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FLEX-ABILITY Classics and More Pops

Alfred Music Publishers


and More Pops

Alfred Music Publishers

Arranged by Victor Lopez


Reviewed by Vince Corozine


These series of books are for Solo-Duet-Trio-Quartet or any small or large ensemble such as woodwinds, brass, strings, or percussion.


Each book states “Play together in harmony with classmates, family, and friends.  Use any combination of instruments and any skill level. Everyone can play!”


The “Classics” series includes eleven classical themes arranged in rock , jazz and swing styles, while the “more Pops” series contains eleven pop tunes. These arrangements are a fun way to learn these themes. In the “Classic” book, four come from operas, four from orchestra compositions, tow are piano or organ pieces and one is originally for lute/guitar.  Each song is approximately 32 measures in length.


The song titles for “Classics” are: Overture from The Barber of Seville by Rossini, Bouree from Lute Suite by Bach,  Habanera from “Carmen,” by Bizet, Theme from Hungarian Dance No. 5  by Brahms, Minuet by Bach, Theme from The New World Symphony by Dvorak, Ode to Joy by Beethoven, Pomp and Circumstance by Elgar, Prince of Denmark’s March (Trumpet Voluntary)by Clarke, Toreador Song from “Carmen.” By Bizet, William Tell by Rossini. 


The song titles for “more Pops” are: Alegria by Dupere; American Idiot by Billie Joe; Because of You by Clarkson, Moody, and Hodges; Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Billie Joe; Gonna Fly Now from “Rockie” by Conti; Hedwig’s Theme from “Harry Potter” by Williams, Hips Don’t Lie b7 Shakira/Jean; Jumpin’ Jack Flash by Jagger and Richards;New Girl in Town by Shaiman; We Are Family by Edwards and Rodgers.


The first Flex-Ability Pops book (not reviewed) contains: La Bamba, When the Saints, Eye of the Tiger, Peter Gunn, In the Midnight Hour, China Grove, Jeepers Creepers, Soul Man, Sweet Georgia Brown, Frosty the Snowman, and Celebration.


The Flex-Ability Holiday book (not reviewed) contains: Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Nuttin’ for Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Angels We Have Heard on High, Joy to the World, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Auld Lang Syne, and I Have a Little Dreydl.


Many of these songs can be played “straight,” winds and strings alone without the rhythm section or CD, for fun or in a concert setting, or they can be played in the style suggested. 


When students play along with the CD or rhythm section (piano, guitar, electric bass, and percussion), the rhythms and harmonies “modernize” these tunes: rock, blues, swing, pop, and so on.  Dynamics and articulations are clearly indicated. 


The CD accompaniment is available separately. Each song has two tracks: a Performance Track with full demonstration recording, and an Accompaniment Track with only the rhythm section to play along in solos, duets, trios, quartets, or larger ensembles.


A full complement of string parts is also available.  I assume that the string parts (not reviewed for “Classics”) are written in the same keys as are the band instruments, This could be a problem for the novice string players, realizing that they will be asked to play in the keys of Bb, Eb, Ab, and F.   I would like to see fingerings added to assist the novice string players, such as covered (4) to avoid the nasal quality of open strings, and lowered (L) fingerings for the flats.   


The Trumpet/Baritone Horn TC book extends to G on top of the staff. An occasional A is written with an optional lower note. 


The clarinet/bass clarinet book is written in a comfortable range for all clarinets. The first and second clarinet parts do go above the break. Parts 3 and 4 stay below the break.  


I find it helpful to indicate certain fingering helps for students at this level. For example some of the chromatic fingers (Bb below the staff to B natural and first space F to F#) could be used to avoid the abruptness of “finger flopping.” (middle space ) C in the staff moving to (fourth space) Eb could be marked (Left) to (Right) to remind the player not to use two side keys in a row for smooth playing.  These relatively simple reminders are instructional and helpful for the novice performers.


The trombone book (not reviewed) could also benefit from the insertion of alternate positions to help the fledgling trombonist make better use of shorter and easier slide position movement.


The Percussion book includes Part I:  Bells/xylophone, Part 2: Marimba/Xylophone, 3. Shaker/ Tambourine/ Cowbell, 4. S.D., B.D., Hi-hat, or Drum Set.


The bells are asked to play the melody throughout every piece.  For reading and learning purposes, this is a good idea. For performance I would suggest that the bell part be modified using fewer notes, outlining the melody at specific points in the music. The constant sound of bells can be quite overbearing and annoying after awhile. 


In the back of the “Classics” book is an excellent set of program notes, presenting background information about each composer and selection contained in the book.


Each book consists of four musical lines for each song: Line 1: Melody, level 2 ½ -3, Line 2:  Harmony Level 2 ½, Line 3: Harmony Level 1 ½, Line 4: Level 1


Each of the four books contains eleven songs arranged in varying styles. Each part is written quite independently of the others. The fourth part emulates a bass part.  First year players are often insecure and would find an independent part (different rhythms than the melody) to be difficult to maintain, even if the note values are simpler. 


These series are a good way for students to have fun while learning classic melodies and pop tunes that have endured over the years.