"Clowns" by William Gillock, Accent on Gillock Volume two Later Elementary, classissima, classissima.com, Gillock composer, mind body connection, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, Moonbeams and other Musical Sketches by Shirley Kirsten, MTAC, music, music and heart, music teachers association, Oberlin Conservatory, Op. 39 Children's Pieces by Kabalevsky, phrasing at the piano, pianist, pianists, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessson, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, piano recital, piano repertoire, piano student, piano studio, piano study, piano teacher, piano teacher and student relationships, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, playing two musical instruments, William Gillock, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Instruction: A charming, quick-paced piece for late elementary students, titled “Clowns,” by Gillock (VIDEO)

Continuing my tribute to the prolific and talented composer, William Gillock, I’ve snatched “Clowns” from Volume Two of his Accent on Gillock collection. (published by Willis Music Company)

Not to be long-winded about my approach to teaching this sprightly composition, I simply outline a step-wise practicing routine.

1) Since the melody is divided between the hands through most of the score, it would be counter-productive to separate the hands in an initial learning phase. Therefore, I recommend a continuous flow from one hand to the other at a very slow tempo and with a bigger dynamic than indicated. This allows a a deep feel connection to the notes while reinforcing fingering.

Staccato, by the way, is played with the whole relaxed arm, and supple wrist as I demonstrated in the video.

Articulation of notes, or their groupings with slurs as indicated, including staccato, accent marks should be integrated into the behind tempo playing.

2) As conscientious practicing continues, I support playing “Clowns” in the same tempo but with the added observance of dynamics.

3) If the process moves along nicely over time, I ask the pupil to advance the tempo, but not to a level where his playing becomes out of control.

4) Finally, over time, the piece should mature or ripen into the desired tempo which still remains a subjective realm unless the composer had affixed a specific metronome marking to his music. (Gillock indicated, “Rather fast, humorously” to describe the pace and character of “Clowns.”)

Here’s today’s video:

The Clowns universe is a draw for many composers. Kabalevsky created a charming “Clowns” piece that belongs to his Op. 39 Children’s Pieces.

And I sheepishly admit to having written Juggling Clowns that’s part of my Moonbeams and Other Musical Sketches collection. The attached art had been contributed by my late uncle, David Smiton.




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Teaching Gillock’s delightfully appealing, Later Elementary Level music: “The Glass Slipper” (Video)

I have no reservation about the immense teaching value of William Gillock’s music from elementary through advanced levels. And while the titles in the first few volumes appeal to children, the pieces can be universally enjoyed by piano students of all ages.

In this spirit, I picked out “The Glass Slipper” from Accents on Gillock, Volume 2, Late Elementary, and savored its beauty as I fleshed out the learning challenges and how to meet them.

In the video instruction, I pointed to the melodically woven, slurred bass notes in groups of two and how to enlist a dipped wrist to wrist forward motion to realize their musical contour. Above these figures, in the treble, the students separately practices spongy wrist after-beat harmonic thirds.

The realization of an echo in measures 4 to 8, requires a lighter application of arm weight filtered through relaxed wrists into the fingers.

Balancing the voices between the hands, and following the crest of crescendo and its opposite, diminuendo becomes a continuous challenge in the outflow of gorgeously nuanced music.

As the student is bathed in beauty from start to finish, he’s more willing to meet the technical demands of this piece.

A middle section, provides a stark contrast to the page one offering, and takes off in an upward scale-wise direction. This is a whimsical portion of the interlude that strikingly sets it apart from what preceded.

The crescendo rolled from left into right hand peaks with an accented half-note that has a bass staccato played harmonic 2nd in between, gives the music a pleasing lift. A sequence of this scale figure up a step, intensifies it, before there’s a graceful transition back to the beginning theme.

The most wondrous cap to this composition is a longer scale-wise ascent to the final sustained tonic note, (with a touch of chromatics–half steps) A rolling motion underlies these passages.

A final soothing chord emanating from the melodic C wisps away, leaving behind a satisfying feeling of resolution. The sustain pedal enriches the closing cadence with warmth.

What an amazing piece of music to explore with a student on so many levels.



Another Gillock sampler, but for Intermediate students:




Blog: The Formative years of Piano Study and the basic building-blocks of learning


WILLIAM GILLOCK http://www.halleonard.com/biographyDisplay.do?id=240&subsiteid=1

“William Gillock (1917-1993), noted music educator and composer of piano music, was born in LaRussell, Missouri, where he learned to play the piano at an early age. After graduating from Central Methodist College, his musical career led him to long tenures in New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas, where he was always in great demand as a teacher, clinician, and composer. Called the “Schubert of children’s composers” in tribute to his extraordinary melodic gift, Gillock composed numerous solos and ensembles for students of all levels. He was honored on multiple occasions by the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) with the Award of Merit for Service to American Music, and his music continues to be remarkably popular throughout the United States and throughout the world.”