Jazz! Schmazz!

Welcome to my latest collection of jazzy pieces for children.

As always, the music is dictated by the wants and needs of my students, who generally love the snappy rhythms of this genre and are ever demanding of new music!!

With the exception of Jazzy McPhazzy, I've avoided adding lyrics to the music but I do find that words often help in mastering the rhythms - particularly with swing quavers which often end up back to front!

To this end, I've added some of my suggestions to the notes at the beginning, rather than to the actual music. I've found it best to keep the words simple and repetitive so that they stay firmly in the mind.

I use pedal pretty freely throughout to add colour and contrast so feel free to add pedal where it seems appropriate and where the student can manage.

Track List & Recordings

1. Alex, the Amazingly Talented Cat

'Alex, the Amazingly Talented Cat' is a contrapuntal piece which is as tricky as the cat it's named after. Full of gymnastics and clever moves, it provides challenging fun for the developing pianist.

Some background ...

Alex, a red-blonde Burmese who belongs to two of my young students, has some amazing talents! He can swing on a round door knob until he has worked it open. He can drag his cat-bed from its place in the laundry through to a bedroom where he's sure he'll be guaranteed more company and he has even worked out how to use the toilet instead of his litter tray!

'Alex is amazing, he's a talented cat
He decides on where he wants to be - usually free!'

Keep crushing notes tight to create a sense of plaintive 'meowing' and ensure a smooth, firm legato in the left hand of bars 9 - 12 so that the melody isn't lost when it shifts to the bass here.

Early Intermediate Level

2nd Grade AMEB/ANZCA

3rd Grade ABRSM

3. Jazzy McPhazzy

'Jazzy McPhazzy' is a cool, tricky little number which explores chromatic and blues runs, crush notes and jazzy chord riffs.

Lyrics depict the character of 'Jazzy' as he plays the blues on a multitude of instruments.

The most challenging part of this song will be bar 12 - the fingering I have in place usually works best but feel free to experiment.

In bars 9 - 11 and 13 - 15, take care to keep the right hand chords light and bright so as to make the repetition easier, and ensure that little fingers are kept curved to maximise power on the top notes.

Late Elementary Level

1st Grade AMEB/ANZCA

2nd Grade ABRSM

5. Bad Business

Much of the appeal of this piece lies in its dynamic contrasts. Sometimes these are gradual and sometimes abrupt but in all cases essential in bringing to life the mysterious and somewhat sneaky character of the music.

Late Elementary - Early Intermediate Level

1st - 2nd Grade AMEB/ANZCA

2nd - 3rd Grade ABRSM

7. Stuck in a Rut

'Stuck in a Rut' is a straight-forward swinging blues rhythm which presents few problems. Any confusion with bringing in the triplet at the end of each short section can be addressed by singing 'we're stuck in a rut'.

Early Intermediate Level

2nd Grade AMEB/ANCA

3rd Grade ABRSM

2. Boogie Babysaur

The tendency is to put swing into this piece, but ideally it should be played with straight quavers, as the overall mood is 'dinosaur' heavy and swing not only makes this more difficult to play, but detracts from the character.

For the initial left hand quavers, try singing 'Boogie Baby, Boogie Baby' etc to establish the firm, even rhythm.

Late Elementary - Early Intermediate Level

1st - 2nd Grade AMEB/ANZCA

2nd - 3rd Grade ABRSM

4. Walking the Fish

'Walking the Fish' is a cool, cruisy piece with crush notes and jumps from one register to another. Whacky lyrics add to the fun.

My young students and I have great fun making up nonsensical lyrics to help in learning the rhythms of a song. This is how 'Walking the Fish' ended up ...

Walking with my baby,
I'm walking with my fish
Walking with my baby,
Down the highway (each syllable on the beat of the 4th bar)

Walking with my baby,
I'm walking with my fish,
Eating fish and chips,
Down the highway ... etc ...

Late Elementary Level

1st Grade AMEB/ANZCA

2nd Grade ABRSM

6. Haunted House

'Don't go out in the evening
Don't go out in the evening
Don't go out in the evening
Don't go anywhere close to the haunted house!'

'Haunted House' is an evocative, atmospheric piece, featuring bluesy runs and crush notes.

Contrapuntal in style, interest is well balanced between the hands.

Early Intermediate - Intermediate Level

2nd - 3rd Grade AMEB/ANZCA

3rd - 4th Grade ABRSM

8. Stacked It!

'Racing on my bike too late for school I went and stacked it!'

No swing on this piece - playing straight quavers will help to create a sense of urgency whereas swinging quavers create a sense of leisure - not what we want in this piece!

Intermediate Level

3rd Grade AMEB/ANCA

4th Grade ABRSM