Elissa Milne always knew she was going to be a composer. Since Mozart started composing before he was even five, at the age of six, she realised there was no time to lose. Eight years later, the Australian-born composer began teaching the piano, and went on to study composition at the University of Auckland, performance studies and education at the University of Sydney, and arts management at the University of Technology Sydney.
Despite the early start, it was not for some years that Elissa was persuaded to combine her passion for composition with teaching, by writing pieces especially for her pupils. She has since found that having music composed especially with young people’s needs in mind really encourages them to learn. Writing sophisticated-sounding music for small hands is no mean feat. At first, some pieces were too difficult, others not engaging enough. The selection process was pretty stringent, with students giving marks out of ten for each new piece, anything scoring less than 8.5 went in the bin!
Now one of the leading clinicians in Australia (giving workshops on contemporary approaches to piano teaching and educational repertoire for piano), Elissa is the author of over 100 educational piano pieces, several of which have been set on the Trinity College London and Australian Music Examination Board piano syllabuses. And Faber Music are proud to have just published Little Peppers, a series of five piano books which leads the absolute beginner up to Grade 5. Introducing a range of keys, rhythms and performance techniques, the pedagogy is carefully disguised by jazzy rhythms, fun melodies and quirky moments of cool.