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Talão Offline OP
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A question that comes up often (and with which I myself struggle sometimes) is what to study, and in what order, to develop as a well-rounded pianist. Sure, you can ask your teacher (assuming they're good), but not everyone here has a teacher (for varied reasons).

I recently came across this book series called "Classics for the Developing Pianist: Core Repertoire for Study and Performance." There are 5 books, in progressive difficulty, each with 20 pieces split among the 4 major periods: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary (so 100 pieces in total).

Book 1 is said to be aimed at early intermediate players, and on from there through the other books. If you go to each book's page on Amazon, the "Look Inside" feature lets you see the names of all pieces, so I thought this would be a pretty cool list of 100 pieces to have for reference. Hope someone else in the forum finds this useful. Here are the links to Amazon:

Book 1: https://www.amazon.com/Classics-Developing-Pianist-Repertoire-Performance/dp/0739078941

Book 2: https://www.amazon.com/Classics-Developing-Pianist-Repertoire-Performance/dp/073907895X

Book 3: https://www.amazon.com/Classics-Developing-Pianist-Repertoire-Performance/dp/0739078968

Book 4: https://www.amazon.com/Classics-Developing-Pianist-Repertoire-Performance/dp/0739078976

Book 5: https://www.amazon.com/Classics-Developing-Pianist-Repertoire-Performance/dp/0739078984

It turns out I've worked on pieces from books 1, 2, and 3, but I now want to go back to book 1 and work on all of its 20 pieces, then move on to book 2, etc.

And for those who don't have a teacher to help them side by side, each of the 5 books appears to have a companion "study guide" book as well.

Note: I have not used the books, so I can't vouch for their quality (or that of the study guides). I simply liked the idea of a list of 100 pieces, covering the 4 periods, and sorted in order of difficulty.


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Thanks for sharing. I also struggle with that or just finding fun suitable pieces.

To add to your post I came across "Journey Through the Classics" by Jennifer Linn in some other thread here and the complete series is 1 book comprised of 4 books. Book 1 being the easiest and then each book they're sorted from simplest to hardest. I believe the one I mentioned may start out even a little simpler than your book 1. After I finish this book which I'm planning to work though it and play each one in order from start to end which take me a long long time haha then I'll grab this one you shared.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for sharing. I also struggle with that or just finding fun suitable pieces.

To add to your post I came across "Journey Through the Classics" by Jennifer Linn in some other thread here and the complete series is 1 book comprised of 4 books. Book 1 being the easiest and then each book they're sorted from simplest to hardest. I believe the one I mentioned may start out even a little simpler than your book 1. After I finish this book which I'm planning to work though it and play each one in order from start to end which take me a long long time haha then I'll grab this one you shared.

Cool! I'll check that one out! I'm trying to use some free OCR software to convert the images with the names of the pieces into a plain text list.


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The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels. It goes from basic minuets in book one to the Pathetique sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu in book 5. It usually takes 8-10 years to reach that level. I don't think you will get there playing only these selections and nothing else.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels. It goes from basic minuets in book one to the Pathetique sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu in book 5. It usually takes 8-10 years to reach that level. I don't think you will get there playing only these selections and nothing else.

That is very good to know. Thank you for this feedback!


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels. It goes from basic minuets in book one to the Pathetique sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu in book 5. It usually takes 8-10 years to reach that level. I don't think you will get there playing only these selections and nothing else.

I know you won't get to that level just playing pieces alone but I bet I would take 8 years to get to book 5 hahah

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels. It goes from basic minuets in book one to the Pathetique sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu in book 5. It usually takes 8-10 years to reach that level. I don't think you will get there playing only these selections and nothing else.

I know you won't get to that level just playing pieces alone but I bet I would take 8 years to get to book 5 hahah

I did a quick calculation. At my leisurely pace (not worrying about rushing), I think I can do about 20 or so pieces a year. I'm almost at the 2 year mark now. So it would take me another 5 years to go over all 5 books, putting me at year 7. So not too far from Qazsedcft's estimate :-)


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I really like the concept here - with books that build on the talent level of the student - does anyone know of something similar using popular music?

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels.
I was looking at these and thinking the same thing! Personally, I really like Jane Magrath's Masterwork Classics and Melodious Masterpieces series, they are very balanced and, between the two different series, you get a TON of pieces at your level. CDP seems like the most popular pieces at each level, which is nice, but you can pretty much find them anywhere.


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Personally, I really like Jane Magrath's Masterwork Classics and Melodious Masterpieces series, they are very balanced and, between the two different series, you get a TON of pieces at your level. CDP seems like the most popular pieces at each level, which is nice, but you can pretty much find them anywhere.

Thank you for this suggestion. I'll look into it as well.


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Originally Posted by ElKabong
I really like the concept here - with books that build on the talent level of the student - does anyone know of something similar using popular music?

Learning "popular music" is a different animal. You have to go through the normal piano-learning process for probably 3-4 years or so, so that you can at least sight-read melodies well with your right hand. Then you need to learn chords really well...in at least 6 major and 6 minor keys (those will cover about 85% of the pop music out there). By really well, I mean that you can look at a chord designation on a page of sheet music and your left hand just plays some version (or inversion, pun intended) of it without you having to think about it. You should also be able to "fill in" notes from appropriate chords with your right hand to enhance the melody line.


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I totally agree with trooplewis. At 66 years old and playing piano off and on my whole life only reading sheet music I was always so frustrated. Two years ago if you asked me to play a diminished or inverted minor chord I would have had no idea. Recently I learned chords and have delved into chord progressions and chord theory and now I can just sit and play without any sheet music and really enjoy it. Reading sheet music is important but the real magic and freedom in playing comes when you learn to play chords.

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Originally Posted by ElKabong
I really like the concept here - with books that build on the talent level of the student - does anyone know of something similar using popular music?

It depends what your goals are. If you want to play someone else's pop arrangements there are plenty on Musicnotes.com that are 'easy' or 'beginner' notes. Keep in mind they are not always very accurate such as some marked as easy can be tricky. You can learn a lot from all these classical pieces but you don't have to study them or play them ever if you don't want to and you want to learn pop. Also note all arrangements of pop can vary a ton as they're based on the original but there is no exact score like with classical.

Originally Posted by trooplewis
Originally Posted by ElKabong
I really like the concept here - with books that build on the talent level of the student - does anyone know of something similar using popular music?

Learning "popular music" is a different animal. You have to go through the normal piano-learning process for probably 3-4 years or so, so that you can at least sight-read melodies well with your right hand. Then you need to learn chords really well...in at least 6 major and 6 minor keys (those will cover about 85% of the pop music out there). By really well, I mean that you can look at a chord designation on a page of sheet music and your left hand just plays some version (or inversion, pun intended) of it without you having to think about it. You should also be able to "fill in" notes from appropriate chords with your right hand to enhance the melody line.

I disagree with some of what you said. For example, you don't have to 3-4 years of 'normal piano' before playing pop and I don't think there is a 'normal piano' Yes, learning basics is a must but you can learn basics while studying pop. You don't have to sight read melody. You can learn the melody and study it. You only need to sight read if you plan to play from sight but it's not required at all.

There is no requirement that you must know at least 6 maj and 6 min keys of chords. You can play a ton of pop songs knowing far less as there countless progressions based on a few chords. You don't need to know them instantly unless you want to improvise on the fly you can still use the chords you know and study your lead sheet and practice it just as you would with any score.

Also you don't have to play harmony in LH and melody in RH unless you want to do piano solo which many do. There's plenty of pop you can play that's just for compin. You're better off starting out with some comping patterns only.


Originally Posted by jchaplain
.... the real magic and freedom in playing comes when you learn to play chords.
Yes, not having to rely on some else's version of what they made of a pop arrangment is great. With some open arpeggios in LH and melody in RH you can cover many pop ballads. I switched over to pop piano not too long ago and love it!

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Sebs, I'm not even sure what you are talking about; comping patterns?
Accompaniment?

And when I say 6 major, 6 minor, there are a lot of overlapping chords. But unless you always want to play in the key of C, you are going to have to learn the minors, the 7ths, and various inversions. It's not that hard, you just have to work on a couple chords every week and play thru the progressions.

Now if all you want is accompaniment, so that you can sing the melody line or have a violinist handy, I suppose you can get by.
But you would be cheating yourself out of making real progress being able to sight-read pop songs. And you will have to be able to read music, even if it is just from a Fake Book with a one-line melody and chord notation.


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Originally Posted by Talão
Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
The selections are excellent but you will probably find it to be quite a jump from one book to the next, especially the higher levels. It goes from basic minuets in book one to the Pathetique sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu in book 5. It usually takes 8-10 years to reach that level. I don't think you will get there playing only these selections and nothing else.

I know you won't get to that level just playing pieces alone but I bet I would take 8 years to get to book 5 hahah

I did a quick calculation. At my leisurely pace (not worrying about rushing), I think I can do about 20 or so pieces a year. I'm almost at the 2 year mark now. So it would take me another 5 years to go over all 5 books, putting me at year 7. So not too far from Qazsedcft's estimate :-)
OK, but to play stuff like the Pathetique sonata requires much more than playing gradually harder pieces for so many years. I had 6.5 years of lessons and tried the first movement but it was too hard. The piece is 18 pages long (in my edition) so you better be able to read really well if you want to learn it in a reasonable amount of time. It has all sorts of technical challenges both in the slow and fast parts - from very fast scales and arpeggios to bringing out a melody over an accompaniment in the same hand. You need to have an all round very good technique, which is developed usually through etudes and technical exercises.

So sight reading, etudes, technical exercises like scales arpeggios, etc. And in my opinion you need a teacher to reach this level. If that is not an option you can at least follow a syllabus such as the RCM or ABRSM.

https://files.rcmusic.com/sites/default/files/files/RCM-Piano-Syllabus-2015.pdf

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And actually, 20 or so pieces a year is NOT a leisurely pace. You need to polish them a lot more if you hope to improve beyond intermediate level.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
OK, but to play stuff like the Pathetique sonata requires much more than playing gradually harder pieces for so many years. I had 6.5 years of lessons and tried the first movement but it was too hard. The piece is 18 pages long (in my edition) so you better be able to read really well if you want to learn it in a reasonable amount of time. It has all sorts of technical challenges both in the slow and fast parts - from very fast scales and arpeggios to bringing out a melody over an accompaniment in the same hand. You need to have an all round very good technique, which is developed usually through etudes and technical exercises.

So sight reading, etudes, technical exercises like scales arpeggios, etc. And in my opinion you need a teacher to reach this level. If that is not an option you can at least follow a syllabus such as the RCM or ABRSM.

https://files.rcmusic.com/sites/default/files/files/RCM-Piano-Syllabus-2015.pdf

I fully agree with you. I was being overly simplistic and joking a bit. I do understand the value of sight reading, etudes, and the other basics. And in fact I enjoy those as much as the pieces themselves. My teacher does insist I work on them and pushes me to play with expression, proper phrasing and dynamics, etc. I've come to terms with the fact it's a long journey and I need to be patient.


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The pieces in these books are not all very gradual. There are some big differences between them in the same book and in between books. Like jumping from Book 4, Chopin opus 9/2 (RCM 9) to book 5, Pathetique (Diploma level) is really a large gap.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
The pieces in these books are not all very gradual. There are some big differences between them in the same book and in between books. Like jumping from Book 4, Chopin opus 9/2 (RCM 9) to book 5, Pathetique (Diploma level) is really a large gap.
Even within book 5 there are pieces like La fille and the Scarlatti which are RCM 9 and then diploma pieces like F-I and the Beethoven. I was thinking that maybe the book contains instructions to play them in a certain order to have a more gradual curve but even then it's still quite a big jump.

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Originally Posted by trooplewis
Sebs, I'm not even sure what you are talking about; comping patterns?
Accompaniment?

And when I say 6 major, 6 minor, there are a lot of overlapping chords. But unless you always want to play in the key of C, you are going to have to learn the minors, the 7ths, and various inversions. It's not that hard, you just have to work on a couple chords every week and play thru the progressions.

Now if all you want is accompaniment, so that you can sing the melody line or have a violinist handy, I suppose you can get by.
But you would be cheating yourself out of making real progress being able to sight-read pop songs. And you will have to be able to read music, even if it is just from a Fake Book with a one-line melody and chord notation.

I know where you're coming from and I agree with you that pop is a completely different area like you said. However, I was only pointing out that anyone can study pop at anytime and there are no rules or minimum requirements. The way you stated it you made it out to be there are rules and sets of requirements. Also to clarify about reading music, you said "sight read melodies" where as you don't have to sight read at all. Yes, reading music will help a lot but reading music and sight reading are two different things.

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