Just happened across a nice CD for church pianists while trying to find sheet music for Kenon Renfrow’s piano arrangement of “Fairest Lord Jesus”. The CD is called “I Will Praise Him“.
I’m not sure at this point if Kenon has sheet music for Fairest Lord Jesus but will find out asap. I heard this arrangement on Abiding Radio this morning while getting ready for church and just LOVED it!! Ah…just found most of the arrangements to this CD on youtube! Listen to Fairest Lord Jesus HERE 🙂
I bought Kenon’s CD entitled: “I Will Praise Him” which by the way is a beautiful sounding CD. I listened to sound samples HEREand discovered that Kenon’s site: Piano Music Now had the CD’s for a very reasonable price.
A great piano CD for any church pianist looking for fresh stylings to hymns.
So…I admit…I’m a church pianist in a rut! What to do? Time to surround myself with different arrangers’ music….which means….sightread!
Do you have a collection of books that you use mainly for sightreading purposes? I do. Most of the arrangements in these books are too long for our offertory time. I could shorten some of them but that’s not always the best option since the arrangement usually builds in intensity and I don’t want to interfere with a well-rounded presentation of an arrangement.
It seems like the longer offertories are a lot of times the more challenging ones. I NEED that extra challenge to keep my fingers limber.
Occasionally, I’ll play a longer arrangement because I REALLY like the arrangement and want to share it.
Have you heard of Abiding Radio? I’m listening to it (online)… for musical inspiration 🙂
I’m curious….what do other church pianists or pianists in general do to get out of a rut? Would love to hear your ideas!
The following excerpt was taken from my Easter arrangement “Were You There” (to be published sometime in Feb. 2017)
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.
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”…
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!
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!
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:
Several different adults recite the Christmas story(Luke 2:1-19) in microphone off stage while children in appropriate costume act out the narration.
Stage setup: Only two scenes: Manger scene center stage, shepherd scene on left or right of manger scene. (props for shepherd scene not necessary).
Songs can be inserted appropriately throughout the narration.
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)
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 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.
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.