What’s on your music stand today?

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”

C.S. Lewis

There is one thing I absolutely enjoy and that’s new sheet music books! I love sitting down at the piano with a cup of tea on the side and having a good playing session just for me. No rehearsing piano parts or preparing for music lessons, but instead relaxing and playing for pleasure.

Unfortunately I get so engrossed in the music that my cup of tea invariably goes cold!

Recently I was lucky enough to receive some lovely piano books as gifts and they have all so far stayed resolutely open on the music stand. My absolute current favourite has to be “Dreamland” by Alexi Ffrench which has a collection of 25 beautiful melodies in a contemporary style. As the composer himself states, his music is designed to help you escape to your own dreamland: “Much of my music is derived from a desire to comfort, rebalance and renew, and to inspire people’s dreams to take flight“.

I have already recommended this book to some of my students and can see it becoming a firm favourite for more advanced players of around grades 7 to 8 (although some pieces are easier). There are syncopated rhythms to explore in a piece like “Heartbeats” as well as an opportunity to make links with composers like Satie in “Bluebird”. In fact, I’m planning on bringing out Satie’s Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes for one of my students currently learning this piece.

Another favourite book has been on my stand for a while as it was a Christmas present. “Healing” by Garreth Broke is a inspiring collection of piano works, also in a contemporary style. The book is interspersed with abstract artwork by Anna Salzmann and explores the “complex and sometimes contradictory emotional process” of healing from several perspectives. I have found that I tend to enjoy playing this book from start to finish, rather than dipping in here and there, and I guess this is because it follows the journey of the healing process.

The final two books on my music stand are very recent additions but I have enjoyed what I have played so far. Rachel Portman is an Academy Award winning composer and has written over one hundred scores for film, television and theatre. “Ask The River” is a nature inspired collection and “a personal reflection on the beauty of the world around us”. I can see this being popular with students, particularly “Apple Tree” and “A Gift”.

The “Contemporary Piano Anthology” by Faber is the thickest book on my music stand with 191 pages of works by composers like Max Richter, Ludovico Einaudi and Philip Glass. This looks to be a fantastic book which students will find inspires their practice time. I’m looking forward to using it with them.

What is currently on your music stand?

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