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.“
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
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:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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 🙂
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:
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.🌹
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)*
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
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
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):
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.
We know that setting goals can be an effective way to focus our practice time. In the past I have held “Pledge to Play: 10 Minutes A Day” challenges, where everyone pledges to get themselves to their benches for at least 10 minutes every day for a month. During those 10 minute practice sessions we concentrated on short-term goals such as learning a difficult musical passage smoothly, memorizing a short piece, or learning the minor 7th chords in all 12 keys, etc. Challenging yourself to practice every day for 10 minutes is a great way to become a better musician, as research shows that daily exposure is the best way to improve.
Pledges can be a great motivational tool, but what about after the 30 days is over? Just as after a weight-loss program, we have to create an enduring plan for maintaining the good practices we cultivate while working towards our musical goals.
When in maintenance mode we might speak in terms of intentions rather than goals. Life coach Jennifer Louden writes that the word intention comes from the Latin “intendere” which means “to stretch toward something.” Louden suggests that while a goal drives you toward a future outcome, an intention helps keep you in the present. Louden writes:
The goal feels positive, but closed, almost a should, and it doesn’t inspire the imagination nearly as much as the intention, which feels open-ended, expansive, encouraging….
Instead of, or in addition to setting a goal such as, “I will learn this piece in 60 days,” you might want to form an intention, such as, “I am folding piano practice into my life four days per week.” Or, “I am exploring improvisation in my piano studies this year,” etc.
Write down your intention. Then come up with a structure to support it. You can adjust your expectations and intentions as you go along, but a written intention and structure acts as a roadmap. For example, if your intention is to become a more skilled musician, schedule 4-6 piano practice sessions per week in your phone calendar using the repeat: weekly and the alerts functions. Schedule your practice at times that you believe you can consistently follow through. Some might be 10-minute sessions, some might be 30 minutes or more. If you miss a session, reschedule it, or just let it go and look forward to your next scheduled practice. If your intention is to explore improvising, the structure might be scheduling weekly improv, just noodling around on your instrument or trying my improvising exercises, watching jazz, rock, or folk YouTube videos, and planning monthly visits to jazz and folk concerts (when it is safe to attend concerts in your town!) Whatever your intention(s), find a structure that you can embrace. Setting unreasonable expectations is counter-productive.
When you have to leave town and won’t be able to practice, set an intention to put practice aside until you return, and name the date that you will resume your practice routine. That way, your travel becomes part of your intention, and not an aberration.
When days or weeks pass in which you didn’t fulfill your intention, let regrets go. Start fresh the following week doing your best to reinstate your structure. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about process. Keep it light and enjoyable. Intentions are about how you want to live your life. Your intentions are driven by your values. A little guilt is ok if it keeps you aligned with an intention, but don’t let yourself slide into shame and negative self-talk.
Be brave enough to live creatively…. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You…get there…by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: You will discover yourself.
Please leave a comment below to share your goals or intentions with our piano community, and let us support you! While we are still battling Covid-19, community support is especially important for our emotional well being!
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 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.
I hope you are enjoying a beautiful winter’s day wherever you are. With love and music, Gaili
I always enjoy posting free sheet music for you at the beginning of each month, but on January 1st it’s especially exciting, because it is Public Domain Day! That means that an entire year’s worth of songs (today it is 1926) come into the public domain, and I get to pick one to arrange for you! This year my favorite song to become available is Someone to Watch Over Me by George and Ira Gershwin.
Someone to Watch Over Me has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, and Lady Gaga to name just a few! It’s one of the Gershwins’ most popular collaborations, and I hope you will enjoy playing their beautiful song.
This is an arrangement for intermediate pianists. If you are a beginner, print it out now for the future, as it will only be free for 1 year, until December 2022. [After that time you can purchase it on Sheet Music Plus where you can find a lot of my arrangements for songs such as White Christmas, Autumn Leaves, Hallelujah and a lot more!]
🎶 I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood. I know I could, always be good, to one who'll watch over me....🎶
I think we have all been feeling a little lost this year, and we all need someone to watch over us, making sure we’re not getting too isolated during this painful Covid era. New cases are multiplying here in Los Angeles, and I hope that you manage to stay safe and find companionship, wherever you are.
Most of you know that I just released some new books called The Music Remedy last month. A thousand thank yous to those of you who purchased these therapeutic song books (No. 1 – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love, and No. 2 – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm) for yourself or for loved ones! I am hard at work finishing up No. 3 – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Discouraged to Hopeful! Amazon.com is keeping the price at $9.50 for one more week! Also, If there is an older adult in your life whose New Year’s Resolution is to start or restart playing the piano in 2022, please remember that my Upper Hands Piano books make great gifts!
Ok that’s enough advertising! 😆 It’s time for you to get playing! Please leave a comment below and tell me and our Upper Hands Piano community what you are playing now, and what you might like to play in 2022. Let us know if you are playing Someone to Watch Over Me, and tell us how it’s going! Now that we are locked down again, it’s a great opportunity to play your piano more! Try to sit down for at least 10 minutes each day; daily exposure to a new challenge is the very best and fastest way to learn. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for you to learn a difficult passage in your piece. Honor your own pace and keep playing!
I’m looking forward to releasing some other pieces that have come into the public domain, throughout this year. I just love arranging songs and pieces for you, and I so appreciate that you have subscribed to my blog! Stay warm, safe and healthy. We can get through these difficult times, apart but together, sitting on our benches, playing music from the heart.
For the past year I have been hard at work researching, selecting, arranging and editing songs and pieces for a new series of sheet music books called, The Music Remedy. For many of us, playing music was the best medicine during the Covid-19 pandemic, getting us through the isolation, the anxiety, and our many losses. In The Music Remedy books we target some of life’s most problematic obstacles, offering songs and pieces to help the musician (pianist, guitarist, vocalist) move through distressing emotions to a more positive and balanced emotional state. Piano players and guitarists who have tested these books report that playing (and singing) these songs and pieces helped them to cope with painful feelings; they also reported that the pieces renewed their optimism, restoring a sense of well-being. Playing and singing the songs inThe Music Remedy: No. 1: – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Loss to Love, helped them to extend themselves to people and to open to the idea of bringing a new love into their lives. The Music Remedy: No. 2 – 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm helped musicians to relax and trust that they would be safe. It’s been so exciting creating music books that might help people feel better (while also boosting their brain power, of course!) But even if you aren’t experiencing these issues, the pieces within The Music Remedy books are beautiful, melodic, and fun to play!
You can click the images above to order on Amazon, or click here to view sample pages and song lists for each book.
This month only, The Music Remedy books are on sale for $9.50! On January 1st they go up to $12.95, so buy now!
On TheMusicRemedy.com you can find links to video demonstrations for every song in each book. I think you’ll find that watching the videos will help you to learn the pieces more quickly and accurately. All of these arrangements range from the early to late intermediate levels. I hope that you will consider giving these books as gifts, or buying them for yourself (as my student Joan says, playing the piano is the best therapy!)
As an added incentive, if you buy ANY of my books this month (Upper Hands Piano levels 1-4, Songs of the Seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn, Piano Powered, or The Music Remedy) send a screen shot of your receipt to me at UpperHandsPiano@gmail.com, and I will send you some free holiday music- Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, Deck The Halls, Dona Nobis, I Saw Three Ships, Jingle Bells, Joyful Joyful, Little Drummer Boy, The Nutcracker Suite, O Christmas Tree, Oh Chanukah, Oh Holy Night, Sevivon, Silent Night, and Vivaldi’s Winter. Request one or request them all! That’s just this month, December 2021.
Selling my books helps me to support this blog so that I can continue to offer you free sheet music each month, so I hope you don’t mind my advertising today! Many thanks for your kind and generous support. Happy Holidays friends!