Mozzie

This piece might be my most performed piano piece to date.  It has been on the Australian Music Examination Board piano syllabus since 2000, and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music have included it in their Grade 2 Piano exam publication for 2009-10.  As a result, there are YouTube performances a-plenty.  Meantime quite a few people have discovered this blog while searching for information about Mozzie.

So, for the curious, or those seeking some background on the piece, here is the tale of Mozzie.

Back at the end of 1995 I had finally (yet suddenly) made the decision to write educational piano music in earnest, and set myself the challenge of writing just one really good piece of educational piano music before the end of the night (midnight, November 27).  I’d been out to dinner with my family as it was my parents’ wedding anniversary, so I set myself this challenge at about quarter to eleven at night.  So, maybe I was being a bit ambitious.

Well, by midnight I had three pieces I thought might qualify – but midnight is hardly the time to be making sound judgements so I scribbled my ideas down and went to bed.

November 28 dawned, and all three pieces seemed to have met the criteria, and I still had more ideas to try out. I spent the best part of the next week or so writing as many compact piano pieces as I could.  And Mozzie was part of this initial burst of pianistic creativity.  It wasn’t one of the pieces from November 27, I’m almost certain, but definitely from the days that followed.

It was originally published in Pepperbox Jazz Book 1 in 1997, but it was by far the easiest piece in the book, so when I signed up with Faber Music I decided to move it into second book of the five-volume Little Peppers series (Easy Little Peppers), keeping the Pepperbox Jazz title for the more difficult pieces from my educational output.

I’ve had some teachers ask if it would be appropriate to swing the rhythm in this piece, and musically I suppose there is no reason not to.  But the piece is about a mosquito and the mosquito is behaving in a persistent fashion!! Now, maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about a persistent mosquito being on the hunt for blood that makes a swing groove seem very wrong!

So please, don’t swing it!  This piece should sound like a hardworking little mosquito who is determined to get you no matter how much you try to shoo it away.

If you are an Australian piano student you might be practicing Mozzie for your Grade 1 AMEB exam, or a student from New Zealand might be learning Mozzie for their NZMEB Grade 1 assessment.

No matter which exam you are taking do make sure that you play the acciaccature (crushed notes) smashing into the note that follows, so it’s almost like this:

And nothing like this:

The examiner will be looking to see if you can use your left hand to create an exciting melody for the first 8 bars and then switch the melody into the right hand for 4 bars before the melody goes back to the left hand louder than ever to finish off the piece.  This means you have to really listen to how loudly you are playing the accompanying part and make a good balance so the story of the Mozzie can be heard.

Good luck to everyone playing this piece in an exam – I hope you all get fantastic marks for this one!

6 thoughts on “Mozzie

  1. My daughter age 9 has chosen to play “Grouch” for her Grade 3 exam (Trinity Guildhall) this year. In trying to perfect it, we would be grateful to have your comments on what you had in mind when you wrote the piece and how it should be played. Thanks for the music. (We live in Colombo, Sri Lanka)

    • Hello!! Thanks for the prompt to write something about Grouch – that’s been on my to-do list for at least a year…!

      • Thank you! I found your articles fascinating and informative and look forward to reading all about “Grouch”.

  2. Hi Elissa. I’m just preparing some ‘general knowledge’ information for a pupil doing ‘Mozzie’ for AMEB Gr 1 soon. Is the key/tonality D minor, though the key signature B flat is not indicated? With the C sharps and hovering around and ending on D seems D minor, with some G sharp and A flat chromatic notes. Or should we be understaning it’s some ‘mode’ or something? Would be most grateful for your feedback. Linda.

    • Hi Linda. Short answer: yes. it’s in a D minor tonality. :-)

      At Grade 1 that’s all the student is expected to be able to explain – but if your student wants he or she can support this assertion of D minor by pointing out the opening bar and the closing bar both feature D minor chords!

      But for more sophisticated musicians (than the Grade 1 AMEB piano exam student): Mozzie isn’t in a mode per se, because there is too much chromaticism. As regards the lack of a B flat key signature – no B flat is ever played in this piece (but B natural is!), so there is no purpose in using a signature (other than to – well, actually, no, there’s no reason). Two years ago I wrote a post about this exact issue – looking at these times when Key ≠ Key Signature. Always trust your instinct – especially if the first and last notes of a piece are the same!

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