I’ve personally witnessed the desire of some teen students to learn “Spanish” pieces (“Spanish” in their lingo meaning from Spain OR Latin America), or pieces that sound exotic. While there are many “authentic” pieces by Latin American composers that may be appropriate, I believe, however, that those of us who teach in the US shouldn’t neglect compositions by so-called “pedagogical” composers from the US. After all, these composers teach American kids, and they know what they like! The three volumes of Rollin’s Dancing on the Keys contain pieces from early to late intermediate that utilize dance rhythms from different cultural traditions, including some pieces that resemble tangos, sambas, rhumbas and cha-chas.
A purist might say that many (or most) of these pieces are stereotypical rendition “alla Hollywood” and not authentic enough. Granted, this is partly true with Rollin’s pieces and many other composers (even some of those “sacred” composers like Mozart or Liszt often wrote stereotypical pieces, after all!) I tend to be a bit more pragmatic, especially after teaching American teens for many years. You adapt to the culture you are teaching in, or you “disappear”! These pieces ARE well written, they ARE colorful, and they ARE motivating to the kind of students we encounter often. So, why not?
It’s late and I don’t have the time to sit down and video record some of the pieces. I promise to do a posting with 3 or 4 examples later this week. In the meantime you may enjoy Gail Kowalchyk’s introduction to two of the pieces in volume 3:
These books are published by Alfred. Click the link below to browse through some of the pages.