Repertoire Rap #2: Film and New Age music that teens and adults love

By Tim Topham | Repertoire

Feb 23
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Repertoire Rap #2: Film and New Age music that teens and adults love.

All right, hi, everyone. Tim Topham here. Again, for my Repertoire Rap for this fortnight, this is number two. Today’s focus is going to be on your teen and adult students in particular. I found that in working in school environments and with more teenagers than just about any other group, they have some particular choices and desires and things that they want in music. Particularly if they’re low level. They’re not beginners. Been working or playing for a few years, so they can play, but I find they have pretty specific choices and really look for certain styles.

Like the other day I’m going to be generalizing a little bit today. I know that plenty of teenagers won’t like the music I’m going to show you today. I know plenty of them love classical music, whatever it is. I am just showing you music that I know does resonate with this crowd, and particularly adults. If you’ve got any adults in your studio, then you want to find music that engages them because that’s what it’s all about for them. As you come onto the call, if you’re watching live, then please just say, “Hi” in the comments. Be great to know where you’re from, as well.

Just say, “Hi, this is Tim from Melbourne,” or wherever you’re from, that’ll be great. As I play through the music, feel free to give me a thumbs up or a heart if you like the song or the piece that I’m playing. That’d be kind of cool. Again, feel free to share this if you know of other teachers around the world who might value this. Please press the share button there in front of you. Share it so other people know that I’m live, or know that they can access this recording. You can follow the recording at any time after this event as well.

All the links that I’m going to talk about today and more information on some discount codes, too, can be found at timtopham.com, T-O-P-H-A-M.com/rap. Make sure you check that page out if you’re interested in any of this music. I’ve got a little bit to go through today, so I’m not going to chat for too long. I think we might just get straight into the pieces. The first book I want to show you is one that is going to really resonate with teenagers and adults in particular is this one here. I’m not sure if you can see the title too well there.

It’s called River Flows in You. I’m pretty sure it’s distributed, yes, by Hal Leonard. Really good book because it’s just got a mix of some of this, the best music that this group of people really, really love. The kind of style that I’m talking about today is a little bit like, slightly minimal music. I find that this age group tends to like quite repetitive patterns, quite atmospheric music. I don’t know if this is the same for you. Give me a thumbs’ up or something if you find this as well with teenagers. Atmospheric music, quite repetitive lines.

This is the kind of music that I’m finding and demonstrating for you today. Please be aware, too, had some great discussion and feedback from the last Repertoire Rap when I was talking about pop music about whether it’s an important thing to teach, and whether we should be … I think one of the comments was, “Pandering” to our students and always playing and teaching them what they want to learn. I’ve always pretty clear, and maybe I wasn’t last week, but pretty clear when I present and talk about pop music and styles like this that this is just one aspect of a piano lesson.

I would never teach only one style. The only exception to that would be if it’s an adult student or a teenager student, and really they just want my help doing one thing. Composing or playing one style of music. You know what? If they’re doing year 12, and they’re playing piano for the fun of it, I’m not going to force them to learn a Bach invention if really they want to play some cool feel music. You know what? Because it’s an outlet for them. It’s meant to be relaxing and that sort of thing.

On the whole, though, I think music like this, pop music, video game music, all of that kind of stuff, it forms a part of a piano lesson. I don’t advocate only doing one thing at a time. Anne-Marie says, “Hello from Tennessee. As you know, I like the music from the movies, the movie the Piano.” You know what? That piece, the Heart Asks Pleasure First, is in one of these books, and it’s still a real winner. That style of music is exactly what I’m talking about. First piece from this book, River Flows In You. It’s the Piano Guys, their piece, All of Me.

I’ll just give you a little snippet, a little taste of what it sounds like. It’s got lots of big chords, big sounds, it’s in D flat major, so this is a reasonably advanced level piece. I figure my sight reading today. This isn’t something I’ve practiced, so a little bit rough. The full version is a little bit thicker and fuller in context and texture I should say. That’s the first piece in the book, it’s a great one. It’s called All of Me, by Jon Schmidt from the Piano Guys. You can buy that piece on its own, too, and it’s also in the Piano Guys compilation book too.

The second piece is an absolute sure winner. I want to give me a heart if you like this piece, okay? I could go on. This is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve seen since Hearts Go Along there. I think this is an absolute winning piece for students in this age category, the teenagers and adults. They’ll love it. I love it, and I’ve performed this at recitals, as well. It’s an absolute surefire winner. People love listening to it. People love playing it. The thing is it’s not that easy. The left hand is moving in octaves and has an arpeggiated pattern between the fifth and the fourth finger.

There’s a fair bit going on. It’s not a particularly easy piece, which is why I wanted to show you where you can find an easy version of this piece. You’re going to be blown away by the fact that this is so much easier, and yet it sounds almost the same. I’m going to play now a version from Noviscore, which is this site that I told you about last week, N-O-V-I-S-C-O-R-E. They have simplified arrangements of so much music online, and it’s all downloadable. There’s a discount. They’re offering until the end of February. If you’re watching this video, write down this coupon code.

TIMTOPFEB. Gets you 20% off until the end of Feb on their music. This is one of the examples. This is why I love what they do. Here’s their level two version of Compting, which is this piece, which everyone gave their hearts and thumbs up to. Here’s the simplified version. It just use breaking chords on the left hand. Try it. The melody is the same. It’s scored slightly differently, and then single notes. You can see it sounds pretty much the same, right? But a much more simplified version because the left hand is not doing something nearly as complex.

This is an absolute winning piece. If your student can play, grade. I don’t know, two, three, there’s some octave work in the second section. They’ll need to have a reasonable reach in their hands, but if I can play a piece in E minor that uses some primary triads in the left hand and a simple melody in the right, then they can play this piece. Absolute winning piece. If you want to get the copy of that, noviscore.com, and use that coupon code. It’s all on the Repertoire Rap page on my site, timtopham.com/rap. That’s a really great one.

The original is in this book, and I’m talking about Cristofori’s Dream by David Lanz might be one that you’re familiar with. It’s got this twinkly sound again. A simple arpeggio of the left hand so that students can learn really, really fast. Nice melody up high the [keys [00:09:10]. What Susanna said, “That’s the most popular piece I get requests for from your adults.” Well, Susanna, check out if they’re not very advanced adults, then definitely check out that simplified version. It’s really good.

Another piece many of you will know, particularly if you teach in Australia and you use the Australian music exam board, Piano Felicia, Forrest Gump, that main title is in here, as well. That’s the one that goes. I’m sure many of us have taught that over time, particularly if you’re in Australia. That’s in the grade five Piano Felicia, Series Three Books. Again, you got another reference here. I guess in these Repertoire Raps, I’m trying to find resources and music books that have a lot of music in it that is useful.

Don’t you hate it when there’s a really great piece, but there’s only one or two in the book, and you’ve got to get your students to buy the whole thing? Just a bit of a waste. This book is brilliant. It’s full of lots of great ones. The Glasgow Love thing from Love Actually is in here, as well. It’s kind of nice. Sad but flowing. Chords, can practice bringing out a melody on the top. You get the idea. There’s also some great pedagogical work in this, in that they’ve got to bring out the melody, while using their thumb, [inaudible [00:11:06], while keeping it quiet, so we don’t hear …

Kind of thing, right? While a lot of this music there’s simplified areas to it, repetitive patterns and things like that. There’s often little complex issues that have a lot of pedagogical benefit and merit in teaching. I do like this style of music for that reason. Look, it appeals right? I said at the start, that I don’t teach a diet purely of one type of music, be that baroque, classical, contemporary, whatever it is. Students should have a mix, right?

This is a prime example, Kiss The Rain, by Yiruma. Yiruma’s two most favorite pieces are in this book, the other is at the back here. River Flows In You, most people will have probably taught or played at some stage. It’s a really popular one with students all over, all over the place. That piece there, sorry … His other most famous piece is called, Kiss The Rain, which may not be quite so familiar. Again very similar it’s got some similar styles and singularly appealing as well. This if I can find the main thing, goes …

That’s also in the book, his other piece Kiss The Rain. The first of Ludovico Einaudi pieces, which I’m going to be covering a fair bit of his music, because it’s the current now appealing, musical, pianistic choice for a lot of teenagers and adults. This is his piece called Primavara. It goes something like this. There’s a lot of similarities between Ludovico Einaudi, who I just played then, and then the likes of Max Richter, and Philip Glass, Michael Nyman. The minimalist composers. He’s got huge appeal, in fact I went to see him on stage, live in Melbourne. He played two weeks ago. It was a phenomenal concert.

The thing that I thought the coolest is, this is effectively a piano recital. He was on the grand piano facing the back of the stage, he had violin and cello, he had bass player and extra keyboards and percussionist and some guy at the front left playing a whole load of instruments I don’t even know what they were. It was fascinating watching the audience come out, and it was, I recon average age, 20-40. Huge difference to what you get from your standard traditional classical recital. That’s because the music is so appealing.

Look out for his work, Ludovico, L-U-D-O-V-I-C-O, Ludovico Einaudi, E-I-N-A-U-D-I, if you haven’t come across his music before. That’s all from a book called River Flows In You, distributed by Hal Leonard. Again, links to all these books and where you can grab them and any discounts that I’ve been able to find for you, is at Timtopham.com/rap.

“Thank you for the different background.” Ah yes, I’ve moved into a new room, so it makes a nice change. Okay, second book that I want to show you a few pieces from, this is another great one for students. That looks like this here. Let me just grab it, sorry. Can’t do two things at once. Okay. All right, that’s Piano Anthology. This is volume two. It’s in volume one and volume two copies. I like volume one the most, I think that’s better of the two books.

Hal Leonard, if you’re in Australia, is doing a little discount for people who are watching this. You can 15% off, I think it is. Either volume one or two. The links on that Repertoire Rap page. I’m going to actually show you a few of the pieces of book one. Which includes one of the first pieces it includes is the Gymnopedies, by Sati, that everyone plays at some stage. That’s a great way to get a copy of that in a book with a whole lot of other goodies.

Let me show you a few other things. We were talking about Ludovico. Let me play you another of his pieces. This one is called Le Onde. It’s from one of his other compilation books, goes a little bit like this. This beautiful minor note sound, isn’t it, fantastic when it’s arpeggio like that. This called Le Onde, L-E space O-N-D-E. You’ll be able to find this in other books by Ludovico Einaudi. Great piece, really appealing. It’s in B minor. It’s got some challenges again of bringing out a melody and an accompaniment in one hand. It’s by no means simple, but a great level of challenge for those intermediate students.

Yeah, Suzanne says, she’s getting a lot of LE, Ludovico Einaudi requests too. You know what, it’s okay. His music’s great. Because it’s so pattern based, you can actually teach it in quite a patterned way. You can work on the chord progression, and you can explore what he’s done to keep the variations interesting.

I want to play you one other, which is in this book. I’m still in this book, volume one of this series, is probably one of his most popular pieces called Nuvole Bianche. I’m going to play a little bit of that now. Give us a heart, if you like this piece. Sorry. Finishing key? Let’s try A. Sorry, F minor.

Not even sure, what key is this in? It’s in F minor, my bad, wrong choice for finishing chords right in the middle there. Great piece, sorry if I botched that for you and you were having a little moment there and enjoying it. Really good piece, it’s called Nuvole Bianche. I’ve taught this a number of times. Great, again some good challenges in there for students, it’s not just an easy piece that they can learn in a week or two. Take a little bit of effort, but again, really, really appealing. Warm, rich sounds. Thank you for the thumbs up that just came through there.

Susanna says she, “Had an adult beginner who was able to play that in just seven months.” There you go. Adult beginner, in seven months. That is impressive. That ain’t easy. Also in this book is the Schindler’s List theme. Which, I don’t need to play too much of. This is clearly the jazz version, I’ll play again. I’ll start again.

So, I’m just mentioning that because it’s a piece that a lot of teachers use, and is on some exam boards. That’s in here as well, it’s a good one to know about. An interesting one, choice that they’ve put in is, Elton John’s, Song for Guy. Great piece, fairly simple, it’s in C major. The thing that I like about this is from a teaching perspective, is that it introduces students to the concept of having to hang a chord under a melody. It’s a little bit like playing a lead sheet. We’ve got this.

They’ve got to bring out the top line, while playing the chord underneath. It’s almost like a ridden out, a realized lead sheet of some sort. I’ve got a fantastic podcast coming out tomorrow week, with Suzanne [Deez [00:20:33]. We’re talking all about lead sheets, and all the research she did into lead sheets and how teachers teach it, or not and that kind of stuff. Make sure you check that out. That’s episode, I think it’s episode 77, due to come out not tomorrow, but the following week.

Someone mentioned the pian, there’s two songs from, or pieces from the piano. The hardest I’ll play first, which is the old … Most teachers have taught that at some stage, if you’ve been teaching for any length of time, that does tend to come up. Again, very, very appealing, that’s in there. Thanks for the thumbs up. That’s in there, as is I think it’s called Big My Secret. It’s got a funny name. Right at the start I saw it. Big My Secret. Which I think is also from the Piano, yep. There’s two pieces there, by Michael Nyman. That could be nice and appealing for students as well.

Okay, that was the Piano anthology Book. The next one that I want to show you is, let me just go up here. This piece, oh sorry, this book. It’s called Greatest Themes From The Movies. Has anyone already come across this? Give me a thumbs up if you already know about this one. This is another winner out of this little series that I’m showing you today. I’ll show you a few different pieces that are in here. While I’ve never taught it, I always enjoy playing it, because it seems to bring back memories.

Let me play you this, see if this sounds familiar to you? It’s that eerily, kind of memory, hauntingly, memory bringing back. I don’t know. Does anyone know what this one is? Give me a thumbs up if you like this piece, or if you ever taught it. Again, it’s not something that I’ve taught, it’s kind of almost … Because it’s just fifths in the left hand, I haven’t used it as a teaching piece. It could be appealing for some adults who remember the original piece, or the movie, which it’s from, which is American Beauty. For those of you who are wondering. That’s in there.

I’m also interested to find an easy version of The Heart Asks Pleasure First. The Michael Nyman one that I just played before, this is the easy version, which I think is pretty cool. That section that I just played sounds like this in the easy version. The left hand has just been simplified and you haven’t got any of the complexity in the right hand. It’s pretty much melody and accompaniment.

Great way for the students of this, although the left hand is doing a lot of repeating, the octave pattern. Students would need to be able to reach and octave. It’s not that far beyond a grade three level over here in Australia. That could be worth checking out. If your student likes that piece, maybe they’re an adult beginner who likes that piece, and really wants to learn it, but the full version is too hard, that could be a good option for you.

Hello to Rene, thank you for saying, “Hello.” Please introduce yourself, say, “Hi.” We’ve got a few people on the call now, so tell us where you’re from too. Now I’m going to play a tune here by Dave Grusin. This is from the movie Tootsie. Now, I don’t actually know this movie, when I was playing through it I was like, “That’s kind of appealing.” I would be interested, give us a thumbs up if you know this movie theme. All right, I’m going to play it. Here we go. I’m going to try and play it anyway. Goes something like this.

Have I done that right? Those of you guys who know what this is like. I don’t know. Hello to [Kaylene [00:25:19] as well, from North Carolina, awesome. That’s called, It Might Be You, theme from Tootsie. Again, not one that I know that well, but I thought could be quite appealing anyway. Heres one that I know for a fact, is 100% appealing. If you’ve got a teenage boy in your studio, who can bring some music and you haven’t done this piece yet, then you need to get onto it.

Let’s find the main theme. Write the title in the commentary if you can tell me what it is. Biff, Biff is on the call, hey Biff. One of my members, good to see you on the call. What is it? Who can tell me? Has it already flashed past my screen. Really, really popular, everyone loves to play that. It’s of course, John Williams, and it’s the theme from Jurassic Park. That’s in there too. What else did I like here? I don’t want to go too long today.

Theme song from Saint Elmo’s Fire. Again, this is one I know the tune of, I don’t really remember the show or the movie. But I did know the tune. It goes like this. Pretty cool tune. It’s a little bit [inaudible [00:27:19] a little bit cliché, would I say? Or, I don’t know. It’s bit like playing Ballade Pour Adeline, or something like that. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe a little bit old school. It’s fun to play, I enjoy playing it, it sounds good. It sounds fine.

There’s also a piece by Michel Legrand, the theme from Summer of ’42. Give it a heart if you know this tune. This isn’t one that I knew, but again, I thought it would be quite appealing. Anyone know that one? Ah yeah, we’ve got a couple of hearts coming through, good. That’s a good one, that’s also in the book.

Oh, we’ve got a few more thumbs up, thank you very much guys. The theme from Tubular Bells. This just takes me back to listening to my dad’s CDs when I was, I don’t know, 10-12, something like that. When did we get a CD player? I can’t even remember when they came in. We just got a CD player, this was one of the tunes I remember playing over and over and over again. I’ve never taught Tubular Bells, this is the theme from the Exorcist. There’s some great challenges in there, I think it would be really appealing. As I say, I haven’t taught it. If you’ve taught Tubular Bells, just click that thumbs up. It would be interesting to know.

I think it would be quite an appealing little tune to play. Good rhythmic challenges in particular. Okay, last book, or last couple of things I want to show you. I haven’t played a whole lot of Philip Glass, at the moment. I find that Philip Glass … I do like some of his music, but some of it is a little bit odd. It can be quite repetitive too. I know there’s one piece, one of the metamorphoses is in our grade 4 piano syllabus over here in Australia for the AMEB.

I think, again, it’s not one that I’ve really used, because I don’t think that it appeals that much. One piece that does tend to appeal of Philip Glass’ is his opening piece from Glassworks. I’ve put a link to it on the Repertoire Rap page. It goes a little bit like this. Incredibly repetitive, it’s minimalism in its purest sense. This piece is great for working on two versus three rhythms. Two to three, versus the one two, one, two. Some fun technical work there.

You can teach it very quickly as chords. It’s reasonably quick to learn once the students get the hang around the rhythm. I find that it’s quite an appealing piece to listen to. Now, someone’s mentioned Chariots of Fire. One of these books has Chariots, which one is it? I should have mentioned that.

Chariots of Fire is in this one, Greatest Themes From the Movies. Let’s see if it’s the real version. Ah yes, I think so. Yeah, I can’t really do the drums and play at the same time. That’s in this book, Greatest Theme From The Movies. I haven’t played every piece in these books, so do go online and check their listings, so you can find out what’s actually in them. That’s the full list of pieces just in this book. I’ve really just chosen a few selections. Definitely check that one out.

The last one I want to show you is a book called Coldplay for Classical Piano. Right? This is the Philip Keveren series. He’s rearranged Coldplay pieces in a classical style. He’s given them some real pianism, and obviously, some different styles. This is In My Place. I’ll just play a couple of selections from him, see if you recognize this one. Little bit rough that one. That was In My Place.

I also liked Atlas. I think this one will really appeal. It’s got this flowing right hand arpeggio, Adele style thing going on. That’s a piece of music from the Hunger Games, Catching Fire. That will appeal potentially to a lot of teenagers. The other one I thought would be good, let me just check my bookmarks. I haven’t book marked this. There’s Clocks, there’s a version of Clocks. You know, it’s so done, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that one. Although, a student might want to learn that.

The other one I think is kind of cool is, Fix You. This is one of my favorite Coldplay songs, and it goes a little bit like this. What I think Philip Keveren has done with the Coldplay music is really create some dedicated piano, pianistic, piano arrangements of it. An intermediate to early advanced level, so they’re a good challenge, and I think students will really enjoy them, because they’re all songs that they will have heard on the radio. They already know those songs, a great one to use.

That was a book called, Coldplay For Classical Piano, arrange by Philip Keveren. Again, the links for all these books that I’ve been talking about, any discounts that I’ve been able to find for you is at Timtopham.com/rap, R-A-P. Please check that out and make sure you grab any of those discounts. There’s definitely one for Noviscore and people buying Hal Leonard, if you’re in Australia, they’ve given me a little discount to share with you there too.

Okay, I think that’s really what I wanted to cover today. I don’t want to give you too many books. I know we’re all really busy and I don’t want to overwhelm people with too much information. I think with those three or four books in your collection, you’ll be able to really inspire and engage and keep your teenagers and your adults very interested in music. As I said, right at the beginning, if you missed it, I’m not advocating that we ditch every style of music and just teach Ludovico Einaudi. Unless, that’s something that the student is … You know, if they’re an older student and that’s really what they want to do, then maybe that’s okay. I always advocate from a mix of activities and a mix of styles of music in lessons.

As you know I love the whole, let’s play as much repertoire as possible during the course of a year. Let’s explore a whole repertoire of all different levels. If your student is playing at this level and that’s their grade six, or whatever, then they should be playing lots of music at grade one, two, and three level, and just exploring repertoire, okay?

Please do keep that in mind, I would love your feedback on this. Getting some comments coming through, thanks Biff and Caroline, it’s awesome to see you guys on the call today. Please take the chance now, if you can share this I would really, really appreciate it. It would be a fantastic help for me to keep spreading the word about, well, it’s good music right? We want to keep as many students playing piano for as long as possible. If we can really hook them in with some great music by one of these composers, then you know, we’ve done part of our job, right?

All right, I think that’s all from me, thanks again today, it’s been just over half an hour, which I think is probably a good amount of time. Go grab a coffee, or a glass of wine wherever you are in the world, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. See you.

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About the Author

Best-known for his blogging and teaching, Tim is also a well-respected presenter, performer and accompanist based in Melbourne, Australia. You can check him out on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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