One of the many activities of a church pianist may include playing for weddings. I enjoy finding fresh new piano music that truly fits the occasion.
A couple of weeks ago while playing through James Michael Stevens’ recently published collection entitled… “Dreams of Jewels”… I realized the songs would be perfect for a wedding! All of the pieces are lovely but I especially like “Opal Dreams” and “Aquamarine Dreams”. (I’ve always loved James’ style!)
“Dreams of Jewels” would make a nice piano collection for any church pianist needing prelude or reception music for a wedding. The collection provides 15 pages of music. James has other collections as well that would probably be very appropriate for a wedding. His music can be found at the following link: SMPress
Samples of my favorite selections from “Dreams of Jewels”…
Gearing up for Easter music! Planning ahead is the key! How many of you church pianists are involved in planning for your church’s Easter service?
I’m trying to decide on a nice Easter ensemble medley for maybe three to four pianos, flutes and clarinet for an offertory. Feeling the creative juices flowing too! I think I’ll adapt my trio piano version of “Power in the Blood Medley” for this group.
Concerning choir music…we usually don’t have a full-fledged program due to time limitations but try to learn new songs for these special occasions.
One of my favorite Easter cantatas is “The Bread of Life” by Lloyd Larson. All of the music is very well done! I found a fairly decent recording of this very cantata on youtube. It helps to hear a good representation of the music before tackling a new song…also provides the director with the interpretation ideas of the song such as word coloring (emphasizing certain words to elevate the meaning of the text)…. and also….what tempo is most effective.
At this point, the one song we’ll be learning from this cantata is “Taste and You’ll See” a nice upbeat piece on the Christian’s experience of God’s salvation.
I’m sure I’ll be sharing other resources for Easter offertories and vocal specials along the way as we look towards an effective Easter service for God’s glory!
So…start getting ready now for your Easter service while you have ample time! 🙂 Not counting the last week of December….Easter is 15 weeks from now.
Sounds like a long time but not when you’re preparing new music or a cantata….even if it’s an easy program. Have fun as you seek out Easter music!
I just published an early advanced piano arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and a beautiful rendition of “What Child is This” for violin solo w/ piano accompaniment.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” is written in more of a prelude style but can suffice as a Christmas offertory. This particular arrangement was also one of my homespun pieces…featured on the Christmas CD entitled “Simply Christmas”. I did make harmonic corrections here and there in the written version because I couldn’t help myself! 😉
We hope to create youtube videos for both of these arrangements by the weekend.
I plan to publish two new Christmas arrangements by this weekend:
O Come All Ye Faithful (early advanced piano solo) and What Child is This? (violin solo w/ piano accompaniment
One of my daughter-in-laws needed a violin solo for Christmas….so…to save time…I adapted an earlier piano solo version of What Child is This into a piano and violin special. I REALLY enjoyed creating this one!
Many church pianists have already been practicing for their church’s Christmas program.
In many cases, the church pianist IS the choir leader and has the task of deciding what to do for a Christmas program.
My son is our choir director. He works at least 50 hours a week and the father of three small children. Needless to say, I help out by coming up with a simple program to fit our 40 minutes per week choir practice time. (this accounts for starting roughly two months in advance; which may vary from church to church depending on your choir’s ability)
My son and I have about a 40 minute commute to church so we’re very time conscious!
In recent years, we have experienced a much more pleasant, relaxing time through having easier Christmas programs.
I have written two VERY easy Christmas programs…one of which is FREE HERE. I’m still editing the second FREE Christmas program.
Now…ideas for enhancing your Christmas Program…
Lyrics taken from cantata books make for great narration when coordinating a chronological list of songs together for a short choir concert. (That’s what we’re doing this year)
Include congregation by having them sing a song in the program. ( the choir could sing a descant taken from a hymnal while the congregation sings the melody) Another neat idea…have Pastor lead congregation in reciting Luke 2:14 at the appropriate time during the program. Very effective! (Tip: Include Luke 2:14 in the Christmas program bulletin)
The congregation could also stand and sing a song following their verse (Luke 2:14) Song suggestions: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World (include lyrics in the program bulletin)
Easy Christmas Program Suggestion:
Several different adults recite the Christmas story(Luke 2:1-19) in microphone off stage while children in appropriate costume act out the narration.
Stage setup: Only two scenes: Manger scene center stage, shepherd scene on left or right of manger scene. (props for shepherd scene not necessary).
Songs can be inserted appropriately throughout the narration.
Extra tip:Remind children that they must listen to what’s being read so they can act accordingly…to avoid appearing mechanical
Also a good idea to remind narrators to read with conviction! It brings the story to life!!
Hopefully this will help church pianists or choir leaders trying to find last-minute ideas for an easy Christmas program.
Please feel free to leave comments or ideas below.
A reminder: I do have over a dozen FREE piano and vocal Christmas arrangements available HERE.
Sharing a few links that may give you an idea as well (don’t fully endorse all the ideas at these links… but you can sift out what you like)
By now…most church pianists are busy practicing for their church’s Christmas program But…does anybody need some ideas for a last minute Christmas program…or maybe you just need one more poem or reading to complete your program?
I look forward to sharing a list of simple ideas this coming week on ways to enhance or create a last minute simple program.
I’ve provided the recent “broadcast” from facebook. *See written article below for essential information that goes with the video.
On a lighter note….”Don’t you just LOVE my piano?! It’s one of a kind…..treble is at the bottom…bass at the top! (Just kidding) *The dilemma was a front facing camera.
Jenifer Cook is going live on Facebook this Thursday at 8 pm EST. (November 10, 2016)
Ever notice how a lot of Christmas hymns have frequent
accidentals…the makings for awkward hand movements…
Hear Jenifer’s suggestions in dealing with accidental passages. She’ll be showing her note changes on the handouts listed below…feel free to either print them or have them on a screen for viewing purposes for tonight’s session. So much to share in a short time span!!
Copy and paste this link in the URL field at the top of your browser page: https://www.facebook.com/Jenifer-Cook-602815303135832/?fref=ts
Print the following FREE music example pages for tonight’s “going live on facebook” session with Jenifer
Moderately advanced Christmas piano solo, 3&1/2 pgs. Approx. 2:22 length
Nice arrangement for offertory or other special event.
The key change in the middle of the second verse soars into a joyful ending!