Posts Tagged ‘congregational singing’

Piano Introductions: Part One

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

How long should a piano introduction be?  What part of the song do I play for the introduction?  

I hope the following video and free pdf sheet of piano introduction examples will benefit church pianists needing guidance in this area.

Free PDF Sheet: Piano-Introductions-Part-One 

 

 

Piano Introductions for Congregational Singing (introductory lesson)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Piano introductions play a vital role in the music of the church service.  Listen to the following audios and decide for yourself which one better prepares the congregation to enter with confidence.

Jesus is Coming Again (introduction #1)

Jesus is Coming Again (introduction #2)

Why are piano introductions so important?   I plan on answering this question and sharing several introduction examples from commonly used hymns in the next article on piano introductions for congregational singing.

Congregational Singing Tip for Church Pianists

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

I enjoy playing for congregational singing.  It takes alot of energy too!  It’s important for the church pianist to play loud enough to support the singers…giving them a sense of security to sing out even more.

Today’s tip on congregational singing involves “keeping the tempo alive” between the verses.  In general, most songleaders do not slow down too much between the verses of a hymn when leading congregational singing.   It’s the pianist’s responsibility to keep the rhythm alive and steady when transitioning into another verse. 

In many cases, the last word of a hymn requires very little fill-in movement.  For example, the hymn “Redeemed” needs a bare minumum of fill-in music before plowing into the next verse.  Listen….”Redeemed” audio example.

Other hymns, such as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” may require more fill-in notes because the last word of this hymn is held up to 4 counts.  Here is where I use one of my favorite transition fill-ins.   In the following audio sample…you will hear the last phrase followed by the transition into the next verse.  “What a Friend” audio example  Special note:  You will see this example when you click the link for the free handout for today’s article.

Remember to maintain a steady tempo during the fill-in between the verses to keep the tempo alive.

Free Handout for Piano Accompaniment Fill-ins for Congregational Singing ( Between Verses)

The Church Pianist: (Upcoming Article) Congregational Accompaniment Tip

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

The most demanding but enjoyable playing for me as a church pianist is accompanying the congregational singing.

The church pianist plays (no pun intended) a vital role in the congregational singing.  Maintaining a steady tempo throughout a hymn is extremely important. 

Over the years, church pianists have asked me what to play in between verses during congregational singing to prevent a stop and go scenario.  A very good question!  I’ll attempt to answer this question in this week’s upcoming article.

The Church Pianist: Free Hymn Piano Arrangement

Friday, April 30th, 2010

As promised, I’m offering a free hymn piano arrangement today for church pianists.  The title of the hymn is “Like a River Glorious”.

This free piano arrangement can be used for prelude, congregational singing or as an offertory.

As a church pianist, I would find this arrangement most suitable for congregational singing.

Like a River Glorious (free piano hymn arrangement)

The Church Pianist: Beginning Church Pianist (Congregational singing)

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

For the past several months, I have been training one of my students to be a church pianist.  Letha will get her first opportunity to play for congregational singing this Sunday.  (Our church has two pianos in the auditorium.)

I’m excited for her!  I thought I would share us practicing one of the congregational piano arrangements entitled “Higher Ground“.

The Church Pianist: Congregational Singing

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Some hymns can be tricky for the church pianist when accompanying congregational singing. One such hymn is “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.  This hymn has a busy rhythm!  Trying to play every note or word will cause a sluggish tempo or overworked tone.  

The remedy…don’t play every note/word.  The church pianist’s main concern is to play/outline the main beats of whatever time signature is represented. “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is written in 4/4 time.  Therefore…play on beats one, two, three and four (no in between beats are necessary).  Adding a few in between beats here and there does add spice to the music though.

Since hymns sung during congregational singing are usually familar…I will stray from the melody here and there to add spice; encouraging the audience to sing with even more fervency!  Simply lose yourself in the meaning of the words to bring out creativity you didn’t think existed!  I’m always exhausted after playing for congregational singing…feels like I’ve run a marathon:)

To help   your creativity…I’ll provide an excerpt from the congregational arrangement of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.

Editor notes for today’s excerpt: I transferred alot of the  action to my left hand; where it was easier to add eighth note stepping octaves for spice. Occasionally I added sixteenth or grace notes to the right hand to keep it alive.(The full arrangement contains these  right hand additions.)

The complete congregational arrangement of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is available in the music store. 

Special Discount offer on this arrangement through the end of March.

The Church Pianist: The Lily of the Valley (free piano sample)

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

“The Lily of the Valley” is a nice, uplifting hymn. Several factors make this hymn a challenge for most church pianists.

The hymn is loaded with repeated notes and a very busy rhythm…(what I call….the “wordy” hymns).

You don’t want it to sound like you’re trying to chop down a tree 🙂

The church pianist needs to basically outline or (play) the main beats of the hymn. This particular hymn is in 4/4 time.   So…the pianist should at least play on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats…creating a steady, rhythmic  tempo for the congregation.

It’s not necessary for the pianist to play “every word” of the song when accompanying. Playing every word would limit the pianist’s ability to improvise. 

The more familiar the congregation is with a hymn…the less dependent they are on hearing the melody.  This allows the  pianist more  freedom to stray from the melody…making it much easier to maneuver through the accompaniment.

Editor notes for today’s free piano sample of “The Lily of the Valley”

Notice the left hand plays the main beats (1,2,3,4) and the right hand skip words here and there for ease of movement.

Measure #3 (beats 3 through 4)  the right hand plays notes within the chord frame being used… “sweeping upward”…for a livelier sound.

Measure #4 (beats 1 through 4) the left hand begins with a dotted rhythm for a peppy tone and drives through with octaves to maintain tempo while the congregation holds the word “soul”.

Measure #4 (beat 4) into Measure #5…the right hand moves into middle range of keyboard for variety in location.

Click here for free piano sample of “The Lily of the Valley”

The Church Pianist: Song Endings

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Do you as a church pianist ever get in a rut, playing

the same song endings? I sure do!

I thought I would share a variety of endings for the hymn:

“I Love to Tell the Story”.

I’m sure some of you could probably come up with some more

endings of your own but this may help stimulate your creativity!

Click here:  Congregational_Song_Endings

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