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.

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