Archive for the ‘Composing’ Category

His Eye is on the Sparrow: Almost Ready!

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Sparrow-with-color

I have a friend test-driving “His Eye is on the Sparrow” vocal solo arrangement 🙂

Hope to publish this arrangement in the next week or two.

I know I’m slow but I try to focus on quality and not quantity as my husband kindly reminds me to do.

 

Church Pianist: Current Music Projects

Friday, June 5th, 2015

pen laying on staff paper

 

Working on several music projects right now:

1. “Holy Holy Holy” very advanced piano solo * Almost finished with handwritten version.

2.  Beginning to compile songs for Piano Hymns Congregational Booklet Two

3. Preparing several book reviews for Lorenz Publishing Corporation.

VERY excited about the arrangements I found in these books!  Most of them are advanced.

Free Piano Prelude Arrangement Coming Soon!

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

writing_pen

Working on “I Am Resolved” prelude arrangement for one of my hymnprovising students.  She was asking about different left hand fill-ins because of all the repeated bass notes so…I was just going to jot down a few ideas for her and wound up writing the whole verse!  Guess that means I need to write out the chorus too.

I’ll share the verse hopefully by this evening (once I enter it into Finale).

This particular student is needing to expand her right hand playground area. She has always played right hand in the middle area of the keyboard.  I’m gradually conditioning her to broaden the right hand playing area… as you’ll notice towards the end of the verse.

My student and I laughed as I observed her trying to improvise on her own…playing the right hand an octave higher.  The funny part was she had no idea what to do with her left hand at that point since she had all that extra space!  😉

She WILL improve as she broadens her horizon!  I look forward to working with her at this stage of her hymn playing and plan to share with you all… what we do each week.

Look forward to sharing the first part of a  free piano prelude arrangement soon!

 

Chord Substitutions

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

wavy staff with colored notes

Church pianists enjoying bringing hymns to life by adding different chords!  A recent question from one of my readers has created the perfect opportunity for me to share tips on chord substitutions….a topic I’ve been wanting to deal with for quite some time.  Chord substitutions can add such color to a song!  It’s a very B-R-O-A-D topic; meaning….there’s an endless supply of chord possibilities in any given key!

Reader’s Question:

“I have been using various resources trying to learn more about theory, but I haven’t found any that go beyond a basic level.

For example, I know what augmented and diminished chords are, but I don’t know how to use them or how they fit into functional harmony. In analyzing your arrangements, I have noticed you use a lot of different kinds of chords, such as chords with altered bass notes or a I-ii half diminished-I-etc. progression for introductions.

How did you learn how to use all these? Do you have any recommendations for resources that would teach me more? Any advice would be appreciated!”

Ashley

 

Hi Ashley,

How did I learn to use different chords from the written music?  You won’t like my answer 😉    I play them by ear…basically whatever sounds right. I do know chord theory but don’t think about theory application when playing….I just….play 😉  (Music writer’s confession: I don’t claim to be an expert theorist.)

For everyone’s benefit…the “different” chords we’re discussing are called chord substitutions. A chord substitution occurs when replacing a chord with a different chord.

Easiest Chord Substitution for Starters…

To replace a major chord within a key…use the chord a 3rd above or below the root note of a major chord.  (The major chords within any key is the I, IV and V).

The I chord in the key of C Major is the C chord (CEG).  Now, what note is a 3rd above CE…so the e minor chord (EGB) within the C scale can be used as a substitution as long as it “sounds” good within the occurring chord path (progression) of the song.  Count a 3rd below C and you find A.  The A minor chord (ACE)  is the second choice for a C major chord substitution.

Two observations about these two chord substitution choices:

1. They’re both minor

2.  They each have two notes in common with the chord being replaced

There are other types of chord substitutions but wanted to start with the easiest kind.

Extra Information:

1.The chord substitution just described above  (3rd above or 3rd below) is called the Diatonic Substitution. A diatonic chord substitution occurs when using different notes within a scale. It’s the most natural form of chord substitution because no note alterations take place; just using what ingredients are already available within that key 😉

2. The key signature and melody of any song dictates what chord(s) can be used.

 ~~Next article will show examples of the Diatonic chord substitution~~

Special Note!

Special Note!

Great theory reference book:  “The Complete Idiot’s Guide toMusic Theory”

The-Complete-Idiots-Guide-to-Music-Theory

 

Related article on Chord Substitutions

 

 

 

Wilds Music Conference (Piano Duet Previews)

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

This will be one of several videos I’ll share from my recent trip to the annual Wilds Music Conference. I had not planned on videoing the sessions…thinking they were being done by someone professionally.  So…you will have to put up with my amateur recordings 🙂 The first part of Hymnplaying Master Class on Tuesday consisted of an open discussion on the benefits of piano duets…even with a few composer tips from Faye and Duane on writing quality piano duets. I’ll start with the benefits of playing piano duets: *Allows time to focus on basic techniques with easier playing passages…such as phrasing, pedaling, dynamic balance between two players, etc. *Prepares pianist to think and play like an accompanist.  For example, both pianists have to keep melody dominant throughout.  The pianist without melody part must remain in the background (so to speak)…allowing the melody to be heard. *Playing piano duets can improve the pianist’s sense of rhythm.  Teaches them to play different rhythms against the other player.  Such as: one pianist may play triplets while the other is playing straight eighths. (fun! fun!) The pianists are forced to play the correct rhythm if they are to stay together. *Encourages teamwork!

Now…on to several composer tips in writing piano duets:

*Stack duet parts on one page so both pianists are aware of the full picture. *Try the duet with another pianist to check for hand collisions (I speak from experience on this one)    😉 *Avoid writing in excessive extreme registers (real low or high).  Too high gives the primo a “tinty” or “empty” sound.  Writing primo section more near the middle of the piano gives the piece a more balanced, pleasing tone.  Playing too low will give the duet a “cloudy/muddled” tone.

Piano duets on this video:

O Come All Ye Faithful from: “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Nathan Arnold

I Need Thee Every Hour from: “Standing on the Promises” by Nathan Arnold

Saved! Saved! from:  “Like a River Glorious” by Rebecca Bonam

Dwelling Beulah Land from: ?  (I think it was a Rebecca Bonam duet…not sure)

Other Piano Duet Book List:

Immortal Invisible  by Dan Forest

Crown Him Lord of All by Dan Forest

Joy to the World by Rebecca Bonam (piano solo book with three duets!)

Tip:  Don’t forget those duets in the back of your piano solo books you may have 🙂

*The above book titles are clickable links that carry you to BJU Press.  However, these books are no longer available through BJU Press.  Go to Lorenz  to purchase them. (or try Ebay or Amazon)

 

Introducing an Excellent Theory Book!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Now don’t get offended with the title of this music theory book…I use it as a reference book for my piano teaching and composing. The title…“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory”.

The-Complete-Idiots-Guide-to-Music-Theory

The description on the front cover of this book gives an excellent overview:

“Essential information on reading and writing—including basic notes, rhythms and scales”

“Helpful hints on creating your own melodies, chords and harmonies”

“Audio exercises (CD included) to develop your ear training skills”

My favorite chapter in the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory deals with chords…(chapter 9). This chapter gives the reader an overview of the basic types of chords used in today’s music.

For example…the basic types of chords mentioned in this chapter include the following: Major, minor, diminished and augmented.  The chapter then goes into “chord extensions”…my favorite section! Oh, and the “power” chords are interesting too 🙂

There is a complete chord appendix in the back of the book that covers every kind of chord–in every key!  The writer of this book says to use this appendix when you want to write a chord but don’t know how.

List of the Appendixes

A. The Complete Idiot’s Music Glossary

B. The Complete Idiot’s Chord Reference

C. Answers to Chapter Exercises

D. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory, Second Edition, Ear Training Course CD

Click on following link to view a sample chapter of this book:

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory

You may purchase the book at the above link or try to find on Ebay or Amazon for a more reasonable price. (make sure the CD is included)

The Love of God

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

 

While reading I John 4 this morning…the words to the hymn “The Love of God” swept through my mind….

The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can EVER tell;

It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled, And pardoned from his sin!

O love of God, how RICH and PURE! How MEASURELESS and STRONG!

It shall FOREVERMORE endure, The saints’ and angels’ song.

Click here to read short story behind this hymn. You’ll be surprised to learn how verse three came into existence!

I plan to start working on an advanced arrangement of this reassuring hymn.

Upcoming Arrangement: O Store Gud

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

 

After publishing a video of me playing “How Great Thou Art” in a nursing home…I began receiving requests on youtube and my website for a copy of this arrangement.  The funny thing about this arrangement…it was spontaneous.

After at least two years in the make (on and off–during this time frame)…I am about to put the finishing touches on this arrangement. It will be available by March 15th !

Keep in mind…the arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” won’t be exact note for note as played but…will be VERY close 🙂 It took me about 20 minutes to re-create about 3 measures at a time.  I would watch my youtube video by the piano and pause ALOT to write what I heard.

Thanks to all who encouraged me to write this arrangement of “How Great Thou Art”.

 

The Church Pianist: Interview with a Composer

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Do any of you church pianists compose? If so, you will
find the following links very beneficial.

As a composer myself, I found the following two part article
very interesting…an interview with the composer…Kevin Costley.

The web address of the interview host is:
http://www.composecreate.com/wendys-piano-studio

Interview links:
http://www.composecreate.com/archives/1784 Part One

http://www.composecreate.com/ Part Two

The Church Pianist: What A Friend We Have in Jesus (Interpretation)

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

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The interpretation of a piano solo is of upmost importance.

In my younger years, my dad always reminded me to play as though I were speaking the song.

He told me to “feel the music” and learn to breathe just as a singer would breathe when singing the same song.

To this day, I always sing the words in my head while playing to focus on the message.

Some words may need to be slower for a special emphasis…while other words can be sped up

to portray a sense of urgency or importance.

To stress the importance of interpretation…I will play an excerpt of my arrangement

“What a FriendWe Have in Jesus”.

The first time through…I will play in strict time with no ebb and flow.

Hear the difference in the second time as I play in a more conversational style.

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Notice the treatment of the inner voice movement (notes under the melody) and fill-ins (notes between held words).

Fill-ins are played with a softer touch then the melody.

Fill-ins are always meant to be softer than the melody to avoid distraction of the message.

The next time you play or sing a solo….just remember to interpret the music just as though you were ‘speaking’ the words.

The message will be so much more affective!

Free Music:  What_ a_ Friend_ We _Have_ in_ Jesus

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