Unexpected Items: Musician’s New Book Challenges Saxophonists with Twelve Fun Performance Pieces for Grades 5-8

Ben Donnelly’s ‘Unexpected Items’ calls on jazz and other popular music styles to give alto saxophonists twelve new musical challenges! With pieces ranging from grades five to eight, each will breathe new life into any player’s repertoire for recitals, solo performances and even busking. One critic recently wrote, “These pieces help to explore the whole range and timbre of the saxophone and are an excellent aid to developing sight reading skills. Highly recommended.”

Ben Donnelly has spent his entire life immersed in the world of music, and now works as a renowned saxophonist, bassoonist and composer/arranger. He’s a passionate proponent of challenging any player by pushing them out of their comfort zone, and his new book is no exception.

‘Unexpected Items’ brings players twelve original pieces, each increasing in complexity and designed to improve every alto saxophonist’s repertoire and confidence.


A book of 12 fun and challenging original pieces for Alto Saxophone and Piano accompaniment, drawing on jazz as well as a variety of other popular musical styles. Progressing in difficulty from the level of Grade 5 to Grade 8, this is a book that students can keep returning to for new targets alongside classical repertoire to help develop technique as they work their way through the upper grades. The individual pieces themselves, on average 2-3 minutes in length, also make for entertaining additions to a saxophonist's recital programme. MP3 files of all 12 piano accompaniments from the book can be downloaded FREE from www.bendonnelly.co.uk Challenging jazz-influenced pieces to keep students engaged and entertained across the post grade 5 difficulty curve. The pieces towards the end of the book make for great degree recital items and will even provide a workout for professionals.

“This is a great resource for players of all levels,” explains the author. “For example, for university students looking to break out of the mould for their recitals in a way that is varied, impressive and pushes them to continue developing their skills. It’s also great for friends who enjoy putting their sightreading skills to the test with some jazzy material.”

Continuing, “It takes things one step further, with piano accompaniments available on MP3, for free from my website. Feedback to date has been wonderful, and I’m so thrilled people are putting the book to good use.”

Indeed, reviews have been glowing. One reader comments, “I was really impressed with the repertoire in "Unexpected Items". It was refreshingly different to see so many new, challenging, pieces that push the higher end students. The collection allows for scope of a variety of performances and recitals. The choice of genres are enough to keep interest throughout the book, and small details such as page turns have even been taken into account! I would recommend this for saxophone players of higher ability, or for those that want to challenge their students when something deliciously different!”

Another adds, “Fantastic collection of pieces excellently written for the saxophone. A great addition to to any students repertoire with a range of styles and genres to keep students entertained. It is a great book for students to explore a range of musical styles from the beautiful ballad “Lunar Dance” to the exciting Latin funk piece “Decision Time” there really is something for all to enjoy.”

‘Unexpected Items’ is available now:

Forsyth music shop, Manchester:
Howarth music shop, London

For more information, visit the author’s official website www.bendonnelly.co.uk .

About the Author:

Ben Donnelly is a saxophonist, bassoonist and composer/arranger. He graduated from the University of Surrey's Tonmeister degree in 2006, winning the Joyce Dixey award for composition that year. He regularly performs with big bands, and other ensembles of all shapes and sizes, as well as his own band Platonic Curry. He also writes arrangements for performers based across Europe, America and the Middle East. His composition style is most strongly influenced by jazz and jazz funk underpinned by classical training. He lives with his wife Carolina in West London.

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