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WB Popular Movie Hits Piano Library (w/MIDI and CD), Level Five.

WB Popular Movie Hits Piano Library (w/MIDI and CD), Level Five, arranged by Gail Lew, Eugenie Rocherolle and Tom Roed. Belwin-Mills Publishing Corp./Warner Bros. Publications (15800 N. W. 48th Ave, Miami, FL 33014), 2004. 45 pp., $13.95. Late intermediate.

In the attitude of fairness, I must confess, I was a teenager who liked to play popular music. I am a great fan of American standards. I play "cocktail" piano with some frequency; I include Gershwin and ragtime on programs of more "serious" piano music; and I have played more musical theater than I care to admit.

But in an equal measure of honesty, I must say I am not a teacher who likes to teach popular music. However, I do find myself on occasion teaching such music to unruly teenagers who seem unwilling to learn anything else. This collection is not for such a student.

It became increasingly clear to me as I played through this music with the orchestrated accompaniment track CD cranked loud on my stereo (and having, I must admit, an awfully good time) that I would never actually teach this music to any student. After all, students who can handle the advanced technique and complicated rhythms presented here should be practicing Beethoven sonatas and the like, not movie themes. However, for the highly motivated advanced student--the kind that practices religiously, plays for choirs at school and is thinking about majoring in music--playing as many different kinds of music as possible is important. After all, while I have never yet been hired to play the "Trout Quintet," I have been hired to play for plenty of choirs that sing Broadway show tunes. Being able to negotiate popular music, with all of its peculiarities of harmonies and rhythms, has proven to be a valuable skill. Sending such students home with a book like WB Popular Movie Hits and instructing them to read through this music with the accompaniment track, gives students experience sight reading this style and trains them to listen carefully to stay with the accompaniment track.

The book contains eleven songs from recent movies and comes with orchestrated accompaniment tracks on both a MIDI disk and a CD. The arrangements vary somewhat in difficulty, with the two trickiest being the ones from two Harry Potter movies. Those also are the least pop-like in style; perhaps that explains the difficult spots in reading through them. Some songs work for piano solo better than others. I was disappointed because my personal favorite song among the group, Because You Loved Me, I thought translated the least well as a piano solo. Others, like The Prayer, worked quite nicely.

Teachers, if your students can play this level of music, don't teach movie themes; assign Chopin or something similar. But if you want to help make them marketable in the world of music, send them home to read through collections like this. Reviewed by Amy Greer, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Author:Greer, Amy
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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