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Songbook Review: Water Sign
David Lanz
Cover image of the songbook Water Sign by David Lanz
Water Sign
David Lanz
2021 / Hal Leonard
87 pages / 15 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Water Sign is the companion sheet music book for David Lanz's 2020 album by the same name. All fourteen piano solos from the album are included plus a "bonus piece" from Ivory Dreams, an upcoming compilation album on the Myndstream label. It's been nearly three years since the release of Lanz's French Impressions, making this new songbook even more welcome! Longtime fans of Lanz's many albums and songbooks may be happy to know that while Water Sign shows a progression forward in Lanz's composing style, this newer work feels more like the Lanz music we have come to love over his long career. The composing credits for all of the music goes to "David Lanz and Kristin Amarie Lanz," as Kristin (David's wife) collaborated on the music either directly or as David's "muse."

The songbook itself is beautiful. Transcribed and published by Hal Leonard (and edited by me!), the format is 9"x12" with nice, roomy notation, ample dynamics and playing instructions/suggestions, and bright white pages. The front and back covers are enlargements of the album's cover artwork and looks really nice sitting on the piano! There is also a page of "Thoughts on the Water Sign album" written by David Lanz. The book's binding is stapled and stays open on the piano while the music is being played - a simple pleasure that doesn't happen often enough anymore. Thank you, Hal Leonard!

The sheet music itself is not overly difficult. The key to playing David Lanz's music well is playing with a lot of expression and heart. There are a few passages here and there that are more improvisational, but those are not lengthy and a little extra practice on them should do the trick. None of the key signatures are complicated, there are only a few reaches of more than an octave (David has big hands!!!), and most of the timing and rhythms are easy to "get" whether or not you've listened to the album many times. I would put the playing level for most of the pieces at upper-intermediate and early-advanced. I know that covers a lot of territory, but some of the pieces are shorter and easier than others, as would be expected. Any of the pieces in this collection would be very suitable as teaching material (I taught piano for 40 years!) and I have always found that the vast majority of students - especially teens and adults - love learning David's music. Very highly recommended!

You can purchase the Water Sign songbook directly from Hal Leonard, and it is also available from SheetMusicPlus.com and Amazon.
March 25, 2021
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