I have been wanting to share these for awhile and hopefully the forum will let me.
They are not mine and I take no credit in any of them.
They were given to me by a man named Bernard and he was very helpful when I started playing. I am sure he would not mind my sharing his knowledge. He may have picked these up elsewhere also, but most these are his.
They are meant to be helpful. Please accept them for what they are. More to come if I get positive feedback
Beginner repertoire 1
This is the real stuff. Superb pieces by excellent composers that you will not feel ashamed to play even though they are relatively easy (and some sound very difficult but are actually dead easy):
Sonata k32 – Just one page long, beautiful and lyrical. More suited to an adult player though, on account of the depth of interpretation it requires. Technically ridiculous.
J. S. Bach:
Here are my favourites from the Little notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach (most of the pieces are not by Bach himself. He just collected them. So the very famous minuet in G is actually by Christian Petzold).
Minuet in G BWV Anh.114 (C. Petzold)
Minuet in Gm BWV Anh, 115 (C. Petzold) – Beautiful lyrical minuet, reflective and slow. This minuet is meant to be played with the previous one in ABA form (minuet in G – minuet in Gm – minuet in G). For beginners omit the ornamentation. For more advanced players there is a lot of scope for learning the art of ornamentation with these two pieces.
Minuet in G BWV Anh. II 116 (anon.) – Excellent piece to introduce canon (round) writing. It is a perfect introduction to 2 voice inventions which are far too difficult for a beginner.
Minuet in Am BWV Anh. II 120 (anon.) – Another excellent 2 voice canonic work, that will develop hand independence and yet is easy enough for a beginner.
Minuet in Cm BWV Anh. II 121 (Anon.) – Hauntingly beautiful slow minuet.
March in D H. 1.1 (C. P. E. Bach) – Uplifting and full of joy.
Menuet in G (G. Bohm) – Another good introduction to counterpoint that is simple enough for any beginner.
Musette in D BWV Anh. II 126(anon.) – Excellent piece for the virtuoso to be (very easy but impressive), with daring skips on the LH and fast runs on the RH. A favourite with kids.
March in Eb (anon.) BWV Anh. II 127 (anon.) – Another excellent preparation for 2-voice inventions.
Menuet in Dm BWV Anh. II 132 (anon.) – Another very beautiful reflective minuet, which will develop hand independence.
Aria in F (J. C. Bach) – Only 16 bars long, this beautiful aria can be easily learned by a beginner and then be used at a later stage to teach improvised ornamentation.
Prelude in C BWV 846/I (J. S. Bach) – One of the few pieces in the notebook that is actually by Bach, this prelude is the first prelude in the WTC book I.
For beginners omit the ornamentation. For more advanced players there is a lot of scope for learning the art of ornamentation with these two pieces.
In my opinion the best edition for these pieces (lots of ancillary information and performance suggestions) is the ABRSM (edited by Richard Jones). Rosalyn Tureck recorded all these pieces for Sony (“Bach: The Keyboard Album”) and she discusses them in depth in her seminal book “An Introduction to the performance of Bach” (Oxford University Press) – The CD was recorded as illustration to the book.
Most of these are too difficult for beginners, being more appropriate for the intermediate student who is starting with the two voice inventions. However some of them can be tackled successfully by a late beginner (6 months – 1 year of lessons):
Prelude in C BWV 924 – A beautiful prelude based on broken triads, this is very easy (but not as effective) if you omit the several ornaments. These can beaded later on when the student has progressed enough.
Prelude in C BWV 939 – An excellent study in arpeggios for both RH and LH and a great introduction to question and answer writing. Only 16 bars long (probably not by J. S. Bach)
Prelude in Gm BWV 999 – For the budding virtuoso. Very effective at a fast speed, but equally beautiful at a much slower tempo. The repetitive figuration in broken triads make it an excellent exercise as well.
A few movements of the French suites can be tackled by a late beginner (6 months - one year of lessons):
Minuet, from French Suite, No 6 in E – A short minuet very easy (if you omit the ornaments) mostly built on scales and thirds. Both hands get to do the work, so very good for hand independence an finger co-ordination.
Minuet, from French Suite, No 3 in Bm – Arpeggio figurations on the RH and skips n the LH. Then the hands reverse roles. Excellent for finger co-ordination, accuracy and hand independence.
Gavotte from French suite no. 5 in G – A charming and exhilarating piece with scale runs and fifths on the other hand. Both hands play both figurations alternately. Excellent for hand independence.
All of these pieces require iron-clad fingering or they will fall apart. So good for students to realise that using the correct fingering is as important as hitting the right notes at the right time.
(There is a number of short pieces by both Mozart and Beethoven for the beginner. But I don’t find them worthwhile additions to the repertory. My interest is pieces that one can go on playing even after reaching and advanced level. Most people would drop these pieces as soon as they could play better stuff. So I will not include them).
Haydn’s sonatas in their entirety may be too difficult for a beginner, however there are several movements that are very easy. Some of the most impressive are:
Sonata in F, Hob XVI/9, 3rd mvt, Scherzo – For the budding virtuoso. Beginners can easily master this movement at slow speed. More advanced beginners can start working on speed. Lots of learning/practising tricks can be learned as one studies this piece. (How to work for speed, how to get accuracy, etc.)
Sonata XVI/8, 4th mov, Finalle: Allegro. As above. This is a fast exhilarating movement, very short, very repetitive in its broken chord figurations. Excellent for forearm rotation and bringing the bass melody over the mist of sound created by the very fast RH. Hands swap figurations occasionally, so both hands get a workout. If you hear this piece, you will not believe how easy it is (around grade 1/2).
Sonata XVI/8, 3rd mov, Andante – A wonderful slow and lyrical movement. Omit the ornaments for the early beginners. Very easy, but due to the unexpected skips it teaches one to think ahead.
(eventually you can add the other, more difficult movements of these sonatas when the student is ready for them).
Sonatina no. 1 in G major – This has to be the first sonatina to be learned. Grown ups may not find it so useful, but for the below 10 is a great repertory. The second movement is the easiest, but also dull. The first and third movements are excellent. Scale fragments, Alberti patterns, broken arpeggios. Very good for finger articulation/ independence.
I love Amy Beach music. There is just too much stuff to list and comment here, but have a look at her Children’s Album op. 36, and at her Children Carnival op. 25. They are probably more suited to the later beginner (6 months – one year of lessons).
Pierrot & Pierrette (from op. 25) is a wonderful waltz with a beautiful melody and unusual harmony, very easy and yet it sounds very “professional”.
My favourite though is “Secrets” (also from op. 25) where arpeggio figurations are divided between the hands so that they are (almost) never together. Excellent exercise in equalising the hands tone, and an exquisite piece of music.
Gurlitt wrote an enormous amount of pieces for beginners is a style similar to Schumann’s. A lot of it is drivel, but here and there you can find some real gems. Main problem is that the real gems are usually for intermediate students rather than beginners. In any case, try these (but by all means explore the rest):
Morning prayer, Op. 101 no. 2 - Beautiful chorale in three voices, will prepare for four voice chorales. Very easy. From here, go to the one below.
Sunday, Op. 101 no. 18 – Four part chorale. Excellent to learn four part harmony and bring up the top voice in each chord.
The fair, op. 101 no. 8 – Very light, with a fast RH going through a circular semiquaver pattern. Very good to develop the inflection of short melodic motifs. Fro the budding virtuoso.
Valse Noble op. 101 no. 14 – A very nice waltz with just 16 bars (two 8-bar phrases). Good for learning how to contrast the grazioso section with the scherzo section.
A song without words, op. 117 no. 34 – A study in broken chords very effective in performance.
Lullaby – Beautiful piece with the accompaniment equally divided between both hands and the melody played with fingers 4-5 of the RH. Excellent preparation for similar figuration in the more advanced repertory (e.g. Mendelssohn’s Song without words op. 19 no.1). Although easy, it is for the late beginner.
In the garden, op. 140 no. 4 – The melody is in the LH while the RH accompanies with syncopated chords. Excellent for teaching how to voice between the hands.
To a Wild Rose – Lovely piece very easy technically, but demanding the greatest expressivity in playing. Probably better suited to older students. Good for awakening the skills for expression in one’s playing.
Mayflowers op. 61 – 25 easy pieces very romantic, most less than a page long. I like no. 10 “Spanish dance”, melody on the RH, LH rhythmic repeated chords. As you know beginners have difficulty with chords, so this is a good one.
Album for the young op. 68. There are over 40 exceptional pieces n this set, but only the first ten or so are really for beginners.
Album for the young op. 39. Not all pieces are for beginners. The easier are no. 1 “Morning prayer” a four voice chorale, no.7 “The sick doll” which is very easy, but the melody is on the second beat of the bar, so it requires attention to voicing, no. 8 “The doll’s burial” very slow and heavy; no. 21 “Daydream”, very good to learn how to do offbeat chord accompaniment and no. 24 “In Church”, again a 4/5 voice chorale, but easier because of repeated chords. Excellent to learn syncopated pedalling.
If I have time I will add some modern stuff here later.
This should keep you going for a while.
Beethoven's ecossaises and landler are good, and can get a beginner student up to speed rather quickly.
The problem with modern pieces is that there is just so much of it! This doesn’t even cover the tip of the iceberg!
“Mysterious Procession” – This is for the total beginner, and can be taught on the very first lesson. RH play a steady even ostinato using only the note E, while the left hand plays the melody which consists only of ABC in different orders and simple rhythms. Excellent for sight-reading, for hand independence, for expressive playing and for bringing up a melody on the left hand. It can also be used as a seed for free improvisation.
“Petit Trianon suite” – These are ten easy pieces, each one covering a dance style on the 18th century. This is excellent for rhythm development and to introduce the student to old dance patterns (which keep recurring on the piano repertory). Excellent recital material for the beginners.
“Four popular diversions” – More difficult than the one above, they are also more modern in idiom. Each can be used both as repertory and as teaching material. “Little prelude in Waltz time” can be used to teach both about form and rhythm, “Baroque bounce” likewise can be used to discuss what is “Baroque”, “Echoes of the blues” introduces the blues scales, and “Ragtime doll” is excellent for syncopation.
“Signi Lieti” – 10 very easy, short pieces. The harmonies are traditional, the writing is highly pianistic and they make up excellent recital material.
“Pieces for Children” – The whole collection consists of 8 sets of short pieces fopr complete beginners. If you are familiar with Kabalevsky’s pieces for children, this is similar.
“The Ocean” – A collection of 10 pieces for the complete beginner, most you can teach at the first lesson. The interesting thing here is that they use the whole keyboard and introduce patterns that frequently appear in the more advanced pieces, so ther are excellent preparatory pieces. Again very good recital material for beginners.
“Hot Noon in the Meadow” – Similar in difficulty to the above, this set of pieces uses modern harmonies to tell stories, so it is a very good introduction to how and why chords and intervals can elicit different emotions (for instance, “The spider” uses tritons to build up suspense, and “Bees and Flies” uses chromatic intervals to emulate buzzing).
“Where the palm tree grows” – More difficult than the previous two, this is thoroughly contemporary music - and let us face it, contemporary music is not the most appealing to beginners – but this is a good introduction since it is not too radically contemporary.
Bloch composed a set of ten very interesting pieces called Enfantines, for his daughters. They are not for beginners though, except the first one, which may be tackled by a late beginner (6 months – 1 year of lessons):
“Lullaby” – Impressionistic writing, this is a very expressive piece that allows for the introduction of several concepts: Modes (the piece is written in the Aeolian mode), legato playing (the piece requires that one finger be held while th other fingers of the same hand play the melody above it), cantabile.
Paul Frederick Bowles:
“Folk preludes”- This is really for intermediate students, but I could not resist including it. These are excellent arrangements of classical American folk tunes. Truly enchanting pieces.
I will continue later.
For your 6 year old, give her/him Catherin Rollin's Bean Bag Zoo Collector's Series, Book 1 http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_detail.html?sku=AP.18777&car
I know you said you didn't want kid's songs, but this is a treat! All of the pieces have a very distinct character, use lots of different accompanying methods, cross over work. I use this for some of my young kids and they love the pieces. "Rainbow Fish" is a particularly interesting piece written in 6/4 and using the whole tone scale. It's range is all over the keyboard, using the damper pedal, and is heaps of fun to play. Kids feel very 'grown up' playing it because of it's lush full sound.
Book 2 in the series is a little harder and it's pieces even more versatile. "The Bean Bag Bull" is a favourite with it's Spanish dramatic feel, syncoptated rhythms, use of harmonic chords, hugely dynamic. I even enjoy playing this one!!
For your 8 year old, try Martha Mier's Jazz, Rags and Blues books.
There's a piece in this book that even your 45 year old would really enjoy playing called "Seventh Street Blues". Technically very easy with the left hand in harmonics, but lends itself strongly to interpretation and a 'mood piece.' Lovely, rich sounding.
I am the hugest Martha Mier fan. Buy anything of hers. you really can't go wrong.
I'm a big believer in Henry Purcell. Love his 'singable' melodies. His 'March in C' is a great work for perhaps your 45 year old to tackle. It uses two voicings in the left hand which is technically more difficult than the right hand. Uses broken chords, runs, octave work, pedal point, stacatto in the left hand with legato in the right and vice versa. Small section of semiquaver work.
his 'Old Dance Tune' is another favourite and one that I even enjoy playing now, just because I like the melody so much. The piece is in E minor. It would be suitable for either your 8 year old or your 45 year old.
I second Bernhard's recommendation of Bach's Little Notebook for Anna Magdelena. Some gems in there. I especially like the Musette in D major for it's left hand octave work, the quick 'jump' needed in bar three to play hands in similar motion.
I'm a little fonder of the easy Mozart and Beethoven pieces than Bernhard, so I will include them.
Beethoven's Russian Folk Song, is a good one for your 6 year old. The melody is very simple with a nice contrast of legato and stacatto. The whole section A can be played in the same hand position with only one bar requiring the second finger to pass over the thumb. Section B sees a dotted rhythm, change of hand position and one finger exchange. It also introduced tenuto and accent. The bass is unpredictable and has one octave interval your six year old could tackle. Its tempo is VIVACE - and what's not fun and challenging about that? This piece probably wouldn't hold as much interest for your 8 and 45 year old though.
Your 8 year old may enjoy Mozart's Minuet No. 1 in G major (including the Trio) - allegro. Begins with hands in similar motion, has a triplet, a variety of touches. The trio goes into C major, has two voicings in the left hand. Love all the sections in this piece and is a good one for analysis work away from the piano. Great recital piece if you include the many repeats.
Your 45 year old may enjoy Beethoven's Sonatina in G (including the Romanze). Attention to phrasing, grace notes, harmonics, alberti bass, broken chords all make the accompaniment interesting. Be sure to include the Romanze written in 6/8 and play them one after the other. I think the Romanze is even more interesting and has some challenging finger work, arpeggiation, fermata, dynamic. This can be an expressive piece. Another one I enjoy playing even now.
For your 8 year old, try Burgmuller's Arabesque (Op.100 no.2) It emphasis both the right hand and then the left hand in very fast five finger scales. Good for developing the 'internal' metronome we need as players and helps to get fast quaver work even. Also has some very scarey leger notes going on and lets the student know they're not that scarely afterall. Typical of all romantic pieces, it is laden with expression marks such as leggiero, dim e poco rall., dolce, risoluto. Notes on page may not be difficult, but the musicality involved is great.
Your 45 year old may enjoy Schubert's "Landler" (D.679 no. 2 in Eflat major). Extrmemely easy but has a nice 'chopin' feel about it, which is very pleasing to the ear. Good one for analysis work away from the piano to see that much music is only certain phrases repeated
over and over.
Your 8 year old would really enjoy Rebikoffs "The Organ Grinder". (F major, valse moderato). The left hand is a simple C Bflat Bflat (written in the treble) motif that never ceases - gives a real hypnotic effect. Very difficult to keep controlled. Wonderul melody that once again goes into some full on leger work and harmonics in the right hand. LOVE THIS PIECE, play it often even now with my eyes close and just enjoy the wonderful mood it creates. Dynamic range is f to ppp. I have no doubt your 45 year old would love it too and probably has the maturity to really breathe some life into it.
These are some of my favourites. Hope you find it helpful.