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An Introduction to Fake Books

You may be intimidated the first time you crack open a fake book. However, if you're familiar with (or at least willing to learn) your chords, then that's half the battle. A fake book contains pieces written out in lead sheet form. That is, you see the melody and chord symbols written above:

Melody and chords - c'et tout. You "fake" the rest.

The idea is that you "fake" - or create - your own accompaniment. Throw down a pop groove on "Happy Birthday" one day. The next day, you could play it in ragtime style.The possibilities are endless.

Plus, with the music condensed in this format, you can have hundreds of songs in one book. It's so much easier to bring one fake book to a gig than 10 music books.

These are some of the fake books that I've collected over the years. They are also the ones I shared with my fellow music teachers when I did a presentation to the Piano Pedagogy Group last month:

Fake Books for Beginner to Intermediate Students:

Everything is in C Major. For an added challenge, you can ask your students to transpose them into other keys once they've learned the pieces.

Your First Fake Book look inside Your First Fake Book Arranged by Alexander Citron. For Guitar, Piano, Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Vocal Standards and Pop. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (leadsheet notation). Vocal melody, lyrics, leadsheet notation and chord names. 158 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240112)Smp_stars50 (7) ...more info
The Easy Christmas Fake Book - 2nd Edition look inside The Easy Christmas Fake Book - 2nd Edition (100 Songs in the Key of C). By Various. For C Instruments, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Easy Fake Book. 160 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240209)Smp_stars50 (7) ...more info

There are other books as well, such as gospel and country.

Fake Books for Intermediate to Advanced Students as well as Music Teachers:

The Disney Fake Book - 3rd Edition look inside The Disney Fake Book - 3rd Edition By Various. For Guitar, Piano/Keyboard, Vocal, C Instruments. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Disney. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 288 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240039)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info
The Best Fake Book Ever - C Edition - 4th Edition look inside The Best Fake Book Ever - C Edition - 4th Edition (C Edition). By Various. For Guitar, Piano, C Instruments, Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Difficulty: medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 856 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.290239)Smp_stars40 (16) ...more info

Tip: Get the full-sized version. I first bought the mini-version and that was useless at gigs since the print was too tiny and I was playing in a dimly lit area.

I really like how the songs are listed by era as well as in alphabetical order.

The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book - 4th Edition look inside The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book - 4th Edition (for Piano, Vocal, Guitar, Electronic Keyboard & All C Instruments). By Various. For Piano/Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Christmas. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 157 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240045)Smp_stars40 (17) ...more info

I now take this book to gigs but will sometimes sneak in the Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook when I don't want to think too hard.

This jazz fake book has been recommended to me by several gigging musicians:

Just Jazz Real Book - C Edition look inside Just Jazz Real Book - C Edition (C Edition). By Various. For Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Fake Book. Fake Book. Jazz. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook. Vocal melody, lyrics, chord names, black & white photos, discography and introductory text. 400 pages. Hal Leonard #FBM0003. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.321416)Smp_stars50 (5) ...more info

This is listed on Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms Syllabus. However, these are best used in a combo situation. Personally, I find using a fake book to play Latin music in a solo situation pretty challenging - for now:

The Latin Real Book - C Edition look inside The Latin Real Book - C Edition (C Edition). By Various. Arranged by Chuck Sher. For C Instruments, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Latin Jazz and Latin. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Melody and chord names. 572 pages. Published by Sher Music Company (HL.240138)Smp_stars50 (2) ...more info

This may seem odd, but as my jazz piano instructor, Derek Stoll told me, it really doesn't matter what you play so long as people hear the tune and the chords are right:

Classical Fake Book look inside Classical Fake Book (Over 850 Classical Themes and Melodies in their Original Keys). By Various. For Guitar, Piano, Piano/Keyboard, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Classical Period. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Standard notation, chord names and vocal melody (on some songs). 646 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240044)Smp_stars40 (8) ...more info

Useful at wedding gigs!

Wedding & Love Fake Book - C Edition look inside Wedding & Love Fake Book - C Edition (5th Edition). By Various. For Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Love and Wedding. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 480 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240041)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info

A few of my students past purchased these fake books and have enjoyed them:

The Ultimate Pop/Rock Fake Book - In C look inside The Ultimate Pop/Rock Fake Book - In C (4th Edition). By Various. By Various. For Guitar, C Instruments, Piano/Vocal. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Pop Rock, Rock and Pop. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 584 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240099)Smp_stars40 (28) ...more info
The Praise & Worship Fake Book look inside The Praise & Worship Fake Book (An Essential Tool for Worship Leaders, Praise Bands and Singers!). By Various. For C Instruments. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Worship. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 432 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240234)Smp_stars40 (20) ...more info

I  recently purchased the Praise & Worship one. I should use that for sight reading.

Pianists - make sure you buy the "C" edition fake books!

If you need some guide books on how to read lead sheets, check out my earlier post, Jazz Music and Improvisation Guide Books.

Sheet Music Plus and Passive Income Streams

I like to shop locally whenever possible. However, sometimes it's just much more economical and just gosh darn convenient to shop online. Digital orders are just a couple of clicks away. You see with the ads on the side that I'm affiliated with Amazon. If you check out the ads, you'll see that I'm actually able to tailor them so that you will see music related items. Teachers, you can do this on your studio website and/or your blog, providing that your account allows you to host ads (for instance, Wordpress.com blogs don't allow ads but Wordpress.org blogs do).

Now, there is another joint in town though that sells a great selection of print and digital sheet music, learning aids and other musical goodies - Sheetmusicplus.com , This is the place that Rideau Music directed their customers to when Gill brothers closed their doors last year.

One of the cool things is that music teachers can create music lists for their students. Anything to make it easier for our busy piano parents to buy the right materials, I say. Some of my piano parents already shop online for sheet music.

Here are my lists:

Fellow music teachers, if you sign up for a teacher account, you can register for their Easy Rebates for Music Teachers program. You can earn 8% cash back on your sheet music purchases. Not only that, by creating music lists and sharing them with your students, family and friends, you will earn a little bit with every sale.

If you're looking for an additional income stream that requires very little effort, check this out. Just bear in mind that as with any passive income stream online, it does take time to build up your presence. You will need to go in an occasionally tweak the keywords and update your lists. You will also need to remember to periodically share the lists with your network of family, friends and students via print, email, your website and/or social networking.

Good luck and happy shopping!

Angry Piano Music

A few weeks ago, two of my female students (one pre-teen, one teen), were going through a rough week. When we talked about the songs they are currently working on, we came to the realization that there was a gaping hole in their repertoire: they didn't have any " angry" music. When I told them that "angry" piano music does exist, they asked for some to work on. The more advanced student is currently working through Robert Starer's "Crimson" from his Sketches in Color. The 7/8 time signature is delightfully lopsided and it's all fast and furious.

After speaking with some colleagues and conducting a quick Google search, I found a few more titles to add to the list:

Allegro barbaro by Bela Bartok:

Allegro Barbaro, Sz. 49 look inside Allegro Barbaro, Sz. 49 By Béla Bartók. Edited by Maurice Hinson. For Piano. Masterworks; Piano Solo; Solo. Alfred Masterwork Edition. 20th Century; Masterwork. Advanced. Sheet. 8 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.8085)

...more info

Piano Sonata No. 7 (Op.83) by Sergei Prokofiev:

Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83 look inside Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83 (Piano Solo). By Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). For Piano. Piano. 32 pages. Sikorski #SIK2178. Published by Sikorski (HL.50483889)...more info

Moonlight Sonata - 3rd movement by Ludwig van Beethoven:

Piano sonata C sharp minor - Op. 27, No.2 [Moonlight] look inside Piano sonata C sharp minor - Op. 27, No.2 [Moonlight] (Moonlight Sonata). By Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Edited by Bertha Antonia Wallner. For Piano. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Urtext edition-paper bound. Classical Period. SMP Level 8 (Early Advanced). Single piece. 16 pages. G. Henle #HN49. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480049)

Smp_stars50 (1) ...more info

"#3" from Three Piano Pieces by Arnold Shoenberg:

Three Piano Pieces, 1894 Three Piano Pieces, 1894 By Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). For piano. 20th Century. Score. Published by Belmont Music Publishers (BE.BEL-1017)...more info

"Danza de gaucho matero" from Danzas Argentinas by Alberto Ginastera

Danzas Argentinas pour Piano look inside Danzas Argentinas pour Piano (Piano Solo). By Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). For piano. Editions Durand. 20th Century and Argentina. SMP Level 10 (Advanced). Collection. Standard notation (does not include words to the songs). 14 pages. Editions Durand #DF1300400. Published by Editions Durand (HL.50561253)Smp_stars40 (11) ...more info

If you would like to contribute to this list of angry music, please feel free to post a comment.

I am still trying to find some angry music for my Grade 1 student. She's going to ask her mother to get her some Avril Lavigne sheet music though, so that will help channel her angst.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Friday Fun Links #30 - 33

Lately, I've been on an ethnic music kick. For those interested in exploring world music, here are some sites that I frequent (although, I haven't lately since I'm trying to cut down on my spending):

  • CD Japan: an excellent site for JPop, anime, game and traditional Japanese music
  • Amazon.ca: You'd be amazed at the wide selection on Amazon

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Fun Music Ideas

Around this time, it's a big push to keep students focussed and motivated to practice. Several of my students are exploring other genres to keep their interest or to simply give them a break from their main pieces. Here are just a few, which may serve as ideas for other musicians:

Check out the links, sheetmusicplus.com or your local music store. Happy exploring!

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.