Lyric Pieces for Solo Piano by William Gillock was first published in 1994, but it remains one of my favorite collections of piano solos for early intermediate students.
I’m drawn to these pieces, primarily because they abound with beautiful harmonies and a level of chromaticism beyond what is often found in piano music of this level. Plus, they provide a fantastic vehicle for students to work on the art of rubato playing.
Seven of the pieces are only one page long. The others span only two pages, so they can be learned quickly. My students always seem to relish these and often select them as recital pieces.
Here are two of my students, Ben and Logan, playing two of the 11 pieces from the book.
Ben plays On the Champs-Élysées:
(Enjoy the bonus inclusion of bird chirps and a visit from Oscar, the cat.)
Sheet Music (Downloadable PDF):
Printed book, Lyric Pieces for Solo Piano:
Logan plays Slumber Song:
Sheet Music (Downloadable PDF): https://bit.ly/3ICmQtB
Printed Book: https://amzn.to/42TpHXj
Before today, I didn’t realize that these pieces had been made available as digital downloads. While I typically prefer to purchase the entire book for students, a digital download can be very helpful when you need something quickly and don’t happen to have an extra copy of the book on hand.
If you haven’t used these pieces, I encourage you to give them a try. I find them absolutely delightful!
Since I work both as a piano teacher and as a church musician, I enjoy the challenge of composing music that I can use at both jobs. I think the piece I’ve used the most in that way would be my Nocturne in B-flat Major. I’ve had many students learn it. It’s appeared on numerous recitals. I’ve played it for church services during communion. I’ve played it at memorial services and even as prelude music for weddings.
It’s an excellent piece for introducing intermediate students to a 3 against 2 polyrhythm. The 3 against 2 pattern happens six times in the first five measures and a total of 16 times in the entire two-page piece, so students get lots of practice with it.
The largest hand span is a 7th, so it’s also a good piece for students who can’t yet span an octave.
If you haven’t used this piece, I hope you’ll give it a listen and consider it for your students or for your own playing. It’s a great piece for spring recitals.
The piece is available here with either a studio license (so that it can be used with any students you personally teach) or with a single-user-license. I also offer it bundled with my Nocturne in E Major at a reduced price.
Here’s my student, Logan, playing Pumpkin Dance by Timothy Brown from Book 2.
Look at the Witches
Things that Go Bump in the Night
“Mashed Potato Clouds” by Diane Hidy
“My dream has
finally come true!
I get to play Mashed Potato Clouds.”
–Logan, 2nd grader
Logan had heard her older brother play Mashed Potato Clouds, and she loved it! More than a year later, I suggested that she might like to learn it, too.
“Will I be able to play it for recital?” she asked excitedly.
“That was my exact plan,” I responded.
Students love Mashed Potato Clouds! It has a catchy tune with a pop kind of vibe. It sounds harder than it is, and the repeated melodic and rhythmic patterns make it easy to learn.
Every time I have a student play it on a recital, another student asks to learn it.
Find it in Diane Hidy’s Attention Grabbers, Book 2, published by Kjos. All four of the books in this set are fantastic, but the biggest hit from them in my studio (so far) has been Mashed Potato Clouds.
“Incognito” by Jason Sifford
Incognito, a jazz nocturne, is a piece I’ve discovered only recently, but I loved it from the first time I played it. With its haunting G minor melody and flashy 16th note riffs, it’s just fun to play. It’s been an easy sell for several of my early advanced students, and has quickly become a studio recital favorite.
Find it in the FJH Music Company’s In Recital for the Advancing Pianist: Original Solos, Book 2.