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Songbook Review: Brown's Notes, Volume 1
Jesse Brown
Cover image of the songbook Brown's Notes, Volume 1 by Jesse Brown
Brown's Notes, Volume 1
Jesse Brown
2017 / Jesse Brown
28 pages / 12 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Brown's Notes, Volume 1 - 12 Intermediate Piano Solos is the first in a series of three books (so far) of piano solos for the advancing pianist. I’ve been a piano teacher for many years and have taught students from the age of 5 through about 83. There is a plethora of teaching material for younger students (kids), but finding interesting pieces for less-advanced adults can be more of a challenge. Jesse Brown (the composer) is a piano teacher himself (Music’scool), and I really appreciate that these pieces will work for students of any age including adults who want to improve their skills. Something else I really like about this series is that Brown incorporates his sense of humor in surprising places. Students might not always catch the jokes, but the teacher certainly will (I hope!)! For example, in Volume 1, one piece is called “Fondant Memories” and the playing instruction is “Sadly, the cake is gone.” “The Miseducation of the First Nation” instructs to play “Steadily and with remorse.” “A Miner’s Blues” is in …. A minor! Small things, but fun. (I know, I’m easy to amuse!)

From a teaching standpoint, none of the music in this volume is difficult - "intermediate level" is very accurate. The pieces range from one page to four. A variety of music genres are included - not just classical styling. There are definite rhythmic differences from one piece to the next that are not difficult, but provide the teacher and students with opportunities to explore. Metronome settings are included as is a broad range of expression markings. A few of the pieces have repeats, and time signatures vary from 3/4 to 2/2 to 9/8 giving the teacher lots of handy examples to explain how time signatures work. I really appreciate the variety in the music and the scope of the teaching opportunities in this book and highly recommend it!

The song titles, the keys they are in, and the number of pages are:

Iron Hog - Key of C (0 sharps or flats) - 1 page
Sailors - Key of E minor (1 sharp) - 1 page
The Duke of Oil - Key of G minor (2 flats) - 2 pages
The Miseducation of the First Nation - Key of E minor - 2 pages
Fondant Memories - Key of A minor (0 sharps or flats) - 2 pages
A New Beginning - Key of G (1 sharp) - 3 pages
I Will Shelter You - Key of A minor - 3 pages
Bella Gabriella - Key of C - 2 pages
Deserted - Key of A minor - 2 pages
A Miner’s Blues - Key of A minor - 2 pages
Five O’Clock Fantasy - Key of C - 4 pages
The Eagle - Key of G - 3 pages
January 11, 2018
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