Composer of the month – Dennis Alexander


The composer for August is …Dennis Alexander!

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Dennis Alexander and I, after I won a set of “Premier Piano Express”, autographed!

Background

I have been playing Dennis Alexander’s music for over 10 years. From his Christmas music arrangements to his Alfred’s method books, I’ve enjoying playing his vast range of educational piano pieces. Mr. Alexander was born in 1947 in Dodge City, Kansas and attended the University of Kansas. He taught piano and pedagogy at the University of Montana for 24 years, and has also taught at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge. He currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the annual “Dennis Alexander Piano Competition” takes place. Students aged 7-15 compete for trophies and cash!

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Dennis Alexander presenting his materials at Cosmo Music

I attended a workshop at Cosmo Music, Richmond Hill in July 2019, where Dennis Alexander presented his many compositions and books available through Alfred Publishing, and offered stories and tips from his long career teaching the piano. His newest publication is two books titled “Nocturnes”, which offer Chopin-style nocturnes accessible to intermediate-level pianists, in preparation for more advanced Chopin nocturnes. Here he is playing one of the nocturnes from the book (he even gives important tips on how to play the piece musically):

Popular Pieces

It’s a challenge to choose just a few pieces from his large repertoire of music, mostly for beginner to intermediate levels. Here are a few pieces my students have enjoyed:

Prep A: Shadows

Although this piece sounds advanced, most students are ready to play this piece after a year or two of lessons.  What makes this piece accessible to beginners is the use of repetition, patterns, parallel motion between the hands, and staying mostly in C minor position.

Level 4: Reflections

Students love the gorgeous harmonies and beautiful, clear melodic line. Students learn to move their left hand across the keyboard quickly and accurately, and must play this piece expressively using careful dynamics and ritardando.

Level 6: Zigzag

This piece is rhythmic, and even though it is dissonant in places, it sounds interesting and fun. Here is Dennis Alexander playing the second half of it at the workshop!

 

It was his first piano teacher who cultivated in him a love for playing the piano. This inspires me to strive to be like that teacher to all my beginning students, young and mature! For more Dennis Alexander materials, head over to his website, where you can find all his compositions, videos, pictures, teaching tips, and more! http://dennisalexander.com/

Are you looking for piano lessons in Toronto? There are daytime (9:00a-2:00p) slots available. Contact me for more information!

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