June Free Sheet Music: Nocturne from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

📷 by David Holifield

Felix Mendelssohn wrote his Overture (Op. 21) for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1826 when he was just 17 years old, to great acclaim. Sixteen years later in 1842 he completed the score for the play (op. 61) to include his famous Wedding March and this gorgeous Nocturne which celebrates summer, marriage, fairies, nature and dreams.

CLICK TO PRINT A Midsummer Night’s Dream NOCTURNE

Demonstration of Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

If you have used my Upper Hands Piano method books for adults over 50, you played the first page of my Nocturne arrangement in Book 4. However I have now expanded that arrangement to include some extra harmonies and the 2nd section of theme.

This is an intermediate arrangement. Beginners can play the top note in the treble staff- that is the melody line.

For the original sheet music click below:

I hope you are enjoying the increased hours of daylight! The summer solstice (and longest day of the year) is June 20th this year, and Midsummer Night is traditionally celebrated on June 23rd. If you start practicing today, you can play this Nocturne then!

Are you becoming more social after being vaccinated? I am loving getting together with friends and family I haven’t seen since March. There is so much joy in the ordinary pleasures of life. I am continuing to do porch concerts with neighbors and can feel that I am getting better at playing my accordion. I just got my piano tuned and am enjoying playing through this Nocturne as well as some old jazz standards I’ve wanted to learn. What are you playing right now? What are you struggling with in your music? Please leave us a comment, question or observation?!!

Have you been playing the Exercises in Thirds I recently posted? I’ve heard from a few students and piano teachers that the exercises are really helping students play with increased skill and speed, so I hope you will check them out!

Happy June, and have a happy, healthy summer. With love and music, Gaili

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

Exercises in Thirds

One of the greatest challenges to us piano players is playing our 3, 4 and 5 fingers consecutively. Because of the way tendons are connected in our hands, it’s difficult to play fingers 3 and 4 or fingers 4 and 5 one after another. It can be so frustrating, sometimes we find ourselves avoiding playing with our 4-fingers altogether 😆. These Exercises in Thirds can help you gain more finger agility, if you practice them like this:

Using the PENTASCALES chart, practice Exercise #1 Parallel Motion (Parallel Motion means that your hands are playing the same notes and moving in the same direction) in the C pentascale (a pentascale is the first 5 notes of a major scale), then G, playing through all the rest of the 12 pentascales. Once you can play the Exercise #1 Parallel Motion in all 12 pentascales fairly well, move on to Exercise #1 in Contrary Motion in all 12 pentascales. Contrary Motion means that your hands are playing different notes, moving in opposite directions, but using the same fingering (i.e. both hands are playing fingers 1 – 3, 2 – 4, and 3 – 5 at the same time, but your hands are playing different notes.)

Next, move on to Exercise #2 Parallel Motion in all 12 pentascales. After playing all 12 in parallel motion fairly well, play Exercise #2 in Contrary Motion in all 12. You will have better and deeper brain retention and small motor skill development if you do each part of each exercise in all 12 pentascales (i.e. Exercise #3 in Parallel Motion) before moving on to the next part (i.e. Exercise #3 in Contrary Motion.) Students sometimes like to play all of the exercises in each key at once, but trust me 🙋🏻‍♀️, you will gain greater flexibility if you play each exercise part in all 12 keys before moving on to the next part. Here is Exercise #1 Parallel Motion in C and Db:

Click to Print Exercises in Thirds and the Pentascales chart:

I hope you find these exercises helpful. I like to have my students go back and review these exercises yearly or at least every other year; each time you review them you increase dexterity and finger independence.

How is your spring going so far? Here in Los Angeles it has been an uncharacteristically spring. We haven’t gotten much rain, but I am nevertheless enjoying watching my few vegetables grow in my garden (artichokes, corn, tomatoes and collards). What are you growing in your garden? Or are you planting seeds for new ideas or new summer projects? Please leave a comment and tell us what you are playing on the piano, what you are composing, or what seeds you are planting for new growth in your life. I do hope that you have been vaccinated and are enjoying increased in-person connections with loved ones.

With love and music, Gaili

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

May Free Sheet Music: The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring (tra la!)

Good morning and Happy May Day! I chose this Gilbert and Sullivan favorite from The Mikado because it’s such a fun song, and it’s time to bring some fun back into our lives!

🎶 “We welcome the hope that they bring, tra la, of a summer of roses and wine…”🎶

What are your hopes for your spring and summer? Today is the ancient Celtic holiday Beltane, a time when we light bonfires and reflect upon the new threads we wish to weave into the fabric of lives in the coming year. What are you most excited to do after you have been vaccinated and our country begins to reopen? I’m excited to see friends, eat at restaurants, go to the movies, and play music in public again. And most of all I’m excited for an end to the looming fear and isolation that plagued our daily lives under Covid-19. As for new projects, I have started arranging songs for my 2nd and 3rd books for a new series that I can’t wait to tell you about! More details this summer.

Click to print: The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring (tra-la!)

⬆️ This is an early-intermediate piano arrangement of The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring, featuring the left hand chord inversions and 7th chords you might have learned in my Upper Hands Piano books 2 and 3. (I like to offer you original sheet music when possible along with my arrangement, but in this case, the original is a very large orchestral score, so just get my arrangement today.)

Remember, I can only post this free sheet music for a year, so print it today!

I hope you enjoy the flowers of spring in your part of the world. Please let us know what you are playing and how you are feeling as the specter of Covid begins to retreat. With love, music and flowers that 🎶 “…breathe promise of merry sunshine…” 🎶 Gaili

P.S. This arrangement of The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring came from my Upper Hands Piano, Songs of the Seasons: Spring book. You can take a look here, as well as looking at my Summer book and my Upper Hands Piano Method books:

April Showers Demonstration Video

Hi Friends!

I received two requests to add a demonstration video for April Showers- the intermediate jazz ballad arrangement. I’m sorry I didn’t include it in the first place; I was in a rush to create and post the arrangements by April 1st and didn’t have anyone around to shoot the video. But it is there now, so click HERE to view the video, and download the free sheet music if you haven’t already. Have a great weekend!!

With love and music, Gaili

April Free Sheet Music: April Showers (an easy arrangement and a jazz ballad)

Happy April! Today I have arranged April Showers as a slow jazz ballad, because it seems to encompass the wistful sentiment of the day, and as actor Timothée Chalamet says in the film A Rainy Day in New York, “I love a cocktail lounge piano, outside it drizzles, gray….” My favorite April Showers recordings are by Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra!

The April Showers jazz ballad is a late-intermediate arrangement, and it will only be on the website for a year, so print today!

Print the April Showers jazz ballad arrangement here

If you would like the easier piano arrangement for the late-beginner level, click here:

I hope that you are doing well and feeling hopeful today. I am receiving my second Covid vaccine tomorrow, and feel so excited about the new freedom and peace of mind it will bring me in two weeks. I am imagining seeing students in person again, going to the movies, LA Philharmonic concerts at Disney Hall, and eating at restaurants with friends. What are you most looking forward to doing again? Will you go back to in-person piano lessons, or will you opt to continue with online lessons? Leave us a comment and let us know how you are doing! Have you April-fooled anyone yet today?

I am still working on my new books: I can’t wait to share them with you. They are being reviewed by publishers this month. Meanwhile, below you can find my Upper Hands Piano books for adults over 50. Take care and be well!

With love and music, Gaili

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! (Free Danny Boy sheet music)

Are you ready to get your green on? St. Patrick’s Day is on Wednesday and I thought you might like to play one more classic Irish song to celebrate the day in true Irish style. Danny Boy is a sad song, but after this year of so many losses I think it will resonate. You can download and print the sheet music here ⬇️

Some of you were asking about my St. Patrick’s Day concert with my husband. We will be playing at 7:00 pm PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings time!) for about an hour or so. We will be sure to announce the name of each song so that you can sing along- just look up the lyrics on your phone or computer! You can watch even if you don’t have a Facebook account by clicking here at the time of the event. If for some reason the link doesn’t work, you can go to facebook.com and search for my name, Gaili Schoen. You should see my event come up.

I hope you enjoy singing and playing some beautiful Irish music wherever you are. Please leave a comment and tell us what you are playing this week- Irish or otherwise!

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

☘️ With love and music, Gaili ☘️

March Free Sheet Music: A Jig, A Reel, and a Beautiful Irish Air

Cashel, Ireland

Happy March! This month we celebrate 🇮🇪Irish music🇮🇪, a genre near and dear to my heart, as I fell in love with Celtic music in my youth, and married an Irish-American musician in my 20s. I learned even more about Irish music when my daughters became Irish dancers. They participated in dance competitions – called a Feis (pronounced “Fesh”) – bouncing up and down with arms firmly at their sides for Jigs and Reels. The difference between the two dances is that a Jig has a 3 or 6 feel, while a Reel has a 4 feel. An Air is a slow tune that we listen to rather than dance to. I’m giving away one of each this month, to give you plenty to play in March!

First is a gorgeous Irish Air called Down By the Salley Gardens, which originated with a poem by William Butler Yeats. I posted this piece several years ago (and it appears in my instruction book UPPER HANDS PIANO: Book 3 with simpler block chord inversions) but today I added a moving bass line to give it a little more rhythm and fullness. This is an intermediate arrangement, and it will be posted on my website for just 1 year, so print it today! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

PRINT: Down By the Salley Gardens

Down By the Salley Gardens demonstration

If you’re looking to play something more lively, you can print The Galway Piper reel, below. Note that the chords are in block form in the A section, and are broken in the B section. If you are a beginner, just play block chords throughout. If you are an intermediate player, you can play broken chords throughout:

Finally, you might also enjoy this easy arrangement of The Irish Washwoman which I have my students play as an exercise throughout March. It’s the most popular Irish Jig in America, and it’s really fun to play:

I hope you are enjoying some warmer weather as we inch nearer to spring. Have you gotten your Covid vaccine yet? I can’t wait to get mine, and am so excited about the prospect of emerging from our long pandemic hibernation, later this year.

By the way, my husband and I will be playing Irish music (me on accordion😆, him on guitar and vocals) on Facebook Live on Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day, at 7pm PST. If you would like to watch, follow me on Facebook @UpperHands Piano. I’m not the best accordion player, but we’ll have a lot of fun playing Jigs, Reels and songs you can lift a pint to. Have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day, and thanks so much for subscribing to my blog! Here’s an Irish blessing I love:

☘️ May peace and plenty bless your world
With a joy that long endures
And may all life’s passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours. ☘️

With love and music, Gaili

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

February Free Sheet Music: Romance Sans Paroles (by Fauré)

📷 by David Brooke Martin

For the last year I have been researching calming, melodic pieces, and Gabriel Fauré’s Romance Sans Paroles Opus 17, No. 3 is a beautiful, lyrical “song without words” addition to my list. I hope you or your student will enjoy playing the Romance in February, the month of piano love ❤️🎹❤️.

It’s been about a year since the pandemic shut us in, and I am finding that I need to play and listen to beautiful music more than ever, don’t you? Romance No. 3 has a strong repeated melody that you can really sink your heart into; I transposed it from A-flat to C, added fingering, and simplified the left hand to eighth notes instead of sixteenths, but the melody is the same and the harmonies remain intact. Below you can print my intermediate arrangement from my website, or print Fauré’s original if you are a more advanced pianist:

Print Romance Sans Paroles (intermediate)

Remember, all the free sheet music on my site is only available for a year, so print now!

Print the original sheet music for Romance Sans Paroles below:

If you are new to my blog, welcome! And thanks for joining us. You might want to check out some of my former posts including the best ways to practice using what we know about how the brain learns, help for losing your place in your music, motivational practice tips, or click to print some free worksheets to help you learn to read treble and bass ledger lines. Check the blog posts listed on the right ➡️ for more inspiration!

I hope you are staying warm and snug ☕ wherever you are. It has been raining here in Southern California, and we love the rain! Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are playing right now. Are you finding it easier to practice during lockdown due to fewer distractions, or is it more difficult for you to get yourself to the bench?

Please click on the links below to view my piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul plus my Songs of the Season books. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are a gentle and fun introduction for mature adults wishing to play the piano. The Upper Hands Piano series is steeped in research into the best ways for older adults to learn both classical and popular piano, including lots of chords, brain games, review, mnemonics, videos, and support. I just noticed that Amazon put Book 1 on sale! Thanks for checking out my blog and books!

With Valentine’s Day love and music, Gaili

January Free Sheet Music: Look for the Silver Lining

Happy New Year Friends!

I hope this finds you well, and feeling at least somewhat optimistic about 2021. Last year was admittedly abominable, but some of us have been fortunate to have also acquired some new skills, or have experienced some new growth, or other benefits due to the pandemic: I have learned how to teach piano online, and although in-person lessons are more enjoyable, my students have embraced the technology and continued with lessons in a way they never would have dreamed of before it became our only option; since April my husband and I have been hosting sing-alongs on Friday nights that wonderful neighbors we hadn’t previously met attend in their cars; some of my students that have been too shy to perform in my in-person piano recitals, have been participating in my video recitals; and I have been writing some fun new music books and reading great new novels (if you love to read, see my reviews of books that feature older adult characters at RipeReads.net!) with my extra time.

I have heard people refer to these positive aspects of our stay-at-home lives as Silver Linings, a term that reminds me of an old standard I love, called Look for the Silver Lining by Jerome Kern and B.G. DeSylva which has been recorded by so many great artists: Tony Bennett, Chet Baker (uptempo), and Judy Garland (she adds the introductory phrases), and contemporary artists Brad Mehldau and Lane Webber.

I have arranged Look for the Silver Lining three ways. On my website you can print the intermediate/advanced arrangement:

PRINT Look for the Silver Lining (interm/adv)

(The above intermediate/advanced arrangement will only be posted through Dec 2021, so print it now!)

My easiest arrangement is here:

And the following arrangement appears at the end of Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 2, and was designed to help you practice your left hand chord inversions:

Finally, below is the original sheet music for those of you who want to explore the 1920 arrangement:

Will you please comment below and tell us your silver linings stories? We can all use the encouragement! If you have lost someone you love, then you will be hard-pressed to see any positives, but I hope that playing this song can help some of you to Look for the Silver Linings in your life.

If you are new to this blog, welcome and thanks for joining us! I give away free sheet music every month, and you might want to check out the list on the right of this post for practice tips, flash cards and other helpful resources. One thing you might explore in 2021 is composing a piece or writing a song! If you have always loved Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue but aren’t able to play the original, check out my intermediate arrangement here! Click the links below to learn more about my Upper Hands Piano books on Amazon.

Many thanks for your support throughout 2020, and here’s wishing you a New Year with renewed good health and happiness. With love and music, Gaili

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

Happy 250th Birthday Beethoven!

This week we celebrate what would have been Beethoven’s 250th birthday! How wonderful that Beethoven’s body of music continues to thrive to this day, globally beloved for its unique, varied and profound beauty.

I have been in search of a Beethoven piece to arrange for you that would uplift us all, and help us to celebrate this important date; these days we need all the celebrations we can get! I decided upon a piece that not everyone will know, but I believe everyone will enjoy. As far as I can tell, this piece has never been adapted to solo intermediate piano, so you might be amongst the very first to play it!

Click to listen to Beethoven’s CHORAL FANTASY (finale)!

Isn’t it a wonderful piece? Some say the Choral Fantasy sounds a little like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy theme (listen at 1:25), but Choral Fantasy was written first, so perhaps Ode to Joy sounds a little like the Choral Fantasy! The two pieces are also similar in that they both deliver a message of universal love. Here is the English translation (from German) for the Choral Fantasy lyrics:

Graceful, charming and sweet is the sound of our life’s harmonies, and from a sense of beauty arise flowers which eternally bloom. Peace and joy advance in perfect concord, like the changing play of the waves. All that was harsh and hostile, has turned into sublime delight.

When music’s enchantment reigns, speaking of the sacred word, magnificence takes form. The night and the tempest turns to light: Outer peace and inner bliss reign o’er the fortunate ones. All art in the spring’s sun lets light flow from both.

Greatness, once it has pierced the heart, then blooms anew in all its beauty. Once one’s being has taken flight, a choir of spirits resounds in response. Accept then, you beautiful souls, joyously the gifts of high art. When love and strength are united, divine grace is bestowed upon Man. [Translation from Wikipedia]

How amazing that back in 1808 Beethoven spoke of the power of music to elevate grace and to bring people together, just as we keep rediscovering today.

I have arranged Choral Fantasy for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano, and put them all together for you, as a theme with variations. The first page is the main theme as sung by the choir and is fairly EASY; page 2 is a variation on the theme as played by the clarinets, and it is INTERMEDIATE; and page 3 is a variation on the theme as played by the violins and it is also INTERMEDIATE. I took the melodies, harmonies and chords directly from the orchestral score.

The double bars on each page indicate that you can end the piece there, if the successive pages feel too difficult to play (you can try playing them again next year!)

Click DOWNLOAD (below) to print Choral Fantasy (finale):

You can also print the gorgeous Sonata Pathetique Adagio (intermediate) arrangement I posted here two years ago:

To print more free sheet music including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, please visit my website!

If you are joining us for the first time, welcome! My name is Gaili Schoen and I post free sheet music at the beginning of each month, arranged for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano. I also post practice tips, worksheets and flashcards – just take a look at the archives to the right of this post. The free sheet music I post on my website is only available for a year, but when I offer downloads like the ones above, they stay put.

I also love to write music books. I have created a set of piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, as well as an easy-to-learn and brain-enhancing format for younger adults called Piano Powered, all available on Amazon. But mostly I like the idea of creating community here on my blog, arranging free piano music, and supporting adults who are taking piano lessons. Please subscribe above if you would like to be notified of my monthly free sheet music and practice tips. I never spam or share email addresses, ever.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, and that you will tip your hat and play a tune to the magnificent Beethoven, one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time.

Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are playing, or what issues related to piano lessons you might like to see me address in the future. I’d love to hear from you!

With love and music, Gaili