CLASSICALLY TRAINED PIANO TEACHERS are invited to take part in Elena Cobb Jazz Workshop For Classically Trained Pianists At MusicExpo 2014 London. This fun and informal event aims to bring classical and jazz genres closer. I will be delivering a confident advice on how to start teaching improvisation, and offer some simple steps and ideas leading to a performance which includes an improvised section.
The workshop involves audience participation and will be accompanied by a live Jazz Band – so please join the fun! There will be a free prize draw to win Higgledy Piggledy Jazz for piano with a play-along CD book. Interested? Click on the MusicExpo banner for FREE registration! Location: Barbican Centre London, Session Time: 11:25 – 12.00, Date: Friday 7 February 2014 Twitter @MusicEdExpo @hpj4piano
The ‘Derbyshire Event’ is organised by the BBC Radio Derby will take place at the historic English country house Kedleston Hall on September 22nd, Sunday between 10am and 5pm. The Edwards Family Singers performed several songs from the ‘Higgledy Piggledy Jazz’ musical including ‘Star Dust’ and “Peony Pink’.
“HOORAY, we have a new composer of Jazzy piano pieces for young pianists! Elena Cobb is a classically trained and experienced teacher, and has taught in her own country of Russia and in the UK. HIGGLEDY PIGGLEDY JAZZ comprises ten piano pieces and a play-along CD featuring a live jazz band recording. The pieces are aimed at young pianists who are around Grade 1-4 standard, but often sound harder – what WE ALL SECRETLY LOVE. Cobb (to be found at www.elenacobb.com), says that she wants to make learning and playing easier for children, and to this end she uses the 12-bar blues, colour-coded chord changes and tricky bits, and includes lyrics in some of the pieces. I was dubious about the Grade 1 listing but tried the first piece, “super Duck’ on a pupils who had just done Grade 1 and they learnt it very quickly. ‘I Ate All the Choc’late’ is one of the several pieces in the book that encourages improvisation via an alternative set of blank bars with simple guidelines.
It’s great to have a book that represents Grade 1 to 4 as it can be used for sight-reading, fun, and as material to look at between the grades. I have to say that that my adult pupils got in on the act too, enthusiastically road-testing it for me on Saturday mornings.
‘BLUE RIVER’ has been composed for aspiring pianists who are Grade 5 and above. The six pieces in this book are in blues, Latin and other jazzy styles and are available to download from Elena Cobb’s website or to buy as a hard copy. My absolute favourite piece is ‘Cloud Seven Latin’ and I can see this and some of the other pieces becoming great concert, GCSE and competition pieces for my pupils whatever their age.”
My book ‘Blue River’ for piano received a fantastic review from the International Pianist Sept/Oct 2013 issue.
By Murray McLachlan
“This is a hugely enjoyable collection of six original, well crafted and highly accessible pieces for grade 6+ players in need of some light-hearted pianistic relief. The opening number, Blue River, could swing nicely along under the hands of even the most timid intermediate level players, while the more knowledgeable and adventures will smile at the witty references to Rhapsody in Blue in Mrs Van Der Blond. Particularly effective, too, are the clever voicings that evoke the sounds of an accordion player in Tango Leone. Elsewhere, we have more of the blues, a touch of the silver screen in Star Dust and some Latin-American dance, too. Explore and enjoy.”
Please feel free to browse through the ‘Blue River’ page where you can listen to the recordings byLuis Parés, and see the previews of each piece while you are listening.
It is true to say that when it comes to choosing repertoire, teachers and pupils have different musical tastes. Should it be different? In the ideal world, music teachers should be in the position to decide on the style and manner in which he or she will present information and conduct lessons. After all, why it should be any different from, say, math’s lesson? Personally, I have never come across a situation when a pupil, or a parent would tell a math teacher which topics to study. But since all instrumental lessons are ‘extra’, I can think of only one explanation that we live in the market economy and more often than I would like to admit, pupils and their parents, being clients, will have an upper hand in choosing what they want ‘to do’.
Back in March, I was a guest speaker at the Derby Music Partnership Inset Day for instrumental teachers and needless to say, I was excited to meet my target audience. With the help from my two editors Sophie Freeman (Higgledy Piggledy Jazz for alto sax with a play-along CD) and James Rippingale (Higgledy Piggledy Jazz for classical guitar ensemble) my presentation was quickly taking shape.
There were two workshop sessions on that day and out of eighteen teachers who attended, six (!) brought their instruments. Plus, two piano teachers (one in each group) were happy to play ‘Super Duck‘ on the piano, which created an excellent opportunity to sample ‘how it works’ first hand. I was also pleasantly surprised when a group teachers with whom I shared table during lunch before the presentation, swapped their workshops and came along to hear me out.
As the main message for the workshop was LEARN-PERFORM-IMPROVISE, the presentation included a practical session showing my guests ‘how to improvise’ using Higgledy Piggledy Jazz books – all books in the series are interactive. The session was conducted by Sophie Freeman, a prolific sax player with huge experience of playing with top world-class musicians as well as in teaching.