My tech team has moved all of my content to the new web address, and I have moved my subscribers, but it might send you an email asking you to change your password. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I look forward to having new and old friends getting my monthly free sheet music and practice tip posts once again! Thanks for your interest and subscriptions (they will remain free). Have a happy Halloween!
To celebrate this spookiest of months I have arranged In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg for intermediate piano. This popular piece is not so simple at first, but it is fun to play, and once you get the pattern of the bass notes you will be able to play it more easily.
I am extremely sorry that many (perhaps most) of you are no longer receiving my monthly newsletter, and are missing out on my free sheet music. I have hired a web designer to move my blog from WordPress to Wix, and hopefully that will rectify the situation. I am not technically savvy enough to understand what the problem has been, so I’m glad to have help! Hopefully it will be up and running within the next week or two. In the meantime, if you have received this post by email, can you please leave a comment to tell me you “got it” below? I would really appreciate it! Here is the link for the sheet music:
I am demonstrating In the Hall of the Mountain King at three tempos. Largo (slow), Andante (medium) and Allegro Moderato ( moderately fast). More important than playing it as fast as possible is to play it as consistently as possible, which means playing it without stopping or pausing. Find a comfortable tempo for yourself, then gradually try to push your tempo a bit faster during the month. By October 31st you will be scaring all the neighborhood kids! (This theme has been featured in many video games – kids love it!)
How are things in your part of the world? Here in LA it started to cool down for a few days (it has been so cozy since Friday!) but is heating up again this week. I am so looking forward to the Fall holidays, seeing the leaves turn gold, wearing sweaters, and sleeping in my flannel sheets and Icelandic blanket. What do you enjoy most about the Fall? I love playing spooky music in minor keys and I sure hope you enjoy playing In the Hall of the Mountain King along with me! Happy Autumn friends! Thanks for joining me here. With love and music, Gaili
Happy September! It’s an important month in my family because my husband’s birthday is September 28th, and he likes to have BIG celebrations with lots of people and lots of music.
The song Happy Birthday to You is one of the most requested songs in a pianist’s repertoire. When we add a piano accompaniment to our singing it just sounds SO MUCH more FULL! I thought I would offer you a few arrangements of Happy Birthday so that you can serenade your loved ones on their big day.
First I have the “Easy” arrangement which might not feel so easy if you are a beginner. You can always just start by playing the right hand melody alone, and writing the letters next to any notes you don’t yet know. Notice that I am playing the eighth notes with a “swing” rhythm- an uneven long-short jaunty rhythm to give the tune a little bounce. This arrangement will only be posted for a year, so print today!
Next is my Intermediate arrangement of Happy Birthday, which is on p.24 of my Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 4. On this page I suggest that Happy Birthday might be a great song to memorize for those times when you might be called upon to provide accompaniment for an impromptu birthday celebration! Once again you can use the ending phrase as an introduction:
Finally, for the more advanced pianist, I arranged Happy Birthday using some jazz chords. There is no intro on this one; just nod your head and start singing to indicate to your fellow singers to start singing with you. Your notes will extend into a dramatic ending as the singers hold out the last “…you.”
Whew! That’s a lot of celebrating! Which arrangement will you be playing? I enjoy them all, but I must admit I’m a sucker for the edgy, slightly dissonant sound of jazz chords.
Sorry my free arrangement was a little late this month. I’ve gotten caught up in a lot of musical projects and lost track of my dates! I hope you have a lovely September as the air cools a bit, and we start the countdown to my very favorite season: Autumn. I hope the air is clean and clear wherever you are in the world, and that you are enjoying the longer nights with a return to some indoor activities such as reading books, journaling, cooking, drinking hot drinks and playing the piano! With love and music, Gaili
I’ve been wanting to arrange the George Gershwin fav ‘S Wonderful since it came into the public domain this year. So many great singers have recorded it but my favorite is João Gilberto‘s beautiful, sexy performance that was featured in the film Eat, Pray, Love. You might notice that Gilberto sings the melody “in front of the beat,” meaning that he often sings the lyrics too soon. But his band keeps the beat and he never gets too far ahead. While you might not be lucky enough to have a band playing a percussive accompaniment, you can play the melody and chords on piano, and even sing the lyrics! This is an intermediate arrangement:
I hope you are managing to stay cool and hydrated if you are in a searing hot climate right now. I suggest that you get in the habit of keeping a water bottle or spill-proof flask near (not on) your piano/keyboard and take sips regularly as you play. I have several students who were taken to the emergency room because of dehydration (and it wasn’t even summer); dehydration is very dangerous, and easily preventable, so drink up! (Sorry, not alcohol, which is dehydrating.)
How is your summer going? What are you playing this month? We want to hear all about it!
Stay cool and be well, with love and music, Gaili
P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am a veteran piano teacher of 36 years! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus posts and worksheets 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.
Happy July, pianisti (that’s pianists, in Italian)!
For the last couple of months I have been consumed with preparing for my trip to Europe for my daughter’s wedding. She married her lovely Italian man in Barolo, a gorgeous wine region in the Piedmont District of Italy. I had a wonderful time at the wedding and was so happy to be celebrating with family and friends, famiglia e amichi. This month I am spreading the Italian love by giving away free sheet music for Giacomo Puccini’s Musetta’s Waltz. Musetta’s Waltz gained popular attention when it played throughout the film Moonstruck, a romantic comedy starring Cher and Nicolas Cage, in 1987. I arranged this piece for my piano instruction book series for older adults, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul (BOOK 3) because it is so melodic and beautiful; it’s the quintessential Italian aria. Notice in the sheet music that there is a highlighted bass measure; practice this left hand chord progression first, as it’s a little tricky to play.
Now that I am back home, still savoring memories of the beautiful wedding, I’m also excited to get back to my routines and practices. On Sundays I like to do my scheduling for the week. I schedule meditation, exercise, piano, accordion and French practice for the week into my phone calendar. It’s so easy to let days go by without getting to the piano bench or other desired activities, so I find that when I schedule them in, I do them, and end the day feeling content and accomplished. Of course I want to leave room for spontaneity and don’t want to feel over-scheduled, so I try to keep my expectations realistic.
Do you have activities you want to pursue or skills you would like to improve this summer? Please share your summer projects and tell us what pieces you are working on.
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am a veteran piano teacher of 35 years! I post free sheet music every month, arranged for beginning to intermediate piano students, plus worksheets, practice tips and information on music and the brain (see the sidebar for previous posts ➡️). I have written piano instruction books for older adults (UpperHandsPiano.com), younger adults and teens (PianoPowered.com), Songs of the Seasons easy/intermediate piano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest intermediate/advanced 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 a few of them on Amazon.com.
With all the record-breaking storms bombarding our world these days, I was reminded of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17, Movement 3, also known as “The Tempest,” which is one of my favorite pieces of all time.
The Tempest is gorgeous, dark, and certainly tempestuous, a mood we can all relate to sometimes! The Tempest theme which I originally arranged for my song book called: The Music Remedy No. 2: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm, is appropriate for the intermediate student.
I hope you are doing well in your part of the world. This month I am traveling to Barolo, Italy for my daughter’s wedding! It’s very exciting, and is also keeping me up nights thinking about all I need to do before my trip. I am also visiting Provence, a place I have wanted to go for decades. If you have any recommendations for places to see or people to meet in Provence, please message me! What are your summer plans? No doubt they will include lots of piano playing. If a storm hits, don’t worry, just go to your piano and play The Tempest!
To celebrate Mother’s Day this month, I am posting the funny song And Her Mother Came Too by Ivor Novello with lyrics by Dion Titheradge. I first learned of the song when I saw the film Gosford Park, which portrays Ivor Novello singing the song. The song is about an annoying Mother-in-law who never gives a couple any privacy. Since I will become a Mother-in-law in June, and hope to be more sensitive than the mother-in-law in this song, I thought it might be a fun song to learn for Mother’s Day.
My arrangement of And Her Mother Came too originally appeared in my book 👆🏽Songs of the Seasons: Spring👆🏽 but it is available for free to my subscribers for a year, so print it today!
Notice in my demonstration video below and in the Gosford Park performance, that the first page is played and sung with a rubato feel (freely, not to a beat), then the beat comes in on the second page, and the second and third pages are played in time.
I hope you have a happy Mother’s Day wherever you are, and enjoy playing this great and humorous old song this month. Leave a comment below and tell us how your piano practice is going. What have you been playing lately? I love hearing from you!
I’ve been revisiting some beautiful old folk songs lately. With all the pain and difficulty in the world right now, these songs bring comfort and connect us to our joy. In 2018 I gave you an intermediate arrangement of Shenandoah, a gorgeous 19th Century ballad popular with lonely river men and sailors. Today I have an advanced arrangement for you, and will also reissue the intermediate arrangement to you. The advanced arrangement is only available for a year, so print today! After that it will be for sale along with many more of my arrangements at Sheet Music Plus.
Click DOWNLOAD to print my intermediate arrangement of Shenandoah. Hint: the first 2 notes in the treble staff are F and G. Sorry they are so low, but I wanted to offer this arrangement in the Key of C, which put the first 2 notes on the F and G below middle C 😊
I hope you enjoy playing Shenandoah this month! If you are a beginner, just play the top notes of the intermediate arrangement, wherever you see lyrics. Ignore the notes with no lyrics below them- they are what we call “fils.” Fils fill in the spaces between the melody, but are not part of the melody.
Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere! Though it feels like our cold, wet winter will never end here in California, my garden is abloom with the vibrant colors of spring. I love the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes with their equal measures of darkness and light, because it reminds me to think about balance: to balance work with play ⚖️ intensity with calm ⚖️ solitude with social activities ⚖️
For piano players, it is also a great time to learn or review Dynamic Balance exercises – drills that can help you to play louder with one hand than the other. This is an important skill for bringing out melodies and for playing ostinato (repeating) lines more gently. (Note: Dynamic Balance exercises are for more experienced piano students – intermediate and beyond.) I have made videos of my six exercises to help you increase dynamic balance and overall finger control. Read my post HERE; play the exercises in all 12 keys at least 3-4 days per week during the spring season, and by summer you will notice that your hands can move more independently! Stronger, more agile hands will enable you to play more expressively, and that is what we’re going for. These exercises are not all that fun or creative; but as one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert said,
“The difference between those who do and those who wish to do is often those who can bear the tedium.” 😅
So balance out these exercises by playing some or your favorite songs and pieces, while enjoying the increased agility and power they will bring to your fingers!
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. If you are ready for some new books, here are some of my favorites:
I have a remedy for your poor frozen fingers! Playing The Blues should give them a good thaw!
If you are a more experienced player, you might be curious about playing The Blues. One Blues style is Boogie-Woogie, and it is primarily a piano genre featuring a repeating percussive bass part. I wanted to give you a little lesson in Boogie-Woogie Blues because it sounds SO great. Though it’s difficult to learn, it is also a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. The structure is a 12 measure repeating pattern. Boogie is all about the bass, and I’ll show you that the way you play the bass eighth notes will determine whether it will sound like Rock and Roll, or a traditional Blues. You will notice this sign in the bass staff:
It simply means to repeat the (bass) notes from the previous measure.
NOTE: Less experienced piano players can play just the downbeats, which means beats 1, 2, 3 and 4. Leave off the upbeats, or the “ands” (the second eighth note of each eighth note couplet) for a simpler, but still Boogie Blues piano bass.
⇧This sheet music will only be available for a year, until February 2024, so print today!⇧
When you play the Boogie left hand eighth notes evenly, it sounds like Rock and Roll; think Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry. Here is a demonstration of Blues #1 in a Roll and Roll style, first slowly, then faster.
Blues #1 in the Rock and Roll style
I’m going to play you Blues #1 again, this time in a “Swing” rhythm, in which the eighth notes are played long-short, long-short. All the eighth notes played ON the beat (beats 1, 2, 3, and 4 which are also called the downbeats) are long, and the second eighth note of each couplet (the “ands” which are also called the upbeats) are played short. This gives it the lazy, long-short sound we associate with traditional blues. Think Muddy Waters, Albert Ammons and Billie Holiday.
Blues #1 with a traditional Swing rhythm
Here is Blues #2 in a medium tempo with the even eighth notes Rock and Roll style.
Blues #2 in the Rock and Roll style
Now listen to Blues #2 with the traditional long-short Swing rhythm.
Blues #2 played with the traditional swing rhythm
Which style of The Blues do you prefer? The driving even eighth notes of Rock and Roll? Or the slow, lazy sound of traditional blues? Both feature a boogie-woogie bass, but the rhythm you choose changes the “feel” dramatically!
I hope you are staying warm and dry wherever you are. In just a few weeks it will be the SPRING EQUINOX, a time for restoring balance in our lives and at the piano. This is a great month to review my Dynamic Balance Exercises. Dynamic Balance is the ability to play one hand softer or louder than the other. This exercise is also a skill for more experienced piano players.
Beginners: did you know that I am offering free video piano lessons to take you through Upper Hands Piano BOOK 1, on the Sixty and Me community platform? So far I have posted my Introduction and Lessons 1, 2, 3 and 4. To get started, visit the FREE LESSONS tab on my website, then subscribe to Sixty and Me to continue getting my lesson posts. These lessons are created especially for Adults over 50. You can join any time and go at your own pace. I hope you enjoy!
Stay warm and cozy, and start learning The Blues this month! Most everyone loves listening to The Blues – it is such an elemental African-American music form. I have many more Blues pages to offer you in the future (always free), so get started!