Monday, October 7, 2013

The Annunciation of Mary (from "A Nativity Suite")

I've got some more exciting news!
Please take a peek at what has been consuming my entire summer: my "A Nativity Suite" for piano/voice. A CD and the sheetmusic will be available in the form of an ebook or individual peices on in November 2013. :)

This is the piece that "conceived" the idea for a Nativity Suite:

Please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An outstanding review!

I am so pleased to announce that Elena Cobb, the UK composer of "Higgledy Piggledy Jazz" piano/guitar/saxophone books and also the "Blue River" jazzy piano book for adults gave me a WONDERFUL review of my own compositions!

Please read the review from Ms. Cobb:

Introducing Anna Maliszewski

Anna Maliszewski at her studio
I will not be mistaken when saying that music which is written in modern times will appeal to the contemporary learner audience more than, say, a baroque style pieces. And I always note that modern compositions will be played better too. Although, the classical repertoire occupies a leading position in piano teacher’s lessons, many of us are keen to explore and to give way to something that is fresh of the press.
I am very keen to introduce to you Anna Maliszewski (USA) who has recently discovered  composing as another creative musical outlet in addition to her thriving piano studio work. Anna aims to create piano solos that children and adults can really enjoy and I quote:
“… because playing music should be fun!”
You can find more information about Anna Maliszewski on her website:
Earlier this year, Anna has published her new collection of piano pieces, ten in total, for early to middle intermediate levels and they are available to buy instantly on the and each piece priced competitively at $3.99 The website also has an audio recording for each piece, so you can hear it first.
Anna gave each tune a title and each and one of them is a character piece, with plenty of character! ‘Imaginative and full of charm’ are the words I would use to describe Anna’s music. I can easily see pupils enjoying playing these pieces as they will be drawn into the world of a creative expression.
Anna’s compositions offer a variety of techniques and studying them will give your pupils a very good technical platform. Also, I would use these pieces as a source for the Sight Reading for more advanced pupils.
Let’s explore each of Anna’s pieces individually. If your pupil is struggling with the staccato technique, iIntroduce him, or her to the leaping staccato notes in the left hand from the HOP FROG POND!
Crossing hands will be fun to master while studying PROGRESSION SONATA. Pupils will love it and it is actually an excellent way to encourage the exploration of the geography of the piano keyboard.
A piece entitled SPIRIT has a very clever way in learning to play the octaves. All pianists need a good span between the first and fifth fingers in order to be able to play the octaves. But more than often, pupils can not stretch their fingers far enough and it can lead to a physical strain, injury, or just simply, to a disappointment. However, playing long notes of the haunting melody in the right hand will allow plenty of time to take care of the broken octaves in the left.
GYPSY FAIR is ideal for perfecting a skill of playing with dynamics. Classically arranged phrases will be repeated almost exactly in notation but will offer an opportunity to play them again with a different dynamic.
What boy, or girl would not get excited at the rare occasion to become a pirate in the piano lesson? And PIRATE’S SHANTY will offer this chance! It is the only piece with the lyrics and the rhymes sit really well with the tune while it swaps from right hand to the left. The march like music is full of energy. While playing this piece, pupil will learn the importance of bringing out the melody over the accompanying notes.
There are two waltzes in this collection: TURKEY WALTZ and GUITAR DANCETURKEY DANCE is very humoresque and it is easy to imagine a turkey taking a waltzy stroll over the yard.
GUITAR DANCE is written in a typical of the Romantic era style.  I’d say that the challenge of reading the notation and playing the piece with some accidentals will be a very satisfying experience and it will make a good introduction to the modulations in the music. A melody that is hidden in the quavers (eighth notes) of the right hand will be something to aim to bring out while playing it.
WANDERER will be liked by the teenagers as it contains the elements of the popular musical styles.
My favourite piece is the SPRINGTIME CLASSICA. It is a good example of the contemporary sound – fresh and modern. This piece is technically demanding and will help to develop strength in the left hand technique. I would highlight this piece as a very good direction for the compositions to come.
Anna Maliszewski is a pianist, teacher, composer and mother of twins in the Chicagoland area in the United States of America, who strives to teach her piano students creatively to instill in every student a sound foundation in music theory, technique, and beauty in sound. Anna has a BA from the University of Iowa and in 2003, she was the youngest member of the Chicago Master Singers! Anna also studied 10 years with concert pianist Barbara Enders, who even studied for some time under Mrs. Lhevinne. Every day Anna teaches she hopes to plant more seeds for them to grow a lasting love for music.
And in conclusion, If you are looking for something new and exciting, and your pupils need a break from the complexities of the examination work, get them to play Anna Maliszewski’s pieces and it will bring a sparkle to your lessons. Beautiful melodies will be quickly memorised as they are perfect for anyone who is learning to play the piano today.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Star Dust" by Elena Cobb (performed by Anna Maliszewski)

I am a piano teacher in America who teaches a variety of ages, and I was seeking out books that would not only be enjoyable to play, but would "catch" the attention of my students who were plateauing or who would not practice because of sports, or being forced, etc. I was desperate to find something that would have them sit down at the piano bench ON THEIR OWN because the music in front of them made them happy and eager to learn.

In my search several months ago, I stumbled upon Elena Cobb's website, and I ordered the "Higgledy Piggledy Jazz" book (I bought the first edition, before the newer edition with the improvisation sections were added), as well as the "Blue River" book and was very relieved that find that her piano pieces were infectious; a great introduction to Jazz Piano. I also noticed that at the same time, it was teaching beginning students a strong sense of rhythm, and how to get a better feel for keeping a steady "pulse," especially while playing with the CD that comes with the book. She has everything going in her books to drive a student to practice: color-coded chords for better comprehension, silly lyrics and singable tunes that has you humming them throughout the day, and even a CD with different tempos and "band-versus-no live band" options. The students who have been working from the two books have thoroughly enjoyed the pieces, and has even performed them at our last the recital a much-needed positive energy that it has been lacking lately. I look forward to handing out more of her pieces, as every composition in her children's book seems to be a winner.

If you have not already ordered the book, I would say it is easily one of the best children's jazz book on the market and you'll be pleasantly surprised at it's power for being a treasure of reward pieces while lesson book songs get a little stale during lessons.

On a side note, her piano book "Blue River"(for older or more experienced pianist) is very exciting as well. I have really enjoyed playing her upbeat Latin pieces: "Tango Leone" and "Cloud Seven," as well as her beautiful piece called "Star Dust."

My twin boys are 2.5 years old, and I have been introducing them to piano and rhythm since infancy. The CD that comes with the book is great for using rhythm shakers, tambourines, etc. The three of us played along to the beat with different shakers for an entire hour once, without them loosing interest!

Elena Cobb is a classically trained and highly experienced pianist, teacher and composer; having taught extensively both in her home country of Russia and the United Kingdom. She specialises in teaching children and became determined to make improvements that would benefit them and make the whole experience of learning to play the piano much more expanding, exciting and enjoyable. 

With this drive in mind, she then went on to compose and publish several books – her 'Higgledy Piggledy Jazz' music series. She incorporated her tailored “Teaching Method” within the piano version to make the learning and playing experience much more fun.

Continuously inspired by the musical world around her Elena has recently composed and published a brand new book entitled ‘Blue River’. This album of six pieces is evocative of Blues, Latin and other musical styles popular today. Although her ‘Higgledy Piggledy Jazz’ series was aimed at a beginner audience, she has never forgotten her interest in composing music for aspiring pianists who are at Intermediate to Advanced levels – so this book is for them.

You can find out more information about the books, listen to clips and download them online or buy hard copies in the Music Books section. You can also find out more about Elena’s Teaching Method here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Writing Children Piano Pieces...

I was inspired yesterday to compose "Gypsy Fair" for the Early Elementary Level pianist. It's in C minor. (I love minors, weird me.) Today, while the boys were napping and it was snowing-storming like no one's business, I also composed "Hop Frog Pond!" (for the Intermediate Level pianist). Everyone at the house really loved the first one, so I imagine "Hop Frog Pond" will be hard to compete for affection, but I think it's an official start to writing my own Children's Piano Literature Book for beginners. Or, at least I have two cute ones. Let me know what you think. This could be a start of something big (or at least something cool) if I keep at it. :) P.S- it's all computerized instrumental voicing. Nothing live, or fancy...I literally just finished writing it! :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaching With Colored Erasers

Let's face it. Lessons are more understood and are more interesting with color and interactive materials. It's much easier to remember purple-purple-green than W-W-H.

To teach or review half steps, whole steps, tetra-chords and the formula of a major scale, I had my students pick 5 erasers in one color and 2 erasers in a contrasting color (and I used a special flat eraser for the extra whole step in the middle) to help them visualize what is going on in the major scale, stepwise.

Buy a pack of colored erasers in an assortment of colors. Kids love being able to choose their favorite colors. Mine were actually leftover from college several years back and I bet there are neon colors out there now that are even "cooler" looking to adolescents. This little inexpensive pack will help your students learn (and remember) 4 important music theory concepts: whole steps, half steps, tetra-chords and the formula of major scales!

Whole Step/Half Step Lesson: Have the student pick out two erasers in two separate colors.
Assign one as "whole step" and the other "half step." Have a special item (like a penny) on the starting key (ex: C) and use one of the colors to land on the whole or half step up/down. If it was a half step up from C, put the (green) eraser on the C# black key. If a whole step, put the (purple) eraser on D.

Tetra-chord Lesson: Have them choose 2 erasers in one color (whole steps) and 1 eraser (half step) in a contrasting color. Starting on C (because it's easiest), put the erasers in the crack of the keys to show them that C-D is a whole step, D-E is a whole step and E-F is a half step.

One Tetrachord: W-W-H steps.

Major Scale Formula Lesson: This is similar to the "tetra-chord lesson." Start with C major, because they all fall in the cracks of the white keys, to demonstrate the W-W-H-W-W-W-H formula using the erasers. The special orange eraser is there to help the student see that it is not part of the tetra-chords surrounding it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free Printable #1

Category: Practice Incentive

This pdf contains 9 cards on one page. Choose a small stamp to cover one of the 12 music notes every time a piano piece is completed. When it is filled up, the student gets to choose a prize! It's best to use card-stock on this, so you can hole punch it and keep all of the student's cards together.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall 2012 Recital

Our piano performers tonight:

There were 20 total performer, half being mine and the other half my mother's. Some of the pieces included: Schumann's "The Merry Farmer," Adele's "Someone Like You," "Victor's Solo" from Corpse Bride, "Bella's Lullaby" from Twilight, "A Funeral of a Marionette," and Macdowell's "Witches' Dance." Most of the other pieces were from various Halloween books.

There is a variety of ages, 5 to 30-something. Two of my students are very new and were welcomed warmly before playing their pieces at their first recital. They did great. I sat next to the youngest of the two, which seemed to make him more comfortable. He ended up needing my assistance a few times, but hey, he's only been taking lessons for almost 2 months!

I am very proud of their hard work. They only had about 6 weeks to learn these pieces. The funny (or not so funny) thing is that we are already starting to pick out our Winter/Christmas pieces. It's like Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas decorations being sold at stores during the same time. Their next recital will be held December 8th.