Review: Graded Gillock (William Gillock)

As I’ve written before, I get quite a number of books sent to me for review. For many, as much as I value and enjoy their concept and content, I do wonder if they’ll stand the test of time. Then, just occasionally, some books come along which you know you’ll still be using and enjoying for many years into the future. This series of three books, Graded Gillock, edited by Andrew Eales and published by The Willis Music Company, is just one, or in this case, three, of those collections.

William Gillock is probably a familiar name amongst piano teachers. I first came across him when one of his pieces, ‘Mister Trumpet Man’ appeared on one of the alternative lists for the ABRSM Piano Syllabus, nearly 20 years ago. I duly purchased the book which contained it: Hello, Mister Gillock! Hello, Carl Czerny. I have to admit, I found the concept a little odd, but Gillock’s music appealed. He then popped up again when probably one of his most famous pieces, ‘New Orleans Nightfall’ appeared on the ABRSM Grade 5 Piano Syllabus. This piece alone has become a bit of an ‘evergreen’.

Drifting Clouds
Review: Graded Gillock (William Gillock)

But I have to confess, beyond these two encounters, I hadn’t fully appreciated the huge contribution which Gillock made to the educational piano market. I use that term with some hesitation, for these, like all pieces, are ultimately musical works to be enjoyed, whether for educational purposes or not. American composer, William Gillock (1917-1993), contributed a huge number of works and books in his lifetime. A quick search of some sheet music websites throws up some 500 search results for his name.

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This three-volume series brings together some of Gillock’s best-loved piano pieces covering Grades 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6. Almost every conceivable style of music is represented in these books; a huge testament to Gillock’s ability to embrace such differing genres in a way which will appeal to all ages of pianist. In fact, that was a big plus-point for me. These books will suit all ages of learner, for there is nothing childish about their presentation, or indeed about the pieces themselves. On the contrary, the mixture of pieces offered a really beautiful range of different styles and genres, some of which my students are already enjoying.

Review: Graded Gillock (William Gillock)
New Orleans Nightfall

These books have been edited and brought together by renowned music educator and piano teacher, Andrew Eales. This means that they have been expertly collated and produced with piano students, teachers and players in mind. The typesetting and layout is excellent, and nicely clear on the eyes. The covers are eye-catching and attractive, and the additional notes for each piece are useful for players and teachers alike. These are ticks in all the boxes for me!

If you thought Gillock was all about ‘New Orleans Nightfall’ (which is, of course, a great piece), then these books will be a real eye-opener. There is so much lovely music to explore and play here, and the selection, production and editing is all first class. In summary:

  • Great presentation, typesetting and layout
  • Wide range of styles of pieces, all with their own character
  • Pieces expertly matched to their intended grades
  • Suitable for all ages, including adult learners
  • Great value

If you don’t yet own any of Gillock’s music, I’d say these are well worth exploring, and if you do, these bring a great cross-section of his music together in three accessible and appealing volumes.

One of your ‘must-buys’ of 2023!

[This post contains affiliate links]

Graded Gillock, Grades 1-2 is edited by Andrew Eales, published by The Willis Music Company, distributed by Hal Leonard, ISBN 9781705172407, RRP £9.99.

Graded Gillock, Grades 3-4 is edited by Andrew Eales, published by The Willis Music Company, distributed by Hal Leonard, ISBN 9781705172414, RRP £9.99.

Graded Gillock, Grades 5-6 is edited by Andrew Eales, published by The Willis Music Company, distributed by Hal Leonard, ISBN 9781705172421, RRP £9.99.

I was sent a review copy of these books free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.

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Review: Graded Gillock (William Gillock)