Exercises to Help You Play Triplets

Rhythm is one of the most difficult music skills to teach and to learn. Last month I posted an exercise to help you keep your eighth notes to exactly twice as fast as your quarter notes. Today I would like to help you play triplets correctly.


Triplets Exercise #1

If you are beginner, Triplets Exercise #1 might be challenging for you. Eighth note triplets subdivide each beat into three equal parts. Click to print the Exercise #1 sheet below, then follow these steps:

  • 1) Play your LH quarter notes along with my video, staying with my beat and listening to the RH triplets.
  • 2) Play your LH quarter notes along with mine, singing “tri-pl-et” or “mu-si-cal”evenly for the triplets.
  • 3) Play your RH triplets along with my video, and see if you can stay with my beat.
  • 4) When you are ready, try playing Ex# 1 with hands together along with my video. FYI, my metronome is set at 50 BPM (beats per minute) if you want to try this exercise on your own.
CLICK on Exercise #1 above to PRINT

Triplets Exercise #2

If you are an intermediate piano player, Triplets Exercise #2 might be challenging for you. Six quarter note triplets spread out evenly and equally over four beats. Click to print the Triplet Exercise #2 sheet below, then follow these steps:

  • 1) Play your LH quarter notes with my video, listening to the sound of the RH quarter note triplets.
  • 2) Sing “tri-pl-et” or “mu-si-cal” for the triplets while your LH plays the quarter notes along with mine.
  • 3) Play just the RH quarter note triplets with mine.
  • 4) After much practice with RH alone, try playing Ex #2 with hands together with the video. (FYI, my metronome is set at 90 BPM). (Note: Beginners might not be ready to play Exercise #2 for quite a while.)
CLICK on Exercise #2 above to PRINT

Triplets appear in music often, so it’s helpful to practice this skill over time, before you encounter it in your music. Be patient with yourself; it can take days, weeks, months or more, to master playing 6 quarter note triplets against 4 quarter notes. It can feel like patting your head while rubbing your stomach! Keep playing with these videos until you can stay with my right and left hands. Often students think they are playing triplets correctly when they are not, so be sure to record yourself playing your triplets with mine to hear if they are aligning properly. Practice this skill at least a few days a week until you can play both exercises on your own, without the video. Once again, record yourself to be sure the triplets are even.

Let us know how you do with this exercise! Please subscribe in the upper right corner ↗️ of this page to get your July free sheet music next weekend!

With love and triplets 🎶, Gaili


P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am a veteran piano teacher of almost 35 years! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus posts like this one to motivate and inform. I have written piano instruction books for older adults (UpperHandsPiano.com), younger adults and teens (PianoPowered.com), Songs of the Seasons piano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest piano/guitar/vocals books called The Music Remedy – sheet music collections to restore and revitalize the spirit. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view them on Amazon.com.

June Free Sheet Music: Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 20, Andantino theme

Schubert by Gustav Klimpt

In times of pain and suffering, sometimes we just need to play a piece in a minor key. It’s been awhile since I have arranged a piece by Schubert, and the theme from the Andantino movement of his Piano Sonata No. 20 so beautifully imparts the emotion apropos to this moment.

Here is Mitsuko Uchida playing the Andantino. My arrangements encompass the first theme, which plays from the beginning until just over 3 minutes.

The original was written in F# minor (3 sharps) so I have transposed it to E minor (1 sharp) and simplified the treble rhythm, and the bass notes. To print the late beginner/early intermediate arrangement from my website please click below. (This late beginner arrangement will be available on my website for only 1 year, so print now!):

Schubert’s Sonata No. 20, Andantino theme, for late beginner

Print my arrangement for late intermediate piano in the original key (F# minor):

Print my arrangement for intermediate piano transposed to E min (fewer sharps):

Just as with some years, some pieces ask questions, and others answer them. For me, playing a beautiful, minor piece helps to bring me back to feelings of love and gratitude even as I hold onto the questioning, sadness and empathy.


In other news, I have just finished reading Jeremy Denk’s memoir called Every Good Boy Does Fine in which he reflects upon the wisdom he has gathered from teachers:

“I lifted my arm confidently to play a passage. A flurry of wrong notes rang out. I had a moment of panic…and was beginning a litany of self-blame when I heard a voice in my head, with [my teacher Sebők’s] quaint Hungarian accent: ‘The problem with you, is that you’re a perfectionist.’ I played more freely…. [My other teacher] Leland had been right to remind me that there was no end to the details one could strive for. But Sebők was also right—the desire for perfection could be a deadly weakness. Living comfortably in that paradox…is part of being a musician.”

In case you didn’t know, my other passion besides music is books! I publish reviews of novels mostly featuring older adult characters, as well as non-fiction titles by and of interest to older adults at RipeReads.net. If you’re interested, you can read the full review there.

I hope the summer brings a sense of hope and renewal, wherever you are. As always, playing your piano can be a healing refuge. With love and music, Gaili

P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus practice tips and worksheets (see the sidebar for previous posts ➡️). I have written piano instruction books for adults over 50 (UpperHandsPiano.com), younger adults and teens (PianoPowered.com), Songs of the Seasons piano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest piano/guitar/vocals books called The Music Remedy – sheet music collections to restore and revitalize the spirit. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view them on Amazon.com.

Simple Rhythm Exercise

One of the most challenging skills for adults learning to play a musical instrument for the first time is keeping a steady beat. I suggest that you record yourself playing your piece (using memo messages on an iPhone, or another recording app or device). If you are playing the correct notes but your piece doesn’t sound right, your rhythm is probably the culprit. I’d like to help you work on your rhythm issues.

Though most students know intellectually that two eighth notes are equal in value to one quarter note, they tend to think of eighth notes as” fast notes,” and often rush them. This is a very simple exercise to help you play eighth notes at exactly twice the speed of quarter notes. I am playing 2 measures of quarter notes, followed by 2 measures of eighth notes, then I repeat. If you have a mobile phone, a tablet or laptop, bring it to the piano and play this exercise from this email. Plug in some headphones and try your best to stay with me. Keep practicing until your rhythm is aligned with mine.

I am playing the D above middle C. You can play D with me, or choose another key such as A, F#, G or B.

Once you can keep your beat aligned with mine, go through the music you are playing now, identifying the quarter notes and eighth notes, making sure that your eighths are exactly twice as fast as your quarter notes. Record yourself, then see if you can tap a steady beat as you listen to your recording. If the beat is not steady, keep practicing small sections of your piece which contain quarter notes and eighth notes, and keep practicing my exercise.

This might seem elementary, but in my 35 years of teaching, I would say that keeping a steady beat between eighths and quarters is the most difficult thing for students to learn– both young and old alike.

Do you think this might be an issue for you? Let us know how you do when playing this exercise along with me. I can provide additional rhythm exercises if I see that there is interest.

Hope you have a lovely weekend! With love and music, Gaili

P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am a veteran piano teacher of almost 35 years! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus posts like this one to educate and motivate. Check my previous posts for free sheet music offerings on the right sidebar ➡️➡️➡️

I have written piano instruction books for older adults (UpperHandsPiano.com), younger adults and teens (PianoPowered.com), Songs of the Seasons piano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest piano/guitar/vocals books called The Music Remedy – sheet music collections to restore and revitalize the spirit. They might make great Fathers’ Day gifts for the piano playing dads in your life. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view them on Amazon.com.

Free Cinco de Mayo Sheet Music: De Colores

Happy May Day – the midway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice! According to Celtic tradition, May Day is the time to think about what you want to weave into your life (hence the Maypole!) in the coming year. I am weaving in more calm and more music practice for myself, and wishes for good health and an end to war for the world.

Another holiday we celebrate in the U.S. is Cinco de Mayo, a yearly celebration commemorating the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over Napoleon’s French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In Los Angeles we celebrate this fiesta by playing Mexican songs, and eating Mexican food (yum!) To help you celebrate I have posted the Mexican folk song, De Colores. Here are the lyrics:

De Colores, de colores se visten los campos la primavera. De colores, de colores son los pajaritos que vienen deafuera. De colores, de colores de colores es el arco iris que vemos lucir. Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores resme gustan ami.”

“Colorful are the fields in springtime. Colorful are the little birds that come from outside. Colorful is that rainbow that we see shining. And that is why I love the many colors so much.

Click to print De Colores

What would you like to weave into your life today? Leave a comment below and let us support your goals, intentions and dreams. Enjoy the flowers, birds and rainbows of spring! And I hope you can munch on a taco on Cinco de Mayo! With love and music, Gaili

Enchanted April free sheet music

Every few years I love to watch the film Enchanted April, a wonderful 1992 classic film about how getting away from one’s home to a sunny, beautiful place can rejuvenate the spirit and reawaken love. It is free to watch on Amazon Prime if you are a Prime member, for the next 6 days!

Two of the songs sung in the film are Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring from The Mikado, and Love’s Old Sweet Song by James Molloy and G. Clifton Bingham. Both were written in the time period of the film – the 1920s.

Just in case you might like to watch the film or read the book before the end of April, I thought you might enjoy playing the songs as well. Click “Download” below to print Love’s Old Sweet Song, which I arranged for the 2nd book of my piano method series for Adults 50+ called Upper Hands Piano:

Click “Download” below to print Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, which I arranged for the Upper Hands Piano: Songs of the Seasons, SPRING book:

You can click below to take a look at the aforementioned books.

Have you ever seen or read Enchanted April? I think that next April I will definitely read it, as many say that the book is even more delicious than the film. Meanwhile, check out some of my reviews of books featuring adults over 50 on my blog called RipeReads.net. I love to read almost as much as I love to play and teach piano!

I hope you are enjoying an enchanted April, wherever you are!

With love and music, Gaili

Gaili Schoen, author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul

Happy Birthday Bach! (Free Sheet Music & What is Desirable Difficulty?)

Today is the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (though there is some confusion about the date). To celebrate, I have arranged Bach’s Arioso for intermediate piano. Bach’s Arioso has a bittersweet quality that makes it the perfect piece for the season. I have posted an intermediate piano arrangement of Arioso on my website:

Print ARIOSO

For more advanced pianists here is the original sheet music in A-flat:

I read a wonderful book by Brené Brown called Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience. I have learned so much from Brown’s book about the nature of emotions and how, when and why we experience them.

As soon as I read Chapter 4: Places We Go When it’s Beyond Us, I wanted to share what I learned with you. Brown speaks about Effortful Learning, something I discussed in my blog post entitled The Best Ways to Practice Using the Latest Brain Research:

Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. [Repetitive] learning that [seems] easy is like writing in sand, here today, gone tomorrow – Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

In Atlas of the Heart, Brown expands on the concept of effortful learning:

Comfortable learning rarely lead(s) to deep learning…. I used to have a sign in my office…that said, “If you’re comfortable, then I’m not teaching well.” There’s a zone of optimal confusion, there’s desirable difficulty. – Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart.

Robert A. Bjork and Elizabeth L. Bjork coined the term Desirable Difficulty in 1994 when writing about how to enhance learning, and the data is even stronger today: In order to learn deeply and to remember what we have learned, we need to space out our practice so that each time we practice we have forgotten some of what we have learned, and in relearning a concept or skill, we understand and remember it more deeply. “Learners should interpret errors as opportunities for enhanced learning.” (1)

I love these terms “optimal confusion” and “desirable difficulty.” While we teachers are working with students we are constantly observing whether the student is receiving an appropriate balance of challenge with fun, confusion with understanding. Brown asserts that too much confusion can lead to frustration, which can cause the learner to disengage, feel bored, or quit an activity. But as it relates to piano lessons and home practice, if you are not feeling challenged when learning something new, you are not moving forward in your studies as much as you could be. So the next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed at your piano, think of it as a good thing! Take some deep breaths and recite your mantra: This is desirable difficulty; This is optimal confusion. Maybe take a short exercise break, have a snack or a drink, then get back to your bench, and keep playing.

I hope your April is filled with beautiful music, and the resplendent gifts of spring.

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, Songs of the Seasons, and The Music Remedy, Sheet Music Collections to Restore and Revitalize.

(1) Bjork, R. A., & Bjork, E. L. (2020). Desirable difficulties in theory and practice. Journal of
Applied research in Memory and Cognition, 9 (4), 475-479.

Free St. Patrick’s Day Sheet Music!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, so dig out your green clothes, dust off your Irish Soda Bread Recipe, and get ready to play some Irish Folk Music! Last March I posted a jig (The Irish Washerwoman), a reel (The Galway Piper) and a beautiful air (Down By the Salley Gardens). You can still print the jig and the reel HERE, but if you would like a copy of Down by the Salley Gardens, send me an email (UpperHandsPiano@gmail.com) as it is no longer on my website.

This year I have arranged an Irish-American favorite called Too-ra Loo-ra Loo-ral, which has been famously sung by Bing Crosby, as well as Van Morrison and The Band, The Irish Tenors, Rosemary Clooney and many others.

Print TOO-RA LOO-RA

Toora Loora demonstration

I hope you are enjoying some increased sunshine as we edge toward spring. Here in Los Angeles it has been very cold (for LA), but my bulbs are blooming, I’m seeing little blossoms on the neighborhood plum trees, and there is a tiny hummingbird’s nest in our backyard tree. My daughter Maura took this photo- isn’t it amazing? Mama hummer’s two eggs have just hatched and she is sitting on her hatchlings keeping them warm. The nest is about 1.5 inches wide 🙂


And now a word from our sponsor!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I give away free sheet music and practice tips every month. You might not be aware that I have written a series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. This 4-book instructional series is a great choice for older adults who have always wanted to play the piano, or played as a child, and want a refresher course. I have also written 4 songbooks for beginners called Upper Hands Piano: Songs of the Seasons (Spring, Summer Winter and Autumn). For the intermediate and advanced players, I have The Music Remedy (No. 1) : 12 Passionate Pieces to Move you From Loss to Love, and The Music Remedy (No. 2) : 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm. Click the links below to shop and learn more! Thanks so much for your support, and HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

With love and music, Gaili

Giveaway Winners! And some Practice Tips to review in ’22

I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day spent with someone you love, or doing something you love to do! (Like eating chocolate?! Playing some beautiful pieces?) Congratulations to the winners of my Giveaway for 20 of The Music Remedy books No. 1 and 2! I so appreciate your enthusiastic support and I hope you enjoy your books. Here are the winners:

  1. Helga Kaefer
  2. Fran Tracy Walls
  3. Mary Hebard
  4. Lee Shatto
  5. Raechel Averett
  6. Dee Fisher
  7. Louis Lemire
  8. Mary Ellen Huckstep Labreque
  9. CarolLynn Gregson
  10. Medgar (SailorMargie)
  11. Jolene Hudgens McClellan
  12. Lisa El-Lakis
  13. Cynthia Norlin
  14. Linda May
  15. Agnes Zelgert
  16. Vera Harte
  17. Sandy Ludwig
  18. Beth DeAngelis Gooch
  19. Nicole Rosenbach Brown
  20. Donnamarie Shortt Kavanaugh

Winners: To claim your book, please email your address to me: upperhandspiano@gmail.com, and I will send you your book via USPS. State your preference for The Music Remedy No. 1 or No. 2 (click to see CONTENTS and sample pages) and I will honor your requests until one or the other run out.

Thank you all for your support! I hope you are enjoying The Music Remedy books, and are finding the music to be both beautiful and revitalizing!

||: Beginners you might want to take a look at my post on Repeat signs. It takes awhile to remember repeat protocols! :||

🤏 Intermediate piano players would do well to review this finger exercise for a few weeks in 2022!🤏

🏃🏿 You also might want to review these ideas I posted years ago about Aging Well. Now that the numbers of new Covid Cases are going down (hopefully we won’t have a big Super Bowl surge here in Los Angeles) we can begin to be social again soon. Being social is one of the three main components of Aging Well. 🏃🏿

🌹 Stay warm, cozy and musical for the rest of February. If you haven’t already, be sure to print and play my free arrangement of My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.🌹

With love and music, Gaili

Giveaway! The Music Remedy books No. 1 and No. 2

I hope you have been enjoying playing my February free sheet music, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose. To further celebrate the month of 💗 love 💗 I am giving away 20 of my new books:

  • The Music Remedy, No. 1: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love
  • The Music Remedy, No. 2: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm

***I am giving away 10 of each on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, of course! To enter, subscribe to this blog (if you haven’t already) and LIKE @UpperHandsPiano on Facebook or FOLLOW Instagram or Facebook, and be sure to LIKE the post about the Giveaway! Two chances to win if you LIKE/FOLLOW both. Also extra entries each time you tag a friend on Facebook or Instagram, or share this giveaway in your stories (remember to tag me @upperhandspiano) Includes free shipping within the USA.***

*If you buy one of The Music Remedy books between now and the drawing, you will get a refund if you win the drawing (you will just need to show proof of purchase)*

Click HERE to learn more on our website

SONG LISTS:

The Music Remedy: No. 1  – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love 

  • What’ll I Do– Irving Berlin
  • You Made Me Love You– James Monaco and Joseph McCarthy
  • I Ain’t Got Nobody– Spencer Williams
  • I’ll See You in My Dreams– Isham Jones and Gus Kahn
  • Piano Concerto No. 1 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Somewhere Out There– James Horner, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
  • The Man I Love– George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin
  • Romance Without Words– Gabriel Fauré
  • Ready for You– Gaili Schoen
  • It Had to Be You– Isham Jones, Gus Kahn
  • At Last– Harry Warren, Mack Gordon
  • La Vie en Rose– Louiguy, Edith Piaf, Mack David

The Music Remedy: No. 2  – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm 

  • The Tempest– Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Alla Turca– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Breathin– Ariana Grande
  • Rumination– Gaili Schoen
  • This Train – Gaili Schoen
  • Clair de Lune– Gabriel Fauré
  • The Swan– Camille Saint-Saëns
  • Meditation– Jules Massenet
  • Tristesse– Frederick Chopin
  • In My Room– Brian Wilson and Brian Usher
  • A Little Night Music II– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars– Antonio Carlos Jobim
from The Music Remedy No. 1: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love
from The Music Remedy No. 1: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love
from The Music Remedy No. 2: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm
from The Music Remedy No. 2: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm

The Music Remedy is a collection of beautiful, melodic songs and pieces for intermediate Piano/Guitar/Vocals that use the healing power of music to help restore your emotional balance. Because playing music can be the best medicine.

The Music Remedy books begin with pieces that align with a troubling emotion. Playing pieces that resonate with your emotional state can help you clear a path toward healing and growth. It is widely known that listening to and playing music is deeply therapeutic, and more often than not, we musicians have the power to take our emotions into our own hands and literally play our blues away. As you progress through each book, the music seeks to gradually shift your perspective, guiding you to a more balanced outlook; an emotional state that can enable you to imagine and create a brighter future filled with renewed possibilities.

​These books make great gifts for your loved ones, or for yourself! Leave a comment below to tell me which book you would like if you win and I’ll do my best to honor your request. Good luck and thanks for playing! 🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶 – Gaili

P.S. You can purchase the books plus my Upper Hands Piano books for adults 50+ below, or order from your local bookstore (The Music Remedy series is only available in the USA, for now. The Upper Hands Piano series is available in the US, UK and Canada). Thank you!

My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose – Free Sheet Music for Robert Burns Day!

Today is the birthday of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns. In the UK they celebrate with Burns Suppers in which people read his gorgeous poetry, sing his songs, wear 18th Century costumes, hold parades and dances, and eat haggis 😆. His most famous song lyrics are Auld Lang Syne which we sing on New Year’s Eve, and My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose. I have posted free sheet music for My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose for February, the month of 💘 love💘. But since it in Robert Burns Day I wanted to offer it to you today! I arranged this beautiful folk song for intermediate piano, but if you are a beginner you can play just the top note of the melody (right hand) lines, and the bottom note of the accompaniment (left hand) lines. Click below to print your sheet music from my website (available for 1 year):

Print: MY LOVE IS LIKE A RED, RED ROSE

Notice that the introduction starts with both hands playing in the treble staff, then the left hand moves to the bass staff in the last measure of the first line. In the last line of the piece, the left hand once again moves to treble, then back to bass in the last measure of the piece.

I am playing at a slow tempo for demonstration purposes but you can play it at an Andante (moderate walking) tempo once you are comfortable with the notes. Notice that I also played it a bit Rubato – slowing down for expressiveness in various measures, and I used my damper pedal to smooth out the phrases.

I hope you enjoy playing My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose throughout 💌 February 💌 , and especially today, Robert Burns Day! We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a big way here in the USA, but because fewer Scots immigrated here, they don’t get their cultural due! You might have guessed that I am a great lover of Scotland- the music, the food (ok Haggis not so much), the dance, the people, the accent, the humor and the stunning countryside. I hope someday to explore more of the highlands and islands of Scotland, but for now I can take my journey vicariously through song.

With love and music, Gaili

P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus practice tips and worksheets (see the sidebar for previous posts ➡️ ; most music is posted for just 1 year). I have written piano instruction books for adults over 50 (UpperHandsPiano.com), younger adults and teens (PianoPowered.com), Songs of the Seasons piano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest piano/guitar/vocals books called The Music Remedy – sheet music collections to restore and revitalize the spirit. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view them on Amazon.com.