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At any level of ability I like to emphasize long and short term goals with my students. If a new musical/technical concept, i.e. goal, is easily mastered, then it in itself could be defined as a short term goal. Areas of weakness needing some nurturing can be considered long term goals to explore in piano literature.
Long term goals could be addressed by using longer compositions, multiple easier short compositions or those that are short and are much more difficult than what is currently being studied. However, with short term goals, using short easier pieces has the advantage of quickly building up the student’s repertoire and the student’s sense of confidence by mastering multiple concepts easily or by reviewing those that may have been long term goals in the past.
Goals may overlap from time to time. For instance, exploring music from different time periods may happen simultaneously with certain musical considerations. Let’s say a student has trouble with key signatures. Performing numerous pieces in a new or difficult key signature can give the students time to build confidence. If pieces are chosen from different time periods in music history, the student simultaneously explores the history of music and its composers. The discovery of favorite composers along the way may dictate future works to fuel their interest. Once the student become comfortable with several keys you may wish to challenge their confidence with a composition that modulates into several keys and/or explores key centers with more extensive chromaticism to challenge the reading and remembrance of accidentals as they potentially repeat throughout a measure.
For a short intermediate composition that challenges the reading of key signatures and the ability to subdivide rhythms, consider the Military March. Six brief keys are explored as the music unfolds. The march starts with D then travels to C, Ab, D minor, A, Eb before returning to D major once again. With a steady quarter note pace, the performer’s left hand harmonic fifths must navigate each of the keys. As mentioned, in addition to key shifts is the further challenge of the subdivisions of dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth note rhythm and eighth note triplet rhythm in various phrases of the right hand melody. A lazily performed sixteenth following the dotted eighth may sound rhythmically closer to that of the last eighth note in a triplet if the performer is not subdividing correctly.
I see the number of goals for my students as a never ending list that is fixed by the speed which they are mastered and the time I have with them as a student. Some examples of other goals a teacher might consider for elementary and intermediate performers are fluency of hand crossing, handling meter changes, less common meters, music with clef changes, two-part writing in either or both hands, music requiring the performance of extensive articulations, swing rhythm (see numerous solos in Vignettes for Solo Piano), tempo changes, and quick tempos.
Nouvelle Music Publishing has numerous works to offer involving hand crossing at various elementary levels. These works include Jiggity Jig, My Day,Oops! Hit a Bump which are all available in Noteworthy Elementary Solos, A Zen Moment, March of the Martians from Piano Tidbits Book 2 and some light use of hand crossing in Ghostly Gathering. At the intermediate level, consider the bright tempos of Hot Sand Hop in Summer Scenes and Acceleration of Time briefly from Vignettes for Solo Piano.
Meter Changes and Less Common Meters
For those wanting to focus on meter changes and less commonly seen meters for a particular goal, Nouvelle Music Publishing offers the performer in both solo and ensemble settings music to meet these goals. Some examples in piano solos include Jiggity Jig in 6/4 meter, which as just described, also has the added challenge of hand crossings and is set at a fast tempo. There is a single bar shift from 4/4 to 2/4 in Pumpkin Patch or the occasional shifts from 4/4 to 6/4 in Songbird. Numerous pieces throughout the collection of Vignettes for Solo Piano offer multiple meter changes with in a single solo. The solo Hang Gliding from the collection also includes two pages of unmetered music.
In an ensemble setting, there is Callie the Great which moves from 4/4 to 3/4 which is also accompanied by a key change to key of A in the middle section, Old Woman, Old Woman which occasional shifts from 4/4 to 3/4, and Itsy Bitsy Spider that is in 6/4.
Maybe it is clef changes you wish to focus on. Though there is plenty to choose from at the elementary level including a series of solos from Piano Tidbits book 2 (Having Fun, In the Desert, Scary Footsteps, and March of the Martians) as well as Celebrate!, Ghostly Gathering, Halloween Happenings, and Songbird. Most of the solos in Keyboard Confections will keep the intermediate player hopping with these changes. Others available at various levels of intermediate playing include Pumpkin Patch, Goblin Rag, Mostly Ghostly, Skeleton Skedaddle, Clouds from Vignettes for Solo Piano and several from Summer Scenes (Summer Breeze, Too Hot, Hot Sand Hop, Sitin’ in the Sun).
Two-Part Writing in one or both hands
Two-part writing can be found in numerous works from Nouvelle Music Publishing. Marshmallow Fluff found in Keyboard Confections has examples in both hands. Others for consideration include Military March, The Many Adventures of Axel Sloan (a solo for right hand only includes up to three-part writing), Gems on the Lake duet (more in the secondo part than the primo part), and New-Fashioned, Old-Fashioned Waltz (secondo part).
If you are seeking numerous tempo changes as a goal, you may wish to have your students explore the following solos at the elementary level. These include Tick Tock Turtle from Five Finger Frolics, Halloween’s Here from Halloween Delights for Five Fingers, Pumpkin Patch, Oops! Hit a Bump, Big Dog Luke and Missy Moo found in Noteworthy Elementary Piano Solos.
At the intermediate level, one might consider Ashore on an Unknown Island, Tapioca Tango found in Keyboard Confections with its momentary burst from lento to presto, and Summer Breezes along with Summer Showers from the book Summer Scenes.