One of the questions prospective parents often ask me is “what method books do you use?” My short answer is that I use a variety of books, not sticking to any one “method” in particular. Every student is different, and every method series has its strengths and weaknesses – some focus on technique, some on note-reading, some on theory, while others may focus on musical interpretation and encouraging creativity. There has never been a better time in history to be a private piano teacher, as there are so many wonderful resources and books written for students in mind by contemporary/living composers and music educators. Of course, everyone has their favorites, and some books are tried and true and will always stand the test of time. But I really do feel we owe it to our students to check out on a regular basis what’s new on the sheet music market, and add spices to their musical diet by introducing different styles and composers. This means spending time to research new books, money to update the teaching library, and energy to figure out what music suits which student, but it also means that come recital time, a big variety of musical styles would be presented, and more importantly, that the teacher is not stuck with outdated pedagogical ideas and stays current with the demands of being a 21st century educator.
Here are the newest additions to my teaching library:
1. Belwin Contest Winners
This is a collection of four books, from early elementary to late intermediate levels. The pieces are chosen from the libraries of Belwin-Mills and Summy-Birchard, and represent the most popular solos drawn from festival and contest lists. There are a total of 46 effective, quality solos from 19 composers, including my personal favorites such as William L. Gillock, Martha Mier, Robert D. Vandall, and Lynn Freeman Olson. A variety of styles can be found – rhythmic, poetic, jazzy, sonatinaish – there’s something to suit every developing young pianist. Even the simplest pieces sound attractive and fancy enough for recitals or school talent shows. I high recommend the set, especially if you are looking to supplement a method series and every piece in the performance/recital book has been played more times than you can remember! [···]