Colorado Power Piano

Music Notes

Archive for April, 2014

Improvising Latin Tunes

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Well, our international readership continues to grow. We have been corresponding with a musician from Mumbai, India about his improvisation skills. He plays in public some and wanted some help in what to do with his left hand while playing Latin tunes. Since our own students also ask for help with Latin rhythms, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a sheet showing 9 different basic Latin Rhythms: Rhumba, two Tangoes, two Bossa Novas, Merengue, Mambo, Reggae, and Beguine. They are attached to this posting in Adobe PDF format. You need Adobe Reader to see them, but if you don’t have it, it’s a free download file to get from Adobe. The PDF file of the sample sheet we produced is Latin LH

Til next time,


The Great Pianists

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Harold Schonberg has written a very readable book about the great pianists.  We recommend it to any of our students who want to read about the early piano players and composers.  He has descriptions of their lives and specific descriptions of how they actually played the piano from their contemporaries.  The book includes many translations from letters by the great composers/pianists themselves and their friends.

From Mozart’s fabulous legato that “flowed like oil” to Beethoven’s oceanlike surge, from Clara Schumann’s touch “sharp as a pencil sketch” to Rubinstein’s volcanic and sensual playing, The Great Pianists brings to life the brilliant, stylish, and sometimes eccentric personalities, methods, and technical peculiarities of history’s greatest pianists.

It’s available in paperback at Amazon.  Here’s the link.  And enjoy.

Til next time,



April Piano Groups

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

We so enjoy our monthly piano groups.  The variety of music that our students choose to play constantly inspires us.  We have a core group of people who come every month and another larger group that comes every few months, so there are always at least a dozen players.  We have what we call Soup Group on the first Sunday of each month where I make a large pot of soup.  Everyone takes a turn and plays a piece, then we have soup, then everyone plays another piece and we have dessert and finally we each play a third piece.  It’s a great way to start off the month.  Then the second Sunday of each month we go to one of our students’ houses and each play one piece and the host provides refreshments.  This month we were in Evergreen at Wayne Miller’s house watching it snow while one of our students played George Gershwin’s Summertime.  Here’s the list of what was played this month at piano groups.  The thing about hearing all these pieces is, how it encourages all of us to play something someone else has played because it sounded like fun.

Scarlatti Sonata in Dm

After You’ve Gone

Spanish Dance

Rockin’Good Way

Blue Monk

Beethoven’s 9th Sonata 1st movement

The Jody Grind

Count on Him

The Gypsy

One Day More

Haydn Sonata No. 9 in F (3 movements)

Lichner Sonatina #1 1st movement

Blowin in the Wind

Endless Love

Frankie and Johnny

House of the Rising Sun

Lonesome Road

Time in a Bottle

If You Could Read My Mind

Ups and Downs

The Descent

Mack the Knife Improvisation

Chelsea Bridge


Mood Indigo

If You Go Away

Beethoven 12th Sonata 3rd Movement


Til next time,


First Pieces – Haydn

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Well, it’s a new month and I am saying goodbye to Lichner and hello to Haydn.  For those of you following this series, you know I change composers every month and play the recommended first pieces to get acquainted with a new composer.  And then I perform several at our piano groups.

Haydn was the first great master of the classical piano sonata. He was given instruction in keyboard playing, singing, violin playing, and composition from the time he was a small child. He sang in the Vienna Boys Choir for a few years at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. But when his voice changed, he was forced to earn his own living in Vienna by teaching piano, accompanying, and playing his violin in orchestras.

When he was 29, he was hired by Prince Esterhazy to become the court composer, pianist, and chief musician. He had a very successful 30 year career at the Esterhazy court and produced hundreds of fine compositions. He eventually composed about 60 piano works that today we call piano sonatas. They were originally called Divertimenti or Partitas, but today all these multi-movement pieces are called sonatas. Many of them were written for teaching at the Esterhazy court and so they are perfect pieces today for students starting to learn classical piano sonata form. Mozart was a great admirer of Haydn and Beethoven actually studied with Haydn. He was known throughout Europe as Papa Haydn

Here are the first five pieces in order.  All numbers are the Hoboken numbers (the best catalog system we have found for Haydn).  All of them are available in an inexpensive volume from Kjos publishers, edited by Keith Snell.  Here is a link to the book if you are interested BOOK.

Sonata no. 1 in C Major – First Movement Listen HERE

Sonata No. 9 in F Major – First Movement Listen HERE

Sonata No. 10 in C Major – First Movement Listen HERE

Sonata No. 9 in F Major – Third Movement Listen HERE

Sonata No. 1 in C Major – Second Movement Listen HERE

Happy Haydn and Happy Spring – til next time,