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High School Musical.

High School Musical, by the Walt Disney Music Company. Hal Leonard Corporation (7777 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213), 2005. 62 pp. $12.95.

The nine songs in Hal Leonard's High School Musical book (after the recent Disney movie) are written by several composers, and the songs are imaginative and appealing. However, it has also been frustrating for a couple of my students who bought the music since there is nothing "easy" about the Easy version. I will review the Big-Note version, which is easier than the Easy version.

The constant syncopation throughout every song places this music out of reach even for talented "Big-Note" beginning students. Some pieces such as "Bop to the Top" contain phrases in which almost every note is syncopated.

Harmonically, the songs are often naked and occasionally downright strange. In one section of "Start of Something New," I counted 11 "add 2" chords in a row, even though there were no 3s or 5s present anywhere to help support the added 2. Another example would be "Get'cha Head in the Game," which sounds like what might result if Michael Jackson were to attempt writing in the style of Bartok. While the original soundtrack sounds "cool," this Big-Note version contains dissonances that sound more like musical typos than carefully crafted tension.

Hand position changes are frequent, which isn't something I would expect a "Big-Note" beginner to do. There are some inappropriate technical demands, such as "Get'cha Head in the Game," which requires playing swinging eighth-note rhythms extremely rapidly. Finally, the lengths of many of the pieces (often eight to nine pages) make them totally out of reach for any beginner. My objections to this music have nothing to do with the very creative composers nor the resourceful arranger(s). Rather, the original music does not lend itself to anything remotely playable by a beginner. If your students do buy this music, just let them know that they should be ready for quite a challenge. Reviewed by Chad Twedt, NCTM, Reno, Nevada
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Author:Twedt, Chad
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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