Review


Brad Edwards
Concert Pieces Volume One: #1-#12 Easy-Intermediate
Trombone and piano

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Publisher: trombonezone.org
Date of Publication: 2018
URL: http://www.tromboneone.org

Score and solo part

Genre: ELEMENTARY MATERIALS

Finding suitable solo literature for a young trombonist can be a struggle. Worthy collections like the Concert and Contest Collection or Henry Charles Smith’s First Solos are now decades old. Brad Edwards has contributed a collection of newly composed Concert Pieces, designed to fill this void. Edwards brings a deep understanding of trombone pedagogy along with the experience of writing graded instrumental literature. (He was commissioned to write a series of brief audition solos for the South Carolina Region and All-State Bands.) The Concert Pieces were composed in the summer of 2018 and represent an important addition to our graded trombone repertoire.

Volume 1 contains twelve pieces from easy to intermediate. Each work is in a pleasant, tonal idiom and targets specific technical and musical goals. Prior to each piece Edwards includes pedagogical suggestions for successful practice and performance. For example in Piece #2 Allegretto—Andante—Allegro giocoso, Edwards comments, “Keep a nice tone quality on the staccato notes. I sometimes say, ‘Staccato is the enemy of good tone.’ Yes, make the notes shorter but they don’t need to be as short as possible.” He also makes suggestions about when and how to breathe to play certain phrases, how to include musical nuances in one’s playing, and a short exercise to develop loud yet musical dynamic levels.

Expressive terms serve as the sub-title for each piece, highlighting its expressive aims; this is a strength of the collection. From the first piece, a young player is encouraged to communicate on a deeper musical level—to take the notes and the markings of the music and express ideas that transcend them. For example Piece #3 is sub-titled Noble—Lyrical, #6 is Singing—Driving—Dancing, and #12 is Wistful—Playful—Joyful. These titles provide an excellent opportunity for an instructor to provoke thought in a student. “What about this section is playful?” or “What does ‘noble’ mean, and how does this music represent it?”

The pieces are carefully edited. Articulation markings and other expressive controls are clearly and precisely marked. Edwards does not include suggestions for alternate slide positions in the music itself, but does comment about slide tuning and technique in the prefatory practice suggestions.  The works gradually progress in both technical difficulty and in range demands. The first four pieces are capped at d¹ and then gradually rise to f¹ by #9. None of the subsequent pieces go higher than f¹. Piece #1 begins with simple quarter and eighth note motion, but the rhythm motion of the pieces gradually increase in complexity and tempo. Sixteenth notes make their appearance in Piece #10. Edwards chooses keys that are age appropriate—from C major to A-flat major and several pieces explore minor tonalities as well.

This spring two of my middle school students served as “guinea pigs” for this review. We worked through five or six of the pieces with great success. Both students warmed to the challenges immediately. They were motivated by the technical demands the pieces placed upon them. The music represented a big leap from the three or four-line pieces in their lesson books.  They were especially motivated by the expressive ideals these pieces encouraged them to explore.  Edwards doesn’t “talk down” to them musically. From the very first piece, he asks them to communicate at a meaningful musical level.

 

Reviewer: Paul Overly
Review Published June 24, 2019