Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Helpful Resource for Church Pianists!

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

A Great Find for Church Pianists!

I just subscribed to Dorothy Taubman’s youtube channel. I’ve known of Dorothy’s work and have gleaned from several of her youtube lessons over the years.

I would love to attend piano clinics but distance is usually a factor so I bring learning to my living room via youtube and other internet resources.

If you want to play with ease, you will enjoy the following video.  I was encouraged to discover that I teach some of the same solutions for technical passages but enjoyed hearing Dorothy’s easy-to-understand solutions!

Helpful Resource for Church Pianists!

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:

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)

 

Upcoming Post

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

videoComingSoon

Now that Thanksgiving is over…I will be working on the recording of my advanced piano solo of “What Child is This”….which will include tips for the long run on measure #35.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I look forward to sharing this video with you soon.

How to Play Fast Arpeggios

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

An arpeggio is a broken chord.  I like to use fast arpeggios in my hymn arrangements.  So…how do I determine where to place a fast broken arpeggio?  Anywhere a word can be stretched (broadened) or held if you were singing the hymn.

One of my free piano hymn arrangements entitled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” contains a fast arpeggio on the second page. (Shown below)

What-a-Friend-We-Have-in-Jesus-run

This fast arpeggio consists of 12 notes.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that I played 3 groups of one-octave arpeggios within the 12 note passage.  Each group has four notes beginning and ending with note “G”.

I’m basically using a g minor one-octave arpeggio made up of the notes: G-Bflat-D-G

How to finger this? Use right hand thumb (of course) to start each group.  For each group use the following fingering:  1 2 3 5

To properly blend this run into the arrangement…emphasize the right thumb at the beginning of the first group only; allowing the hand to relax and glide across the fast arpeggios in an even rhythmic flow.  How to do this?  Practice s-l-o-w  🙂

Careful not to play SO fast that it sounds “thrown in” …causing an interruption in the flow of thought.

Slow Motion Demo

 Now…for the complete arrangement at regular tempo…

Fingering Tip for The Old Rugged Cross (free piano arrangement)

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

One of my church pianist readers recently asked me for some help on measures 29  and 30 of the free piano arrangement for “The Old Rugged Cross”.

In measure #29…The right hand has to reposition on the second beat in order to compensate for the upcoming busy movement.  I created a quickie video demonstrating a suggested fingering to make this area feel more comfortable to the hand.

Feel free to ask for any guidance or tips on this piece or any other arrangements I’ve written.

Glissando Tips

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

One of my church pianist readers recently requested that I provide some helpful tips on how to play glissandos.

One of the trickiest technical moves in my How Great Thou Art  piano arrangement is the glissando found on page four.   (Shown below)

How-Great-Thou-Art-glissando-section

Glissando Tips

1.  Notice the  three tenuto (line marks) under the left hand in measure 29.  These marks are pointing out the melody for the words “…then sings my…”.  Emphasize the melody and keep the glissando volume in the background (little softer than left hand).

2. The right hand begins the glissando with the index finger immediately after the left hand plays the G octave with the first tenuto (line) mark.  (It happens to be the same G as the left thumb just finished playing in the G octave).

3. Start the glissando with your right hand index finger…flipping the right hand over after the index finger starts.  The index finger and 3rd finger will glide across the keys in an upside down, horizontal position.  Once the index finger begins…the third finger will carry the brunt of the notes as you glide upward.  The index finger will act more as a support and guide for the third finger.  Just remember….the third finger is longer so it naturally has better contact of the keys.

4.  Word of caution to church pianists:  Glide across keys in a lightweight; relaxed fashion to avoid sore fingers 🙂

Visual Tips for the Glissando in How Great Thou Art

 

Church Pianist Tip: Rock of Ages with “Weighty Chords”

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Recently, I’ve been working on an arrangement of “Rock of Ages”.  The introduction contains what I call “weighty chords”…chords with three or more notes.  Thus, the following tip…

Scenario: A pianist sees a chord with three or more notes…(brain computes)…HEAVY touch!  Your brain thinks….I can’t possibly mash all those notes down at once without attacking them 😉   Word of caution:  Relax and apply gentle even pressure as though you’re lightly kneading dough… to avoid a “chunky” or “weighted” sound…especially when the full chords occur on the weak beats.

For example, in 4/4 time, the 1st and 3rd beats are naturally accented. Therefore the 2nd and 4th beats are weaker. In 3/4 time…only the first beat of each measure receives the accent. Why? To produce a more shapely rhythm and to avoid a mechanical/laboured sound.

The following excerpt is from an arrangement that will be included in a “Funeral Collection” which I hope to finish within the next several months. Notice the full chords in the left hand. I will give a brief demonstration of a suggested way to interpret these chords…fighting against the natural tendency of “heavy hand” treatment.

Click here for: video clip of following example

Rock-of-Ages-full-chord-treatment

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: Runs in Hymns (example three)

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

 

*(You may want to print the “Runs in Hymns example three” page below to have on hand as you read the following information)

I enjoy using what I call “cluster runs” in hymnplaying. It’s just a cluster of notes (close together) played in a rapid broken-chord pattern. I just repeat the same four notes up the piano.  Runs can be added almost anywhere as long as they fit the flow of the hymn.  The run needs to sound like it belongs in the arrangement…not just thrown in as an afterthought.

The following example illustrates  the use of the “cluster run” in the hymn “Throw Out the Lifeline”.  The cluster run begins on the word “someone”.  Just use your right thumb to start each set of four notes.  For each group of 4 notes…I use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger.

Emphasize (stress) the first note of each 4 notes to create a more shapely tone…making the run blend into the piece. 

Runs- in- Hymns- example -three

Audio of Runs in Hymns (example three)

One of my latest arrangements uses this cluster run in most of the chorus of The Light of the World is Jesus”.  The sample audio on this link contains the chorus with the cluster runs.

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