It’s that time of year when instrumental teachers start to say “Goodbye” to students who are moving on to pastures new. We may have been teaching these students for many years – longer than a decade in some cases – it’s a big deal saying goodbye and I know I am not alone as a teacher wanting to give a gift to these students to wish them well and mark our time together. This month’s picks showcase some of the books I have given over the years as gifts to these students. It’s a big thing doing A-Levels or getting coursework ready for BTEC examinations. Having a wonderful gift from a teacher who believes in you is something that I know is very much appreciated by students far and wide. I hope these suggestions, my music room top student gifts, are helpful to teachers racking their brains about what to buy!
HerStory – The Piano Collection – by Karen Marshall – Faber Music £14.99
This collection simply looks beautiful and isn’t just a music book, it’s also a story book! Packed with 30 pieces from 29 composers (including pieces by brand new talents Margarida Gonçalves and Emily Pedersen), stories of these remarkable women are also included. How did they live their lives? Quotes about them and in their own words, along with photographs and additional insights from the present day are also provided. Writing this book was a labour of love and I have already gifted this to several of my students for all kinds of occasions. The vast array of styles and periods really develops their playing when using it for quick studies, recital repertoire, or ensemble work (using the duet or chamber piece included that also has accompanying audio). The collection is progressive and suitable for around late-elementary to advanced level. Do have a look at the additional pedagogical activities and ideas contained there too!
Little Preludes and Fugues – by Johann Sebastian Bach – G. Henle £23.50
This book has been a real hit with several students. It is a wonderful hardback book with superb editing from G. Henle Verlag, J S Bach in all his splendour at a very affordable price. These pieces are utterly timeless and brilliant for maintaining technical skills, providing manageable repertoire for a student who has got to the advanced stages. Bach’s Little Preludes and Fugues are perfect for when you need something a little more accessible than the great 48. In the publisher’s own words: “This edition with over 50 pages contains the universally known selection of easy preludes and little fugues that has proved extremely successful in teaching the piano. Bach’s sons, with Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philip Emanuel leading the way, were already able to learn them.” Having a core repertoire collection as a final gift is like giving a student a copy of a classical book like Pride and Prejudice. It’s greatly appreciated!
Benny Andersson Piano – Wise Publications £21.99
This makes a perfect gift for a student who may enjoy something a little more contemporary where they can simply get lost in beautiful music. The ABBA songs in there are among some of the most beautiful piano arrangements I have ever encountered. However, this is not a book of ABBA covers. These are most certainly piano pieces in their own right. In accessible keys, rhythmically challenging at times, the treatment of the melodies is quite extraordinary. What’s included? Playing My Love, My Life and I Wonder (Departure), 6 pieces from the musical Chess including Chess, You and I, and Someone Else’s Story. The Swedish musical drama score, Kristina från Duvemåla is superb. Songs featured here include the haunting Aldrig, with its echoes of Romantic composition, and the sweet melody of I Gott Bevar. There are also Andersson’s solo compositions from the 1980’s such as Stockholm By Night, along with music from Benny Anderssons Orkester (Benny Andersson’s Orchestra). Other ABBA favourites are present, including: The Day Before You Came, Happy New Year and of course – Thank You for the Music! This book is well worth exploring.
Relax with French Impressionist Piano – edited by Samantha Ward – Schott Music £13.99
Students just love Satie, a composer who can be so accessible and moreish. This collection is jam-packed with Satie (Gymnopedies and Gnossienne all included along with others) along with some works by composers like Debussy. Included is the much-loved, accessible Little Shepherd (and more advanced pieces from his Children’s Corner and Preludes) as well as the incredibly popular Pavan by Gabriel Fauré. On cream paper, the book looks a cut above many impressionist collections. There are also other books in this series including Relax with Baroque Piano, Relax with Classical Piano, Relax with Romantic Piano and Relax with Folk Piano. Do take a look at them all, they are very lovely.
Non-Sheet Music Gifts
And don’t forget the perfect music bag – this leather one is beautiful.
Or perhaps a great metronome! They range from £15.99 to even £149.99 (perhaps a little much for a student gift) but do check them all out, you may want to treat yourself!
Other useful series or books perfect as gifts –
The Faber Anthology series – there’s lots on offer here, my favourite is Soundtracks. There’s something for everyone in this series from classical to jazz, contemporary to film.
Ballads Without Words – by Heather Hammond – EVC Publications. This is a bumper selection at an affordable price of £12.00 with a whopping 19 pieces. Do also look at any Ludovico Einaudi piano collection which offer pieces from around Grade 2 level up to early-advanced. These have also been purchased as gifts for my students in the past leaving at intermediate level or lower.
Check out Karen Marshall’s latest title on Musicroom:
The Intermediate Piano Sonata Collection – edited by Karen Marshall – Faber Music £12.99
The Intermediate Piano Sonata Collection gathers together 9 complete sonatas that range from intermediate to early advanced (Grades 4 to 6) in standard. Featuring works by Beethoven, Anna Bon, Haydn, Mozart and Schumann, it provides the highest quality music and many years of study. Each sonata is accompanied by background information, performance advice, analysis and musicianship activities. Students are also encouraged to use the Sonata road map to analyse each work in detail themselves. Piano sonatas are a fundamental part of the piano repertoire, but many students miss out on these masterpieces because they so rarely play a complete sonata – often only individual movements are available and subsequent movements can be too difficult. This collection aims to introduce the intermediate pianist to complete sonatas. Through it, players will gain a greater understanding of what they are playing, enhancing their interpretation and developing their musicianship.
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