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Piano books, lesson books

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Piano books, lesson books and sheet music

Johann Friedrich Burgmuller: Etuden op. 105 and op. 109 added

Johann Friedrich Burgmuller (1806-1874) was a German pianist and composer. Burgmüller was born in Regensburg (Germany) as the son of the conductor August Burgmüller and Therese von Zandt. In 1836, Burgmüller settled in France (Paris) where he would stay for the rest of his life.

Today, Burgmüller is mainly known for his piano works. His 25 leicht Etüden (Op.100), which includes the famous Arabesque and the Ballade in c minor, is very popular among piano students and piano teachers. Furthermore, his 18 Etuden op. 109 are also often played by pianists.

The following works have been added:

The Piano Book Guide can also be used on a tablet or smartphone. It’s now possible to simply add a quick link to the start screen of your tablet or smartphone. This then works as an App.

Via the the quick link you will have fast access to the Piano Book Guide. Whenever you to tap the icon, it will immediately open. The website refreshes automatically, so you will always have the latest information. This is extremely useful whenever you prefer to use a mobile version of the Piano Book Guide.

How do you place the Piano Book Guide on the start screen of your tablet or smartphone?

  • Open the Piano Book Guide in your browser.
  • Look for the option ‘Add to Home Screen’, ‘Add to your Start Screen’, Place on Home Screen’, or other wording variations (this option can have different names, depending on the browser or version thereof).

Your tablet or smartphone goes ahead and makes a quick link. If you want, you can customise the name and/or the URL. The quick link is immediately placed on your start screen and, like any App, you can position this wherever you want.

Christina Viola Oorebeek: 3 works added

Christina Viola Oorebeek (1944) is an American-Dutch composer.

The following works have been added:

 

Afterwalk

aprés promenade for partially pre-pared piano solo

"Afterwalk", composed by Christina Viola Oorebeek, is a imagining of the reminisences that Modest Moussoursky might have had after his promenade through the exhibition of his dear friend Thomas Hartmann's work in 1874 which he describes in his monumental and famous composition, "Pictures at an Exibition".
It is fragmented and hesitating - played against the deep bass tones combined with a harmonic produced by a piece of lead and felt placed on the strings of those pitches.
The coda brings the melody of the promenade back in a high register with another 'prepared piano' effect produced by placing lightweight chains on the strings of the piano.

 

Christina Viola Oorebeek's Afterwalk (2017), played by Marcel Manshanden (Live, 2 Oct 2016, Amstelveen, 6e Piano Promenade)

Sergei Prokofiev: 11 works added

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a Russian composer and pianist. He is counted among the great Russian composers of the 20th century.

The following works have been added:

About Faber’s Piano Adventures method

Piano Adventures, established in 2009, is an American piano lesson method. Nancy and Randall Faber have combined their backgrounds as composer and pianist to support both teacher and pupil with a new and very extensive lesson method. They have already published more than 300 books. The method is called Basic Piano Adventures and consists of the following books:

These books are classified in the Piano Book Guide as level 1 up to and including level 4.

Philip Glass: new additions and subdivision of Metamorphosis

Philip Glass (b. Baltimore, January 31,1937) is an American composer. His compositions generally fall under the genre minimal music.

The following works have been added, or further subdivided:

At the moment (December 18, 2015), data in the Piano Book Guide consists of 1,885 records!

This figure is the total number of lines visible via the home page of Piano Book Guide. There is a difference between the number of records and the number of books that are included on the Piano Book Guide. For example, Bach’s Kleine Präludien und Fughetten appears 11 times. Thus, 11 records for one book.

Here’s to 2,000 records!

New additions: Arvo Pärt and Domenico Scarlatti

On December 11, 2015, I added the following books:

Titles from the Gids Lichte Muziek added

In June 2015, I expanded the Piano Book Guide extensively with titles from EPTA’s Gids Lichte Muziek (Light Music Guide).

This publication was printed in 2004 and was also placed online. The printed version has not been available for some time and there are no plans to reprint it. The online version disappeared from the internet in 2014.

So, unfortunately, the information contained in this handy guide was no longer available.

On my Piano Book Guide site, in the Rhythmic/Jazz category, I had already included a lot of well-known books, by composers such as M. Mier, J. Bastien, H. Beeftink, P. Wedgwood, H. Vlam-Verwaaijen, M. Schmitz and F. van Gorp. These books were used a lot by pianists and totalled nearly 100 titles.

At the end of 2014, someone (via EPTA) supplied me with all the titles contained in the Gids Lichte Muziek so that I could look them up, see which were still available, and then add them to the Piano Book Guide (which I did in June 2015). So, happily, the information contained in this guide is now available again.

Because of this, the number of titles in the Rhythmic/Jazz category has increased to 277.

About classifying piano books into levels

Various methods of classifying piano books into levels exist.

The most well-known is the ten-step classification in the booklet Nieuwe leergang voor het piano-onderwijs (A new study path for teaching the piano), written by the piano pedagogue W. C. M. Kloppenburg.

One disadvantage with this classification is that ten steps is insufficient, especially in the lower levels (thus, for beginners). So, in Step I there are books which are intended for absolute beginners – but also books which are too difficult for them. And to be able to play the pieces in Steps III and IV requires an awful lot of practising. It’s not very motivational when someone becomes stuck in Steps III and IV year after year!

An increase in the number of steps would be handier – to 12, 25 or 20 levels, for example.

Another style of classification can be found on publisher Henle’s website. A lovely example is their edition of Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, BWV 846-869. Have a look at the page here.

Their classification is in nine Stufen (steps), one less than Kloppenburg. Apparently, this was problematic as Henle has provided intermediate levels, for example 3/4. In the above Bach example, you can see all these levels profiled. From Stufen 2 to 7 with intermediate levels such as 3/4, 4/5 and 5/6. Hmmm, clever, you think: you’re at level 3, level 4 is still too difficult, so first play the pieces classified in the intermediate level 3/4.

On closer inspection, you’ll see that there are nine ‘standard’ levels and eight intermediate levels. Or, if you like, simply a 17-level classification. Personally, I think a 17-level classification is a little bit odd. Why not go for a straight 15 or 20 levels?

Of course, it’s possible to create a classification with more than 20 levels, but then you run into practical difficulties. A classification with more than 20 levels will quickly become cluttered and awkward to use, for example when performing a search function.

‘Beginner – Elementary – Average – Advanced’ are other examples of classification but, generally speaking, these terms are a bit vague. When is someone ‘Advanced’ and what does ‘Elementary’ mean?

Piano book classification is not an exact science. There are so many different styles in music (Bach, Chopin, Debussy, jazz, pop…), and just as many problems regarding technique, that it’s impossible to make exact comparisons. Also, while one person might find Bach difficult and Debussy easy, it could be completely the opposite case for someone else.

I have produced a classification of 15 levels for the Piano Book Guide. To make a good classification, it’s not necessary to be able to play all the pieces well. A good classification requires the ability to classify in the first place, to create structure and maintain a clear overview. I have looked at all the sheet music and have created detailed schematics in order to make as best a classification as I can. I can honestly say that I am very happy with the result. Maybe the discipline and control inherent in my musical and scientific training have something to do with this feeling of satisfaction

No doubt my overview will receive some criticism, justified or otherwise! Constructive criticism is welcome, and I’ll use it to improve the Piano Book Guide.

The study path becomes the Piano Book Guide

Part 4: the study path becomes the Piano Book Guide

In 2013, I decided to uncouple the study path from  Pianospel.eu and give it its own domain. Since June 28, 2013, it has been known as the Piano Book Guide.

Most of the work has involved completing and classifying the study path into the 15 levels and augmenting the total number of books. In addition, for each title I have created a link to a web shop. This link indicates in which books the title is included, which edition I consider to be the best, and other information such as the price of the book. Compiling all this data has cost me a half year’s work.

I have used the following websites a lot:

  • Henle: not only for the listed books; it also divides them up into levels.
  • Sheet Music Plus: for books; you can ‘sneak preview’ many of them.
  • IMSLP: no-charge, copyright-free sheet music.
  • Huisvolmuziek: is now Music Shop Europe; for books.

I have also used:

  • the repertoire list created by RIM (a music library) in Utrecht. This consisted of a ring binder folder, packed with titles. The project was a one-off, the list became quickly unavailable and RIM doesn’t exist anymore.
  • the Gids Lichte Muziek (Light Music Guide), published by EPTA, the European Piano Teacher’s Association. This book, which contained recommendations and level indication for more than 350 piano books in the light music genre, was printed in 2004 and stood online until 2014 on EPTA’s site. The printed version has not been available for some time and there are no plans to reprint it.
  • Kloppenburg. For its titles. See Part 1: Kloppenburg: a study path for teaching the piano.

In building the website, I have used Joomla, AriSoft’s database program, a template from Joomshaper and RSJoomla’s software. The site is fully responsive (can be used on all platforms, also on smartphones) and the information can now be sorted and searched.

The Piano Book Guide has become a fully modern replacement for Kloppenburg, Gids Lichte Muziek, Henle, and all other attempts at piano book classification.

The Piano Book Guide is the most complete and comprehensive place to visit when searching for suitable piano books – for amateurs, professional pianists, students and piano teachers

The study path from May 15, 2001 to May 22, 2013 on Pianospel.eu

Part 3: the study path from May 15, 2001 to May 22, 2013 on www.pianospel.eu

As it turned out, my study path stood on Pianospel.eu from May 15, 2001 to May 22, 2013. I implemented a few changes during this period. I had, in fact, two versions: the database version which I worked on at home, on my computer; and the text-only version, available on line. I updated my database very irregularly –  I would suddenly add loads of books, then nothing would happen for a year. Whenever I updated the database, I didn’t place it online. In fact, the online version wasn’t a database at all, just basic text. To place everything online was just too much work. It meant that I had to type everything over again – and I don’t enjoy repeating what I’ve already done!

A big change came when I reworked the online version from being just basic text to performing as an actual database. Being able to create the pages contained in my study path using a database is a huge advantage; you don’t have to type in everything yourself. And you can also then search within the database.

Consequently, whenever I expanded my study path with the addition of a few books, I could add them online at the same time, merely by refreshing the database. The rest happens automatically. Admittedly, I did have to acquaint myself with PHP scripting and MySQL database management, but this wasn’t too difficult – thanks to our friend Google.

So, I had expanded my study path considerably over twelve years and made it (partly) accessible on the internet. Here (in Dutch only) is the version from December 8, 2012.

Pianospel.eu – an online course of study since 2001

Part 2: Pianospel.eu – an online course of study since 2001

The website for my piano lessons, Pianospel.eu,  has kept me busy since May 15, 2001. These days, it’s hard to find a piano teacher without a website but back then, in 2001, I was one of the first!

I can pinpoint two important reasons why I was quick off the mark.

First, an old schoolfriend, K. Wesselius, convinced me of the future importance of having a website and helped me to register Pianospel.eu. I am eternally grateful to him for this.

Second, my background in technology (before I graduated as a piano teacher, I studied Aviation and Space Technology at the Delft University of Technology from 1984-1989, and subsequently trained as a mathematics teacher from 1989-1990) enabled me to build a website single-handedly. Well almost, with a little design help from Mark Smit…

While developing Pianospel.eu, the idea came to me to place the study path I had created on the internet. I was using it myself, so why not make it generally available? It would draw visitors to the site, after all.

The study path I placed online was very rudimentary. Twenty or so linked pages, navigated alphabetically or through the nine different levels. I formatted the pages as a table, not as a database. Consequently, it wasn’t possible to perform sort or search functions.

You can see this very first version here (in Dutch only). To see the course of study, click on ‘Welke stukken kan ik spelen?’.

Kloppenburg: a study path for teaching the piano

Part 1: Kloppenburg: a study path for teaching the piano

 

One of my tasks when I was studying to become a piano teacher was to create a ‘study path’. The intention was to provide an overview of the diverse number of piano methods and musical styles available, and their associated level of proficiency. If you’re a piano teacher, it’s important to structure your lessons. A condition for this is being able to indicate what material is available for these lessons.

Such an overview already existed in the form of the much-used booklet Nieuwe leergang voor het piano-onderwijs (A new study path for teaching the piano), written by the renowned piano pedagogue W. C. M. Kloppenburg. This publication has become a standard reference, for which all piano teachers are grateful! If you’re looking for a piece of music at a certain level, then you reach for your ‘Kloppenburg’, as this booklet has become known.

The publication has not been without its critics, though. Some consider the classification into ten levels insufficient, especially for the lower– and thus beginner There’s a lot of content, but more could be included. It was published in 1984 and has never been revised. Mr. Kloppenburg died in 2000.

I went ahead and made a study path but constructed it differently than Kloppenburg. The classification is in 15 levels instead of ten, resulting in a better division in the lower levels. I then made an additional ‘path’ utilising only the first seven levels (these are the ones most used during piano lessons) and adopted this – together with Kloppenburg – for use in my own classes.

I had created my own ‘learning path’ – OK, a small trail with a few bumps along the way, but nevertheless extremely useful!