Archive for the ‘Choir’ Category

Time to Plan for Easter Music!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Flowers520

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!

Easy Christmas Program Ideas!

Monday, November 14th, 2016

music christmas ornament icon

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!

Our most-involved Christmas program back in 2011 was entitled “Christmas at Home” by Ron Hamilton. We used the “readers theatre” version due to limited time. The main actors were acting their first play ever. (Part Two sampler of our Christmas at Home)

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:

  1. Several different adults recite the Christmas story(Luke 2:1-19) in microphone off stage while children in appropriate costume act out the narration.

  2. Stage setup:  Only two scenes: Manger scene center stage, shepherd scene on left or right of manger scene. (props for shepherd scene not necessary).

  3. Songs can be inserted appropriately throughout the narration.

  4. 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)

Possible lyrics for poems

Creative Church Idea Attic

 

 

NEW! Mother’s Day Song

Monday, April 25th, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed writing the accompaniment for my dad’s song entitled “My Mother”.

A mixed adult and children’s ensemble at our church are singing this on Mother’s Day.

My Mother
My Mother
Sacred vocal solo or group special; unison. 3 & 1/2 pgs. *Price covers two or more copies. No audio included; pdf only

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Price: $6.00

 

Sacred Vocal CD Giveaway: His Name is Wonderful

Monday, February 29th, 2016

FRONT BACK

 

Some friends of ours just published their first sacred vocal CD this past summer entitled “His Name is Wonderful”.  I absolutely love it!

Thanks to Faith Music Missions for doing an outstanding  job on this CD! You can hear samples HERE (offsite link)

You may contact me at jenifer@thechurchpianist.com to order the CD. (I do have a limited number of these CDs for $12 each plus postage.)

I was suppose to accompany them for the recording but distance prevented me from doing so but their pianist, David Chamberlain, did a wonderful job!

Hunter and Morgan commuted to our church for at least four years while attending Bible college.  They served in several areas of ministry while there.

We miss them!  (Hunter was the inspiration behind the congregational booklets I’ve been publishing.)

Hunter now serves in a church located in New York City while Morgan is serving in a church out in Kansas.

Back to the CD…The songs are fresh! (some haven’t been published yet)

I plan to publish at least 6 out of the 10 from this  sacred vocal CD.  (“God Can” by Lynndale Hardeman) is already available in our online music store HERE.

Here is a sample of  one of their songs “His Name is Wonderful” written by Reece Yandle (my Dad 🙂

(Information for CD drawing is below the video)

To enter this sacred vocal cd giveaway: (a max of 2 comments per person…details below)

1.  First comment (like it, nice cd, etc.)

2.  Second comment: Share this article link on facebook, twitter, or other social media and leave a 2nd comment providing your social media link.

3.   Winner will be notified via email from jenifer@thechurchpianist.com

4.   Drawing ends on March 10th 2016 at 8pm EST

 

 

 

 

Just Published! Congregational Piano Hymn Arrangements: Booklet Two

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

So glad to have finally finished this collection of Congregational Piano Hymn Arrangements! I always enjoy writing in an accompaniment fashion…much more can be played than the melody 🙂

I may have strayed more from melody in this second collection but not enough to lose your congregation 😉

Hope you enjoy this collection!  A special thanks to the John W. Peterson company for working with me to include “Heaven Came Down” which I REALLY had fun writing!

 

Congregational Piano Hymn Arrangements (Booklet Two)
10 Late intermediate to early advanced piano congregational arrangements. 37 pages Songs include: And Can it Be, At the Cross, Come Thou Fount, Heaven Came Down, Higher Ground, I Shall Know Him (My Saviour First of All), It's Just Like His Great Love, My Faith Has Found a Resting Place, Near the Cross, What a Friend We Have 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.

*Special note: The arrangements in this booklet do not support the four-part singing found in most hymnals. *Other suggested uses: vocal solos, violin specials, unison choir specials. **Another special note: These arrangements can not stand alone as piano solos since some of the melody is absent during the piano accompaniment.
Price: $14.00

Christmas Music for Sale!

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Giving-My-Best Tell-Me-the-Story-of-Jesus Through-the-Eyes-of-a-ChildPiano-Christmas-Book

I’m re-organizing my growing collection of music and am parting with some Christmas books I used when I worked with the children’s music ministry at various churches.

So…am posting the following Christmas music for sale on our “Used Music for Sale” page.

Also posting an intermediate piano solo Christmas book 🙂

Update on Congregational Hymn Arrangements: Booklet Two

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Getting excited!  Finishing up my 9th out of 10 congregational accompaniments for Congregational Hymn Accompaniments Booklet Two!

The 10th arrangement is almost done too!

Heaven-Came-Down-computer-view-cropped

Accompanying Made Simple by Shelly Hamilton

Monday, August 31st, 2015

pen laying on staff paper

I recently attended a couple piano workshops by Shelly Hamilton.

“Accompanying Made Simple” was a very practical workshop providing the church pianists with simple yet practical ideas for accompanying special music.

Shelly brought her accompaniment suggestions to life by offering a free arrangement of Day by Day which includes three different accompaniment styles.  Thanks Shelly!

I attended Shelly’s workshops so that I could share accompaniment ideas with my church pianist readers.  Click on the following links to download the handouts for this workshop.

Accompanying Made Simple (outline)

Day by Day page one

Day by Day page two

Easy Choir Arranging by Mac & Beth Lynch

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

HYMNAL-PIC

Here are some great ideas for easy choir arrangements! Please keep in mind…these are my personal notes taken from a recent workshop entitled, “On the Spot Arranging” by Mac & Beth Lynch.

Mac and Beth are working with a small church choir of their own and shared a lot of excellent; practical ideas for using the hymnal to sing like a choir and not like the congregation 🙂

I know of more than one church pianist who fills the role of pianist and choir leader….or assists the choir leader with choosing choir specials.  I hope these few arranging ideas will get your own creative juices going.

Refer to a hymnal for the following arranging suggestions:

“When I See the Blood” 

Have men sing the echos in unison (melody only) during the chorus for a change! Why? Gives less of a “chuncky”  or “monotone” sound.  Singing the melody for the echos gives a more shapely tone.  (singing the echos in parts as written is fine…but the unison just provides a nice; refreshing change for an easy-to-sing arrangement).

 

“Nearer Still Nearer”   (A lot of hymns can be utilized as SAB by deleting the bass)

Use as SAB (men on tenor)

 

“I Surrender All” 

Verses: SAB

Chorus: Men on melody; Ladies on alto (1st line of chorus)
SATB on 4th line (final line of song)

 

“Burdens Are Lifted”

Nice SAB! As written (men sing tenor line throughout)

*Extra information:

Close harmony on: line one and last phrase of line two thru four)
Open harmony on first half of lines 2 through 4
Close harmony means less than an octave between soprano and tenor
Open harmony is more than an octave between soprano and tenor

 

“When I See the Blood Medley”

Verses: Men on melody; Ladies on alto
Chorus: Men on melody; Ladies on alto (no echos)
*At end of chorus…go into “The Cleansing Wave”
SAB throughout (men on tenor) Could go to 4 parts on chorus.

 

“I Know Whom I Have Believed” Nice  SB Arrangement!

1st half of line one: men on tenor, ladies on soprano (parallel 6ths)
2nd half of line one: men on alto, ladies on soprano (parallel 3rds)
1st half of line two: men on tenor, ladies on soprano (parallel 6ths)
2nd half of line two: unison (written harmony not as feasible for two-parts)

Chorus:

Men on melody, Ladies on alto throughout or go to unison on last phrase of
chorus on word “Unto” then split into 4 parts on “…Him against that day.”

My thoughts:  Input these simple hymn arrangements in finale (vocal score only) to have for quickie choir arrangements…instead of having choir members mark up their hymnals and to save on choir practice time since we only practice for half an hour.

Which reminds me….I need to make copies for our choir of “Jesus Loves Me” quickie arrangement which I shared in a recent post.  We’re never too old to sing this hymn.

Church Pianist Update

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

small manuscript thumbnail pic

Holy Holy Holy (real advanced piano solo) is almost complete!  I hope to publish it very soon.

I’m REALLY enjoying the creation of the second collection of Congregational Piano Hymn Arrangements. What’s neat about these collections is they could be used for unison choir arrangements or accompaniment for flute or violin special.  See Congregational Piano Hymn Arrangements Collection One by clicking HERE.

The words of the hymns mean even more to me… in the light of what’s going on around our nation.  My heart is truly being poured out on the pages of this collection. I try to convey the text in the piano accompaniment. What a  comfort the words of these hymns have been to me!

Here’s the list for the ten hymns in this collection:

1. And Can it Be

2. At the Cross

3. Come Thou Fount

4. Heaven Came Down

5. Higher Ground

6. I Shall Know Him

7. It’s Just Like His Great Love

8. My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

9. Near the Cross

10. What a Friend We Have in Jesus

 

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