Welcome to the MaxMusic Piano eSheet Club! It’s a monthly surprise package designed specifically to bring more joy to you and your students!
“Thank you so much for sharing your creative experience, I admire it.” ~ Jelena, Italy
2023 eSheets by Level
Click on the titles below to access teaching resources:
- The listing by Level makes it easy to choose the best pieces for your students.
- Quick Links to the eSheet Downloads.
- Watch YouTube videos for examples of the music.
- Get helpful teaching hints.
Early Elementary Primer
Elementary Prep B
Late Elementary Level 2
The Babe in the Cradle goes Rock, Rock, Rock
Intermediate Level 4
Early Advanced Level 7
June 2023 – Spinning a Web
Levels: US, Early Elementary. AMEB, Level 0. ABRSM, 0. RCM, Level 0.
- This delicate rote pattern piece allows the beginner to play a beautiful ‘impressionist’ concert piece in the first months of piano lessons.
- This piece features a delicate weaving of sounds, which paint a sound picture of a transparent spider’s web glistening in the light.
- The four-note pattern is played on pairs of white keys (between sets of black keys), copying the teacher’s example and doesn’t require reading. This can be played by pre-readers, pre-schoolers, beginners of average age who want to play across the piano, beginners who like making beautiful sounds in a range they’re not ready to read yet, and beginners who require simple patterns with which to polish good technique.
- The student’s part consists of twelve measures which are played three times, one octave higher on the piano with each repetition. The four repeated B keys join the sections together, with the RH ready to play the first two B’s and the LH playing the second two, which prepares the next playing position.
- Beginners sometimes find the 3/4 time signature to be a challenge. But in this piece it is introduced in an intuitive way, using language and rote learning to instil a feel for the ‘spinning’ feel of triple metre. You are encouraged to sing the words, “Spinning a web,” as these words help the music to flow to three beats.
- The piece is designed to allow the student to play non legato. This is the best start to playing the piano, encouraging each finger to feel connected to the hand, wrist and arm, which in turn, encourages tension-free playing. The dotted-half notes offer a chance to develop a floating wrist.
- The changing harmonies in the teacher part offer a rich soundscape and encourage sensitive, expressive playing, imaginative playing and playing from the heart.
- Levels: US, Early Elementary. AMEB, —. ABRSM —. RCM, —.
May 2023 – Chasing Butterfiles
Levels: US, Late Elementary. AMEB, Level 1. ABRSM, 1. RCM, Level 2.
- Chasing Butterflies is an imaginative pattern piece for Late Elementary piano. It features hand-over-hand movement across the keyboard, pedal work and dreamy, jazzy harmonies. The patterns that ‘chase’ are in octaves, and in the B section the LH chases (imitates) the RH.
- Chasing Butterflies presents a dreamy chase across the piano.
- In this piece I wanted to capture the beauty of fluttering butterfly wings. In PEI there is a butterfly house in the Garden of Hope and on our family vacations there we’ve enjoyed spending time with butterflies from Costa Rica. The deeper meaning I wanted to write into the piece is chasing the thrilling feeling of doing something exciting. Sometimes in life we can get caught up in chasing the feeling of butterflies.
- The tempo is moderate yet the opening eighth notes wing up the piano. At first you’ll want to learn this at a slower tempo so that you give yourself time to learn the distances of the hand moves as they play up the piano.
- If you watch butterflies carefully, you’ll see that they don’t ascend in a straight upwards path but rise a little, fall a little, rise and fall. The opening phrases paint this in the the music with patterns between the hands that seem to flutter on delicate wings.
- Think of the four-measure phrase as one long flight path, rather than beginning anew with each octave move. This will help you to play the hand-over-hand passages in long phrases without accents.
- To have even more fun with the title, in the middle section the LH chases the right and creates moments of contrary motion and parallel imitation.
- Aim to keep the dynamics in the softer range throughout, swelling to the mf and f dynamics with a ‘warming’ effect of the sound, rather than forcing it. Think of the sun gradually emerging from behind a cloud.
- Pedal indications allow for lots of blurring of the sounds. The main goal of the pedal is to help the low and mid tones of each pattern to continue ringing. The resulting sound gives the piece a light jazzy feel.
April 2023 – Zigzag Rag
Levels: US, Intermediate. AMEB, . ABRSM, . RCM, Prep B.
- Zigzag Rag is an introductory ragtime piece for Elementary piano.
- Like more advanced ragtime pieces, it features syncopations and a steady open chord bass (broken fifths). But why should more advanced players have all the fun? Zigzag Rag is specially designed to make ragtime accessible to the Elementary piano student!
- The title comes from the zigzag playing pattern between the RH and LH that challenges right-left coordination. When you get it, it’s such a reward!
- I was inspired by two composers: Florence Price (Criss Cross) And Dennis Alexander (Prickly Pear Rag). Each of those pieces is Prep A, but I felt when I put both inspirations together that my new piece became a little more challenging. That’s why I’ve bumped it up to Prep B. It may even be fun for a young conservatory Level 1 student.
- Here are some hints for success:
- Even though technically the right hand could play the left hand repeated notes, as a composer I decided to divide the work between the hands. When the repeated notes are played by the LH, this helps you shape the sound.
- Both hands are in the same range on the piano and cover the same keys.
- Play with the LH wrist higher and forward on the keys (further in).
- Play with the RH wrist lower and slightly closer to the edges of the keys.
- Not only does this help the hands play the same keys without bumping into one another, it will help the playing sound musical.
- Play the LH repeated notes slightly softer. In music, repeated notes usually aren’t the most interesting ones. They’re usually there to create harmony and rhythm. Therefore you don’t want them to stand out, you want them to stay in the background. By playing with your LH wrist higher, you are automatically making it a little easier to keep the LH notes softer. A higher wrist feels “up” and this lightness keeps the sound a little softer.
- Let the zigzagging RH play a little deeper into the keys. Because the RH is tucked under the LH, this wrist is a little lower and it will be a little easier to play deeper into these keys. Playing deeper into the keys will help draw more sound out of the piano.
- The difference in the hand angles and sound will truly make this piece shine, just like more advanced ragtime!
- It’s challenging and fun!
March 2023 – Farewell
Levels: US, Intermediate. AMEB, Level 3. ABRSM, 3. RCM, Level 4.
- When I was a young piano teacher, many of my students wanted to play melodies like “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic or “In Dreams” from The Lord of the Rings. What I loved about these pieces was that they were beautiful enough to be played by upper piano levels, yet simple enough to also be played by beginners. With Farewell, I wanted to compose a tune that would be just as appealing, and that could be played by all levels. It was my original plan to create different versions for various levels. Twelve years later, here’s a new version!
- Farewell is a song for the piano. Not every piano piece is a “song.” Here I’m using the word very specifically—when we play Farewell, we want the piano to sing. To help the piano sing, we work a little musical magic.
- First, the left hand part should be softer. It plays a supporting role as it accompanies the RH song. With its broken chords, the LH is similar to a Classical Alberti bass. Every LH Alberti bass has a lot of thumb, and every pianist must work hard to help the thumb play its part of the pattern softly. For this reason, I suggest learning the LH separately. Once your LH is playing softly, it will be easier to make the RH melody sound like it is singing.
- Second, play the RH melody with a clear and rich sound, shaping the phrases and shading the music with the dynamics. To help the RH sing, play it with slightly more weight than the LH. With balance between your hands, softer LH and richer RH, your piano will sing.
- Pedal carefully. Page one offers suggested pedal changes to maintain a good balance between blending and clearing of sounds. In the last two measures (35 and 36), if your piano has a middle pedal (the sostenuto), press both it and the damper pedal at the beginning of measure 35. Continue to hold the sostenuto pedal to the end (this holds the low F-C fifth) and change the damper pedal with each of the new LH notes (this clears only the upper notes).
February 2023 – The Babe in the Cradle goes Rock, Rock, Rock
Levels: US, Late Elementary. AMEB, Level 1. ABRSM, 1. RCM, Level 2.
- Knock their socks off with this 12 Bar Blues in jazzy rock style, inspired by the Batman theme and the Pink Panther theme.
- In the Level 2 original version, the suggested fingering for the RH repeated notes is 2-3-4-5. At first your students may balk at this, but once they try it they’ll get hooked. It’s infinitely more musical (and actually easier) to play repeated piano keys with different fingers.
- Why does it sound more musical to play repeated keys with different fingers? Because you can shape the sound! Playing the same key with the same finger over and over can be tricky to control and can come out sounding a little harsh.
- The dynamics are carefully chosen. The RH tune stands for the words of the traditional “Babe in the cradle” rhyme and sounds like a solo blues/rock singer. Bring this out with a singing forte.
- The LH fifth-sixth pattern stands for the backup band. Because these lower piano strings are naturally longer and thicker they produce more sound by default, so there’s no need to play too heavily. That’s why I’ve chosen the mezzo-forte dynamic. That’s all it needs!
- The black-white key patterns are highly memorable and very fun! This is the music that happens when I play around on the piano keys just enjoying repeating patterns.
- These LH black-to-white-key slurred notes are inspired by guitar slides (when fretted strings are played by sliding the fingers without taking pressure off). To get this effect on the piano, keep pressing fingers and slide from black keys to white.
- I’ve included a simplified version just in case you have a student who would benefit from it.
January 2023 – First Blush
Levels: US, Early Advanced. AMEB, 6. ABRSM, 6. RCM, 7.
- First Blush is a very special piece. The music and the title came to me separately, and then one day I realized that they belonged together.
- First Blush (as a phrase) can mean many different things. “At first blush” can mean “when first seen” or refer to love when it’s new, so it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. “First blush of spring,” can make it an uplifting piece to play while looking forward to warmer days.
- Students who love The Princess Bride or Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 in e minor, Op. 28, will love this piece. It’s something of a cross between a Baroque aria and popular music.
- It’s levelled as RCM Level 7 for two reasons: 1) the length of the piece (time-wise) is appropriate for a Level 7 exam, and 2) there are several broken four-note chords, which are introduced in Level 7 technical work. However, if you have an adventurous Level 6 student whose hands have reached a good size, they may be able to meet the challenges.
- Like Chopin’s prelude, most of it isn’t technically very difficult. The challenge is in keeping the repeated left hand chords tender and nuanced so they don’t sound overly heavy, and allowing the melody to shine above. When playing chords in a steady quarter note rhythm, play them not up and down one chord at a time, but imagine them all flowing towards a destination. I suspect it might take some personal maturity to play the piece to its full effect. But with the right student, this may just help them get in touch with deeper feelings and ways of expressing themselves through music.
- The suggested left hand fingerings will help the hand play close to the keys. However, if standard triad (blocked chord) fingerings are more appropriate for your student, please feel free to swap them out.
- Pedal by ear. This may mean changing the pedal on the first beat of each measure or in some places, every second measure.
- The accents in the right hand melody simply highlight dissonance so it sparkles and shouldn’t make the notes heavy.
- The rest in measure 36 is part of the phrase, like you’ve started to say something, then forgotten a word, then keep speaking once you remember it. In other words, play the next note like it’s part of a phrase already begun.
- First Blush stirs up feelings of innocence, vulnerability, sweetness and all things tender and lovely. I’d love it if teachers also played it, and I feel it would be an excellent piece for weddings—perhaps even as a march (it is in 2/4 after all).
There’s nothing better than engaging your students with music they love to play, at the MaxMusic Club price!
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