Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous tips’ Category

Ready-Made Hymn Arrangements!

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

For the past couple of months…I’ve been creating “ready-made’ hymn arrangements for some of my church pianist students who are need of improvised hymns for congregational singing. (Can also be used as piano solo)

These hymn arrangements are nothing more than a copy of a hymn from the hymnal with my added improvised notes in red.

Just curious, would this meet the need for others as well? I’m considering adding them to our online music store if there’s enough interest.

The cost would be less than my regular “printed arrangements”.

Here’s a FREE copy of one of these ready-made hymn arrangements. (Also trying to decide what to call them….any suggestions?)

*Also…are you all ok with it being handwritten just as it appears in free arrangement below?  

*Special note: THANKS for the feedback! After reading the comments here and on facebook….I will be putting these type of easy-to-play congregationals into print instead of by hand. I will do away with the original notes from the hymnbook and ONLY type in my (hopefully) easy-to-play congregational/piano solo arrangement. Thanks again for your helpful comments!  I do have (more involved ) congregational piano arrangements for sale HERE.

Ready-Made Hymns for the Church Pianist

Ready-Made Hymns for the Church Pianist

Book Review: Playing Beyond the Notes

Monday, March 27th, 2017

 

Playing-Beyond-the-Notes

Thought I’d share a brief book review on a book I’m currently reading entitled “Playing Beyond the Notes”.

The writer communicates the different musical concepts with ample illustrations.

It’s one of those kind of books you can pick up and randomly choose a chapter of interest without losing the overall flow of the book.

A great reference book for any piano teacher, piano student or church pianist wanting to sharpen their skills in the area of music interpretation!

Click HERE to purchase or preview “Playing Beyond the Notes” by Deborah Rambo Sinn

 

 

Upright Piano vs. a Grand Piano

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Ever wondered what makes a grand piano sound better than most uprights?  Robert Estrin with LivingPianoVideos does a wonderful job answering this question.

I’m in the market for a new piano and educating myself before making such a large investment. Here is what Robert has to say about the upright piano vs. a grand piano.

Church Pianist in a Rut!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

 

 

BOOKS

So…I admit…I’m a church pianist in a rut! What to do?  Time to surround myself with different arrangers’ music….which means….sightread!

Do you have a collection of books that you use mainly for sightreading purposes? I do.  Most of the arrangements in these books are too long for our offertory time. I could shorten some of them but that’s not always the best option since the arrangement usually builds in intensity and I don’t want to interfere with a well-rounded presentation of an arrangement.

It seems like the longer offertories are a lot of times the more challenging ones. I NEED that extra challenge to keep my fingers limber.

Occasionally, I’ll play a longer arrangement because I REALLY like the arrangement and want to share it.

Have you heard of  Abiding Radio? I’m listening to it (online)… for musical inspiration 🙂

I’m curious….what do other church pianists or pianists in general do to get out of a rut?  Would love to hear your ideas!

Glissando Tip (Then Sings My Soul)

Friday, February 10th, 2017

 

Glissando-pic

Many of you have asked about how to finger the runs and glissando in Then Sings My Soul piano arrangement.

Here’s a demo of the glissando on the last page of Then Sings My Soul.

Tip: I began the glissando with my 2nd finger…then immediately turned 2nd & 3rd finger under… and glazed across the keys…no need to batter your fingers with too much pressure 😉

I will give fingering tips soon for the runs in Then Sings My Soul.

Video Tip: If you pause and drag the timeline on video …you can watch in slow motion for a better look at the glissando.

 

Going Live on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

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

O Little Town of Bethlehem (verse only)

O Little Town of Bethlehem (verse only w/ application)

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

There’s a Song in the Air

Have a pencil handy too!  writing_pen

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson Two

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Transposing-Up-Whole-Step-Lesson-TwoThe skill of transposing is an extra plus for the church pianist if she or he is going to accompany someone to sing in their comfortable range…(another article) 😉

There is an art to finding just the right key for whomever you’re accompanying.

The following free pdf on Transposing Up a Whole Step will familiarize the church pianist on how to transpose up a whole step in a song of  3/4 time going into another song in 3/4 or the first song…different verse.

There are many factors to consider when creating a key change between two songs. For example, the first melody note of the second song determines the melodic direction of the key change.

Editor notes for Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson Two

  1. Play measures #1,2,3 and then start another verse of Amazing Grace on 3rd beat of measure #3
  2. Play measures #1, 2, and 4 and go right into Grace Greater Than Our Sin

Each line of this free pdf is identical to the first line except in different keys. Try finding hymns to use for the remaining lines of examples.

Special Note!

Variety tip: You can use this same transposition idea for a 3/4 hymn to a 4/4 hymn by holding the 3rd beat of the 3rd measure for 2 beats and then go into the 4/4 hymn IF the 4/4 hymn begins with a complete measure or at least the 4/4 hymn contains at least two beats at the beginning..in order for it to create a smooth sounding transition.

Clarification:  The above transposition isn’t appropriate for congregational playing because of the additional measures used to create the key change. A shorter version would be necessary for congregational singing.

However…this transposition idea works great for offertories, preludes and accompanying instrumental or vocal special.

Click on following title for free pdf download: (Let me know if you’re having printing issues with this PDF. I think it’s just my printer but note sure..it seems my margins are wacky when it prints)

Transposing Up a Whole Step Lesson Two

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson One (see chord structure for the above free pdf.

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Chord Structure

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

small manuscript thumbnail pic

The following free pdf of transposing examples will aid the church pianist in changing from one song to the next during prelude or  for background invitationals.

Keep in mind, this free pdf only  showcases the chord structure for transposing up a whole step.  A more detailed visual sheet with moving notes will follow in the next article on transposing up a whole step to a different song or same song/different verse.

Editor notes for this free pdf of transposing examples:

  • Transposing up a whole steop
  • 3/4 time signature hymns only
  • Four examples shown in: E flat Major, F Major, G Major and A Major (each key signature is a whole step apart…one letter name higher than previous key)

Click on the title below to download the chord structure chart for transposing up a whole step for hymns in 3/4 time.

Transposing Up a Whole Step

 

Church Pianist Tip: Storing Music for Special Music

Monday, July 25th, 2016

At this point in time, I’m the only pianist at our church who plays for the special music.  Looking forward to other pianists getting involved in this area as they become more comfortable with playing in the service.

Music can pile up REALLY fast without a place to call home.  For the past several months, I’ve been using a six pocket binder that has proved VERY helpful and thought I’d share it with my readers.

I know this particular binder may not work for everyone but works great for my needs 🙂  (Binders with more than six pockets can be found on Walmart’s site)

Here’s a picture of my binder from Walmart.

BINDER-PIC

Before watching this video…when you hear me mention “floppy disk”…that’s what our digital piano uses to play recordings.

 

Please feel free to share your own organization ideas that work for you!

Exciting Congregational Playing

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

large baby-grand-piano

Congregational playing if done properly, takes ALOT of energy!

Ever feel totally wiped out after congregational playing? If so, you’re doing something right!  🙂

I’ve heard a couple of approaches to teaching exciting congregational playing…first is to play VERY loud the whole time with no room for emotion vs. play with a big sound but leave room for emotion.  Shelly Hamilton refers to this second method as “kneading” into the keys for music quality…you can “dig” into the keys for a big sound-just not banging…to allow room for emotion.  Shelly mentions playing with “back” weight.  After trying the above methods…I prefer the latter way….much more enjoyable; adds warmth…more meaningful way of playing and the congregation responds well to this method!

The church pianist is to provide support to the congregational singing. Play with gusto!  Give solid sounding introductions. Make it sound like you know what you’re doing! 🙂  *It may help to bracket off the section(s) you play for intros in your hymnal or other songbook… so you won’t get lost.

Energetic playing is contagious!  Your congregation will catch on real quick!

Video Example:

 

 

 

 

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