Author: Smith, Martha K
Date published: December 1, 2011
Rock and Roll Band: 6 Beginning Piano Solos for Future Rock Stars, by Eric Baumgartner. Willis Music Company, 2011. www.willispiano music.com; 16 pp., $6.99. Early elementary.
This slim supplementary book, with its cool, colorful cover is designed to appeal to beginning students of all ages who are motivated to learn piano by their love of pop music. The first five pieces introduce the main components of a rock band - drums, bass, keyboard, lead guitar and lead singer - then the final piece brings all the players together for "Jammin with the Band." The pieces mostly fit into five-finger patterns and have few rhythmic challenges.
Composer Eric Baumgartner has a broad background in jazz performance and teaching. The lyrics for each piece highlight the function of each player in the band. He urges students to sing along and have fun. His piece for the lead singer, "Loud and Proud," though, has a range that's too low for most singers as written and too high if transposed up an octave.
My colleague Burnett Thompson, also a veteran jazz player and teacher, finds another fault: "The student parts do not contain classic rock riffs, some of which are as easy to play as the tunes in this book." Most kids can learn riffs by ear. If the goal is to teach reading, then why not have more rock patterns in the same volume?
Baumgartner includes attractive written accompaniments for each piece, but a companion CD would be more practical for aiding students in acquiring the steady beat vital to rock music. - Reviewed by Martha K. Smith, NTCM, Arlington Virginia
-Reviewed by Martha K. Smith, NTCM, Arlington Virginia