.
Music for May! "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in Level 3B
This song is wonderfully and deceptively complex. The melody is simple enough for a child who is anticipating the return of a parent, yet the words also mention the ladies who will turn out and men cheering from the crowd. The minor key reflects the danger of a soldier's job while simultaneously the song's words are joyous and exuberant: "Johnny is coming home!" How complicated we are in these intense situations; How well this song has captured a whole range of our emotions!
For April, think ahead: Learn "Pomp and Circumstance" in Level 4A
Congratulations to all graduates! Yes, it does seem early to be thinking about graduating, but I know how long it takes to decide what piece to play (or who should play it), to learn it, to memorize it, and to finally perform it. So here we are at least a month ahead--no excuses for passing it up.
A few comments about the piece itself: Sir Edward Elgar wrote a set of six "Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches", and what we normally call "Pomp and Circumstance" is the trio of the first March. The tradition of playing this piece during a graduation ceremony began at Yale, and has become so common, especially in high schools,that the idea of omitting it has become all but unthinkable.
More Music for April: "Hickory Dickory Dock" in Level 1B
I'm using this fun kid's song to help you learn (or teach) a shift in the right hand five-finger position from thumb on C to thumb on D. It's a great introduction to getting the right thumb off of C. It involves only a short stepwise phrase, and you can have all the time in the world to shift your hand--I have provided two (count them, 2) fermatas immediately beforehand.
The block chords in this month's pieces are basic to almost every accompaniment a pianist plays, and practicing them early is a great way to build up to more complicated patterns--"chord figurations" as composers call them. Challenge yourself to play the pieces smoothly, with no pauses as you prepare to change chords. Both "Lazy Mary" and "A-Tisket A-Tasket" have versions in the keys of C, D, F and G.
"Lazy Mary" in Level 2A will help you get familiar with I and V7 chords in the left hand. It is a popular American folk song (and has nothing to do with the Italian song by the same name as sung by Lou Monte).
"A-Tisket, A-Tasket" also in Level 2A will give you practice with the same chords in the right hand. Though basically a children's song, it was popularized by the great jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald--proof that a great performance depends as much on interpretation as on the sophistication of the piece.
My mother taught me these songs, as she did a few others on these pages, and I have fond memories of singing about the mountains around Turin which our family so loved. Bardonecchia, Melezet, Aosta... these towns showed us a calmer and more peaceful life than that of the big bustling city.
"Sul cappello" or "A Feather in our Hat" in Level 2A was first sung during World War I by the "Alpini", a tough military regiment which specialized in the rugged and forbidding terrain of the Alps. The feather in their hat was a source of pride and, as the song states, served as their flag. See the videos.
"Quel mazzolin di fiori" or "That Little Mountain Bouquet" in Intermediate Level 1 is a popular mountain song with a quick and cheery tune. "Watch out that my bouquet doesn't get wet," the narrator sings. "I want to give it as a present for my husband this evening." There is no hint in the first verses that the husband probably won't be coming home because he will be visiting Rosina. Don't worry. As an Intermediate piece I did not feel compelled to include these initially bright, but ultimately disappointing, words. See the videos.
Whether you have never played before or you have played for a good year or two, you will find a version of this old mountain song at your ability level. You no longer have to say, "I sure wish I could play that tune, but it's too easy [or hard] for me." Arrangememts of folk music are not written in stone. Part of their beauty is that arrangements can be written appropriate to any skill, any instrument or even any genre. Maybe in the months to come I will arrange some harder versions--Maybe I'll even arrange a jazz or classical version! "Horrors!" would say my purest folk musician friends. "Would he dare??" Well stick around. I just might!
For December 2013! The Indonesian National Anthem, "Indonesia Raya"
in in Level 3C
A predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia's tolerance towards its many ethnic minorities has been a model for the rest of the world. From Widipedia: "Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands... Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country." Indonesia has much to be proud of!
Also see my arrangement of the Indonesian children's song, "Bangun Tidur/When I Wake" in Level 2.
Kids have loved this song for so many years that I am surprised I did not think to include it earlier. Like the kids I knew, I also loved the energy and excitement this song seemed to generate. It came as a complete surprise to me, though, that "A Ram Sam Sam" was from Morocco. While researching it I came across some beautiful Moroccan designs, and I decided to include one of my favorites as an illustration (see the graphic on the right).
Don't forget that this song is a round! Play the first and second lines simutaneously as a duet. It's great fun!
For October: Write your own lyrics for a Level 3 tune in Gilbert's Great Lyrics Contest!
Your words to a new song can win you a prize in Gilbert's Great Lyrics Contest. Not only is there a monetary award, but the winner will also get to see his or her work go on line to share with thousands of people visiting this site. Deadline for entries is November 15 and a decision will be announced by the New Year. See the contest rules on page 2 of a piece which is temporarily called "[Your Title Here]."
September's Music: "Touchdown Confirmed!" by Gil DeBenedetti in Level 2
--These words told the world: Curiosity has landed on Mars!
Are your boys fascinated by space exploration? Do they follow the launchings and landings of space probes as they are broadcast on TV? If so, my new piece, "Touchdown Confirmed!" is perfect for them, depicting the recent landing of the rover Curiosity on Martian soil. This piece combines the precision of technology in the opening perfectly timed staccato notes with the celebration of a job well done in the final fortissimo chord.
More For September: "In an English Country Garden" also in Level 2
Do your girls like flowers? Do they blush and giggle and smile when someone gives them a bouquet? If so they will love "In an English Country Garden". This tune depicts a garden so filled with flowers that their names can barely be contained by the melody. Listen to how they seem to overflow in this rendition by Jimmie Rodgers.
For August: Three different songs with the same music in Level 3/
Trois chansons avec la même musique au Niveau 3
1. The Bear Went Over the Mountain has as its melodic origin first the French song, "Malbrough s'en va-t-en Guerre" (see below) and then more recently the English tune "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" (see further below). The origin of the words, however are not so clear. Since there have not been any bears on the British Ilses for centuries, one might assume that the words originated in North America. However Wikipedia says that the words may be of Germanic origin.
Merci, Mama Lisa et Monique Palomares pour l'illustration
2. Malbrough s'en va-t-en guerre est une chanson française dont les paroles datent du xviiie siècle. L'air est probablement plus ancien encore. Il aurait, d'après Chateaubriand, été emprunté aux Arabes durant les croisades. La mélodie a été adaptée par les Britanniques sous le titre "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." Ce chant aurait été le premier chant européen transmis aux aborigènes d'Australie d'après le folkloriste australien John Meredith.
Son protagoniste est John Churchill, le premier duc de Marlborough. Contrairement à ce que laissent supposer les paroles de la chanson, chantée par les Français pour railler un ennemi, Churchill ne fut que blessé lors de la bataille de Malplaquet à laquelle il est ici fait référence. Connue à partir de 1781, ce chant était une comptine destinée au premier dauphin de Louis XVI par sa nourrice. Sa reprise par Marie-Antoinette au clavecin la popularisa. --pris de Wikipédia
3. For He's a Jolly Good Fellow is a popular song in English speaking countries sung in celebration of an important event such as a promotion or a birthday. The tune is taken from the French, "Malbrough s'en va-t-en guerre" (see above), with English words originating in the 19th century. Interestingly, the phrase "And so say all of us"--as usually sung in England--is usually replaced "across the pond" by the words "Which nobody can deny."
July Music: "Scarborough Fair" arranged by Paul Potyen in Level 4
In this traditional English ballad a young man asks the listener to tell his former lover to perform a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well. Only if she completes these tasks will he take her back. A version this ballad was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, and was released as a single after being featured on the soundtrack to The Graduate in 1968. --from Wikipedia
More July Music: A new version of "Do, do, l'enfant dor" in Level 1
Here is a Level One version of the French lullaby which I posted in First Pieces in April. Aside from the transposition to G--I like the higher keys for children's songs--I also added English words. This is a great introduction to G position, a short piece in which all fingers stay on the assigned key.
June's Music: La Pastora (A l'umbréta del bùssun) / The shepherdess
from Piedmont, Italy in Level 3
A shepherdess lies sick with fever in the shade of a hedge as three French gentlemen happen by. "May I offer you my coat?" one asks, "We can make a blanket from it and your fever will subside." "Please, kind sirs," the shepherdess replies, "just leave me with my shepherd. When he plays his violin he will give me the strength to dance once again."
This song, from my mother's native Piedmont, Italy, is sometimes called "The Faithful Shepherdess" and tells of a young woman, secure enough in her own life, to fend off the advances of strangers. And yes in the end, out jumps the shepherd playing his music to which the young shepherdess dances.
More June Music: Land of the Silver Birch (Terre du bouleau blanc),
arranged by Jessica Wise in Level 2
Jessica tells us that "Land of the Silver Birch" is a folk song that many Canadian children sing for the first time around the campfire, or while canoeing. The dominant theme is finding one's place in nature (building a wigwam, honouring the beaver, the moose and the eagle) and it continues to bring Canadians from many cultural traditions together.
This piece was requested by Ginette on the the facebook group. Merci, Ginette--bonne idée! To the left you can see the tremendously talented (if eccentric) Canadian pianist Glenn Gould pouring his heart into it. This quiet Largo is the middle movement of a harpsichord concerto in F minor. In contrast, the outside movements are lively, intense and--due to the minor key--quite serious. In this context, the Largo provides a beautiful opportunity for peace and reflection. Enjoy the peace, enjoy the reflection as you learn this beautiful melody.
Thanks, Tina Faigen, for your help with this arrangement
More music for May: A new original piece, "The Gondola Ride" in Level 2
"The Gondola Ride" is a great recital piece! With all the lush chords, it sounds so much harder than it really is to play. Simply keep your thumbs on keys next-door to each other, remember the B-flat and you can't go wrong. The mood is very much like
"Reflections of Hawaii" in Level 4A except, where the water seems to shimmer in the sunset of "Reflections," the watery image in "The Gondola Ride" is more like rocking back and forth with the waves.
April Music: "The More We Get Together" in Level 2B
Popularized by Raffi--everybody's favorite singer of children's songs-- "The More We Get Together" has an old and catchy melody originally called, "Have You Ever Seen a Lassie." This tune in turn was probably first sung by Scottish immigrants in the United States and often accompanied by a circle singing game.
Today this is a popular song for instilling feelings of fun and togetherness in all sorts of groups.
Je vous donne "Do, Do, l'Enfant Do" ce mois pour nos amis du monde francophone. Depuis plusieurs années je me rends conte que les francophones visitent ces pages fidélement. En 2011 par example, presque 38,000 Parisiens ont visité ce site. La même année il y avait 21,000 visiteurs de Sydney et 19,000 de Londres. La ville de New York a contribué seulement 17,500 visites.
J'ai arrangé cette petite berceuse très simplement pour que les débutants puissent la jouer facilement. Merci à la France et au Canada francophone pour toutes les visites!
"The Water is Wide" (also called "O Waly, Waly") is a folk song of Scottish or English origin that has been sung since the 1600s and has remained popular all the way through to the 21st century. Wikipedia adds, "The inherent challenges of love are made apparent in the narrator's imagery: 'Love is handsome, love is kind' during the novel honeymoon phase of any relationship. However, as time progresses (and after the verses published here), "love grows old, and waxes cold". Even true love, the narrator admits, can 'fade away like morning dew'"
Thank you, Paul Potyen for this version of "The Water Is Wide"
More March Music: "Dayeinu" for the Passover Seder, in Primer Level
The first night of Passover this year is April 5. Have your students and your sons and daughters prepare for the big event by practicing this new version of "Dayeinu." Four verses are provided in an English translation.
A great time to show off piano skills in front of friends and family!
Music for February: "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin in Level 3C
Scott Joplin wrote this piece in Sedalia, Missouri soon after having performed at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The piece is probably named after the Maple Leaf Club, a bar frequented by many ragtime musicians. Already a talented composer and pianist, Joplin took advantage of music classes at a college in Sedalia to hone his skills. After submitting "Maple Leaf Rag" for publication the piece was an immediate success and has remained a favorite among pianists--and other ragtime musicians--ever since.
This piece has been included at the request of Penelope and her grandson. Thanks for the suggestion!
Valentines Day Music: "(Melody Keeps) My Love on My Mind" in Level 4 by Gilbert DeBenedetti
For this Valentine's Day I wanted to write a song that was fun to play, had a popular sound and was clearly directed to a specific person. So the first word in this song is a two syllable blank where the performer can insert the name of any person whom he or she would like to honor with a special performance.
When I saw the words to "I Love a Lassie" I thought it would be the perfect song for Valentine's Day. Like "My Love on My Mind," it conveys the simple message, "I love you." Evidently I wasn't alone. Listen to this surprise proposal of marriage
at The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society in Detroit.
Sir Harry Lauder--described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador"--composed and performed this song back around 1905.
Music for January 2012 : "The Rooster Crows" in Level 1A, and
"Reflections of Hawaii" in Level 4, both by Gilbert DeBenedetti
Get two brand new compositions of mine! You can purchase these pieces for US $1.95--now the same price as most of my other original pieces. Be aware that THE VAST MAJORITY OF MUSIC --all my arrangements of familiar songs--REMAINS FREE. Also be aware that by paying for my few original compositions, you support me as I create new material for you. For original music by Gilbert DeBenedetti, click the blue dots in the first column by those pieces. That will take you to PayPal where you can securely make your payments. I will then send you the sheet music as attachments to an email. Go to my bio page for a list of my compositions.
"The Rooster Crows" is the first of my new compositions. It is a great recital piece for beginning pianists at Level One. A little longer than most Level One pieces in method books, it conveys the
freshness and anticipation of the dawning of a new day.
In "Reflections of Hawaii" the left hand plays notes which
are placed symmetrically around (reflected by) the right hand's G'a and A's. The relationship
between the hands represents the reflection of a Hawaiian sunset in the ocean, while the repeated G's and A's in the middle section makes the image seem to shimmer in the water.
More Music for January 2012: The Indonesian song,
"Bangun Tidur/When I Wake" in Level 2A
I became intrigued with Indonesia when I discovered it has the fourth largest population of all the countries in the world. What makes this even more interesting is that the population is spread across many islands (see map), while still maintaining a strong sense of identity. Originally I found this song at Mama Lisa's site, but there are also many performances on YouTube.
With a simple catchy melody, you are sure to love teaching and playing "Bangun Tidur"!