Archive for the ‘Practicing’ Category

Pianist with Small Hands: Inspiring Article & Video!

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Even though I’m not a small handed pianist…I sometimes experience the feeling of having small hands due to challenging passages in music.  While in high school I would always roll a 10th in the left hand.  However…after playing a 10th with a gentle “rolled” movement over time….I found that I had stretched my left hand span and soon began playing solid 10ths!

While researching pianists with small hands, I came across the following inspiring article and video!

Click here to read how this small handed pianist overcame his limitation before hearing him in the video below:

Best and Worst Ways of Practicing

Saturday, March 5th, 2011


Good practicing habits are necesscary for all pianists…if they want to progress and sound prepared.

I stumbled across an excellent article on the best and worst ways to practice located on the website entitled Piano Perspectives.

Click here to read Best and Worst Ways of Practicing.  Decide which list you belong to.  🙂

The Church Pianist: Tips for a Nervous Church Pianist

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Being nervous can definitely affect the church pianist!  I can remember my early years of playing for church….knees knocking together….heart beating fast, etc.   I could barely keep my foot on the damper pedal for my leg shaking so bad!  Ever been there?

I enjoy visiting our local nursing homes and playing the piano for the elderly.  Sometimes I will play an upcoming offertory for church at the nursing home; allowing me the  opportunity to share the piece in a more relaxed setting before playing it at church.

Joy Morin, of Color in My Piano shares some practical tips for the nervous pianist.

Dealing with Performance Anxiety by Joy Morin of Color in My Piano Blog.

The Church Pianist: Help! I’m Nervous!

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010


Ever been nervous while playing an offertory?  I’ve never met a church pianist who hasn’t dealt with this issue. (including myself).

A question from one of my readers…

How do you address the issue of nerves with your students? I am completely comfortable playing congregationals, but as soon as it is time for the offertory my hands start shaking!

A music professor shared some sound advice with me several years ago, about my being nervous to play or sing at church.  I’m human too 🙂

He said, being nervous reflects on self.. thinking about how I will sound or look when I’m playing or singing in front of others.  Then he said what I didn’t want to hear….PRIDE.  I know…pride is a sin and therefore…well…

So true!  If you think about it…being nervous hinders us as church pianists from being effective communicators through music.

I still get nervous at times, but this wise man’s words have rung in my ears many times… as a gentle reminder to forget self and focus on the message of the song.  Ultimately, I should rely on God to help me convey His message of truth in song.

I also find it easier to play for congregational singing as opposed to playing for an offertory.  During the offering, the church pianist is more on display right?  🙂  Just forget about all those eyes watching you and focus on the message of the song. I like to sing along in my head as I play…which draws me into the song.  Just ask God to give you peace.

Either my parents or piano teacher once advised me to imagine myself just playing in my own livingroom when having to play in church.  I found this helped me to forget the audience and focus on what I was playing.

I will have to say that experience over time does wonders to ease the nerves.  I’ve been playing for church since about age eleven.  I’m ancient now!  Well…just 46.   But…long enough to have gained some experience.

God has a way of keeping me humble if I get too prideful 🙂

There is another side to being nervous.  Maybe the pianist hasn’t prepared enough and therefore he or she is nervous.  Valid reason! Or…it could simply be…the pianist has chosen a piece above his or her level.  If you can’t play it at home without struggling after sufficient practice…then don’t play it.  It’s better to play a simple piece well than to play a fancy piece poorly.

In closing, I’d like to  encourage all church pianists, including myself, to focus on pleasing God with our music and so much will just fall into place.

Thanks for your visits and comments!  I pray for you all as you seek to please the Lord with the talents He has blessed you with.

The Church Pianist: The Importance of Scales

Thursday, April 1st, 2010
 Hmm…are scales THAT important?  It’s nothing more than finger exercises…right?! 

How can the church pianist possibly benefit from playing scales?!

Do hymns even utilize scales?

In the next article… I will share why I think it’s important for every church pianist to master the scales.  While I’m at it…I’ll share ways to make scale playing more enjoyable.

Looking forward to this next article!

The Church Pianist: Do You Practice Enough?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

If someone were to ask  me if I practiced piano like I should…I would have to say, “Unfortunately…no.”

The older I get…the less motivated I am to practice. Anyone else have this problem or would admit to it?  “smile”

I hear this confession quite often from other composers. We spend so much time writing that we don’t take time to just sit and play.

What really motivates me…is getting with other piano friends and playing duets and duos.

I find myself wanting to sharpen my sightreading and technique skills.

A piano friend of mine and I are planning to meet  once a month starting in January. We plan to do  alot of sightreading.

I’m also planning to play a concert in the spring with another one of my piano friends to keep me on my toes.

Playing for a smaller church requires shorter offertories. The majority of the challenging arrangements I’ve learned through the years are too long for our offerings. I find myself just playing something from the hymnal most of the time.

Playing simple offertories from the hymnal is fine but I need a challenge every now and then… so occasionally, I’ll play a longer arrangement.

Click each song title  below to see the short offertories available on this site…

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Hallejuah, We Shall Rise

My Saviour First of All  (I Shall Know Him)

Feel free to share some of your own motivating practice tips by clicking on “comments” below.



The Church Pianist: Need More Practice Time?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Anybody need more practice time besides myself?

Our pastor had an excellent idea that has provided more practice time for our church pianists.

If you’re like most pianists, you’re usually practicing with someone before the service starts.

Our pastor had the sound man record offertories from our previous services on to one CD.

This CD is played before our services, giving us opportunity to practice or take care of lining up
future music during this time.

Approximately two minutes prior to the service, the CD fades out and I finish playing the prelude, which
acts as a good alarm clock for the choir, songleader and pastor to get in their places.

Need more practice time? Try this out. It has worked wonders for us. I find myself much more relaxed having
this extra time available.

The Church Pianist: Classical Music Benefits Church Pianists?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009


Classical Music….a help or hindrance to the  church pianist?

A good question!

The answer is “Yes”…..classical music greatly benefits the church pianist!


Advantages of being exposed to classical music:

*Conditions the ear for well-structured melodies and rhythm.

*Strengthens the fingers

*Demands a need for structured fingering which carries over into proper fingering for hymn arrangements.

*Introduces the pianist to scales and other rhythmic patterns in music that can be incorporated into the
  hymns as well.

*Last but not least….classical music demands disciplinein the areas of technique and interpretation for the
  best results.

Although classical music is vital to all pianists, the church pianist needs a balance of both: classical and hymn training.

I’m thankful for the teachers God provided for me in my early years of training.

I learned alot of improvising by just listening to the different teachers over the years. They also taught me ‘one on one’ how
to add runs and fill-ins. Most importantly, they taught me the theory to back up their training.

The Church Pianist: No Time to Practice!

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

When my kids were little, I found it hard to come
early or stay after services to practice with people.

My husband said, “Why not let them come to the
house during the week?”

Oh! (The most obvious) I’d never thought of that.

Practicing at our house turned out to be the best
experience for me and the singer or instrumentalist.

We were able to practice without interruptions; giving
us a chance to really focus on the music.

It was also easier to give helpful tips to the person in
a more private setting.

The person or persons felt more at ease in the less
crowded surroundings.

(My husband or family member of the person (s)
practicing would sit with my kids upstairs.

Time is precious. We just have to be creative about
finding more convenient niches of time to practice.

More Practice Time Please!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Not every church is blessed with a dozen pianists. Our church has two pianists. The great challenge is finding time to practice with those preparing for offertories and vocal numbers.

To save precious time, I make a cassette recording of the song for the singer or instrumentalist to take home and practice. This works great if they have a cassette recorder and actually practice the song.

At least one week before they sing, we get together in real time and practice. Depending on the difficulty of the song….we may have to get together sooner. What a difference it makes! Practice time is minimal!

Some of our people have purchased their own cassette recorder because they have seen how it has benefited others.

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