January is the ideal time to hone your skills and try out new ideas. Try these recommended books to set you on your way.
Presented in the form of a calendar, these 52 graphic scores (one for each week) consist of drawings that range from something as simple as a few dots and dashes to more complicated patterns. Designed to be improvised in endless variations, you can really let your imagination fly. Difficulty Guide: Unlimited!
Johann Martin Blochwitz is an unfamiliar name but this piece is fantastic. There are echos of the JS Bach solo A minor Partita, especially in the layout of the dance movements and also in the writing. The Allemande is very like its more famous counterpart, but the Courante uses interval writing throughout. The beautiful Sarabande has two Double variations and the closing Gigue is short and sweet. Not quite an arrangement, more of an arrangement of original separate movements, this is a piece that will test your technique and fire up your imagination. Difficulty Guide: 8-9
This is an excellent book for sorting out both the reading and playing of high notes. Each section is set in a single key, and is divided into warm-up exercises and either a piece or study which is taken from standard repertoire. There are plenty of duets too. The rhythms are simple, allowing the player to focus on the job in hand. High notes will be no problem after some time spent with this book! Difficulty Guide: 4-6
These jazz-influenced studies all have subtitles to help you really get beyond the notes on the page. The first piece, Jab Jab, sets the tone with its performance direction to “dance like the devil at the Granada Carnival“! All of them are colourful and give plenty of scope for imaginative playing, and they’re also great recital options. Difficulty Guide 7-8
This is a delightful collection of vintage pieces by Franz Doppler, all perfect for soothing the soul! The Berceuse has a yearning melody soaring over a simple accompaniment; the Mazurka is full of rhythmic character; while the Nocturne expands into a more virtuoso display of notes. All three are great to play – Doppler at his best. Difficulty Guide: 8