It Had To Be You (January Free Sheet Music)

Happy New Year!

It is SO EXCITING when a new year’s worth of songs come into the public domain! As of today, all American songs and pieces written in 1924 are now available, and there are some really great ones I can’t wait to arrange and give to you this year!

One of my favorite 1924 songs is It Had To Be You, by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn. I was first made aware of the song in 1989 when it played under the romantic final scene of the film, When Harry Met Sally starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. In that scene it is New Year’s Eve, and Harry rushes to find and kiss Sally at midnight, while we hear Harry Connick, Jr. sing It Had To Be You in the background. What an iconic piece of film history!

Click below to print an intermediate arrangement of It Had To Be You (and other pieces!) on my Free Sheet Music Page on January 1st 2020:

There is also a funny scene with Diane Keaton singing It Had To Be You in the 1977 film Annie Hall, and it has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and many others; so you might enjoying listening to some additional recordings on Youtube.com.

Friends, it has been such a pleasure writing this blog, and arranging pieces for you. I have also enjoyed addressing some of the issues that arise for adult piano students, finding short cuts or tools to help you advance your piano studies. We have another GIVEAWAY coming up soon (for 20 sheet music page holders) and I have lots of ideas about things to write about in the coming year; if you have an issue you are struggling with at the piano, please leave a comment below and I will try to help in whatever way I can.

If you don’t already know, I have written a series of piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Click on the links below to view a few of them on Amazon.com.

I hope you have a wonderful new year, filled with music and magic, love and luck. Do you have any piano goals for 2020? Leave a comment below and let us know what your wishes and intentions are for the coming year. Let us support your musical dreams! With love and music, Gaili

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

May Free Sheet Music: The Entertainer

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One of the most requested piano pieces is Scott Joplin’s, The Entertainer. Though Joplin wrote it in 1902, it was used in the film The Sting which was set in the 1930s, because it conveys an exuberant sense of humor and mischief. Ragtime is challenging to play because of its syncopated rhythm. Syncopation is when a weak beat (the eighth notes between beats 1, 2, 3 and 4, or the notes we count as “and” and call “upbeats”) is tied to a strong beat (beats 1, 2, 3, and 4, called “downbeats”). An upbeat is made strong when it is tied to a downbeat. In The Entertainer you will see a tie connecting the “and” (upbeat) of beat 2, to beat 3. The tie naturally accents and emphasizes the upbeat. Syncopation creates the jaunty rhythm characteristic of ragtime. Almost every measure of The Entertainer has a syncopated note.

Though I have simplified this arrangement of The Entertainer a bit, it is still quite a challenge to play. I would suggest that you approach the piece by writing the counts under the notes. [Never feel embarrassed to write counts in your music–even professional musicians write in counts for tricky musical passages.] After awhile you won’t have to worry about counting when your ear kicks in, but be meticulous about your counting to start. If you find the introduction too difficult to play with two hands, feel free to play it with just your right hand. And as always, you are welcome to change fingerings if you find something you like better.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT: The Entertainer

…plus other free sheet music from the past year

Remember the free sheet music I post is only available for a year. If you are reading this and want a copy of The Entertainer after The Entertainer is no longer on the FREE SHEET MUSIC page, leave a comment below or email me at upperhandspiano@gmail.com to request a free copy.

I also wanted to point out a new (restored) RESOURCES page on my website. On that page I list books of music that you might like to play while playing through the Upper Hands Piano method (with BOOKS 2+), and after you have finished the series. I have included fake books with popular music and standards, as well as classical collections.

I hope you have been enjoying a lovely spring in your neck of the woods. If you are preparing for an upcoming performance you might find my posts on Performance Anxiety and Recital Season helpful. I’m currently working on worksheets for students who have a difficult time remembering which octave to play their bass notes. If you need help solving piano issues, feel free to make a request in the comments below. I’m always happy to find ways to help students remove their musical roadblocks. Chances are that many others are sharing your difficulties.

With love and music, Gaili

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

Free: Waltzing Matilda sheet music for Australia Day!

Tomorrow is Australia Day! So I thought that you or your students might like to play Waltzing Matilda to celebrate.

Please CLICK BELOW TO PRINT WALTZING MATILDA:

This is an intermediate arrangement from BOOK 4 of my piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul (available on Amazon!) If you would like to learn more about my books, please visit my website.

https://smile.amazon.com/Upper-Hands-Piano-Method-Adults/dp/151962638X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548442263&sr=8-1&keywords=upper+hands+piano+gaili+schoen+book+4
Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 4

If you are a beginner you can play just the right hand melody. More advanced students can either read the chords or use the chord symbols to play the chords. Learning about chords is really important for pianists, so it is a big part of what I teach in the Upper Hands Piano method books.

I hope you enjoy playing Waltzing Matilda, perhaps with a piece of toast and vegemite, some barbecued snags (sausages) and maybe a couple of stubbies (beer). It’s summer in Australia, and we can dream….

With love and music, Gaili

FAKE BOOKS (Part 2)

Dear Piano People

Here is a video to expand on yesterday’s post about how to use FAKE BOOKS. I demonstrate some options for adding left hand rhythm. This is a challenging skill so take your time getting comfortable with the chords played 1-block; 2-broken in an “oom-pa” style playing the bottom note, then the top two; 3-broken playing the full chord then repeating the top two notes while holding down the bottom note; and 4-entirely broken playing left hand notes singly. Refer to the sheet music below as you watch the video (click here) (click to expand sheet music)

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Careless Love, from Upper Hands Piano BOOK 3, p.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what it would look like if you notated playing the full chord first, then repeating the top two notes while holding down the bottom note:

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Careless Love w/ broken chords from Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 3, p.51

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this is helpful! Fake Books are great once you learn the chords and get comfortable varying the chord rhythms.

With love and music, Gaili

FAKE BOOKS (Part 1)

Dear Piano Players:

Our blog friend Nancy asked about using “Fake Books”. Fake Books are a wonderful way to learn popular music. They provide a melody line and lyrics plus chord symbols. Essentially you must provide an improvised left hand using those chord symbols. The best Fake Books for beginners are the “Easy” Fake Books published by Hal Leonard. Here are some of my favorites:

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UpperHandsPiano.com/blog

Additionally Hal Leonard offers Books such as The Easy Twenties Fake Book through The Easy Nineties Fakebook; a Latin Fake Book, plus fake books of Hymns, Disney, Classic Rock… you name it!

The great thing about this series is that all the songs within them are written in the key of C! So although there will be accidentals and a great variety of chords, these arrangements are fairly accessible. (I don’t suggest buying books such as The Ultimate Fake Book because the notes and chord symbols are so tiny you’d need a magnifying glass to play them!)

The chords included in these starter fake books are MAJOR TRIADS, MINOR TRIADS, 6ths, 7ths, SUS CHORDS, and SLASH CHORDS. (It’s no coincidence that my Upper Hands Piano series teaches you how to play all of these chords in Books 2 and 3!) Although I feel no love for the publisher Hal Leonard (they are gigantic, and have taken over the music publishing world, big time), I begrudgingly recommend these books because they are by far the best. The notes and chord symbols are large enough to see and the arrangements are fairly easy.

That being said, you need to know a few things before using a fake book.

  • Make sure you get the “C” Edition, written for piano. There is also a “B-flat” Edition for trumpets and clarinets, and an “E-flat” Edition for saxophones. You don’t want those!
  • The printed chord symbols are written only when the chord changes. But you will need to play chords at least every two measures to keep the rhythm and harmony going. For example, the sheet music for the song Dancin’ In The Street from Hal Leonard’s Easy Sixties Fake Book shows only one chord (C7) on the whole first page because the chord doesn’t change for 14 measures! If I were playing this song, I would repeat the C7 either every measure or every two measures. I wrote about this in my arrangement of By The Beautiful Sea in Upper Hands Piano Book 2, p. 46: By The Beautiful Sea.
  • You will want to start by playing block chords with the melody line. However, as you get to know the song better, you can try some different things with your left hand chords. You can break up the chord in a kind of “oom-pa” rhythm as I demonstrated in my arrangement of I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now in Upper Hands Piano Book 3, pages 36-39:            I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – block chords,       I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – block chords p. 2,           I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – broken chords,        I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – broken chords p.2
  • Another option for adding some rhythm in the left hand is to play the entire chord first, then hold down the bottom note while repeating the top two notes as you can see in my arrangement of Careless Love in Upper Hands Piano Book 3, pages 50-51

    upperHandsPiano.com/blog
    Careless Love, from Upper Hands Piano BOOK 3, p.50

UpperHandsPiano.com/blog
Careless Love w/ broken chords from Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 3, p.51

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you advance you will want to mix up block chords with broken chords to keep it interesting! You will also break up chords entirely, playing each note of the chord separately, especially in measures such as bars 3-4 of Careless Love where the melody is tied and it’s up to your left hand to fill in some rhythm. It’s great to mix up block and broken chords, and to improvise some single notes from the chords to avoid sounding too repetitive. When you become very comfortable with your chords, you will begin to add notes from the chord into your right hand below the melody, while playing mainly octaves and fifths in your left hand. The idea here is to spread out across the keyboard to give a bigger sound. More about this tomorrow in my video about using Fake Books.

With love and music, Gaili