Posts Tagged ‘church pianist’

Right Hand Run for Piano!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

The following excerpt was taken from my Easter arrangement “Were You There” (to be published sometime in Feb. 2017)

Run

Many have asked how I play runs so fast and smooth.

My answer: fingering and body movement are important factors in creating a smooth and fast run.

Keep hands close to keys…wrist level with hands. Allow hands to follow shape of the note groups….turning thumb ahead of time to make smooth transition into next group of notes. (The thumb starts each group.) The body…waist up… should also follow the run….bend slightly at the waist to the right… and lean toward keys a little for full body support.

(Watch this video for demonstration of body support movement during similar runs) *Start about 1:10 on this video

Use fingering that follows the natural shape of the run…allowing for ease of movement throughout the run. ( suggested fingering for right hand run at measure 48… 1-2-3-5)

Notice the loose wrist and arm movement as I cross into each group. ( I prefer to play 4 groups of this run instead of 3 but trying to be reasonable 😉

The following video samples begin at measure 47  (first time…fast….second time…slow)

Fast Run

Slow Run

 

Beautiful Piano Wedding Music!

Monday, January 16th, 2017

wedding-decorations-church-aisle

One of the many activities of a church pianist may include playing for weddings. I enjoy finding fresh new piano music that truly fits the occasion.

A couple of weeks ago while playing through  James Michael Stevens’ recently published collection entitled… “Dreams of Jewels”… I realized the songs would be perfect for a wedding! All of the pieces are lovely but I especially like “Opal Dreams” and “Aquamarine Dreams”. (I’ve always loved James’ style!)

“Dreams of Jewels” would make a nice piano collection for any church pianist needing prelude or reception music for a wedding.  The collection provides 15 pages of music.  James has other collections as well that would probably be very appropriate for a wedding.  His music can be found at the following link: SMPress

Samples of my favorite selections from “Dreams of Jewels”…

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.

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.

 

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

 

 

Coming Soon! Last Minute Ideas for Simple Christmas Program!

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Green coming-soon

By now…most church pianists are busy practicing for their church’s Christmas program But…does anybody need some ideas for a last minute Christmas program…or maybe you just need one more poem or reading to complete your program?

I look forward to sharing a list of simple ideas this coming week on ways to enhance or create a last minute simple program.

Prima Music’s Big Sale on Piano Music!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

home_feature_fallfestivalsale_2016extended

Prima Music has extended their fall festival sale to September 19th! You receive 25% discount on all their music. They even have an overstock sale going on with up to 35% off!  I’ve already found some things in the overstock bin 🙂   Free shipping but there is a small handling fee of $2.99 per order

It’s a good time for church pianists to  stock up on Christmas piano music too! I just purchased a Christmas Piano Duet book from the overstock bin which  looked interesting.  Remember….now through September 19, 2016.

 

Just Published! Intermediate Sacred Piano Solo “Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy”

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

I wrote “Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy” piano arrangement for one of my former male students who loved playing hymns in minor keys.

He’s now a college student but considers this his all-time favorite. This particular arrangement was written with the piano student in mind…along with ample finger suggestions.

You’ll notice a more structured arrangement here to aid the intermediate church pianist.

Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy
Early intermediate sacred piano solo, arranged by Jenifer Cook, 3 & 1/2 pgs. Written for the student in mind with ample fingering suggestions. Well-structured for easy learning. This piece does have a slight celtic flair. I wrote this for one of my former male piano students who LOVED hymns in minor keys. He's in college now but still considers this his all-time favorite.
Price: $3.50

 

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson Two

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Transposing-Up-Whole-Step-Lesson-TwoThe skill of transposing is an extra plus for the church pianist if she or he is going to accompany someone to sing in their comfortable range…(another article) 😉

There is an art to finding just the right key for whomever you’re accompanying.

The following free pdf on Transposing Up a Whole Step will familiarize the church pianist on how to transpose up a whole step in a song of  3/4 time going into another song in 3/4 or the first song…different verse.

There are many factors to consider when creating a key change between two songs. For example, the first melody note of the second song determines the melodic direction of the key change.

Editor notes for Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson Two

  1. Play measures #1,2,3 and then start another verse of Amazing Grace on 3rd beat of measure #3
  2. Play measures #1, 2, and 4 and go right into Grace Greater Than Our Sin

Each line of this free pdf is identical to the first line except in different keys. Try finding hymns to use for the remaining lines of examples.

Special Note!

Variety tip: You can use this same transposition idea for a 3/4 hymn to a 4/4 hymn by holding the 3rd beat of the 3rd measure for 2 beats and then go into the 4/4 hymn IF the 4/4 hymn begins with a complete measure or at least the 4/4 hymn contains at least two beats at the beginning..in order for it to create a smooth sounding transition.

Clarification:  The above transposition isn’t appropriate for congregational playing because of the additional measures used to create the key change. A shorter version would be necessary for congregational singing.

However…this transposition idea works great for offertories, preludes and accompanying instrumental or vocal special.

Click on following title for free pdf download: (Let me know if you’re having printing issues with this PDF. I think it’s just my printer but note sure..it seems my margins are wacky when it prints)

Transposing Up a Whole Step Lesson Two

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Lesson One (see chord structure for the above free pdf.

Transposing Up a Whole Step: Chord Structure

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

small manuscript thumbnail pic

The following free pdf of transposing examples will aid the church pianist in changing from one song to the next during prelude or  for background invitationals.

Keep in mind, this free pdf only  showcases the chord structure for transposing up a whole step.  A more detailed visual sheet with moving notes will follow in the next article on transposing up a whole step to a different song or same song/different verse.

Editor notes for this free pdf of transposing examples:

  • Transposing up a whole steop
  • 3/4 time signature hymns only
  • Four examples shown in: E flat Major, F Major, G Major and A Major (each key signature is a whole step apart…one letter name higher than previous key)

Click on the title below to download the chord structure chart for transposing up a whole step for hymns in 3/4 time.

Transposing Up a Whole Step

 

Church Pianist Tip: Storing Music for Special Music

Monday, July 25th, 2016

At this point in time, I’m the only pianist at our church who plays for the special music.  Looking forward to other pianists getting involved in this area as they become more comfortable with playing in the service.

Music can pile up REALLY fast without a place to call home.  For the past several months, I’ve been using a six pocket binder that has proved VERY helpful and thought I’d share it with my readers.

I know this particular binder may not work for everyone but works great for my needs 🙂  (Binders with more than six pockets can be found on Walmart’s site)

Here’s a picture of my binder from Walmart.

BINDER-PIC

Before watching this video…when you hear me mention “floppy disk”…that’s what our digital piano uses to play recordings.

 

Please feel free to share your own organization ideas that work for you!

Follow Jenifer on…
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
Article Categories