Posts Tagged ‘pianist’

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


The Church Pianist: Inspirational Video!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

My son just shared this inspirational video with me of an unusual pianist. I just had to pass it along.

By the end of this video, we could all ask ourselves, “So…what excuse do I have for not practicing?”

Now, to a special pianist…

The Church Pianist: Accompanying the Vocalist

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Accompanying the vocalist is so different from playing for congregational singing.  For the most part, a steady rhythm is maintained for congregational singing.

Not so for accompanying the vocalist. I would encourage all church pianists to sing along mentally as you play.  Doing so will prevent the pianist from rushing the vocalist.  So many vocalists over the years have expressed their concern over pianists that rush their singing…not allowing them time to breathe and freely interpret the hymn.  It’s so easy to do!  Think about it…the pianist doesn’t have to physically breathe at the end of a sentence…so he or she just moves right along…forgetting that the poor vocalist would like to breathe!  I know…I’ve been guilty many times of this very thing 🙂

Just focus on the message of the hymn and allow the singer to lead you.  I understand some vocalists feel more comfortable following the pianist.  Please encourage them to take the lead once they have learned the song; allowing them more freedom of interpretation.

In the future, I hope to provide a video with helpful tips for accompanying the vocalist.

The Church Pianist: The Haven of Rest Accompaniment (Part One)

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

“The Haven of Rest” is one of my favorite hymns. I usually hear this hymn performed as a vocal solo.

As a pianist, we must learn to make the text come to life by animated accompaniment…making the message even more real and meaningful.

The first verse begins with a troubled scene of a lost soul but ends with the rescue by the Saviour!

So…we begin with a mood of turmoil. I use an up and down pattern in the right hand to depict the boistrous waves of the sea.

Then…the waves suddenly grow calm…when I hear the sweet voice of my Saviour. ( Notice the movement lessens in the accompaniment.)

I just want to keep going and explain the next part of the accompaniment because the mood of happiness increases… creating a cascading wave of crescendo as Jesus floods the ‘saved’ soul with unexplainable peace!

You’ll have to wait…part two will reveal this joyous picture of salvation.

Click here for Haven of Rest (piano accompaniment~~~part one)

The Church Pianist: Piano Interpretation (Runs and Fill-ins)

Friday, October 30th, 2009

(View of run from the video of “Father’s World” excerpt)

It’s so easy to rush through a busy fill-in passage during a hymn arrangement.

If you’re like me, you think…”That’s alot of notes! I’d better play fast to make them fit in!”  So….you rip through the pretty stuff as though it were thrown in all of a sudden and listeners think…”Woah!  What was that?” 

 Fill-ins and runs either enhance the melody (hopefully)…or are used to add movement during a held word.

Runs that intertwine with the melody are meant to move along at a fair pace so as not to break the flow of thought.

Slowing down for a run during a held word is appropriate. Such is the case in today’s excerpt from my arrangement entitled: “This is My Father’s World” published by Soundforth Publications under BJU Press.

The following link from Soundforth may give you a view of the actual music.

Editor notes for video:

Wrong way: I play one speed with little emotion.

Right way:  Taking more time to feel the music in a more conversational style.


The Church Pianist: Improvising Hymns (Right Hand Fill-ins)

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Do you ever have a hard time knowing what to play for fill-ins when improvising hymns? 

This simple, instructional video gives the beginning church pianist some easy-to-use  right hand fill-ins!

The Church Pianist: Excellent Website for Church Pianists!

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I’m just sharing an excellent website for church pianists!

The name of the website is

I love this site!  You can download music in pdf format

for a modest price.  My favorite feature is the play button

on the top of the pdf sample page. I always like to ‘hear’ an

arrangement before purchase.

You can also find vocal and other instrumental arrangements!

Here’s the link to the piano duet I’m getting ready to purchase.

It’s an excellent offertory for me and one of my piano students.

Oh, if you are a song writer or arranger, you can also submit your

music to this website but please read the guidelines before doing so.

  Homepage link:

Hope you enjoy the resources on this website!

The Church Pianist: No Pianist!

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Do you leave your church with no pianist when you go out of town?

Our church has two pianists….me and another lady. Occassionally, we’re

both out of town at the same time.

For some reason, our church doesn’t want to sing acapella….I think they’re

a little spoiled:)

Our church has a digital piano (Kawaii CP 155). It has recording capability to floppy disks.

I simply record music ahead of time on this piano for the congregational singing,
choir numbers, offertories and invitational songs. (each category on a separate disk).

I understand that not every church pianist has this convenience but may consider using
this idea if you have a digital piano.

So…try recording some music in advance if able for the next time your church is without a pianist.

The Church Pianist: Need More Practice Time?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Anybody need more practice time besides myself?

Our pastor had an excellent idea that has provided more practice time for our church pianists.

If you’re like most pianists, you’re usually practicing with someone before the service starts.

Our pastor had the sound man record offertories from our previous services on to one CD.

This CD is played before our services, giving us opportunity to practice or take care of lining up
future music during this time.

Approximately two minutes prior to the service, the CD fades out and I finish playing the prelude, which
acts as a good alarm clock for the choir, songleader and pastor to get in their places.

Need more practice time? Try this out. It has worked wonders for us. I find myself much more relaxed having
this extra time available.

The Church Pianist: Classical Music Benefits Church Pianists?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009


Classical Music….a help or hindrance to the  church pianist?

A good question!

The answer is “Yes”…..classical music greatly benefits the church pianist!


Advantages of being exposed to classical music:

*Conditions the ear for well-structured melodies and rhythm.

*Strengthens the fingers

*Demands a need for structured fingering which carries over into proper fingering for hymn arrangements.

*Introduces the pianist to scales and other rhythmic patterns in music that can be incorporated into the
  hymns as well.

*Last but not least….classical music demands disciplinein the areas of technique and interpretation for the
  best results.

Although classical music is vital to all pianists, the church pianist needs a balance of both: classical and hymn training.

I’m thankful for the teachers God provided for me in my early years of training.

I learned alot of improvising by just listening to the different teachers over the years. They also taught me ‘one on one’ how
to add runs and fill-ins. Most importantly, they taught me the theory to back up their training.

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