Haughton - The Secret Garden


Alan Haughton is a practising classical and jazz musician, teacher and composer. As a composer, he has published over 65 albums for various instruments

Much of his music is for the early grades of ability for piano, woodwind, strings and brass.

The Secret Garden is an attractive, gentle piece for young players.

Pupil Match & Suitability

This is a charming piece which needs an effective sense of flow in performance and requires good coordination between the hands.

Style & Tempo

A descriptive piece which has really only two main musical ideas.

Crotchet 104- 116 gives a choice of tempo depending on the technical fluency of the student.

Certainly the slightly faster tempo gives more sense of flow but the performance could still be effective at the slower speed.

Phrasing & Articulation

An even legato tone is needed here noting the sustained dotted minims in the LH.

The repeated RH slurred feature helps to convey the feeling of gentleness through the piece. These should not be abrupt.

Tone & Texture

Note that the dynamic marking is p throughout with a crescendo and diminuendo suggested.

A gently projected RH cantabile will make the mood clearer with just a little less in the LH.

Better to begin bar 24 at mp or even slightly more so that the diminuendo does not mean that notes disappear completely at the end.

Playing pp can be difficult for young children on a piano unfamiliar to them.


Playing evenly and consistently is an important part of a developing technique.

Extraneous hand movements can easily disturb the flow and it can be hard work for young children to sit still and to concentrate.

Use their imagination to draw on imagery for the musical results you seek. Perhaps a silk scarf or a bird soaring through the air, might just get the message across and this is likely to be a more productive way to achieve the technique of playing gently but evenly.


The fingering suggestions given by the composer are very helpful and work well.

Generally, fingering should not cause much of a problem.


Pedalling is not really appropriate or necessary here, although it can be taught by adding it to phrase endings on the longer notes.

It adds resonance - and can also make the child feel really grown up!

Teaching Strategies

An attractive piece to teach.

Care must be taken to ensure that the dotted crotchet quaver rhythms are accurate throughout.

Coordination between hands bars 3, 7, 19, 24 is absolutely vital. A flowing, legato approach with even, controlled tone is required.

Practice Tips

Slow practice will be beneficial in preparing this piece.

Work in short sections, separate hands before putting things together.


Dotted crotchet, quaver, crotchet rhythms need care.

Work on the dotted rhythm in a variety of ways to find out which method can best be picked up. Counting in quavers may help, as may 1, 2 and 3.

It may be more fun to secure the rhythmic patterns by saying a 'secret' phrase that has the same rhythm as the music. You and the student can invent the words together.

It must have a sense of flow and lilt. A little leaning (not an accent) towards the first of the bar may help with the sense of continuity and forward flow of the piece.

Final Performance

An excellent performance will stir the imagination. The mood will be one of gentleness and perhaps inquisitiveness. The subtleties of the chromatic harmonies will be apparent and tonal control will be polished

A good performance will be expressive and have evenness of tone. Dotted rhythms will be secure and the hands well coordinated. There is unlikely to be the same subtleness of tone control and detail which marks out the excellent performance.

A sound performance will have a steady pulse and be accurate. Dotted rhythms will be basically secure although not necessarily comfortably flowing. There may well be an emphasis on notes rather than a feeling of expressive shape.

^ Top