Discovery Series: Elissa Milne - Entrada

March 15, 2022

Discovery Series: Elissa Milne

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In Entrada’s last Discovery Series release, I enjoyed presenting Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Melodie in C-Sharp Minor. At the time, I commented that I was looking forward to exploring, with students in my piano literature course, the music of many women mostly treated as “footnotes” in music history. In addition to Hensel and Marianne Martines, we’re soon to delve deeper into the lives and work of Maria Hester Park, Louise Farrenc, and Marta Szymanowska. But while this semester’s course focuses on music composed before 1850, there are so many more women composers whose work deserves greater attention and advocacy from the past 170 years and counting. 

I’m pleased that Entrada has recently released a video playlist of some of my performances of works by women composers. The playlist includes Against the Rule, a delightful jazz piece by Australian composer Elissa Milne, at the late intermediate level. 

Access the full playlist on YouTube.

Inspired by her piano teacher mother, Milne began composing at the young age of 6 years old. She has written in many genres, including musicals, educational piano music, organ music, pop music, chamber music and choral music. 

Elissa is a multifaceted musician and human being, having worked as a classroom teacher, radio interviewer, television producer, conductor, session musician, a writer of parenting articles…and many other roles. (As her own bio concludes, “Within the realms of scientific possibility, she may do anything next.”) !

Since the late 1990’s, Elissa Milne has become a very familiar name among piano teachers and their students, especially following the appearance of her first Pepperbox Jazz publications. She’s a leader in the music field, inspiring others through her seminars, keynote presentations, workshops, creativity masterclasses and many other professional development offerings.

Today, I’m featuring two of Milne’s easiest pieces for beginners: both Smooth and Crunchy (Very Easy Little Peppers) and Sunshower (Easy Little Peppers) are from sets of jazz miniatures, groups of short, highly appealing works for beginning pianists to get immediate exposure to a wide range of rhythm and performance techniques, and are “designed to delight both player and audience alike.”

The Smooth and Crunchy Masterclass is the shortest tutorial I’ve created yet (the piece itself is just under 15 seconds long); it features a focus on the “smooth” (legato) versus the “crunchy” (staccato) as well as an example of how to play the right hand with an efficient, three-dimensional motion. Here’s the whole video:


And Sunshower provides a great opportunity to demonstrate the secret of rhythmic playing, as in this excerpt:

Access the full Masterclass, and many more, inside Entrada!

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