Weekend Repertoire: Sunday Afternoon Music

Music Pathways 5B RepertoireA few months back I was at my local thrift store in Utah. My husband and I always love to browse through the books, especially music books, to see what great things we can find! On this particular day I happened upon an old piano repertoire book from the Music Pathways series by Lynn Freeman Olson, Louise Bianchi and Marvin Blickenstaff. This great little book is really a gem! So it is one of these great little pieces that I want to discuss today….

Today’s piece: Sunday Afternoon Music by Aaron Copland
Level: Late intermediate
This piece teaches: control at a very slow tempo and at a very soft dynamic level, clarity and control of 32nd notes, phrasing, artistry, tenuto symbol, triplet rhythm, double-dotted eighth/32nd rhythms, listening to the sound produced
Listen: This little piece is kind of obscure, but I found a 30-second clip that you can listen to here. It is a pretty good preview of the piece, and you can hear some of the 32nd notes, as well as the triplet rhythms. Kind of lazy and mesmerizing, yes? You can also listen to a preview of it or buy the track on iTunes for $1.
The sheet music: Looks like you can buy the Music Pathways Repertoire book 5B (which includes Sunday Afternoon Music) here on amazon.com for about $4. It may be in other collections as well…

This is a piece that truly exemplifies a “Sunday afternoon,” in my mind. It is so much fun to play because (I think) it is so relaxing and laaaaazy (like a nice, long Sunday afternoon nap). Copland, of course, added in some cool jazz harmonies to this little piece (it is 22 measures long), making it very fun, indeed, to try and bring out those neat harmonies while playing at a triple-piano dynamic level.

Playing very slowly and very quietly is actually a tricky thing for a lot of students! This piece is an awesome way to teach that. The very soft chords can be tricky to pull off – challenge your student to play as quietly as the absolutely can!

The 32nd-note runs should be played quickly, of course, but the student should make sure to not blur the notes together. Have them practice slowly at first to be able to hear each note individually and equally….like taking a stroll around the block on a Sunday afternoon while running a stick along a white picket fence, hearing each individual click…

Image credit
Jennifer Boster

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