Do you want to learn and perform new music but don’t know a pianist? You might want to stick to playing unaccompanied piccolo pieces.
Look at a few different well-known pieces to grow your music library. Then, you can decide which to focus on first to learn and improve your playing.
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1. Chamberlain Death Whistle
Nicole Chamberlain is a flutist and composer, and she’s written quite a few flute pieces. In 2018, she published Death Whistle for solo piccolo, and it’s a fun piece.
There are three movements: Ear Knife, Ballistophobia, and #PiccoloOhMyGod. Each movement sounds like how you might expect since the first movement sounds piercing.
Ballistophobia means the fear of being shot, and it refers to the joke “how do you tune two piccolos? You shoot one.” The last movement is fast and requires a lot of practice to play all of the notes.
2. Dorff Tweet for Solo Piccolo
Another composer who writes a lot for flutes is Daniel Dorff. His piece Tweet for Solo Piccolo is one of the best unaccompanied piccolo pieces for you to learn.
It has a lot of grace notes on notes after another, so it sounds like bird calls. There are also some more lyrical sections in the piece, so you have to be able to switch between different styles.
If you like emulating a bird, you should give this piece a try. It’s also a good option if you want to practice grace notes and arpeggios (which frequently appear in the sets of grace notes).
3. Harberg Hall of Ghosts
Amanda Harberg wrote Hall of Ghosts for solo piccolo in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She took inspiration from the sudden emptiness of concert halls.
This piece has lyrical and more technical sections, and it’s all in one movement. If you want to play music based on the past couple of years, this is a good option.
Of course, we’re slowly getting back to normal, but it can be fun to explore the sounds of an empty hall. Whether you want to support a living composer or a woman, add this piece to your library.
4. Jacob The Pied Piper
If you’re looking for solo flute and piccolo pieces, you may want to play The Pied Piper by Gordon Jacob. The first movement, The Spell, is for solo flute, and it’s very slow and lyrical.
March to the River Weser is the second movement, and it highlights the piccolo. As the name suggests, it’s a march, so it’s relatively fast, and it’s not too long.
I played both movements in college, and the piece was fun to learn. If you like playing both the flute and piccolo, give this piece a try to expand your repertoire.
5. Loeb Six Preludes
David Loeb has written a lot of great pieces for flute or piccolo, and Six Preludes Volume 1 is great. Each prelude is inspired by a flute from East Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Korea.
Some of the preludes don’t go too high, which is nice if you don’t like wearing earplugs. The preludes also vary in speed, and some are more technical while others are lyrical.
If you like music from other cultures, this is a great set of pieces. And you can find other music by David Loeb if you want to play even more solo piccolo stuff.
6. Persichetti Parable
Vincent Persichetti wrote a series of solo pieces for various instruments. His Parable for Solo Piccolo is one of the first piccolo solos written since the Vivaldi concertos.
It’s only a couple of minutes long, and the sheet music is two pages. There are some extended techniques, flutter tonguing, and the piece switches meter a few times.
This piece uses the entire range of the instrument, so you can practice low and high notes. And you get to practice different note values as well as fivetuplets and sextuplets.
7. Rees Nightsong
Carla Rees is a flute player, and she wrote Nightsong for solo piccolo. The piece takes inspiration from the work of Pierre Boulez, so it has elements of 12-tone music.
Another inspiration is the sound of a robin that Rees could hear outside of her window. When you buy the piece, you should read through the performance notes to help inform your interpretation.
Overall, the piece isn’t too long, and it doesn’t go incredibly high. But there are some technical parts that you’d need to practice well before performing the piece.
How to Choose Solo Piccolo Pieces
Just like any type of repertoire, you have more solo piccolo pieces than you might think. That can be overwhelming when you’re trying to decide what to learn next.
Fortunately, you can look at a few different factors to select a piece to learn. Then, you’ll look forward to practicing and enjoying the process of learning music.
Start With Your Level
First, you have to consider if you can even play the piece. Of course, mistakes are bound to happen, but you have to determine if you think you can learn it.
If you’re new to the piccolo, you should start with some slower pieces and that don’t go too high. Then, you can focus on your tone, and you don’t have to worry about playing fast.
You might also want to think about any extended techniques the piece uses. Some composers like to use different techniques to make various sounds.
Consider What You Like
Of course, it also helps to think about the music you like to play. If you like world music, you may love playing music by David Loeb, such as the Six Preludes.
Or if you like 12-tone music, give Nightsong a try. Consider what composers you like listening to and what you like to play, and you can find piccolo pieces by those composers.
Liking music makes it a lot easier to want to practice the piccolo. So if you find music you enjoy, you’ll have an easier chance of getting better and being able to play the music you learn.
Think About Your Goals
Think about any goals you have for learning a particular piece. For example, maybe you’re in school and need to choose a piece that fits certain requirements.
You can use that to narrow your search for a good piece of music that fills that requirement. Or if you don’t have to play a specific piece, maybe you have a theme in mind.
That can help you decide on a piece you want to play but that will also work with the rest of your program.
Review Your Budget
Most solo piccolo pieces are relatively affordable, especially compared to concertos. But they can still vary in price as well as in the format the music comes in.
In some cases, a digital file will cost less than a print version of the same thing. Think about other expenses you have, like other pieces of music you need to purchase.
Then, you can determine if you need to find more affordable music.
Decide on the Format
I briefly mentioned this, but you should consider if you want to buy digital or print sheet music. Digital is great because you can access it right away.
However, some publishers only let you use digital files in a certain app. You can’t download them as PDFs and print them off, which can be pretty limiting.
On the other hand, if you like using an iPad for music, it could work. I’d still suggest getting the print version and scanning it in case you ever need to read the music in print format.
Which Unaccompanied Piccolo Pieces Will You Play?
When looking for new music, consider if you want to play some unaccompanied piccolo pieces. There are more pieces than you think, so you have to consider a lot of factors.
Then, you can decide on which piccolo solos will suit your needs.