Piano teachers have many tricks up their sleeves to motivate students. One of my favorite ways to get students going is to find the perfect piece for them – something that peaks their interest and makes them WANT to learn. I still remember when I was 14 years old and losing interest in the disciplined piano practicing routine, my teacher surprised me with a book of music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel. For me, finding pieces written by girl became the “perfect piece” that renewed the magic of the piano once again.
So today, I’d like to share a piece that I hope could inspire one of your students in the same way. Here’s a quick introduction to Sonata in E Major, Allegro by Maria von Martinez (1744-1812). Check out this link to hear this piece!
An avid woman composer, Martinez wrote more than two hundred works, yet only about seventy have survived. With its happy and elegant melody, Sonata in E Major is an attractive introduction to the music of the early Classical period that has been overlooked for far too long. Sweeping runs between two hands and short trills that easily fit under the pianist’s fingers make this piece so much fun to play! The forward motion continues throughout the entire piece thanks to a quick tempo and moving sixteenth notes.
Built from a simple arpeggio, the main motive reminds the listener of the joyful nature of the piece each time it returns. The clear, careful phrasing helps prepare students for more difficult music, such as Haydn and Mozart sonatas. The melody remains in the right hand throughout most of the piece with left hand accompaniment. In a few places however, the left hand comes forward as it outlines arpeggios, with the right hand immediately following presenting students with a chance to practice left hand voicing.
Although titled “Sonata,” this piece acts more as a “sonatina” while still demonstrating the important tonic to dominant relationships. Through the use of many chords and scales, this piece also reinforces theory in the piano lesson. Fingering, dynamics, pedal and articulation markings are all editorial but work to effectively convey the cheerful nature of this piece. Once you’ve heard this delightful work, you won’t stop humming the lively melody until you are playing it yourself!
Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at 4DPianoTeaching.com