Review: Rock This Town

Lesson resources, Reviews

I’m always on the hunt for motivating and engaging music for my students. I’m sure you are the same. Canadian composer, Rebekah Maxner recently released a new elementary book, Rock This Town filled with 11 original piano works inspired by popular styles. The illustrations on the cover is bright and colorful and something that would draw in students no matter what the age. I enjoyed reading about the pieces that inspired her in Rock This Town and thought you would too.

Many of the pieces inside Rock This Town include optional duets. This has been a duet focused year in my studio and speaking from personal experience, duets add a ton of value! What you won’t find inside Rock This Town is positional pieces. Instead, you will find pieces that will encourage exploration of the entire keyboard, chromatic passages, different time signatures, key centres, varying rhythm combinations and time signatures. You will also find opportunities for rote learning.

Any ABBA fans out there? This is what In a Jam was inspired by so you know it’s got to be a fun piece! Or should we say Groovin’ as the tempo suggests? With two-note slurs, and parallel  motion, students will be playing with some double bass clef patterns half way in.

Maybe I’m showing my age when I say that Nadia’s theme was one of my favorites when I was growing up. The Sad Clown Waltzes Alone was inspired by this popular 70’s piece. In A minor, students will be practicing their strong-weak-weak waltz patterns. 

I love the title of Hiccup Rock and it won’t take you long to figure out where the hiccups are! Inspired by the 1950’s rock and roll style, this one also comes with an optional teacher duet.

Any Elvis fans out there? I will confess, I’m not a huge fan of Elvis (gasp!) however there are a handful of his songs that I do enjoy. Jailhouse Rock is one of those and was inspired for the piece, Rock Around the Block. This one is sure to be a hit with your students! So fun!

What is it about Yiruma’s River Flows In You that motivates students to want to play? Is it the beautiful melodic structure, the legato phrases, the slow trills? Whatever it is, your students will find these elements as well in Forever, Ever After. This one is written in a double treble clef and includes an optional teacher duet.

Rock This Town, the books namesake, was inspired by one of my favorite groups, The Beach Boys! Students will be movin’ and groovin’ to a fun rock and roll tempo. Filled with chromatic passages with hands moving up and down the keyboard, it just may become a favorite!

The book can’t be complete without the blues. The Back Street Blues that is. Written in 6/8 time, students will enjoy playing a walking bass pattern and the blues scale.

Zonko’s Big Adventure is played in a “high-stepping” tempo! The question that I wanted to ask right away, was who is Zonko? This is a great question that can lead to some conversation and creativity. Inspired by video themes, Zonko’s Big Adventure is great practice for contrary motion and slur to staccato patterns. Add in the optional teacher duet and it is sure to be an adventure for sure!

Elvis Presley, How About a Date? Students may not be familiar with the traditional skipping chant, but they will enjoy this rock and roll piece filled with third, fourth and fifth intervals. Shout out, “Come on, baby” as students play their staccato’s and accents with vigor!

A walking legato bass line and right hand parallel motion leads into the Jelly Roll Jazz. The staccato’s that are found give it just enough sweetness to the melody and before you know it, you have a nice blues and jazz combination going on.

Are you ready for a showdown? Black Tie Showdown is a rote learning duet piece. Students will be switching between black keys to white keys. Written in B-flat minor, this piece was inspired by tight harmony jazz.

I shared just a couple videos of the pieces included in Rock This Town, but there is much more! If you want to watch and listen to more videos of the pieces from Rock This Town, be sure to check out Rebekah’s YouTube playlist

The pieces in Rock This Town sets itself up to much conversation, imagery, creativity and fun! Be sure to also check out Rock the Boat and Rock That Train and many others on Rebekah’s website. Rebekah has offered my readers a special discount! Rock This Town will be discounted 20% off through March 31, 2020 (recently extended!). To get the 20% off discount, click the picture below to be sent to a special link. 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are of my own and not influenced by the composer.

GIVEAWAY TIME! Rebekah has offered to give one lucky winner a copy of Rock This Town! Whoohoo! Be sure to enter below!

 

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