Updated: Sep 12
Submitted by Joan C. Sommers
ATG has once again had a very successful Festival and because of the visitors from the Reunion Island there were more young players than we have had normally! It was really exciting to hear them cheering for each other, whether they were members of the Polyphonia Orchestra or not, when contestants walked onstage to receive their trophies and have their photos taken. It is too bad they cannot come every year! They were wonderful to have around all of us.
As I begin to write about some solos I have selected for this issue of the ATG Bulletin, I am reminded that one of the mistakes many teachers make is that they do not challenge their students to read and play as best they can a lot more pieces of different levels. I recall the many years when I had players auditioning to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and I would ask them to play some solos for me. Well, in far too many cases, they could just play one or with luck maybe two pieces. They said they had spent almost a year working on contest solos and nothing else! All of us need to read many pieces just for the experience and, dare I say, for fun! Not every solo should be THE ONE for competition.
I say that not only because my past experiences make me believe it, but also because I know piano teachers who have turned out some really fine players and as part of their weekly assignments their students had to take home some, sometimes many, pieces just to sight read and return when they came for their next lesson. The teachers didn’t even ask to hear them; they were not the assigned lesson solo(s) for memorizing and completion for recitals or competitions. So with those thoughts in mind I am going to give you several solos to read and, if for some reason you or your students can use all of them for sight reading, fine, or if you find something worthy of real attention and completion, even better.
1. Midnight Waltz by Stas Venglevski is one of his early compositions, and one which has a beautiful melody with measure after measure of opportunity to play with expression and an abundance of dynamics throughout. There is much more, however, since the basses move around perhaps a bit unexpectedly in this level and perhaps challenge players. This is one of the plusses of reading (or learning) this solo; both hands have distinct movement as well as the needed attention to dynamics and bellows. Just because a composer (or arranger) does not place a lot of dynamic markings doesn’t mean the player should not do so! That is part of becoming a fine musician and, while some players might be shy about doing so, teachers or more experienced players will do so naturally. I have taken the liberty of marking the bellows. You will also find an extra dynamic marking, too. Play this piece with all the beauty it deserves!
2. Menuet in G Major (Beethoven, Arr. by A. Galla-Rini). This piece is a familiar piece and, one of the reasons I have selected it is because of all the well-marked phrases in both hands. Fingering is also carefully indicated, although some teachers might like to change a few. The Left Hand is written with full chord notation but also includes the names of the chords. There is a lot of detail provided in this solo. The phrasing in both hands is absolute and only gives problems in M. 25 and M. 26 since LH slurs differently than the RH. Extra work will be required here, of course. Galla-Rini has indicated many dynamics and the several legato and staccato sections throughout. I have marked some suggested bellows. This is an old solo but it is such a great teaching piece and fun to play, thanks to both Beethoven and Galla-Rini!
3. Ping-Pong and Mélodie en FA (Melody in F) by Franck Angélis. Because of copyright restrictions, neither of these two pieces are complete! But I wanted to show you a couple of the solos from Volume 1. I urge you to purchase all three of these outstanding books Pièces Pédagogiques pour Accordéon Basses Standard written by the composer whose works include some of the most demanding, technically and musically as well as for LH free bass, which have been written for the accordion. He was urged to write some original solos which younger and less-experienced players could play; these three volumes are the result. The pieces are wonderful, especially so for this level and the fact they are for standard LH instead of Free Bass. You and your students will really like all the pieces! I suggest you contact Ernest Deffner Publications to buy these books which are published in French by the composer through Cnima, Jacques Mornet.
4. Contradance by W. A. Mozart, from Introduction to the Masterworks, edited by Willard A. Palmer, and published by Alfred Publishers. This short little solo for piano is very easily played by LH free-bass players regardless of system. Many of the pieces in this book are easily adapted for the accordion, but in addition help introduce several different well-known composers to accordionists. I have indicated some fingering for the LH quint free bass system, but chromatic players will find the left hand quite easy, too. The piece would be good for players who are just getting acquainted with LH free bass, regardless of the system.
5. Le Secret (Intermezzo Pizzicato) by L. Gautier, Arr. by A. Galla-Rini. This is from a book which is no longer published, so I have included the complete piece. It is just a simple eighth note melody for piano solo which anyone could use on a program. At one time it was always included in all the piano publications of well-known pieces; it is happy, it has nice dynamics, the bellows and the fingering for both hands have all been marked. Just have fun playing it.
6. To The Races by John Gart. I have included a shortened version of this piece just for your exercise! The fingering is marked as needed and one can build up some real speed (i.e. the title!) on these broken octaves! But it is helpful to practice just for the exercise it provides. You can purchase the book which has several John Gart solos in it, including this piece and others I have mentioned in the past.