Monday, January 23, 2017
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Beginner Solos

1st and 2nd year students; limited difficulty and range

Barbara Allen

composer: Traditional, arr. Don Sweete
title: Barbara Allen
publisher: Eighth Note Publications
level: High School
range: g#’”

This setting of the moving old folk song is arranged so as to present definite challenges to the player, while still being very available. The key, B minor to D major (concert), is perhaps the biggest obstacle, though the very slow tempo and meter changes also give students some rhythmic issues to sink their teeth into, as well.

The piano part is very approachable to a young player, so here is one more gem from Eighth Note Publications that provides an opportunity for students to work together as a team. Thumbs up!

(With Jacob Sampson, University of Tennessee class of '11)


Marcia Maestoso

composer: von Weber, Carl Maria (arr. by Willard and Gloria Musser)
title: Marcia Maestoso
publisher: Kendor
level: Junior High
range: g"
description: This little march features a catchy tune which repeats several times and a contrasting section in the minor key. The rhythms include dotted 8th notes and triplets, but they should not be a problem for many junior high players. The main difficulty is the range of the piece. While a lot of the melody is in the range from c’’ to g’’, the dynamics are mf to ff throughout the piece and must be played agressively anyway, which should help. (1:15)


composer: Bizet, Georges (arr. by Roland Brom)
title: Habanera
publisher: Kendor
level: Junior High
range: f#’’
description: This is an arrangement of a famous melody from the Bizet opera, Carmen. Because is is such a familiar melody, it should be easily accessible to most 2nd and 3rd year players. To play it in the proper style will require some coaching, but it gives the student the opportunity to be expressive and to explore an “exotic” style. The main difficulty is the somewhat complex rhythm found in a few spots; overall, the piece should be well received. (1:20)

Bourree in the Style of Handel

composer: Smith, Leonard B.
title: Bourree in the Style of Handel
publisher: Belwin
level: Beginner
range: f #’’
description: This is a popular Baroque-style piece designed for the 2nd year student. The technically difficult spots are all scale-based patterns. The most difficult aspects of the piece are its key-signature (A major) and its lack of rest. The melody is “catchy” and there is much interest added by the dynamic contrasts.


composer: Saint-Saens, Camille (1835-1921), arr. by Paul Smim
title: Romance
publisher: Edition Musicus
level: Beginner / Junior High
range: d’’ (optional g’’)
description: I always like younger students to get to play “real” music by “real” composers whereas so much that is played by the 1st and 2nd year player sounds so silly and boring. Here is the chance for young players to perform beautiful music by a Romantic Era composer, Saint-Saens. As one might imagine from the title, it is a lovely, lyrical melody which moves fairly slowly. It is not technically very difficult, nor is range a problem since e’’ to g’’ are optionally played an octave lower. Endurance seems to be the most difficult aspect. The best of the 1st year players and most 2nd year players can perform this piece well.

Ballad in Blue

composer: Rosenhaus, Steven L.
title: Ballad in Blue
publisher: Bourne
level: Beginner
range: g’’
description: As the title indicates, this is a melodic solo with a “blues” sound. (It is also available for band accompaniment.) It is not technically difficult, but the range does venture up to g’’ twice, though it does not stay there long. It is a delightful and different piece.

Twilight Nocturne

composer: Niehaus, Lennie
title: Twilight Nocturne
publisher: Kendor
level: Beginner
range: c’’
description: The Nocturne is a simple, attractive piece in a lyrical style with a slightly “jazzy” or “new age” sound. The rhythms are simple and the melodic material repeats, making it easily accessible for the good 1st year player. (2:50)


composer: Niehaus, Lennie
title: Turnabout
publisher: Kendor
level: Beginner
range: c’’
description: Turnabout is a very attractive, simple piece of about 3 minutes. There are several spots for the player to briefly rest, no rhythm faster than 8th notes, and the range is manageable in the first year.


composer: Niehaus, Lennie
title: Timepiece
publisher: Kendor
level: Beginner/Junior High
range: c’’
description: This piece consists of three march-like sections in a rondo form (ABACA). The range is well within the beginner’s ability, but some may not handle the 8th note technical requirements until their 2nd year. The young player will find it attractive, and since its form is repetitive, the player will have less material to learn.

Lynn Meadows Waltz

composer: Niehaus, Lennie
title: Lynn Meadows Waltz
publisher: Kendor
level: Beginner
range: c’’
description: This simple waltz is well-suited for most beginners. The range is limited, the rhythms are simple, the finger technique is accessible, and the melody/harmony is attractive and a little 'jazzy.' It is fairly long (5:45), but the instructor could suggest eliminating repeats.

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