Archive for the ‘Accompaniment tips’ Category

Saved, Saved! Free Congregational Accompaniment Excerpt

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

I’m trying to decide whether or not to  periodically stray from the melody in the congregational accompaniments I’m working on for publication.   I can’t help myself!  It’s more fun to stray from the melody as in the following free congregational accompaniment (excerpt) of Saved, Saved!

This is more of how I would play for congregational singing for Saved, Saved.  (The written music below is the same as the recording)  🙂

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Click here to download your free copy of “Saved, Saved!” congregational accompaniment verse excerpt!

 

Awkard Hymns for Pianist: Saved, Saved!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

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In my opinion, “Saved, Saved!” is one of the most awkward hymns to play for the church pianist.

It pays to have large hands for this song! Lots of octave spreads!  But…there IS an art to playing repetitive octaves in a relaxed touch…making it easier on the hand.  (I learned this art by playing classical music with lots of octave action!)

Classical music helps to develop SO many technical moves which can aid the church pianist in hymn playing. (another post!)

To be honest…I  leave out a lot of melody on this particular hymn when accompanying the congregation…freeing up the hand  to provide more of a  supportive accompaniment and to prevent awkward hand movements.

I didn’t stray too far from the melody in this version to prevent church pianists from getting disoriented. (Hee hee) Want a challenge? I’ll have to share the FUN version another time.

I will share a couple of tips via video soon for the following free pdf of “Saved, Saved!” (congregational accompaniment: verse excerpt)

Click here to download “Saved, Saved!” congregational accompaniment excerpt

Who wants the FUN version sampler?  (VERY advanced)

 

Augmented Examples for I to IV Chord Progression

Friday, August 8th, 2014

*Click here to read introduction of diminished and augmented chords to understand the following free handout on augmented examples in hymns.

 

Explanation of the following visual:

When progressing from a I to IV chord…raise the 5th note of the I chord (G) to (G#) making it an augmented I chord which strongly leads into a IV chord.

 

Click here to download a free pdf of the Augmented  Chord Substitution Sheet

 

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Free Piano Arrangement: At Calvary

Monday, June 30th, 2014

 

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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

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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

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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”

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

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

 

 

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