I first became familiar with the work of composer Glenda Austin through her hymn arrangements. I enjoyed her style and approach to familiar melodies. When I discovered the volume that I am reviewing today, I knew I wanted to check it out because I thought some of my intermediate students would enjoy her work as well.
Glenda Austin is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia. From Joplin, Missouri, she has taught general music in the city’s schools for over 30 years while being actively involved in local theater and community activities. Currently, she is an adjunct at Missouri Southern State University.
The current volume is published by the Willis Music Company and features eight of Austin’s compositions for intermediate piano solo. Several of them have been published separately, but some of the other works appear in this volume for the first time. While all of the pieces included have significant pedagogical value, I will focus on three of my personal favorites from the collection.
At first glance, Reverie‘s three staves look intimidating. Upon further investigation, the additional staff is simply there to make this charming piece very easy to read. The upper staff merely contains echos that appear over long sustained chords. The effect is beautiful. This is a wonderful piece for a student who is beginning to expand their harmonic borders, but still developing their technique in preparation for more challenging repertoire. It is also an excellent study in tone color.
I’m always on the look out for interesting intermediate pieces that will entice the boys in my studio. Chromatic Conversation is just the ticket! Its call and response between the hands in a jazz-inspired style is addictive, entertaining, and a lot of fun to play. (Just notice my own bobbing head in the video to see how much I enjoyed playing this neat work.)
The final piece in the current volume looks deceptively simple. It consists of moving eighth notes throughout with a standard waltz accompaniment in the bass. As you begin to work on the piece, however, its challenges emerge. With its harmonic alterations, the piece moves to unexpected places that demand attention and careful fingering. Add a healthy dose of rubato to this modern waltz’s exquisite melody, and you have a sure hit with your students and audiences alike.