Graded piano music by female composers

Over on my sister blog A Piano Teacher Writes…. I recently cited two new anthologies of piano music, which on face value seemed a useful addition to the student pianist’s repertoire. On closer inspection, however, I found that one anthology contained not a single piece by a female composer, and the other contained a piece composed by the author, who happens to be a woman. This lack of diversity troubles me – and it’s not some kind of gender identity/feminist virtue signalling on my part, but rather a wish to offer students and piano enthusiasts as broad a range of music as possible. We are so lucky as pianists to have access to a vast repertoire, yet too many anthologies focus on the core canon, which is mostly music written by long dead white guys.

Read my article here

In an ideal scenario, we wouldn’t need to differentiate between male and female composers, but unfortunately while inequality of representation exists in anthologies and concert programmes, I believe it is important to highlight this. And so, as a positive step, I’d like to compile an online resource via this blog of graded piano music written by female composers. I hope this will be of use to teachers and piano students in seeking new repertoire.

Please feel free to submit music for inclusion, ideally with an estimate grade/ability level and a link to the score or publisher information.  Use the comment box below or Email Me with your nominations. I have also created a collaborative playlist on Spotify to which you are welcome to add tracks

Here are a few of my own suggestions to get us started:

Sadie Harrison

  • Lunae – Four Nocturnes for Solo Piano (Advanced/Grade 8/Diploma/University of York Music Press)
  • Northern Lights (Intermediate/Grade 5-6/UYMP)
  • Four Jazz Portraits (Advanced/Grade 8/Diploma/UYMP)

Jenni Pinnock

  • Rains (Intermediate/Grade 5/available via Jenni’s website)
  • Captive (Advanced/Grade 8/available via Jenni’s website)
  • Frost (Intermediate/available via Jenni’s website)

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

  • Homages Book 2 (Advanced/available via Cheryl’s website)
  • Love Song for Dusty (as above)

Meredith Monk

  • Railroad (Travel Song) (Intermediate/Grade 6/Boosey & Hawkes)

Karen Tanaka

  • Northern Lights (early intermediate/Grade 4/ABRSM Spectrum series)

June Armstrong

from Strangford Sketchbook

  • Still Light on the Lough  (Grades 6-7/available via June Armstrong’s website)
  • Temple Dancer in Blue (Grade 6/available as above)

Jennifer Linn

  • ‘Un phare dans la brouillard’ from Les Petites Impressions (Intermediate/Grade 6/available as digital download or in anthology)

Germaine Tailleferre

  • Impromptu (Advanced/Grade 7-8/Editions Jobert)

Alison Wrenn (Berry)



  1. Hi Fran! I’d like to nominate Caroline Crawford’s ‘Sur La Glace A Sweet Briar’ for inclusion. It’s a beautiful arpeggio waltz perfect for just after grade 1 onwards – perfect for pedaling, practicing crossing over hands, and learning how simple patterns in music can have a wonderful effect. This is a piece I grew up learning when I was 9 or 10 and now teach my students; I had forgotten it was by a female composer and was wonderfully surprised when I finally refound the score a few years back!

  2. Ann Young’s ‘Elements of Music’, published in Edinburgh around 1805, has a long selection of easy pieces intended from beginner level on. Many of these are presumably by Young where another composer is not mentioned, but p59 also has two pieces by Lady Sempill (Grade 3?), and p60 a Jigg ‘composed by a young Lady of 7 years of age’ (Grade 2?). It’s available online at the Women Composers Collection of the University of Michigan here;view=1up;seq=5

    Another possibility is the Three Short Pieces by Scottish composer Heloise Russell-Fergusson (1896-1970), possibly self-published in 1917. The first of these is particularly good, and perhaps Grade 5 or 6. (She scored out her first name in her own copies of the scores when she took to calling herself Jane later in life.)

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