Rote Solos


Rote solos are an essential enrichment for students from the beginning of piano study. Rote solos, learned mindfully by applying audiation skills, encourage students to hear and listen to a large variety of piano solos. In addition to providing variety, motivation, and exciting learning opportunities, students learn how to play the piano efficiently, since looking at and decoding music notation often disturbs the development of good playing habits.

Most students enjoy performing music that is more difficult than their potential music reading level. Point out that music notation is a "picture" of the musical sound and have students look at the music notation of rote solos during the learning and performing process. Students should learn to recognize same and different patterns because this is an important step toward reading music with understanding.

During the early years of study, when students learn supplementary piano solos by imitation rather than from notation, audiation skills can be applied. For example, students should learn the meter, tonality, keyality, starting tone, and essential tonal and rhythm patterns for each piece. They should compare phrases for same and different and know the form of the piece. Students can listen for and identify expressive elements, such as dynamics and articulation. After students learn a piece, they can lexamine the notation for familiar patterns and overall form.

When a student is learning a rote solo, the teacher should ask questions and provide answers. For example:

  • What is the meter? Have students move to macrobeats and microbeats while listening to the piece, then name the meter. Have students chant some rhythm patterns from the piece.
  • What is the tonality? Have students listen for the resting tone, sing the resting tone, name the tonality, then sing some tonal patterns from the piece.
  • How are the phrases organized? Are some phrases the same? Are some phrases almost the same? If so, how are they different? Are there contrasting phrases? Talk about how the phrases make a whole piece. Show the students how the phrases look in music notation.
  • What is the form of the piece? Is it A B (two-part), A B A (three-part), or something else?
  • As students progress, point out how familiar tonal and rhythm patterns of the solo look in notation. Identify and label tonal and rhythm patterns.

Rote solos encourage students to "think" the music. Students should be able to observe fingerings, work on hand coordination, focus on the playing mechanism, listen for performer controls, isolate and practice "difficult" spots, and perform at a consistent tempo.

Most students can learn to play challenging music that would be difficult to learn from notation. Gradually, they will gain experience in applying audiation skills to learning new music and understand how to use the playing apparatus. Both will work together to make the student a very good reader.

Following is a sampling of some 'tried and true' student favorite compositions by 20th-century composers, most of whom are no longer living. This list has an historical value, because there is a variety of interesting and musical piano pieces that are still in print and worthy of keeping in the teaching repertoire.

This list does not include music by composers who lived before the 20th century and only a very few 20-21st century teaching repertoire by living or recently deceased composers.

The levels are a general guideline. Consider each student's performing ability, age, and willingness to work when choosing music. There is value in learning many rote solos in a short length of time.

Complete source/publisher lists by composers are available at http://www.piano-pal.com On this website, search by composer.

Some of the pieces listed below may be in new collections or with a different publishing company, but they should all still be in print. If a piece is not in print and you have a copy of it, write to the publisher and ask for permission to copy the piece for student use.

Beginning Rote Solos

Indian Pieces
Clark, Mary Elizabeth - Drums in the Forest (Read and Rep Primer, Clark & Perdew)
George, Jon - Little Indian (Reader B, Frances Clark)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Indian Braves (Solo Flight)

Black Key Pieces
Noona, Walter and Carol - Dandelion (The Contemporary Performer 1)
Perdew, Ruth - Three Black Keys Plus Two (Read and Rep, Primer, Clark & Perdew)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Floating (Solo Flight)

Whole-Tone Pieces
Clark, Mary Elizabeth - Stars (Read and Rep Primer, Clark & Perdew)
Gillock, William - Circus Clowns (Technic All the Way Level One A)
Gillock, William - Foggy Morning (Technic All the Way Level One A)

Others
Demarest, Anne Shannon - Knock Knock Knock (Read & Rep Primer,Clark & Perdew)
Gillock, William - The Donkey (Technic All the Way Level One B)
Perdew, Ruth - At the Wild Animal Park (Read and Rep Primer, Clark & Perdew)
Perdew, Ruth - Mysterious Voices (Read and Rep Primer, Clark & Perdew)

Second Level Rote Solos

Damper Pedal
Clark, Mary Elizabeth - Cathedral Steps (Reading and Repertoire, Level 1, Myklas)
Ferrell, Billie - Floating Clouds (Myklas Press)
George, Jon - Chapel in the Alps (Reader B, Frances Clark)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Foggy Morning (First Impressions)
Perdew, Ruth - Sea Breezes (Myklas)

Triple Meter - Major Tonality
George, Jon - Peasant Dance (Musical Moments Book One)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Clog Dance (Solo Flight)
Poe, John Robert - Lemon Sours (Assorted Chocolates)

Triple Meter - Minor Tonality
Palmer-Lethco - Concert Time (Creating Music at the Piano Book 1 in A Minor - Included in Alfred's Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 1B in G minor. I prefer it in A Minor)

Duple Meter - Major Tonality
Demarest, Anne Shannon - A Frog Leaping (Reading and Repertoire, Level 1-Myklas)
Demarest, Anne Shannon - Bugle and Big Bass Drum (Read and Rep, Level 1-Myklas)
George, Jon - Banjo Tune (Musical Moments Book Two)
George, Jon - Banjo Tune (Kaleidoscoope Book II)
George, Jon - Candy Mints (Musical Moments Book One)
Gillock, William - Clowns (Big Note Solos)
Glover, David - Lichee Nuts (Piano Repertoire Book 1)
Niamath, Linda - Marching Mice (Marching Mice & Other Pieces - Frederick Harris Music)
Niamath, Linda - Picnic Time (Marching Mice & Other Pieces - Frederick Harris Music)
Niamath, Linda - Squirrels (Marchin Mice & Other Pieces - Frederick Harris Music)
Olson, Lynn Freeman - Clown Act (Piano Solos C, Music Pathways)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Sound Off (Solo Flight)
Poe, John Robert - Beach Ball (Reading and Repertoire, Level 1-Myklas)
Wilson, Samuel - Race Horses (Guild Repertoire, Elementary A & B)

Duple Meter - Minor Tonality
George, Jon - Big Chief (Reader D, Look and Listen or Playtime, Part B, Frances Clark/Summy Birchard)
Goss, Louise - Indian Tom-Toms (Playtime, Part B - Frances Clark/Summy Birchard)
Gillock, William - Indian Rain Dance (Accent on Solos Level One)
Palmer-Lethco - Indian Song (Creating Music at the Piano Book 1)
Poe, John Robert - Clown Dance (Piano Compositions USA, Elem AB, Willis)
Rowley, Alec - From a Baghdad Market (Guild Repertoire, Elementary A & B)

Other Tonalities
Noona, Walter and Carol - Dandelion (The Contemporary Performer 1)
Noona, Walter and Carol - Little Beetle on the Wall (Piano Programs 1)
Noona, Walter and Carol - The One-Eyed Dragon (The Contemporary Performer 1)
Palmer-Lethco - A 16th Century March (Celebration Series Introductory)
Pearce, Elvina Truman - Clog Dance (Solo Flight)
Poe, John Robert - Jolly Junebug (A Stroll Through the Meadow)

Third Level Rote Solos

Damper Pedal
George, Jon - Distant Chimes (Supplementary Solos Level 1)
George, Jon - Evening Tide (Kaleidoscoope Book II)
Niamath, Linda - Skating (Soda Pop and Other Delights)
Telfer, Nancy - Ballet at Dusk (Put on Your Dancing Shoes, Frances Clark)

Triple Meter - Major Tonality
Bostelman, Ida - Feather in My Cap (Guild Repertoire, Elementary A & B)
Kabalevsky, Dmitri - Funny Event (From "Twenty-four Little Pieces," Op. 39)
Karp, David A. - Jig (Sheet music)
Poe, John Robert - Bagpipe Tune (Piano Compositions USA, Elem AB Willis)
Poe, John Robert - Raspberry Creme (Assorted Chocolates)
Tansman, Alexandre - Folk Dance (Contemporary Piano Literature1 - Frances Clark)
Tcherepnin, Alexander - Joy and Tears (Contemporary Piano Lit 1 - Frances Clark)

Duple Meter - Major Tonality
Bastien, Jane Smisor - March of the Astronauts (Sheet music)
Garrow, Louise - Tricky Traffic (Sheet music)
George, Jon - Dulcimer Tune (Solos for Students Set Two)
Kabalevsky, Dmitri - Dance (From "Twenty-four Little Pieces," Op. 39)
Kabalevsky, Dmitri - Running Along (From "Twenty-four Little Pieces," Op. 39)
Kabalevsky, Dimitri - A Little Hedgehog, Op. 89, No 9 (28 Piano Pieces by Kabalevsky)
Karp, David A. - Carefree (Solo-ettes -may be out of print- check with Karp)
Kraehenbuehl, David - March of the Trolls (Contemporary Piano Lit1 - Frances Clark)
McAllister, Louise - Gadabout Grasshopper (Guild Repertoire C and D)
Niamath, Linda - Holidays are Here (Soda Pop and Other Delights, F Harris)
Tcherepnin, Alexander - March (Contemporary Piano Literature1, Frances Clark)

Duple Meter - Minor Tonality
Gillock, William - Indian War Chant (Accent on Solos, Level 2)
Gillock, William - The Prowling Pussy Cat (sheet music)
Gillock, William - Spooky Footsteps (Big Note Solos)
Niamath, Linda - March of the Terrible Trolls (Soda Pop and Other Delights)
Telfer, Nancy - Dance of the Elephant (Put on Your Dancing Shoes, Frances Clark)

Other Tonalities
Frackenpohl, Arthur - Indian Dance (Guild Repertoire C and D)
George, Jon - Bagpiper's March (Supplementary Solos Level 1)
George, Jon - Chattanooga Cha-Cha (Supplementary Solos Level 1)
George, Jon - Irish Jig (Kaleidoscope Book II)
Pearce, Elvina - Moon March (First Impressions)
Perdew, Ruth - Second Avenue (Myklas)
Poe, John Robert - Willow Branches (Reading and Repertoire, Level 1, Myklas)

Unusual Meters
Kraehenbuehl, David - Bulldozer (Contemporary Piano Literature 1, Frances Clark)

Later Elementary Rote Solos

Damper Pedal
George, Jon - Knight's Tale (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
George, Jon - Quiet Lagoon (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
George, Jon - Troubadour's Song (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
Lethco, Amanda Vick - The Sea (Sheet music, Alfred)
Perdew, Ruth - Fanfare (Reading and Repertoire, Level 3, Myklas)
Perdew, Ruth -Mirage (Reading and Repertoire, Level 3, Myklas)

Triple Meter - Major Tonality
George, Jon - Stomp Dance (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
George, Jon - Soft-Shoe Dance (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
Noona, Walter and Carol - The Broken Down Merry-Go-Round (Sheet music)

Duple Meter - Major Tonality
George, Jon - Beep! Beep! (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
Noona, Walter and Carol - The Speedy Little Taxi (Sheet music)
Waxman, Donald - The Mechanical Man (Pageants for Piano - Second Year)
Waxman, Donald - The Trombone Player (Pageants for Piano - Second Year)

Duple Meter - Minor Tonality
George, Jon - Dumka (Supplementary Solos Level 2)
Nakada, Yoshinao - Dance of the Aborigines (Japanese Festival Hal Leonard)

Other Tonalities
Agay, Denes - Lament for a Lost Pet (15 Little Pieces on Five Note Patterns)
Agay, Denes - Procession of the Nobles (15 Little Pieces on Five Note Patterns)
Agay, Denes - Revelry (15 Little Pieces on Five Note Patterns)
Agay, Denes - Valse Grotesque (15 Little Pieces on Five Note Patterns)
Palmer-Lethco - Carnaby Street (Recital Book Three, Creating Music)
Palmer-Lethco - Serenata (Recital Book Three, Creating Music)
Telfer, Nancy - Teaching a Bear to Waltz (Put on Your Dancing Shoes, Frances Clark)
Waxman, Donald - Lullaby for a Sleepy Cat (Pageants for Piano, Second Year)
Unusual Meters
Agay, Denes - Scherzino (15 Little Pieces on Five Note Patterns)
Telfer, Nancy - Sidewalk Sonatina (Put on Your Dancing Shoes, Frances Clark)

Early Intermediate Rote Solos

Damper Pedal
George, Jon - Lament for an Indian Princess (Kaleiodoscope Solos, Book 4)
George, Jon - Mobile (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Poem (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Reflections (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)

Duple Meter - Major Tonality
Kraehenbuehl, David - Rio Rhumba (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
Nakada, Yoshinao - The Speedy Car (Japanese Festival - Hal Leonard)
Rebikoff, Vladimir - The Clown
Waxman, Donald - The Wound-Up Soldier (First Recital Pageant)

Other Tonalities
George, Jon - Frontier Town (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Medieval Procession (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Pakistan Caper (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)

Unusual Meters
Copland, Aaron - The Young Pioneers
George, Jon - Aborigine Dance (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Rodeo Country (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
George, Jon - Twilight in Mexico (Supplementary Solos Levels 3 & 4)
Telfer, Nancy - Masque Dance (Put on Your Dancing Shoes - Frances Clark)

Intermediate Rote Solos

Duple Meter - Major Tonality
Nakada, Yoshinao - Etude Allegro

Other Tonalities
Rebikoff, Vladimir - The Demons Are Amused

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