The Easy Peanuts Illustrated Songbook
August 18, 2020
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could play jazz on the piano? I like playing both classical music and pop music, but somehow playing jazz on the piano is my image of one of the coolest things in the world! Despite that image, or maybe because of it, it is hard for me to learn the songs of the jazz legends–especially trying to learn them in their original form. It’s always a challenge to find a well-written arrangement that is not too difficult to play but still sounds rich. Today, I think I found one.
The Easy Peanuts Illustrated Songbook with an introduction by Hank Bordowitz, Easy Piano (Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-4950-4676-6)
I actually bought this book a while back, but never got around to trying it out. I have a couple of other Peanuts song books labeled as “easy piano” books, but the arrangements in those books didn’t carry much of a jazz feeling, so I set them aside without making it all the way through the stack to this book. Recently, though, other people around here have been trying to learn “Linus and Lucy”, and that reminded me about this book. So I pulled out all the Peanuts books we have around here and started playing through them. When I got to this book, I immediately noticed it’s different from other “easy piano” books.
Just as the “easy piano” label suggests, all of the arrangements are for beginner and early intermediate level. That means that almost all of the chords contain only 2 notes, and it also means you hardly ever see 16th notes. However, all the feelings of the original songs somehow remain in there. Because of this, I think this book is a great one for adult learners to pick up. The key to conveying the feeling of these songs is to play them up tempo with all the attitude you can fit into your presentation. I am sure these arrangements will bring out a new, jazzy side of your piano performances.
The book also includes a 20-page introduction that explains how the music of Peanuts came to be. It starts from the origin of the comic strip, how it became a documentary and then a TV series, and how Vince Guaraldi came to write the music for the series. The book also provides some insight into the career of Vince Guaraldi and how his music shaped the next generation of Jazz players. Some of that next generation of players even recorded Peanuts song albums of their own!
I enjoyed this book so much that I ordered the non-easy piano version, The Peanuts Illustrated Songbook with an introduction by Hank Bordowitz (Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-6340-3090-1). It will be more challenging to play, but I’m looking forward to it!