Piano Solos, Book 3, revised edition, w/CD.
Piano Solos, Book 3, revised edition, w/CD, by Barbara Kreader, Fred Kern, Phillip Kevern and Mona Rejino. Hal Leonard Corporation (www. musicdispatch.com; (800) 637-2852), 2007. 31 pp. $7.95.
This delightful collection contains 15 piano solos that are well suited to late-elementary students. These solos coordinate carefully with the Piano Lessons book in the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library.
The volume is a valuable pedagogical resource. The pieces are largely C-based and use few accidentals. The key signatures never exceed one sharp or flat. Playing is made easier because the hand positions do not change often. The pieces are short, generally two pages or less and are in simple AA or ABA form. The notes are easy to read since the print is large, clear and uncluttered. The collection contains a broad variety of styles ranging from pseudo-classical to pop. There is also a smorgasbord of different melodic materials including modes, whole tone scales, blues scales, as well as major and minor scales. There is a nice range of unusual harmonic progressions, chord structures and pianistic techniques. Most important, however, is that the students enjoy playing these fun and ingenious pieces.
The included CD is outstanding; many of the tracks prominently feature percussion instruments such as the snare drum, bass drum, triangles and other instruments. This feature, along with other imaginative synthesized instruments, encourages students to play in time. Each selection is presented in two contrasting versions, the first being in a slow practice tempo and the second in a faster performance tempo.
There are additional special features that are worth mentioning. For example, students are encouraged to explore different ranges of the piano. The designations 8va and 15ma occur in several pieces and in both treble and bass clefs. "Fiesta March," features descending fifths and sixths in both hands. "Awesome Adventure" explores three-note clusters and the whole tone scale. "Baroque Boogie" introduces swing rhythms and the 12 bar blues. Finally, "I Remember" is a hauntingly beautiful piece based on descending scalar fifths that occurs in both the left and right hands.
A test of any new collection, of course, is how enjoyable it is to play. To find out, I gave it to my 9-year-old son Chris. He immediately fell in love with the collection and began practicing it on his own, an unusual event. He has since mastered several of the pieces and is very proud of his achievements. I was so impressed with my son's renewed enthusiasm that I purchased the rest of the volumes in the series for him!--Reviewed by Ernest Kramer, Northwest Missouri State University