Weekend Repertoire: Good-Humored Variations

Easy Variations on Folk Themes, Op. 51: Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics, Vol. 2060I just discovered a great little set of theme and variations and had so much fun playing it that I had to share! I can't wait to teach this one to a student.

Today's piece: Seven Good-Humored Variations on a Ukrainian Folk-Song, Op. 51, No. 4 by Dmitri Kabalevsky
Level: Mid-Intermediate
Teaches: oh so many great things: theme and variations, staccato at a piano dynamic level, accents (including tenuto and sforzando), marcato, leggiero, alberti bass, arpeggios, left hand melody, syncopated/off-beat rhythm, cantabile
Preview the score: here
Buy the score: here
Listen: here, on YouTube

So I had to laugh at the title of this piece, but these variations definitely are good-humored and playful. This would be a wonderful piece for a student looking for something fun, a little bit showy (would be excellent for a recital), and challenging enough but totally doable. The theme itself is super simple. The thing that makes this piece so great for teaching is that it uses a great variety of articulations and musical markings - soft, staccato & leggiero; loud & marcato; smooth and flowing and cantabile; and basically everything in-between. The final variation and coda includes lots of octaves, accents, sforzandos and fortissimos.

My advice in learning this piece would be to:

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