Piece of the Week 24 – Circus Skills

Some years ago I was sitting in a music and performing arts staff meeting at the college where I used to teach, and the subject under discussion was ‘new courses’ – music and theatre, music and dance, music and the liturgy, etc.  Then a colleague proposed ‘Circus Skills’. After a certain amount of laughter this led on to a serious discussion about acrobats, dexterity, fitness, etc. and as to whether such a course would be likely to recruit sufficient students.  I don’t think the idea progressed very much further, but I spent the rest of the meeting scribbling down ideas for a set of easy pieces about the circus, and, as my daughter was learning the trumpet at the time, Circus Skills – eight pieces for trumpet and piano – was born.  They were subsequently published – then went out of print – and now they are republished by a new publishing company, Clifton Edition. Following requests, I also made versions for other instruments – flute, oboe, clarinet, alto sax, horn, and trombone – and these too have been republished this year.

It’s been rather pleasant looking back over these little pieces which range from the slightly humorous (‘Trick Cyclist’ and ‘Tightrope Walker’), to the sentimental (‘Sad Clown’, ‘Sentimental Serenade’), and from rock style (‘Circus Rock’) to a traditional waltz (Dancing Dolls). There’s also a wide-leaping ‘Acrobats’ movement, and the final piece is a lively ‘Russian Galop’ (written, of course, long before the current troubles)

Here are links to scrolling scores of two of the movements:
Tightrope Walker (currently set for ABRSM Horn Grade 3)
Russian Galop (currently set for ABRSM Trumpet Grade 4)

The seven Circus Skills books (trumpet, horn, trombone, flute, oboe, clarinet, sax) are all available from Stainer and Bell, the distributor for Clifton Edition, and there is also a free digital download of demo and backing tracks for each book.  It’s lovely that re-publication has given these pieces a new lease of life!