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Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1137995 11/03/07 05:25 AM
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At the sheet music store the other day I was looking for some classy arrangements of pop or jazz standards for piano solo, suitable for an advanced player or even a professional gig. The salesman tried to talk me into buying Dan Coates' advanced collections. I was in a hurry but the few things I glanced at looked simplistic--more intermediate than advanced. (I know Coates does a lot of Easy Piano arrangements and I wondered if that rubbed off on his allegedly advanced ones.) Also he seemed to have few of the older George Gershwin- or Cole Porter-type standards, preferring mostly more recent stuff.

Can anyone tell me about Dan Coates? Have you played his advanced piano arrangements? Are they perhaps a bit simple but still beautiful? Do people pay attention when you play them?

The salesman tried to sell me on a 9-page Coates arrangement of Over The Rainbow. He also said the 7-page Coates arrangement of Pachbel's Canon in D was ideal for weddings. Have you tried these solos? Did you like them? Have you played his Canon in D arrangement at a wedding? What are the best Dan Coates books or solo pieces?

Come to think of it, I would also appreciate information about his works for kids or teens who are beginner-intermediate level. Have you used anything by Coates that turned out well?

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Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1137996 11/03/07 10:47 AM
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I've got "Dan Coates Complete Advanced Piano Solos: Music for All Occasions". It's huge, 303 pages long with about 80 pieces. But the version of Canon in D included in it is only 4 pages long and doesn't look advanced to me. And many of the pieces in the book seem intermediate rather than advanced.

That said, I do like Dan Coates's arrangements, especially his "easy piano" ones that were truly easy but didn't sound like obvious beginner pieces. His easy piano arrangement of Canon in D was one of the first "real" piano pieces I ever learned. And it's pretty enough that I still sometimes play it. I liked his "The Best in Movie Sheet Music" published by Warner Bros. It has Canon in D, Send in the Clowns (another really pretty arrangement), Pink Panther, Colors of the Wind, Stairway to Heaven, Over the Rainbow, among others. I think it would appeal to teenagers.

If you want a nice Canon in D arrangement, I'd recommend instead the George Winston arrangement. (He has just released his first official book of transcriptions that are note for note transcriptions of what he plays.) It's absolutely beautiful, and believe me, it is advanced!!!

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1137997 11/03/07 11:52 AM
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I can play many of the pieces in the Complete Advanced etc. book, and could probably play most or all given time and practice. That means they are definitely not advanced or professional level arrangements. laugh Probably intermediate to late intermediate with a few that may be early advanced pieces.


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Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1137998 11/03/07 12:15 PM
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Originally posted by Monica K.:
If you want a nice Canon in D arrangement, I'd recommend instead the George Winston arrangement. (He has just released his first official book of transcriptions that are note for note transcriptions of what he plays.) It's absolutely beautiful, and believe me, it is advanced!!!
I'd recommend that also. It's an extremely nice arrangement, and quite fun to play.


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Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1137999 11/03/07 12:16 PM
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I used to play Dan Coates arrangements on cruise boats, department stores, weddings, private parties. I liked them, but I won't say that people paid any attention! They are great for background music, especially for someone like me that isn't terribly adept with that style of playing. I thought they were well suited for the jobs I had, but I wouldn't recommend them if the piano is the center of attention.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138000 11/03/07 01:58 PM
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I have the book also. The Canon arrangement is nice, although it is not the best I ever heard but it is nice enough. I would recommend the book. It is on a late intermediate to early advanced level.
These are the songs I have played or attempted to play and liked:

Canon
Angel Eyes by Jim Brickman
Desperado
Love solo
The Rose
Tonight I Celebrate My Love
Colors of the Wind


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Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138001 11/04/07 12:18 AM
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I play a few Dan Coates advanced arrangements but always with a "twist".. I like to rearrange things and put my own spin on everything. I play his "As Time Goes By, The Wind Beneath My Wings, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", and some of the X-mas arrangements - "The Christmas Waltz", etc. Some of these I'll transpose to a different key or play partly in a lower octave.. He tends to play a little too high for my taste, but otherwise they are challenging and lovely arrangements. smile

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138002 11/04/07 07:25 PM
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Originally posted by Monica K.:
If you want a nice Canon in D arrangement, I'd recommend instead the George Winston arrangement. (He has just released his first official book of transcriptions that are note for note transcriptions of what he plays.) It's absolutely beautiful, and believe me, it is advanced!!!
Thank you kindly for your input. I have ordered the Winston transcription on your recommendation. It should arrive some time next week.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138003 11/04/07 07:39 PM
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Originally posted by Elssa:
I play a few Dan Coates advanced arrangements but always with a "twist".. I like to rearrange things and put my own spin on everything. I play his "As Time Goes By, The Wind Beneath My Wings, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", and some of the X-mas arrangements - "The Christmas Waltz", etc. Some of these I'll transpose to a different key or play partly in a lower octave.. He tends to play a little too high for my taste, but otherwise they are challenging and lovely arrangements. smile
Many thanks for sharing your experiences with Mr. Coates. I bought three of his arrangements of pop standards, and I see what you mean about the high notes.

All three arrangements follow approximately the same pattern or formula: the song begins with single notes right hand near middle C; then it moves to double notes right hand; then it moves up an octave with single notes right hand; then it plays doubled notes right hand in that higher octave; then it moves back down around middle C but with a key change upward to add interest; then flourishes with fuller chords right and left hand together; and finally ends with a quiet and simple right hand. Eminently understandable. Structurally crystal-clear.

All three arrangements are clean and pure, in a way that makes them especially playable. I would venture to say that for most of us they are neither too easy nor too hard.

Their playability makes the arrangements easy to supplement with our own fills and frills. Thematic addenda are so easy to improvise that I suspect he originally wrote the arrangements with frills included and then knocked them out so that people like us could discover them for ourselves.

In sum, the three arrangements are certainly not the greatest, yet I am glad to own them: they are sweet, and useful as a good base from which to build a personalized sound. I am glad I bought them.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138004 11/04/07 07:56 PM
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I bought the George Winston transcription of the Canon, and I absolutely love it. Thank you very much for the heads up.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138005 11/04/07 07:59 PM
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Monika K, I bought some of the Coates movie arrangements on your recommendation, and I am glad I did. To a large degree my experience with them matches yours.

The Coates treatment of "Concerning Hobbits" sounds remarkably faithful to the sweet music we remember from The Lord of The Rings where we are taking a leisurely tour of The Shire with gorgeous sunshine and lush greenery all around those delightful, interesting Hobbits. When you play "Concerning Hobbits," everyone perks up and listens with pleasure and nostalgia.

If Joe Critic complained that the arrangement is simple, then I would remind him that the orignal music is also simple yet quite beautiful and interesting. So Joe Critic should play the piece with expression, and everyone will enjoy it. Even Joe.

I had a similar experience with the Coates arrangement of "Harry's Wonderful World." Eminently playable while strongly evocative of the movie music. When you play this one, everyone remembers the movie with pleasure. Highly recommended.

Not highly advanced stuff, yet still quite good. Just like you said.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138006 11/04/07 08:00 PM
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This was an erroneous post, so I have revised it today, 11 November 2007:

Arrived: Dan Coates Complete Advanced Piano Solos.

Some First Impressions:

The book is big. You get a lot for the money.

Good variety of levels of difficulty, from some reasonably easy to sight read at first try, to others that will take practice to master.

Every arrangement looks solid, clean, understandable, very professionally-written.

The arrangement of "As Time Goes By" equals or exceeds any that I have ever seen. Sounds a great deal like what "Sam" plays in Casablanca. Beautiful chords. Wife and kids love the sound. Includes 'hope you have big hands' special effects. Good musical ideas. Easy to add riffs and arpeggios.

In short, the Coates advanced arrangement of "As Time Goes By" is first-class all the way, just what I always wanted. Thanks a million, Dan.

That's all for now. Hope there are many more as good as "As Time Goes By."

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138007 11/21/07 12:54 AM
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"As Time Goes By" was the best arrangement in the Dan Coates advanced piano solos book. I have still found nothing else to match it, and I have tried everything in the book at least once.

For someone who plays mostly classical music, as I do, the book is pretty helpful.

The Dan Coates style of arranging a piece is easy to pick up and apply yourself to other music. My own arrangements of other pieces have improved as a result of observing how Dan does it.

The Coates treatment is especially good for somewhat melancholy, bittersweet pieces. His style suits pieces like "Don't Cry Out Loud" or "You Needed Me" which, personally, I find too depressing to play.

The Coates style also works well with movie music. I enjoyed his arrangement of "Believe" from the childrens' film "The Polar Express." The Coates arrangement of "The Notebook" from the film of that title is also pleasing and easy to play.

Dan also excels at chick music, and even little girl music. Many a 12 year-old girl would adore playing the Coates arrangement of "Beauty and The Beast." I would feel a little embarassed to play it publicly. Not very manly, to put it mildly.

Dan also is good at music for boys. His arrangements of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and other movie music is bound to please a moderately accomplished 12 year-old boy who plays piano.

It seems no matter what, a Coates arrangement is fairly easy to play--and this is a very good thing, in my opinion. He has arrangements where the number of notes is quite large, yet they are still easy to play because the arrangement is solid, clean, and extremely well-structured. This is good work.

Dan breaks away from his standard style and does his best, in my opinion, with older pieces such as "What's New?" and "As Time Goes By." I wish he would do more of these.

Playing Coates arrangements can make you forget that your piano has black keys. Personally I would like him to add more arrangements with multiple sharps and flats, but perhaps I am in the minority in this regard.

Overall, I am glad I bought the Coates advanced book. I am still looking for better, more complex arrangements, but I am glad to own the Coates versions nonetheless. It is a nice addition to a music library. Good work, Dan, and Thank You.

Re: Best Dan Coates for Advanced Players?
#1138008 11/21/07 12:57 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Prospero:
I bought the George Winston transcription of the Canon, and I absolutely love it. Thank you very much for the heads up.
Terrific! It is my favorite arrangement of the Canon. It's also next on my list of hard pieces to tackle.

Thanks also for the detailed review of the advanced Coates book. I never tried the "As Time Goes By" arrangement, but your comments make me want to give it a look.


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