I was thinking about an adult student I currently teach in the Bay area who thumbed through her Faber Older Beginner Adult Accelerated Piano Adventures Method Book, and was instantly drawn to “Musette,”one of the many pieces contained in Anna Magdalena’s Notebook. Transcribed to “G Position” by Randall Faber and reduced to a fraction of itself, (considering the lack of repeats) the Musette was essentially a training wheels version of the original, in a different key and with a gaping hole in the middle because an important section was missing.
Call it a transcription, adaptation, “arrangement,” make-over, or whatever, it was still not what “Anonymous BWV 126” had intended.
For decades, piano students of all ages thought J.S. Bach had composed Musette as well as Minuet in G, BWV116 and March in D that were part of Anna Magdalena’s collection, but one day, a news release claimed Christian Petzold was the true composer of some of the entries, while others were attributed to C.P.E Bach, (one of Johann Sebastian’s sons) and ANONYMOUS. (There are 3 verified J.S. Bach originals in the collection, but these are not under discussion)
From this potpourri I selected three favorites to record:
Minuet in G, (Anonymous) Musette in D, (Anonymous) and March in D (C.P.E. Bach)
Having indulged my “Notebook” preferences, I had wished that Method Book composers/editors would think twice about introducing a student to a watered down version of music that in its original form had substance and sprang from genius. (If you could locate the composer)
Why not instead, reprint pieces like the James Hook Minuet or self-borrow from Developing Artist Series Book One with its brief, but “real” manuscripts (I hope) of composers contemporary to Bach and Mozart.
The Royal Conservatory of Toronto Level One Repertoire Book, also has a host of pieces that can be cross-dressed, or borrowed, to ward off gender changes associated with performing surgery on the masterworks. When you take the Op. 18, Eb Major Chopin Waltz, p. 49 (Faber Older Beginner) and butcher its quarters, it plays like a La-ti-dah, “Skip to My Lou,” partner-stealing dance from America’s frontier period. Funny, I should pick that one with its theft overlay.
Yes, it’s a bit of steal, to take Mozart, Chopin and Anonymous, redesign and repackage them for mass consumption while composers like Tansman, Schein and Kabalevsky, would make a nice presence in the Older Beginner, Abbreviated, Accelerated, Attenuated, Piano Adventures.
Don’t get me wrong, I use these Faber books with my adult beginners, but I can’t wait to get out of them and into the real deal, unadulterated musical universe. (The placement of “Irish Washerwoman” beside counterfeit Chopin is another issue–not to mention interspersed Boogie Woogie pieces that are meant to break things up)
For youngsters, I take the training wheels away at the Lesson One Method Book juncture and head in the direction of Hook, Schein, Kabalevsky and Tansman, among others.
In this regard, what are your preferences as teachers or students? Let’s hear from you.