American pianist/composer John Thompson (1889-1963) was born in Pennsylvania. At an early age, he appeared as a concert pianist in all the principal cities of America and Europe, where his brilliant playing received much praise. After concluding his concert career, he headed music departments at conservatories in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. During these tenures he developed certain definite and original ideas about teaching, and in a short time became famous for his sincere efforts to interest young students in pianism. His Teaching Little Fingers to Play and Modern Course for the Piano remain some of the best-selling methods in the world today. Click here to see our selection of John Thompson books!
Edna Mae Burnam (1907-2007) is one of the most respected names in piano pedagogy. She began her study of the instrument at age seven, with lessons from her mother, and went on to major in piano at the University of Washington and Chico State Teacher’s College in Los Angeles. In 1935, she sold “The Clock That Stopped”–one of her original compositions still in print today–to a publisher for $20. In 1937 Burnam began her long and fruitful association with Florence, Kentucky-based Willis Music, who signed her to her first royalty contract. In 1950, Burnam sent manuscripts to Willis for an innovative piano series comprised of short warm-up exercises; her hand-drawn, for-position-only stick figures indicated where “real” illustrations should be dropped in. That manuscript became the Dozen a Day series, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide; the stick-figure drawings are now icons. Burnam followed up on the success of A Dozen a Day with her Step by Step Piano Course. This method teaches students the rudiments of music in a logical order, for gradual and steady progress. She also composed hundreds of individual songs and pieces, many based on whimsical subjects or her international travels. These simple, yet effective learning tools for children studying piano have retained all their charm and unique qualities, and remain in print today in the Willis catalog. Click here to see our selection of Edna Mae Burnam books!
William Gillock (1917-1993), noted music educator and composer of piano music, was born in LaRussell, Missouri, where he learned to play the piano at an early age. After graduating from Central Methodist College, his musical career led him to long tenures in New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas, where he was always in great demand as a teacher, clinician, and composer. Called the “Schubert of children’s composers” in tribute to his extraordinary melodic gift, Gillock composed numerous solos and ensembles for students of all levels. He was honored on multiple occasions by the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) with the Award of Merit for Service to American Music, and his music continues to be remarkably popular throughout the United States and throughout the world. Click here to see our selection of William Gillock books!
Randall Hartsell began his music career as a piano performance and pedagogy major at East Carolina University. His attention turned quickly to the joys of piano composition. Growing up in North Carolina provided inspiration to express the beauty of his native state with lyrical, romantic pieces. His music has expanded beyond the expressive melodic music to also include more advanced and technically demanding compositions as well as clever and creative elementary pieces. As a past adjunct faculty member of Pfeiffer University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mr. Hartsell brings a wide range of experiences that enrich the lives of both students and teachers.
Mr. Hartsell has been a featured composer and contributor to Clavier Companion, and he is a frequent judge for local composition contests and the National Guild of Piano Teachers composition division.
His workshops center on helping students and teachers foster creativity, interest in composition, polish essential technical skills, and develop ease in improvisation. In addition, his broad experience as music director of a Lutheran church has enabled him to pen best-selling Christmas, hymn and wedding collections. Click here to see our selection of Randall Hartsell books!
Glenda Austin is a recognized composer, arranger, pianist and teacher who writes piano music popular at all levels.
Glenda graduated from the University of Missouri (Columbia) with a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in piano performance. As an elementary and high school music teacher, Glenda holds memberships in the Music Teachers National Association, Missouri Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Association, Missouri Music Teachers Association and the Joplin Piano Teachers Association.
Glenda is a frequent adjudicator and clinician, having presented workshops for teachers and students throughout the United States as well as Canada and Japan. In addition, she serves as an adjunct faculty member at Missouri Southern State University, accompanying jazz and choral groups as well as individual vocal students.
Published by Willis Music Company, many of her compositions appear on state repertoire lists. “Jazz Suite No. 2” and “Sea Nocturne” are perennial favorites on the National Federation list. She has also been commissioned by Clavier magazine and continues to be regularly commissioned by teachers’ organizations across the United States. Click here to see our selection of Glenda Austin books!
Because of her association and friendship with William Gillock, renowned composer, she was chosen by Willis to simplify the ever popular New Orleans Jazz Styles as well as arrange it for four-hand duets.
Married to high-school sweetheart, David Austin, they are the parents of two grown children, Susan and Scott, and grandparents of Isaac, Eden and Levi.
Carolyn Miller holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Elementary Education degree from Xavier University. She has taught piano to students of all ages for many years, both privately and in the classroom. She also regularly presents workshops throughout the United States and is often asked to adjudicate at music festivals and competitions. Carolyn’s music teaches essential technical skills, is remarkably fun to play, and appeals to both children and adults. Many of her compositions appear on contest lists, including the NFMC Festivals Bulletin. Well-known television personality Regis Philbin performed her “Rolling River” and “Fireflies” in 1992 and 1993 on national television. In her church, Carolyn directs a large choir and plays piano for special services. She enjoys spending time with her family and especially her seven grandchildren, for whom she has composed seven solos. Click here to see our selection of Carolyn Miller books!
Carolyn C. Setliff holds dual degrees in music (emphasis in composition) and business (cum laude) from the University of Arkansas and Centenary College, respectively. She has over 70 publications in print with Willis Music in a variety of levels and styles; her pieces are consistently listed in the Federation Festivals Bulletin (NFMC). Carolyn has maintained a successful teaching studio in Little Rock for almost 40 years. She is constantly inspired and challenged by her students, and considers it a privilege to see so many grow up to become successful adults with a lifelong love of music. An active member of the local, state, and national music teacher associations, Carolyn is also a frequent adjudicator at piano festivals and composition competitions.
Carolyn grew up in a musical home, beginning piano lessons at the age of five. She and her twin sister grew up singing and playing piano recitals together. Their mother was a church organist and piano teacher, and both parents were incredibly supportive of their musical talents. Today, the musical circle continues: Carolyn’s daughter Cathy also teaches piano, and granddaughter Elizabeth and grandson Andrew are aspiring pianists. Click here to see our selection of Carolyn Setliff books!
Eric Baumgartner received jazz degrees from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author and creator of the Jazzabilities and Jazz Connection series, a related set of beginning jazz piano books for students young and old. Besides composing and maintaining a teaching studio, Eric works extensively in musical theatre and plays keyboard and guitar with several pop and jazz groups. He is also the orchestrator of several noted Willis publications, including the Teaching Little Fingers to Playseries, Popular Piano Solos and his own Jazz It Up! series. He regularly presents jazz and new music workshops on behalf of Willis Music, and has presented his unique teaching techniques in the United States, England, and Australia.
Eric grew up in a musical family in northeast Ohio where he began piano lessons at the age of seven and was as equally fascinated with Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky as he was with the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Thelonious Monk. His wide range of musical influences is reflected in his balanced approach to teaching: he finds validity in all music and works with students to help them find their own musical identity through improvising, arranging and composing.
Eric and his wife Aretta live in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here to see our selection of Eric Baumgartner books!
Naoko Ikeda lives in Sapporo, Hokkaido in northern Japan, and is passionate about introducing the world to her country’s essence through music. Influenced by classical music, jazz and pop, as well as the piano works of William Gillock, her own music reflects her diverse tastes with beauty, elegance, and humor. Ms. Ikeda holds a piano performance degree from Yamaguchi College of Arts in Japan and currently maintains an energetic schedule as both teacher and composer. Click here to see our selection of Naoka Ikeda books!
Wendy Stevens is a composer, pianist, teacher, and clinician. She received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Pedagogy and her Masters of Music in Theory and Composition from Wichita State University where she graduated summa cum laude. Wendy has been a recipient of the MTNA stAR award (Student Achievement Recognition Award) upon graduation. She has also taught theory at Wichita State University and adjudicates for music events in her area. In addition to her studio teaching, she has served as a church musician playing the piano for more than twenty years.
Wendy is a member of MTNA, KMTA, and her local association WMMTA. She has served as president and many other positions in WMMTA, and has also served on the board for KMTA. She is a nationally certified teacher of music and is a member of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Wendy enjoys composing and presenting workshops on creativity, composition, business practices, and technology. She maintains a popular and helpful blog for piano teachers covering such topics as business issues, teaching composition, creative studio ideas, and much more at www.ComposeCreate.com. Click here to see our selection of Wendy Stevens books!
Dave Clo received a bachelor’s degree in jazz/studio guitar performance from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in 1987. Since then he has recorded and toured extensively throughout the world with several Grammy and Dove-nominated artists. Dave has also taught guitar since 1980. Click here to see our selection of products by Dave Clo!