Do you want to expand your knowledge of orchestral excerpts for the piccolo? Consider some popular symphonies, suites, and more.
Then, you can incorporate the solos into your piccolo practice. Soon enough, you may be ready to audition for an orchestra.
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Where to Find Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo
You can find orchestral excerpts for piccolo in a lot of places. Of course, if you get to play certain pieces in an orchestra, you’ll get the full piccolo part.
However, the easiest place to find orchestral excerpts for piccolo is in a compilation book. I have a copy of Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo with Piano Accompaniment.
Jack Wellbaum, former Solo Piccolo of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, selected and annotated the piccolo parts. Martha Rearick created the piano reductions to go along with the solos.
This book makes it very easy to learn some of the standard excerpts, plus the printing is very similar to that of authentic parts. You can use a book like the Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Piccolo.
It has even more excerpts. However, that book edited the parts so that they all look the same. The overall layout and printing may be different from what you’d get in a piccolo audition.
Best Piccolo Orchestral Excerpts
Now that you know where you can find the music, you should consider what orchestral excerpts you should learn. Then, you can start with some standard solos.
You can always learn more excerpts over time. But you have to start somewhere, so you might as well start with common parts.
Here are some of the best excerpts for piccolo players to know.
1. Bartok Rumanian Folk Dances
Rumanian Folk Dances by Bartok is an excellent work. It contains a few short movements that represent different folk dances. The piccolo gets its time to shine in the third movement.
Pe Loc, or “in one spot”, is basically a piccolo solo with the strings. You have to have good control of dynamics throughout the movement.
It’s also difficult due to E sharps and other accidentals. The rhythm can be hard to get right as well. Be sure to take it slowly as you learn this orchestral excerpt.
2. Beethoven Symphony No. 5
The piccolo may not play for the first three movements, but the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony features the small flute heavily.
It’s one of the first symphonies to include a piccolo part. There are quite a few scale runs, so practice your C scales. I got to play this with a community orchestra a few years ago, and it was super fun.
If you get to play this, be sure to break down the excerpt. That way, it will be more manageable to learn. You can also move your right hand over to trill the G key for the long trill from G to A.
3. Beethoven Symphony No. 9
Another Beethoven Symphony that features the piccolo is the Ninth Symphony. It involves a lot of notes in the high register, and it’s in 6/8, so you can practice that time signature more.
If you want to play a Beethoven excerpt, I’d probably wait to do this one. Give the other solo a try first. Then, you can come back to this one when you’re ready.
You’ll need to wear earplugs and practice the notes and rhythms. Then, you can sound great when playing the piece.
4. Britten The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is another fantastic piccolo excerpt. The whole piece features different instruments in the orchestra, as the title suggests.
In the Wellbaum book, you’ll find two piccolo solos. One is from Variation A, which features all of the flutes. The second one is from the Fugue.
Both solos take practice to make sure you get the notes right. You also have to make sure to count so that you rest for the right amount of time when playing.
5. Ippolitov-Ivanov Caucasian Sketches
Another one of the big orchestral excerpts for piccolo comes from Caucasian Sketches by Ippolitov-Ivanov. No 4: Procession of the Sardar is a march but it shouldn’t be too fast.
This is a good excerpt to use if you need to practice playing in the key of E major. It also forces you to learn and practice the third register, so be sure to wear some good earplugs.
Unless you have a Hammig piccolo with a high G# mechanism, you’ll need to use an alternate fingering. That way, you can play that high note without sounding too loud.
6. Prokofiev Lieutenant Kije
Russian composers have written a lot of great piccolo excerpts. The next pair of solos is from Lieutenant Kije by Prokofiev. In the first movement, The Birth of Kije, you’ll find the first solo.
This excerpt is almost entirely on top of or above the staff. You need to make sure you differentiate the eighth notes that have accents from the ones that don’t.
The more well-known of these excerpts is from the fourth movement, Troika. This solo is also pretty high, so you should wear earplugs. When I worked on this one, I focused more on the beginnings and endings of the runs to make them sound better.
7. Ravel Bolero
Of course, I can’t share a list of the best orchestral excerpts for piccolo without including Bolero. This is the piece where the different instruments all get the solo.
When the piccolo gets it, the second flute player also switches to the piccolo. The official piccolo part plays the solo in G. Meanwhile, the second flute/piccolo part plays in E, a sixth higher.
Because of this, many players will switch parts for the solo. That way, the piccolo specialist plays the higher part. Then, the second flutist won’t have to be as exposed on the piccolo.
8. Ravel Ma Mere L’Oye
Another Ravel piece with some great piccolo solos is Ma Mere L’Oye (or Mother Goose). The first movement has a bit of a piccolo solo, but the more famous excerpt is from the third movement.
I played this as part of a flute choir arrangement during grad school. The piccolo solo involves a lot of sharps since it’s in the key of F sharp major, but it’s super fun to play when you get it right.
It’s a great excerpt to learn if you need to work on your low register. Plus you can play it when you don’t want to disturb others with super high notes.
9. Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade
Scheherazade is another one of the biggest orchestral excerpts for the piccolo. It involves a lot of 32nd notes at 88 beats per minute. The part is also entirely above the staff.
That makes it a good choice if you need to practice technical passages and your third octave. I’d recommend starting as slow as you need to get the correct notes.
You can then use a metronome and slowly increase the tempo. Soon enough, you’ll be able to play the excerpt at performance tempo.
10. Rossini La Gazza Ladra
One of the biggest piccolo solos is in the Overture to La Gazza Ladra by Rossini. This excerpt is great if you want to learn how to phrase music well.
The piccolo has two solos in this overture. First, you’ll play the solo along with the clarinet and bassoon. That means you need to be in time and in tune to make the excerpt sound good.
You’ll have the solo again almost 200 measures later. This time, the solo is a minor third lower. You will play it with the oboe and the clarinet during that section.
11. Rossini La Scala di Seta
Rossini wrote a lot of amazing piccolo parts. Another excellent excerpt is from the overture in La Scala di Seta. This excerpt is short, and it doesn’t go too ligh.
However, you have to play it right in time with the oboe player. You need to practice light articulation to make the solo sound good. And you need to match note length with the other player.
While you have freedom to play it how you want alone, prepare to work with the oboist if you play this in an orchestra. That way, you can both make sure the piece sounds great.
12. Rossini Semiramide
Yet another set of Rossini excerpts come from the overture to Semiramide. There are three excerpts, and each one is a bit different, so be sure to practice them independently.
First, you will play a solo with a bunch of 16th notes. This section happens with the first violins, so you need to be extra careful when articulating the notes.
The second and third excerpts play off of a flute solo. For the second excerpt, you need to match the flute style. When the third excerpt comes in, you’ll use the same style, but the solo will be in a different key.
13. Shostakovich Symphonies
Shostakovich was another composer that wrote very well for the piccolo. A lot of his symphonies feature prominent piccolo solos, so I won’t go in-depth on each one.
Some of the symphonies to check out include 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. You can find solos from these symphonies in the Wellbaum book.
I haven’t played any of his symphonies. However, I played the piccolo part on his Piano Concerto No. 2. That piece has some amazing piccolo lines alone and with other woodwinds.
14. Sousa The Stars and Stripes Forever
If you’re an American, you’ve probably heard of The Stars and Stripes Forever. This Sousa march is a classic, and it features probably the most famous piccolo solo out there.
What makes this excerpt tricky is that it can be in one of two keys. If you play it with an orchestra, you will probably play the solo in G major. I find that key easier for this melody.
However, bands will usually play it in the key of Ab major. That means you may need to learn it in both keys. Alternatively, you can look for a Db piccolo so that you can learn the solo in G major and use the appropriate piccolo based on the key.
15. Stravinsky Firebird Suite
One of the most difficult orchestral excerpts for piccolo has to be from Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. I haven’t even attempted to learn this solo, but I know it’s important.
It will take a lot of work to get the rhythms correct. The intervals between notes also aren’t that intuitive. Be sure you dedicate enough time to practice the excerpt.
That way, you’ll be able to do a good job when you need to play it in an audition or on stage. You won’t have to rush to learn it and not get it right.
16. Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
Like the Beethoven Symphony No. 5, this Tchaikovsky symphony is one where the piccolo player has to sit. You will come in during the third movement, and that’s your solo.
Yep, you don’t get much of a warmup before you have to play your own part. Not to mention, the solo starts on a high A. You’ll need to practice well to prepare for the solo.
I’ve even heard the advice of playing something with the second flute (albeit an octave lower to compensate for the transposition). That way, you won’t have to play your solo “cold” with the orchestra.
Did I Miss Any Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo?
There are tons of orchestral excerpts for piccolo. Whether you want to learn symphonies or other large works, you have options.
I could probably make another list of piccolo excerpts. So comment below with any that I missed, and I can share them in a future post!