Archive for the ‘Accompaniment tips’ Category

Free Piano Arrangement: At Calvary

Monday, June 30th, 2014

 

music-notes -swirl -staff

I just created this one page piano arrangement of “At Calvary” this past week for one of my hymn playing students.  I’m teaching her to branch out from the middle of the keyboard when improvising hymns for prelude or congregational style.

She is accustomed to playing octaves with her left hand and now we’re trying to condition her right hand to play an octave higher with some fullness (up to 3 notes) and will gradually work into more right hand octaves.

Editor notes for the free piano arrangement of At Calvary:

Measure #5… Right hand plays octave higher for brief moment before working back to middle of keyboard in measure #7. (Notice the gradual transition)

Measure #8… double duty octaves on the last 3 beats.

Measure #15…Octave workout!

Measure #16…Just had to give her at least one 4 note chord 🙂

Click here to download Free Piano Arrangement: At Calvary

At-Calvary-one-verse-prelude-style

“Down From His Glory” Rest of the Arrangement

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

music_icon

Down From His Glory requires ALOT of ad lib from the church pianist when accompanying someone to sing this hymn.

I could not help but add runs during the chorus due to the frequent held words. The fingering for the runs is included 🙂

I plan to create an audio of the piano accompaniment as time allows.

Click here to download your free arrangement of the rest of “Down From His Glory” piano accompaniment with vocal score included!

Click here to download page one of Down From His Glory

 

“Down From His Glory” Free Improvising Tips!

Friday, May 9th, 2014

“Down From His Glory”…a challenging piece for many church pianists!

Many of you requested that I share improvising tips for this very piece as recently discussed in a video from last year’s Wild’s Music Conference.

In this particular video, Faye Lopez shared several tips for dressing up the accompaniment such as adding right hand echos during held words for the first half of the verse and then broken chords for the second half of verse.

As stated in a recent article…the following free download of “Down From His Glory” (verse 0nly) is similar to Faye’s accompaniment but not an exact replica 🙂

Tip: Watching the related video to this article would be beneficial while looking over the free download below. Click here to see: VIDEO

I will provide the rest of the song in the next article.

Click here to download “Down From His Glory” verse only

 

 

 

 

 

Freestyle Piano Accompaniment for Vocal Solo

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Freestyle is my favorite way to accompany vocalists.  To me, freestyle is playing by ear what I feel at the time without written music.  It takes years of practice… of course… to get to this point of playing 😉   Dad was the first person I ever accompanied in my early years of being church pianist.  He taught me accompaniment tips along the way such as “Follow the soloist”…a MUST for the church pianist.

I do play for soloists that prefer to follow me but I’m trying to help them feel more comfortable being the leader. After all…the church pianist is just the background support for the soloist.

Below, is a recent recording of me playing for my dad. Our parents were visiting with us this past week and Dad sang this solo in our church.

I love to accompany my dad!

 

Tips for Accompanying a Vocal Solo

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

There are certain songs that are a challenge for the church pianist to accompany. “Down From His Glory” is one of those songs!

In the video below, Duane Ream and Faye Lopez share some of their insight on accompanying the vocal soloist for “Down From His Glory”.

The following video excerpt came from last year’s  Hymn Playing Master Class workshop at the annual Wild’s Music Conference. Please excuse the shaky quality of the video.  I didn’t have a tripod available.

I want to thank the pianist for granting me permission to share this video excerpt.  He did a great job with his impromptu accompaniment; providing others with an opportunity to learn more about accompanying a vocal solo.

This video was taken during the “critique” session of the class when someone would volunteer to play either a piano solo, prelude style piece or accompaniment style.

Duane Ream, one of the workshop leaders, also volunteered to sing…making it easier for the volunteer pianist to share his accompaniment style.  *Please note that Duane sang an octave lower on purpose for the chorus… since it was out of his vocal range 🙂  At least he was willing to help the pianist 🙂

I’ve thought about providing a couple visual examples of the accompaniment patterns Faye was trying to convey to the pianist. Keep in mind…they wouldn’t be note for note what she played but I could produce something very similar. Who would be interested?

 

Experienced Church Pianist vs. Inexperienced Leader

Friday, April 4th, 2014

If you have been a church pianist for very long or played in different churches as church pianist…then you may have run across this scenario…”playing for an inexperienced leader”.

The intention of this article is not meant to minimize the willingness and faithfulness of the inexperienced leader but rather to give constructive pointers to church pianists on how to deal with such a situation.

My dad, who was my first leader to follow,  emphasized to me the importance of the pianist following the leader.  I’m thankful for his teaching and preparing me for my role as church pianist.  He was the best teacher!

Over time, through experience…I have learned there are exceptions to rules 🙂

I have had to play for at least several different leaders in various situations who  just didn’t know “how” to lead and were doing the best they could.  Not all of them were non-musical people either.  I’ve had the joy of helping some of those leaders along…ONLY because of having a trusting relationship with them; giving me the liberty to do so.

I’ve found it necessary to “lead” as a pianist in some cases IF it was the only way to keep everyone singing together at the same tempo.

On occasion, when a lay person in our church has had to  substitute  for our regular leader…he will ask me before the service… to help him during congregational singing by keeping things moving since he’s not comfortable with leading.

The following video (taken from the 2013 Wild’s Music Conference) contains more discussion about this topic of “The Experienced Church Pianist vs. The Inexperienced Leader.”

My favorite quotes from the video:

“Part of our role is… we’re support, we’re ministry, we’re behind-the-scenes…serving and helping someone else try to do their job effectively…part of the philosophy of being a good church pianist.”  

 ~   ~   Faye Lopez   ~   ~

“You can infuse the service with energy and vitality in the singing…from the keyboard.” 

~   ~   Duane Ream   ~   ~

Enjoy the following brief… yet informative video on:

“The Experienced Church Pianist vs. The Inexperienced Leader”

Free Unison Choir Arrangement: Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

music manuscript icon

Enjoyed tweeking this free unison choir arrangement of “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.I wrote it sometime ago  for one of our pianists to play for choir while I was out of town.

One improvising tip to take note of  (no pun intended)…is when I left out the melody here and there in the piano score.

Most of the time this occurred was when the melody note was an eighth note…making for a smoother form of playing for the church pianist. Skipping a quick melody note in the piano accompaniment is similar to the “understood you” in a sentence.  You know what’s implied even though you don’t hear it.  😉

I just played it straight through without repeats. (two verses and choruses)

Click on audio below to hear the entire free unison choir arrangement of “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download: “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”

Tip:  This choir arrangement can also be used as a vocal solo.

 

 

Free Unison Choir Arrangement Coming Soon!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

pen laying on staff paper

 

I’m re-organizing my music at home and came across a simple unison choir arrangement of “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.

I wrote it for one of our pianists to play for choir while I was out of town a good while ago.  This particular pianist was probably an early intermediate at the time and needed something basic to accompany the choir for this particular hymn.

I hope to share this free arrangement with you tomorrow..IF we still have power…in the middle of a snowstorm!  (You can also use this free choir arrangement as a vocal solo too).

Hymnplaying Master Class: The Old Rugged Cross (Critique)

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Here’s the video of me playing my (free) piano hymn arrangement of “The Old Rugged Cross” for the recent Hymnplaying Master Class held at The Wilds Music Conference. (December 2013)

I received helpful critique!  Thanks to Faye Lopez and Duane Ream for their constructive advice.  I look forward to improving my hymn arranging through any learning opportunities I can find!  (The harmonic structure tips were things I knew to do but just hadn’t noticed them in the piece.)

I couldn’t believe I left a melody note out  in the original arrangement on measure #18 (meas. #16 in revised version)…I”m a stickler for following the words as I play but my mind must have been on another verse….so embarrassing to have such an error 🙁  Duane  made SURE I saw that error 😉  Seriously,  I appreciated the emphasis he made on keeping the melody CLEAR..after all….it’s the message we try to convey as church pianists…right?

I’m posting the (graded/corrected) copy of the arrangement below  the video for ease of reference.  The red squares throughout the arrangement  notate the changes.  Most of the changes were from the suggestions made on the video.  (My personal note changes are in measures: 20, 24, 38, 40 and 48.)

You can download the new pdf  of “The Old Rugged Cross” (minus the grading marks)…at the bottom of this article.

 

The-Old-Rugged-Cross-1-corrections-resized The-Old-Rugged-Cross-2-corrections-resized The-Old-Rugged-Cross-3-corrections-resizedClick here to print:  The Old Rugged Cross (revised)

 

 

Hymnplaying Master Class Critique

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

MVI_1458 (1)

The next post will be a video of me being critiqued in Hymn Playing Master Class at the recent Wild’s Music Conference.

Just don’t feel sorry for me 😉   We all need a work over at times!

I played my free piano arrangement of “The Old Rugged Cross” for this class. So…you may want to have a copy of it handy during the video for reference.

Before you click to download your free copy of  The Old Rugged Cross, you may want to wait until I provide the edited version based on the critique I received in this Hymn Playing Master Class. It’s all up to you.

Click here to print your free copy of “The Old Rugged Cross”. (original version)

Follow Jenifer on…
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
Article Categories