Hands-On Review:Instructional


Recommended Reading: Instructional
by Rich Maloof


Encyclopedia of Reading Rhythms
By Gary Hess (Musician's Institute/Hal Leonard Publishing, 1997) $19.95


More workbook than textbook, Reading Rhythms is designed to improve the counting, reading and playing skills of any musician. It's one of very few books beyond the drummer's realm to cover rhythm so comprehensively. Do you know how to count out 8th-note triplets? Does a chart in 5/8 leave you stymied? Hess's book will fine-tune your reading and notation skills down to the dotted 32nd note. By the time you've completed every exercise between page 14 and page 270, Dave Weckl will be calling you for help.


Piano Playing with Piano Questions Answered
By Josef Hofmann (Dover Press, first printing 1909) $8.95


Author Josef Hofmann, who wrote this book at the turn of the 20th century, would've hated grunge rock. He has very clear rules about what is proper in musicianship and no tolerance whatsoever for anti-technique sentiments. You can almost feel the sting of his ruler across your knuckles. Still, the vast majority of today's players have swung technique's pendulum so far to the left that conservative writings such as Piano Playing are helpful in bringing serious study back to the center.


Hofmann comes across with a few anachronistic classics worthy as much for their fierce dedication to proper piano technique as their entertainment value. More than half the book answers student's questions in Q&A format. Sample:


Q: Must I persist in playing classical pieces when I prefer to play dance music?


A: If, in your daily life, you wish to be regarded as a lady or a gentleman you are obliged to be careful as to the company you keep. It is the same in musical life.


The Ultimate Guitar Chord BIG BOOK
by Don Latarski (IMP/Warner Bros., 1998) $24.95


No frills here - just 100,000 guitar chords shown in neck-grid blocks. While a good education in chord voicings will save you the 25 bucks, author Latarski makes it quick and easy to identify and finger any chord in several different inversions and voices. You'll never look at a A#sus4(b9)/D the same way again.