December Free Sheet Music: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

@HudsonHintz

One of my favorite holiday rituals is listening to Tchaikovsky’s enchanting Nutcracker Suite. Though we won’t be able to attend the ballet in person this year, there are several online performances we can watch, and of course we can play his beautiful music on the piano.

I love the mysterious Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy for its playfulness as well as its dissonant harmonies and E minor key. Tchaikovsky used the celesta for his piece, but it sounds beautiful on piano as well!

I have written two arrangements for intermediate piano: one for the intermediate level 1, and one for the intermediate level 2 players amongst our blog subscribers. Print them both if you are not sure. If you feel more comfortable with the level 1 arrangement this year, you might be ready for the level 2 arrangement next year! I can only post the level 2 arrangement on my website for a year, so if the year has passed, leave a comment below and I will send you level 2.

PRINT Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy LEVEL 2

If you’re not quite ready for level 2, level 1 is also quite challenging:

As always, remember that the fingering I wrote in is just a suggestion. If you find a fingering that works better for you, that is perfectly fine. Just be sure to cross out mine and write in yours. You will learn faster if you use consistent fingering.

In other music news, this month would have been Beethoven’s 250th birthday! He was baptized on December 17th 1770, so the guess is that he was born a day or two before that. To celebrate I will post a free arrangement of one of his pieces around the time of his birthday, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!

What is your favorite Beethoven piece? He was such a prolific composer, it’s difficult to choose just one of his beautiful pieces.

I hope that you are maintaining good physical as well as mental health, wherever you are. Playing the piano can help. If you know of anyone over 50 who might like to play the piano or to refresh their piano skills, please keep my Upper Hands Piano books in mind as holiday gifts! I also have a parallel series for adults under 50! It’s called Piano Powered. There are links below if you would like to check them out on Amazon.com.

Until Beethoven’s birthday, stay warm and well. And thanks so much for following my blog! I hope you find the sheet music enjoyable and the piano skills posts helpful!

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, Piano Powered: An Innovative New Piano Method To Power The Brain And Feed The Soul, and Songs of the Seasons: Winter Spring, Summer, and Autumn

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

August Free Sheet Music: Solace

Scott Joplin was one of the most innovative composers in the history of western music. Credited with inventing ragtime music in the 1890s, Joplin composed over 100 pieces before he died at age 48. One of my favorite Joplin pieces is Solace. Though not as popular as The Entertainer or The Maple Leaf Rag, Solace, with the subtitle, A Mexican Serenade, is a slow, reflective piece that expresses a wide range of emotions. You may remember that Solace was featured in the 1973 film, The Sting.

I have arranged the final theme from Solace for early-intermediate piano. As always, remember that the fingering I have printed is only a suggestion. If you find a fingering you like better, cross mine out and write yours in, in order to keep your fingering consistent.

CLICK to PRINT Solace

Here’s a demonstration video of my early-intermediate arrangement of Solace

If my arrangement is too difficult for you to play, just play the top notes of the treble staff; that way you will still enjoy Joplin’s beautiful melody without the difficulty of playing two right hand notes at a time. If you are a more advanced pianist and would like to play Joplin’s original sheet music, click below:

Photo of breakfast tray with flowers

I hope that playing the piano is providing some solace for you. Sometimes a tasty meal, a cutting of flowers, or a beautiful melody can lift our spirits and remind us that a world of beauty surrounds us. What are you doing to self-care?

Have you been playing any of the French music or the Swan Lake arrangement I posted last month? Please tell us about your progress in the comments below!

With love and music, Gaili

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

Bastille Day! Free French Sheet Music to celebrate

It is Bastille Day! A time to celebrate and enjoy all things French. You might want to consider making a light Salade Niçoise, a Quiche Lorraine, or a Croque Monsieur for dinner, or if it’s not too hot where you live, try making Coq au vin or Steak frites!

You might want to watch a French film on Netflix for free. You can also watch some old French films such as Marius and Fanny for free on Amazon Prime video, or rent one of my all time favorite films (on Amazon Prime video), Chocolat, starring the French actress Juliette Binoche, with Judi Dench, Alfred Molina and Johnny Depp.

Of course, in my opinion, the best way to celebrate French culture is with French music! In the film Chocolat you can hear French composer Erik Satie’s hauntingly beautiful Gnossienne No. 1. Click below if you would like to play my simplified arrangement of Gnossienne No. 1 from my Songs of the Season: Autumn book:

A true Francophile might like to play the French national anthem, La Marseillais:

You can print both my easy and my intermediate arrangements of Claude Debussy’s Clair de lune for free here.

I love the Edith Piaf favorite La Vie En Rose, but since it is not in the public domain I can’t arrange it for you for free. I did find a site that allows you to download the original sheet music for free here. (Click on the blue “Download” box above the top right corner of the sheet music to print.) If you are a beginner, just play the top vocal line.

I hope you enjoyed mon petite tour du France post today. These days we need to find fun ways to celebrate wherever we can, non?

With love and 🇫🇷 music, Gaili

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

July Free Sheet Music: Swan Lake (theme)

Now more than ever it feels important to play beautiful music, to calm and elevate the spirit. The theme from Swan Lake has a gorgeous, haunting melody that I hope you will enjoy playing. I have created an early intermediate piano arrangement for you that expands on the theme I offered in Upper Hands Piano BOOK 4. If you are a beginner, you can play just the treble staff notes, or you can add a note or two from the bass staff. You can listen to a Youtube video of the Swan Lake theme here.

Click here to print SWAN LAKE

I hope you are coping as well as possible during the pandemic. Playing the piano helps 🎹 . Leave us a comment below and tell us what you are playing now! I love to hear from you.

With love and music, Gaili

P.S. I took this photo six years ago in Switzerland when passing Lake Geneva on the way to visiting the United Nations with my daughter. This swan family was so sweet, elegant and beautiful!

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

June Free Sheet Music: Chopsticks Duet!

Red Chopsticks

Although we think of Chopsticks as a quirky beginner’s tune, it is actually not that easy to play! Chopsticks is most fun when we play it as a duet, but if you are sheltering in place, a duet partner might not be so easy to find.

This Chopsticks arrangement has a secondo part that is easy and repetitive enough so that even a non-musical but willing companion in your quarantined life should be able to pick it up with a little patience and practice after watching the video below.

CLICK TO PRINT CHOPSTICKS for 2 or 4 hands

The first page of the sheet music shows an easy secondo accompaniment you can teach your partner by rote. In the video below, my husband is playing the first page secondo part throughout, which is the best choice for a non-pianist. My husband felt most comfortable using his Right Hand 3-4 fingers for F-G, and 2-4 fingers for E-G, but your partner might prefer using just RH 2-3 fingers for both chords. (You can make it even easier by having your partner play just a RH G throughout, instead of RH F-G and E-G.)

The second and third pages add some notes in the secondo part which you can teach to someone who has some piano skills. The primo part changes on each page.

From our Upper Hands Piano Youtube channel

These were the variations I learned as a child, but I bet you know some others! Click Download below for some additional (more advanced) variations that include some fun glissandos:

Chopsticks was originally called The Celebrated Chop Waltz and was composed by a 16-year-old girl named Euphemia Allan, in 1877. Her brother was a music publisher and helped her get it published under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli. Allan gave this instruction for the primo: “Play both hands turned sideways, little fingers lowest, so that the movement of the hands imitates the chopping from which this waltz gets its name.”

I hope that you are coping as well as possible during this sad and difficult time. If you are sheltering in place, I hope you have a bit of fun learning the Chopsticks duet with a partner! 🎵 😊 🎵

With love and music, Gaili

May Free Sheet Music: What’ll I Do (Irving Berlin)

I first fell in love with Irving Berlin’s What’ll I Do when I heard Alison Krauss sing it in the 2003 movie Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst. It has also been featured in other films and television shows, and was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, and Linda Ronstadt.

I have created two arrangements for you. The first is an intermediate/advanced arrangement with a moving bass line:

CLICK TO PRINT What’ll I Do (int/adv)

I also arranged What’ll I Do for late beginners (beginners who have reached Upper Hands Piano BOOK 2 level) using broken triads. Click below for the easier arrangement:

One of the things I love most about this song is the way it moves from major chords to minor chords so much. For example in the first full measure with lyrics (lyrics starting with “do”) there is a C major chord. In the second measure (lyrics starting with “you”) there is an F minor chord (Fm6 in the intermediate arrangement). In the third measure it’s major, the fourth it’s minor, and so on. Reflecting life itself (especially now), this song alternates in tone between gratitude for we have cherished, and grief for what has been lost.

(Remember that the free sheet music I post is only available for a year, so be sure to print before May 2021!)

I hope that you are staying healthy and are enjoying playing your piano. Have you tried some composing or improvising as I discussed in my last post? Please let us know how you are doing with it in the comments below! Coming soon, I am going to give you some tools for taking the next step towards writing a song or piece.

Be well and practice on! With love and music, Gaili

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

P.S. Hershey Felder is doing an online encore production of his portrayal of Irving Berlin to benefit The Wallis Center for the Performing Arts on Mother’s Day! I have seen this show and it is truly wonderful, and very educational. For example, did you know that Irving Berlin wrote about 1500 songs, but dictated his songs instead of writing them down? And he played almost entirely in the key of F# because he preferred playing on the black keys! You can can view the show by clicking here. There is a household fee to watch.

April Free Sheet Music: Rhapsody In Blue (complete)

Forget-me-not!

Since most of us are confined to our homes with more time to play the piano, I decided to post the complete Rhapsody in Blue today, rather than spreading it out over the next two months. Pages 3-4 present the final and most beloved theme, with a powerful, majestic finish. There are many octaves on the last two pages; if it feels too difficult to play all of the notes for these widespread chords, you can drop the bottom note of each of the right hand chords, and/or drop the top note of each left hand chord. *Note* I also changed the last chord on p. 2 to an arpeggio followed by a fermata, to adhere more closely to the original sheet music. After you play the arpeggio, the fermata signals a pause in the music before continuing on to page 3.

CLICK HERE to print Rhapsody in Blue (complete)

*Remember my free sheet music is only posted for a year, so print it now!*

We have all been so immersed in news of the Coronavirus, I don’t want to write too much about it here, but you can click here to read some suggestions for piano players coping with confinement.

What are you playing right now? How is it going? Leave a comment below and tell us about your piano practice. If you are having any challenges with your playing or your students’ playing, please tell us about them! Perhaps I can offer some advice if you would like it. I am teaching online for about 4-5 hours per day instead of my usual 6-7 hours of in-person lessons, so I have more time too.

I hope you have enjoyed playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It is a wonderful piece and I have done my best to maintain the integrity of the original sheet music in my intermediate arrangement. With any luck, our social isolation will be over by the time you master the piece! I look forward to the days ahead when we begin to emerge from our cocoons, transformed by the experience of confinement, feeling gratitude for our return to some of life’s simple pleasures.

By the way, this will be my last post on Blog.UpperHandsPiano.com. I will be refocusing on other musical projects that will preclude me creating piano arrangements and discussions. Thanks for joining me these past eight years!

😂😂😂APRIL FOOLS!😂😂😂

Hahaha – Nope, just fooling. I love blogging and arranging music for you, and nothing can keep me away! If you want to receive notice of my free piano sheet music, musical worksheets, exercises and discussions via email, please subscribe! I never share or spam email addresses. Best Wishes for a happier, healthier April. With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Available on Amazon with instructional videos on Youtube.