November Free Sheet Music: We Have Much to Be Thankful For, by Irving Berlin

It is November at last, and having enjoyed a nearly normal Halloween, I think many of us are looking forward to gathering in-person with loved ones for Thanksgiving. I usually post one of the two Thanksgiving favorites in November — Over The River and Through the Wood, or We Gather Together — because the holiday seems to demand these festive traditional songs! But there is another (somewhat obscure) Thanksgiving song written by the great Irving Berlin in 1912 called We Have Much to Be Thankful For that you might enjoy playing for your Thanksgiving guests this year. I love this song it because it is about gratitude, and being thankful for being alive. Click to print my simplified arrangement:

We Have Much to Be Thankful For (simplified)

If you would like to play the original sheet music CLICK HERE (pages 3-5)

I also wanted to let you know that next month I will have some exciting news about a new songbook series I will be releasing before the holidays. My editors are taking their final look at all of the sheet music, making sure I have the lyrics, chord symbols, fingering and notes all as they should be. I can’t wait to tell you about my new books! But I will wait until they are completely ready, when I am sure that all of the songs and pieces are just right.

To celebrate a month of thanksgiving, I am going to keep a gratitude journal, and I want to invite you to join me! Some people find that when they keep a gratitude journal they feel happier and less stressed in their daily lives. If you’re interested in keeping a gratitude journal, just write down 3-5 things that you’re grateful for each day, for the month of November (or even just a week or two). It can be something as basic as being grateful for having a home or a piano, or for your eyesight or hearing, as in our Irving Berlin song. Or you might write a sentence about something someone said to you that made you feel good, or the color of the leaves on the trees you see on your morning walk…. Sometimes just noticing the beauty around us can evoke feelings of joy and deep appreciation. Leave a comment with any observations you would be willing to share about how keeping a gratitude journal is affecting you this month.

I want to wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving, and I hope you stay healthy and happy throughout the season. I am deeply grateful to all of you for following my blog, and for the kind comments and questions you put forth. It’s a wonderful feeling for me to see that so many of you are clicking on and printing my arrangements; it gives my life meaning and elevates my sense of purpose. Thanks so much for meeting me here each month.

With love, music and gratitude, Gaili

October Free Sheet Music: Chopin’s Prelude 20

📷 by Ehud Neuhaus

A thousand pardons for my late posting this month. I have been on a long working/vacation, and wasn’t able to post my music remotely. I hope that Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 was worth your wait! It’s the perfect spooky music for Halloween, and at only 🦇13🦇 measures you’ll have time to learn it before the zombies💀 rise!

You might remember this prelude as the opening to Barry Manilow’s Could It Be Magic, and it was Rachmaninoff’s inspiration for his Variations on a Theme of Chopin. It is beautiful and dark, and fun to play!

Chopin wrote his Prelude No. 20 in the key of C minor. I transposed it to A minor and deleted some of the less influential notes to help it fit under your fingers more easily. You can print my arrangement here:

Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 (simplified)

Demonstration of Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 simplified

You can print Chopin’s original sheet music for Prelude No. 20 in C minor here:

I hope you are enjoying Autumn wherever you are! I have been learning more about helping my students to overcome obstacles to joyful music making. I will be sharing more about that in future posts. For now, be sure to print the sheet music for We Gather Together on my FREE SHEET MUSIC page before it disappears on October 31st! We Gather Together is a classic Thanksgiving hymn about gratitude that you might want to play for your family celebration.

Hope your Halloween’s a scream! With love and music, Gaili

September Free Sheet Music: Maple Leaf Rag

As we inch closer to the turning of the seasons, I thought I would share my early -intermediate arrangement of Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag with you! My Maple Leaf Rag arrangement is my #1 selling sheet music on Sheet Music Plus, so I thought you might like to play it too! Remember it will only be available for free through August 2022, so print it today! The arrangement is two pages long, and covers Joplin’s main theme:

PRINT Maple Leaf Rag

The arrangement is from my Songs of the Seasons: AUTUMN sheet music book series, available on Amazon. Here are demonstrations of this arrangement in two tempos:

Maple Leaf Rag- SLOW TEMPO (play at this tempo as you are learning the notes and rhythms)
Maple Leaf Rag- FAST TEMPO (reach for this tempo after you feel comfortable with the notes and rhythms)

For advanced pianists who would like to play the Maple Leaf Rag in its original form, download here:

Happy September piano friends! Autumn is my favorite season, and even though we don’t have a lot of deciduous trees in southern California, we do see some Japanese Maples on certain streets, and we just love them! I’m looking forward to cool evenings, fall holidays, wearing sweaters, making soups, reading books by our fireplace and getting cozy at the piano.

Have you been playing the Moonlight Sonata from my July and August blog posts? If you have been enjoying the slow, haunting beauty of Beethoven’s Adagio theme, I hope you are ready for some perky, uptempo Scott Joplin this month 🙂

This month I find myself with two openings for piano students! If you are looking for an online piano teacher for yourself or someone else, email me at upperhandspiano@gmail.com for details.

I hope you have a lovely September. Are there some pieces you like to revisit or books you like to reread in Autumn? Share your favorites with us or give us an update on your piano progress in the comments below. With love and music, Gaili

November Free Sheet Music: We Gather Together

While we Americans are patiently 😁 awaiting our presidential election results, we might turn our attention to the fact that it is the season of gratitude. In the US, the weeks approaching Thanksgiving are a time to slow down and take stock of all the things we are thankful for. Life is such a gift, and I grieve for all who have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and am grateful for our own good health. What are you thankful for, in spite of all the disasters we have experienced this year?

I have posted the Thanksgiving favorite, We Gather Together for my November giveaway. This is replacing last year’s Over The River and Through The Woods. If you want that arrangement, leave a comment below and I will email it to you.

Print: WE GATHER TOGETHER

This month is also your last chance to print O Holy Night from my website. Just click on the link above and you can see all the other downloadable free sheet music from the past year.

I hope you are well, and will be able to connect with your loved ones during the holidays, even if it is only online. I am deeply grateful for all of the kind people who subscribe to my blog and tell me that they are playing and enjoying my arrangements. Bringing more music into your life gives meaning to mine. Thank you for joining me here, and for all of your good wishes.

Leave a comment below if you have a request for an arrangement of a holiday song or piece for December!

With gratitude, love and music, Gaili

Free Halloween Sheet Music: Chopin’s Funeral March

Well this may be the least eventful Halloween we have ever experienced, but we can still have fun watching spooky movies and playing spooky music. I think Chopin’s Marche Funèbre (Funeral March) is one of the most ominous pieces ever written, and it is super fun to play. John Williams based his Darth Vader Theme (The Imperial March) on Chopin’s piece, so it will sound very familiar to Star Wars fans! I have simplified the piece for the late beginner/early intermediate player, and I am also posting the original sheet music for the more advanced pianist:

The simplified arrangement is from my Songs of the Seasons: Autumn book (I have a sheet music songbook for each season, all available on Amazon – see below!)

What are you doing on Halloween? Halloween is such a fun neighborhood activity, and we are so sad to not be giving out candy this year. But my husband and I host a singalong every Friday night from our front porch, and this Friday we and our neighbors will all be in costume, so we will still feel social, even though we will be distanced. This year wearing a scary mask will be de rigeur! On Halloween night (Saturday) there will be a full moon (aka a “blue moon”, because it is the 2nd full moon in October!), and the end of daylight savings time in California.

I hope you are doing ok in spite of all, and that you enjoy playing the Funeral March this week. Thanks for following my blog, friends, and please leave a comment or a spooky poem if you feel like it! With 👻 ghostly 👻 love and 🎃 creepy 🎃 music, Gaili

Gaili Schoen

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, Songs Of The Seasons, and Piano Powered for younger adults!

PS- I just noticed that the Piano Powered manuscript book is on sale for $3.14, regularly $6.95. I have no idea how long this sale will last, Amazon does what it pleases, but it’s a pretty great deal!

September Free Sheet Music: Tristesse (Chopin’s Étude Op. 10 No. 3)

Searching for beautiful melodies, I suddenly remembered that Chopin believed that his theme for Étude Op. 10, No. 3 was his most beautiful melody. I first came upon it in childhood when I opened a music box containing a ballerina dancing to Tristesse (according to the label beneath); though Chopin didn’t name his composition Tristesse, it has become the popular title, so I defer!

You can listen to the original piece here, and watch a video of my intermediate arrangement below:

CLICK to print TRISTESSE (early intermediate arrangement)

Or click to print the original sheet music for Tristesse below:

Happy September! I think many of us are looking forward to the cooler days of autumn. With all of the recent disasters, I hope that playing your piano can remind you of all that is beautiful in your life.

I have some additional posts planned for this month, and be sure to leave a comment if you have a piano-related issue you would like me to address in a post. Do you have a favorite piece you would like me to arrange for beginning or intermediate piano? Remember, I can only give away arrangements of songs and pieces that are in the public domain (i.e. written before 1925). How is your practice going? Give us an update! Be well friends 💛

With love and music, Gaili

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

Runnin’ Wild! (Marilyn Monroe) Free Sheet Music

In Upper Hands Piano: BOOK 2 the song Runnin’ Wild (from the film, Some Like It Hot) appears on p. 10 as a “lead sheet” ( just a melody line with chord symbols). Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe, with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag playing in her all-women band. Here’s a video of Marilyn singing Runnin’ Wild from Some Like It Hot.

Besides loving the song and the movie, I also used Runnin’ Wild in BOOK 2 because it has a simple right hand melody, which gives the piano student the opportunity to focus on the numerous left hand major and minor triads. This sheet music helps the student to really learn the notes of the chords, and to get used to intuiting the distances between each chord. While later in BOOK 2 the student learns chord inversions which reduce some of that hand movement, students still need to practice the skill of finding chords quickly, until those distances becomes more instinctual. Here’s why: if you develop a strong sense of how far to move your hands between the keys, you won’t have to look down at your hands as much. That means you can play faster and more accurately, and you won’t lose your place as often. Here is the original sheet music for Runnin’ Wild from Upper Hands Piano: BOOK 2 which you can click to print:

As promised on p. 10, here is Runnin’ Wild in 6 additional keys, to give you even more practice playing chords on your keyboard.

Another great way to practice Runnin’ Wild is to find a key amongst these seven versions that works for your voice, and sing along as you play. Singing and playing is a great way to boost your brain power, increase your focus and improve your rhythm, and it’s also great for training your ear.

Have a Happy Halloween! If you are wanting to play some spooky music, click here to print the Toccata from Bach’s ominous Toccata and Fugue, or click here to print a simplified piano arrangement of Chopin’s Funeral March (from my October 2017 post!):

Thanks for following my blog! With love and music, Gaili

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

How to Build Chords at the Piano, Part 2 – Inversions

In my post How to Build Chords at the Piano, Part 1, I demonstrated how to build Triads (3-note chords) using formulas. Once you have learned your major and minor triads, you can start experimenting with “inverting” them, which means mixing up the order of the notes. A “C Major Triad” that is played C-E-G (left to right) is in “root position.”

If you move the C to the top of the chord, with E on the bottom and G in the middle (E-G-C left to right), you have built a C chord, 1st inversion. If you move the E to the top and now have G on the bottom and C in the middle (G-C-E left to right), you have built a C chord , 2nd inversion. No matter how you mix up the order of the notes, C-E-G played together is a C chord; but inversions sound a bit different than root position chords, and they sometimes make it easier to move from one chord to another.

There are lots of exercises and songs in which to practice inversions in Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 2, (currently on sale at Amazon for 24% off!) but if you would rather not buy the book, I demonstrate how to build Major and Minor inversions in this video:

The notation for inversions is in the form of slash chords. C Major Triad 1st inversion is written C/E. F# Major 2nd inversion is written F#/C#. Some people find this notation to be counter-intuitive. Just remember that the letter to the left of the slash is the chord name. The letter to the right of the slash tells you which note is on the bottom of the chord. Eb/G means it is an E-flat major chord with a G at the bottom, Bb in the middle and Eb on top (1st inversion). A/E means it is an A major chord with E on the bottom, A in the middle, C-sharp on top (2nd inversion). It takes awhile to get used to this notation, so review this paragraph and the above video until you have it.

In How to Build Chords on the Piano, Part 3 we will be building 6th chords, plus Major, Minor and Dominant 7ths. You will also be able to click to print flashcards for all of the the 7th chords. Please subscribe to get these blog posts plus free monthly sheet music delivered to your Email inbox. I never share or spam email addresses, ever.

With love and Music, Gaili

PS While writing this post I realized that Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 2 is available on Amazon.com for 24% off today! Not sure how long they will extend this sale:

Songs of the Seasons: AUTUMN’s Classical selections include Vivaldi’s Autumn, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Chopin’s Funeral March, Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1, and Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag. Popular standards include Shine On Harvest Moon, School Days, My Melancholy Baby, Over The River and Through The Woods, We Gather Together, Irving Berlin’s We Have Much to be Thankful For, and Jerome Kern’s Till the Clouds Roll By. This small inexpensive songbook will help you practice all of the chords we cover in my blog posts, How to Build Chords on the Piano, Parts 1-3

How to Build Chords on The Piano, Part 1 (and free Autumn sheet music)

© Agb Photo Library | Dreamstime.com

Music is made up of chords that blend with melody within a rhythm, to tell a story. As pianists we are called upon to play chords all of the time, broken (one or two notes at a time) or block (all of the notes played together) for all genres of music including classical, jazz, and all popular styles. The better we understand chords, the easier it will be to read music and chord symbols (letters above the lines of popular sheet music that tell you which chord to play). And the better we read, the faster we will learn. In three posts, I want to unpack chords, digging deep into what they are and how to build them. Here in Part 1 we will focus on the basic 3-note chords called triads; Part 2 moves on to inverted triads; and Part 3 explores 6th and 7th chords, and will include free flash cards to further help you learn your 7th chords.

I love chords, so I’m so glad that I play a chordal instrument. When I was a child, my parents played 1920s-1950s music on the record player while we were doing household chores. Then I would go pick out the melodies on our piano. When I found the chords to fit the melodies I was enthralled; I was playing songs! When I began studying jazz in high school (in addition to my long standing classical lessons), I expanded my knowledge of chords to include all kinds of exotic sounds. I love the way that different chords elicit different emotions. When I was a film composer, I used a variety of rich chords to make the audience feel whatever emotion the director wanted them to feel. Chords are magic!

If you are a beginner, you might just be starting to explore the world of chords. In Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 1, I teach Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented Triads (3-note chords) within a series of exercises. By the end of the book you are playing triads in songs. But even more experienced pianists might not know that chords are based on musical principles that are like mathematical formulas. I have made a video to show you how to build MAJOR, MINOR, DIMINISHED, AUGMENTED and SUSPENDED triads using these formulas:

Here is a recap of the triad formulas you just learned: MAJOR: 4 half steps | 3 half steps; MINOR: 3 | 4 ; DIMINISHED: 3 | 3 ; AUGMENTED 4 | 4 ; SUSPENDED: Root 4th 5th.

Stay tuned for How to Build Chords on the Piano, Parts 2 and 3 coming soon (videography is not my forte 😆so it takes me awhile) where we will build chords that will further enrich your music. I will also be posting my free October sheet music soon.

I hope you are enjoying the first tickle of autumn in your town or city. Here in Los Angeles it is still quite warm, and we are longing for cooler days when we can wear cozy sweaters, cook apple sauce and soups, and play songs like Autumn Leaves and Vivaldi’s Autumn. To help you feel the fall spirit, here is an easy (free) arrangement of Vivaldi’s Autumn, from my Upper Hands Piano: Songs of the Seasons, AUTUMN book for you to download and print:

By the way, I hope you don’t mind too much that to support this blog, I advertise my Upper Hands Piano and Songs of the Seasons books sometimes (you can find links at the bottom of this post). I also wanted to tell you that for arrangements of songs and pieces not in the public domain, I post arrangements on Sheet Music Plus. I recently arranged Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah for intermediate piano, and you can find Autumn Leaves- EASY here, and intermediate here. For those of you who are new to this blog, thanks for joining us! You can find free sheet music here, but remember that each piece is only posted for a year.

If you have any questions after watching the above video, PLEASE post your questions below. I love talking about chords and want to make this discussion as clear as possible for you. With love and music, Gaili

July Free Sheet Music: Cello Suite No. 1

One of my favorite pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach is his Cello Suite No. 1. It was popularized in the 2009 film, The Soloist, about a reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) who writes a story about a schizophrenic homeless cellist (Jamie Foxx) who had once been a music student at Juilliard.

The Cello Suite No. 1 is so beautiful and captivating, I wondered if I could arrange it for piano. Since it is in the cello’s range, I put both hands in bass staves. It will feel strange playing bass notes in both hands, but it is a great means to practicing reading bass notes, and because it is so different than what you are used to, it provides a particularly potent brain workout. I divided the melody line many ways, testing it over and over until I found which hand worked best for each note. The notes in the upper staff are played with the right hand, and the notes in the lower staff are played with the left. I provided a lot of fingering, but as always, if you find a fingering you like better, or prefer to switch notes to the other hand, feel free to make changes– just remember to stay consistent with fingering and hand assignments! You can also add dynamics as you feel them.

PRINT Bach’s SUITE NO. 1

(Note: After June 2020 you may request this free sheet music by email: upperhandspiano@gmail.com)

Here’s a demonstration of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, arranged for piano:

Please leave a comment and let our community know what your experience is playing this piece. Are you enjoying it? Does it feel extremely challenging, or are you finding it easy to play?

Remember I post free sheet music for only a year. If you are reading this after June 2020, the sheet music will be gone. You can email me at upperhandspiano@gmail.com to request a copy. You might also want some of the favorites I have had to take down recently- sheet music for The Water Is Wide, Clair de lune, or the July 4th favorite, Yankee Doodle Dandy! Just send me an email and I’ll send it to you asap.

How is your summer going so far? My little garden is extremely happy these days. We had a good rainy winter this year, so my hydrangeas are finally showing me what they can do! And I am finding new creative ways to use my abundant zucchini crop (don’t gardeners just love to brag?! Since my children live in NY and I don’t have any pets at the moment, I’m focusing my motherly attention on my plants 😆).

If you are new to this blog, I hope you’ll check out our instructional books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to SPARK the Mind, Heart and Soul, on our website. Or click on the links below to view Upper Hands Piano method books and Songs of the Seasons: SUMMER, and AUTUMN, on Amazon.com. Thanks for your support, and enjoy the Cello Suite! With love and music, Gaili