Many students who have completed my 2 sight reading courses have asked for more material to test their newly-acquired reading abilities on, so I’ve compiled a 30-page PDF of arrangements I’ve made of favourite classical pieces, in increasing order of difficulty. Click the image below to download:
There are a number of ways in which this mini-course is better than most books out there:
- Selection. When I was working as a private piano tutor I used to ask my students to tell me which pieces they’d most like to play, and the below selection is made up of some of the most requested classical pieces.
- Arrangements. I’m a composer myself, so I know how the original compositions were put together, and therefore also how to rearrange them while keeping as much of the original character as possible.
- Playability. Apart from being a composer I’m also an experienced piano teacher, of course, so I know how to balance musicality with playability. There are definitely some difficult sections in these arrangements, which is inevitable if you want to play interesting music, but I’ve made the pieces as playable as possible while keeping them sounding as good as possible.
- Exercises. At the end of most pieces I’ve provided exercises that get you to focus on the hardest parts of the piece, so that you learn it faster.
- Fingering. All of these arrangements have been tested on my one-on-one students, so I know which fingerings are easiest to play and how much guidance students need. Of course, everyone’s hands are different (e.g. mine are quite large – I can stretch a 10th), so you might occasionally need to adapt the fingering to your own hands, but the fingering I’ve written should work for most people most of the time.
- Layout. The scores in most music books are laid out based on convenience rather than on musical sense, so you often get line breaks in strange places. Instead, in this PDF I’ve laid out all the scores in a way that makes musical sense, so that the layout helps you understand the structure of the music.
The pieces are, in increasing order of difficulty:
- Ode to Joy from Symphony No.9 in D minor, “Choral” by Ludwig van Beethoven (notes)
- Andante from Symphony No. 94 in G major, “Surprise” by Franz Joseph Haydn (notes)
- Lullaby by Johannes Brahms (notes)
- Impromptu Op.90 No.3 by Franz Schubert (notes)
- Largo from Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World” by Antonín Dvořák (notes)
- Adagio Cantabile from Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, “Pathétique” by Ludwig van Beethoven (notes)
- Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie (notes)
- Rondeau from Abdelzar Suite by Henry Purcell (notes)
- La donna è mobile from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (2 versions) (notes)
- Nocturne, Op. 9 No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin (notes)
- Toreador Song from Carmen by Georges Bizet (notes)
- Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie (notes)
- Je te veux by Erik Satie (notes)
- O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini (notes)
- Swan Theme from Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (notes)
- Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli (notes)
- Arietta from Lyric Pieces, Op. 12 by Edvard Grieg (notes)
- Adagio in G minor by Remo Giazotto after Tomasino Albinoni (notes)
- Adagio Cantabile by Ludwig van Beethoven (version 2) (notes)
- The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns (notes)
Click on “notes” for individual scores and notes on the pieces.
I’ve included 2 arrangements of Verdi’s “La donna è mobile” and of Beethoven’s “Adagio Cantabile” – the 2nd version of the Beethoven is quite a lot harder than the 1st.
Below is a Spotify playlist of all of the originals. (Note that some of them will be in different keys – work through my Read Music Fast Part 2 course if you don’t know what that means!)
I hope to record some mini tutorials on each of the pieces in time (I need to get some new recording equipment first). Sign up for updates to hear about them first!
And please let me know of any errors and I’ll correct them as soon as possible.