Introductory offer: buy all 3 volumes for a 20% discount
From the Beginning is a three-volume collection of over a hundred pieces especially composed for starter pianists. It is designed to take beginners from the very first steps to a level at least equivalent to grade two or three.
Although the main purpose of the collection is to provide repertoire, there are also notes detailing the ‘things you need to know’. The collection, therefore, also functions as a tutor.
However, the text only covers the things needed to know in order to play these particular pieces. It is not necessarily designed to be a comprehensive or complete consideration of music theory, nor of the physiology of piano technique.
In general, the music has a contemporary filmic quality with elements of pop, rock and jazz. There is also a strong flavour of Celtic traditional music throughout. Overall, the pieces are designed to encourage musical and expressive playing, as much as developing music reading skills.
Enhancing the filmic nature of some of the music, backing tracks are available to accompany some of these numbers. This is particularly the case for volume 1 from which even the first three-note melodies can sound as if they are in the middle of an orchestral film score.
The aim is to encourage accurate time-keeping, as well as making the very first steps as interesting as possible. At the other end of the collection, Volume 3 includes a miniature Piano Concerto for Beginner and Orchestra!
From the Beginning should appeal to those who enjoy the more melodic contemporary styles that have become popular in recent years.
The three volume collection is divided into twelve stages:
The pieces in Stage 1 only use three notes: A, B, and C. (Above middle C in the right hand and two octaves below in the left hand.) Stages 2 & 3 add octave transpositions of these notes. Each of the following stages typically add a couple more notes until by Stage 12 a range of over four octaves is covered. The purpose is to give learners plenty of practice in reading music as fluently as possible, progressing step by step from a manageable starting point.
From the outset, flat and sharp notes are introduced not as separate entities, or in respect to keys, but as modifications of the natural notes. (Accidentals are used in this collection more extensively than usually found in most music for beginners.)
The pieces, of course, also progress by the gradual addition of various other new features and techniques.
Whilst introducing new pitches so gradually creates the opportunity to practice reading music step by step in a methodical manner, a potential downside is that some pitches don't get used at all until quite late on in the collection. Most relevant in volumes 2 & 3 (by which time many other aspects of notation have been covered), each stage starts with a couple of pieces that are easier than might have been expected at that point. This makes it practical to zig-zag through the collection or simply miss out some of the later pieces in each stage - should that be deemed preferable.
About Volume 1
Volume 1 consists of four stages:
Stage 1 opens with The Journey Begins - a set of five eight-bar, fragments that only use three notes. These fragments are then combined into a continuous forty-bar piece that can be performed with an orchestral backing track. Adding the orchestra immerses the player in the middle of a film score - perhaps depicting a tribe of people embarking on a challenging but rewarding journey!
This format is then repeated with The Journey Continues...
Although these pieces only use the notes A B and C (in both hands two octaves apart) The Journey Continues introduces accidentals. These are used extensively to expand the harmonic possibilities without adding much difficulty in reading because of the limited range of notes.
Stage 2 consists of a further set following the same format. In Higher Ground, however, the three notes are transposed up an octave.
Stage 3 introduces a further transposition - an octave down in the RH. However, this stage opens with a number of little exercises before ending with a retrospective 'round up' in Tales from the Long Journey which again can be accompanied by a orchestral backing track.
The rationale, so far, is to offer plenty of reading practice from the manageable starting point of only three notes. The transpositions are so notationally distinct (occupying different positions on the staves) they can be easily differentiated. Also, moving up and down octaves is such a fundamental (and fun) part of playing the piano it is beneficial to introduce this practice from the start.
Stage 4 adds two new notes in each hand. However, rather than adding the same notes in each hand, the RH is expanded upwards with the notes D and E, while the LH is expanded downwards with the notes G and F.
Hopefully, the benefits of starting with the notes A B & C can now be seen more clearly. It was not merely because they are the first letters of the alphabet (and that A is the first note on a full-sized keyboard) but rather because a wider and more attractive range of harmonic possibilities emerge when extended in this way than would be the case with both hands in the C major position.
(Many people coming to the piano for the first time might be a bit surprised to find that I'm offering a rationale for starting with the notes ABC! This is because a more usual starting point are the first five notes of the key of C major - CDEFG)
This stage, nevertheless, opens with a fairly conventional five-finger exercise although, of course the hands are not an octave (or even two octaves) apart.
As each stave has only two new notes, the incorporation and reading of these should be fairly natural and manageable. The twelve pieces in this stage offer plenty of material to train both the fingers and the eye. As already established, accidentals are used quite extensively in some pieces, but additionally, key signatures are introduced. Rhythmically, at this stage, things also get more varied with the introduction of quavers.
Contents of Volume 1:
1. The Journey Begins (parts 1-5)
2. The Journey Begins (complete)*
3. The Journey Continues (parts 1-5)
4. The Journey Continues (complete)*
5. Higher Ground (parts 1-4)
6. Higher Ground (complete)*
7. Exercises 1-9
8. Tales from the Long Journey*
9. Bubble Gum Bass (left hand only) can be played as a duet
10. Aeolian Melody
11. Aeolian Melody with picardy third
12. Simple Melody
13. Quaver Studies 1-4
14. Melody in F Major
15. Modern Modal Melody
16. Shifting Modes
17. Pop Mode
18. Strange Mode
- difficulty: Beginner - very easy
- ISMN Number: 9790570531769
- Size: 305x225 mm
- number of pages: 52
- Brand: Fieldgate Music
- Product Code: FM 176
- Weight: 0.3kg