November Free Sheet Music: Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1

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Happy November!

For my monthly free sheet music I wanted to give you a sneak preview from my forthcoming new piano songbook called The Music Remedy, No. 3: 12 Pieces to Move You from Discouraged to Hopeful. I am finishing my arrangements and am working with the graphic artist on the artwork for the book. I’m so excited to share it with you, that I want to give you one piece from the book now, even though it doesn’t include the artwork yet.

Gymnopedie No. 1 was composed by the French composer Erik Satie, as part of his set of pieces called Trois Gymnopedies. I have simplified it a bit to make it easier to read and play for the intermediate pianist. The piece might sound familiar to you, as it has been frequently featured in films and television shows. I love it for its tranquil, pensive quality, which feels appropriate to the season, and the end of Daylight Savings Time (in my state, this Sunday!) To shorten my video a little, I went straight to the CODA without taking the D.C. in my demonstration video:

Remember, my sheet music is only available free for 1 year, so print today if you think you might like to play this piece sometime in the future! You can print it from my website:

PRINT: GYMNOPEDIE NO. 1

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving however you choose to celebrate. This month I plan to write in my Gratitude Journal every day, at least 2 or 3 things for which I am grateful. If you have never kept a gratitude journal you might consider it, as research shows that thinking about what you appreciate in your life can elevate mood and calm the spirit. Sometimes you might write a small simple thing such as gratitude for the light shining through your window in the morning, beautiful leaves on a tree, or the delicious taste of your morning coffee. Other times you might be grateful for finding time to practice, for the beauty of your piece, or your ability to play a difficult passage in your music a little bit better than the last time you played it. You might be grateful for help from a family member, for your good health (even if it’s not perfect, it could be worse!), your friends, your food, your opportunities, your home, your life. This is the journal I have, but there are many – look for them at your local bookstore, or create your own from a notebook!

Try keeping a gratitude journal this month with me, and see how you feel. Everyone I know that has taken the time to write a few grateful observations each night, reported feeling happier. When you are looking for things to be grateful for, you notice more beauty in the world, and more of what is good, and working well, instead of focusing on what is not working well. Anyway, just a thought! Leave a comment below and tell us what you are grateful for and what you might be playing on your piano for loved ones at your Thanksgiving celebration!

Today, I am especially grateful for my job as a piano teacher, for my love of music, and for you, my readers who follow my blog, play from my sheet music, and make me feel useful. I hope you enjoy playing Gymnopedie No. 1, and enjoy this month of Gratitude!

With love and Music, Gaili

P.S. Here are some of my books!

October Free Sheet Music: Autumn from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Hope Lake, Courtland, NY

Hi Piano Friends near and far

One of my favorite pieces of all times is The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. Autumn from The Four Seasons is particularly melodic and uplifting, and the first Allegro movement includes a lot of repetition which makes it easier to learn.

My Easy arrangement of Autumn first appeared in my Upper Hands Piano book, Songs of the Seasons: AUTUMN; Fun, easy arrangements of seasonal songs and pieces. Today I am offering an expanded arrangement to include the entire main theme; it is appropriate for Early Intermediate pianists. It will only be available on my website for free for a year (through Sept. 2023) so print today!

Print Vivaldi’s AUTUMN Intermediate

Here is my demonstration video for Autumn, without the repeat:

For experienced pianists, here is an Advanced arrangement:

I hope you are enjoying the first fruits of fall in your part of the world. Here in Los Angeles we are still experiencing a long drought with hot, humid weather. Later this month my husband and I will be taking a trip to New York to visit our daughter and her fiancé, and to enjoy the fall foliage. I can’t wait to have soups and put on sweaters! Fall is my favorite season and I just love being on the east coast, seeing the pumpkins and the fall harvest at farm stands on Long Island. I took the photo at the top of this post several years ago when I was visiting my daughter for a Cornell University Parents Weekend event. Since then I try to visit the east coast every October. We got our Omicron BA.4 & 5 vaccine update which gives me extra confidence to fly. Have you taken any flights recently? I’m a little nervous about it, but am plunging forward nevertheless.

Leave us a comment below and tell us what you will be practicing this Autumn. I am learning some Django Reinhardt tunes on the accordion– they are very challenging for me, (I’m not a great accordion player) but fun!

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. 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. I am working on The Music Remedy No. 3: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Discouraged to Hopeful, right now and hope to have it available soon! Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view a few of them on Amazon.com.

Sept Free Sheet Music: Bye Bye Blackbird: Easy, Int, & Adv

Happy September Piano Friends! Lately I have been posting a lot of classical sheet music, so today I thought I would offer something popular. I watched Sleepless in Seattle lately and was reminded of how much I like the song Bye Bye Blackbird. In the movie, the little boy Jonah’s mother used to sing it to him when he had nightmares, and the song is featured throughout the movie.

I have arranged Bye Bye Blackbird for Advanced, Intermediate and Easier-to-Play (not exactly for the earliest beginners, but will be a comfortable challenge for those who have been playing for 6 months or more.)


ADVANCED

The Advanced arrangement is available for only a year, so print it now!

Print BYE BYE BLACKBIRD Adv.

I have made a demonstration video of how an advanced player might approach my arrangement. Notice that I am keeping strict time with my left hand accompaniment, but I play the right hand melody with a rubato jazzy feel. With popular music, especially jazz, you don’t necessarily have to play the melody exactly as written, but you do want to keep a constant beat with your left hand.

Bye Bye Blackbird, Advanced

INTERMEDIATE

For Intermediate players, both hands stay in time, and there are fewer notes and chords:

Bye Bye Blackbird, Intermediate

EASIER to PLAY

Beginners might like to try this arrangement I call “Easier to Play” because nothing is EASY when you are first learning to play the piano. There are so many notes to learn when you are a beginner! Just take it slowly, learning a few measures at a time.

Bye Bye Blackbird, Easier-to-Play

I hope you or your students enjoy playing one (or all!) of these arrangements. Bye Bye Blackbird has been recorded by Joe Cocker [excerpt from Sleepless In Seattle], Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Miles Davis and so many other artists!

September has always been the time for new beginnings: new classes, new clothes, new school supplies, new projects, the bountiful Fall harvest, and the gradual drawing back within our homes and ourselves as the climate cools. Besides loving the stunning colors of Fall I enjoy the quiet time between the busy summer and holiday seasons because it can be an optimal time for focus and intention. If you are like me, “more piano” has always been at the top of my Autumn to-do list. Remember that cognitive science shows that short daily exposure to a challenging skill reaps better rewards than one long practice session per week. Try to play for at least 10 minutes per day, at least 5 days per week, to keep progressing.

What are you playing now? Leave us a comment below so that we can support your practice! Are there any pieces you plan to study this Fall? Hope you are staying safe and cool wherever you are. 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 posts to motivate and inform. I have written piano instruction books specifically for adults 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. Thanks for your support!

How to Play in Swing Rhythm

Swing rhythm has to do with eighth notes 🎵: it is the long-short “lazy” feel you hear in jazz tunes, as well as country, rock, folk and other music styles. Think about the songs Heart and Soul and Happy Birthday; both have eighth notes that “swing” because they are uneven, with a long-short feel. Swing is not notated in your sheet music; the eighth notes 🎵 in a piece meant to be played with swing rhythm look the same as usual 🎵. The word “Swing” is sometimes written as a tempo marking at the beginning of a swing rhythm piece, but sometimes it isn’t 🤪. You need to train your ear👂to tell whether a song is to be played in swing rhythm. You can do this by practicing my swing rhythm exercise below, and by listening to your song on Youtube.com and discerning whether the song uses even eighth notes🎵or eighth notes that swing🎵. Try playing all 12 scales with me, using Swing Rhythm in this video:

How to Play in Swing Rhythm using scales.

Once you get comfortable playing your scales in Swing, you can move on to playing Erie Canal, which is from BOOK 1 of my instructional series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul available on Amazon. Watch the video below then Download and Print the Erie Canal free sheet music below the video.


Erie Canal

How to play Swing Rhythm on Erie Canal, from Upper Hands Piano, Book 1 p.71

I hope you find these videos on Swing Rhythm helpful! Swing is one of those mysterious unwritten rules of music theory that isn’t always taught. Someone must explain it to you, or you will never quite understand why Happy Birthday sounds kind of jaunty and uneven.

You might also want to visit this Simple Rhythm Exercise to help you keep a steady beat when alternating between eighth notes and quarter notes, and these Exercises to Help You Play Triplets.

Leave a comment below and tell us about your experiences with Swing Rhythm! I really appreciate comments!! You help others in the community of adult piano students when you ask a question or share an anecdote, so please don’t be shy!

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano (and Songs of the Seasons), Piano Powered, and The Music Remedy books!

P.S. Amazon has put my Piano Powered, BOOK 2 on a crazy sale ($3.93 instead of $19.95!) I don’t know how long it will last, so click to order now. It is almost the same as my Upper Hands Piano BOOK 2, but altered slightly for younger Adults and Teens:

P.P.S. More free sheet music is on its way August 1st, so be sure to subscribe to this blog in the top right of this page. Thanks!

July Free Sheet Music: Chopin Nocturne (intermediate arrangement)

“Chopin Concert” painting by Henryk Siemiradzki (Public Domain)

Chopin was only twenty when he composed his Nocturne Opus 9, No. 2 in 1831, and it is one of the most beloved pieces in piano literature. I originally excerpted the first page of the Nocturne in my Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 4, and decided to expand it to encompass the full piece (minus a couple cadenzas and repeated sections) for you for the summer! I transposed it to F, and arranged it for intermediate piano. If you are a beginner, just play the treble line, and the first bass note in each measure, to simplify. Learn the first two pages this month, and next month I will provide you with pages 3-4!

PRINT Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2

Demonstration of intermediate arrangement

Here is the original sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2:

How is your summer going so far? Here in Southern California it has been very dry, and because of the drought we are cutting back on watering our gardens. But of course global warming has been affecting the weather everywhere; I hope you are doing ok in your part of the world.

Have you set any goals for the summer? I am going to start studying French again this month, and I am practicing my accordion a few times per week in addition to jamming each week outside with neighbors. It has been a while since I’ve composed music for films, but now I am composing BOOK themes! I’ll tell you more about that later, as soon as I have posted some in my RipeReads (book recs for adults 50+) blog, and Ripe Reads Instagram accounts. And of course I play the piano every day- classical, jazz, rock, original music… I love it all. What are you planning to do this summer? Travel? Relax more? Learn how to play Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2? Leave a comment below and share what your plans are! With love and music, Gaili

Exercises to Help You Play Triplets

Rhythm is one of the most difficult music skills to teach and to learn. Last month I posted an exercise to help you keep your eighth notes to exactly twice as fast as your quarter notes. Today I would like to help you play triplets correctly.


Triplets Exercise #1

If you are beginner, Triplets Exercise #1 might be challenging for you. Eighth note triplets subdivide each beat into three equal parts. Click to print the Exercise #1 sheet below, then follow these steps:

  • 1) Play your LH quarter notes along with my video, staying with my beat and listening to the RH triplets.
  • 2) Play your LH quarter notes along with mine, singing “tri-pl-et” or “mu-si-cal”evenly for the triplets.
  • 3) Play your RH triplets along with my video, and see if you can stay with my beat.
  • 4) When you are ready, try playing Ex# 1 with hands together along with my video. FYI, my metronome is set at 50 BPM (beats per minute) if you want to try this exercise on your own.
CLICK on Exercise #1 above to PRINT

Triplets Exercise #2

If you are an intermediate piano player, Triplets Exercise #2 might be challenging for you. Six quarter note triplets spread out evenly and equally over four beats. Click to print the Triplet Exercise #2 sheet below, then follow these steps:

  • 1) Play your LH quarter notes with my video, listening to the sound of the RH quarter note triplets.
  • 2) Sing “tri-pl-et” or “mu-si-cal” for the triplets while your LH plays the quarter notes along with mine.
  • 3) Play just the RH quarter note triplets with mine.
  • 4) After much practice with RH alone, try playing Ex #2 with hands together with the video. (FYI, my metronome is set at 90 BPM). (Note: Beginners might not be ready to play Exercise #2 for quite a while.)
CLICK on Exercise #2 above to PRINT

Triplets appear in music often, so it’s helpful to practice this skill over time, before you encounter it in your music. Be patient with yourself; it can take days, weeks, months or more, to master playing 6 quarter note triplets against 4 quarter notes. It can feel like patting your head while rubbing your stomach! Keep playing with these videos until you can stay with my right and left hands. Often students think they are playing triplets correctly when they are not, so be sure to record yourself playing your triplets with mine to hear if they are aligning properly. Practice this skill at least a few days a week until you can play both exercises on your own, without the video. Once again, record yourself to be sure the triplets are even.

Let us know how you do with this exercise! Please subscribe in the upper right corner ↗️ of this page to get your July free sheet music next weekend!

With love and triplets 🎶, Gaili


P.S. 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 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.

June Free Sheet Music: Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 20, Andantino theme

Schubert by Gustav Klimpt

In times of pain and suffering, sometimes we just need to play a piece in a minor key. It’s been awhile since I have arranged a piece by Schubert, and the theme from the Andantino movement of his Piano Sonata No. 20 so beautifully imparts the emotion apropos to this moment.

Here is Mitsuko Uchida playing the Andantino. My arrangements encompass the first theme, which plays from the beginning until just over 3 minutes.

The original was written in F# minor (3 sharps) so I have transposed it to E minor (1 sharp) and simplified the treble rhythm, and the bass notes. To print the late beginner/early intermediate arrangement from my website please click below. (This late beginner arrangement will be available on my website for only 1 year, so print now!):

Schubert’s Sonata No. 20, Andantino theme, for late beginner

Print my arrangement for late intermediate piano in the original key (F# minor):

Print my arrangement for intermediate piano transposed to E min (fewer sharps):

Just as with some years, some pieces ask questions, and others answer them. For me, playing a beautiful, minor piece helps to bring me back to feelings of love and gratitude even as I hold onto the questioning, sadness and empathy.


In other news, I have just finished reading Jeremy Denk’s memoir called Every Good Boy Does Fine in which he reflects upon the wisdom he has gathered from teachers:

“I lifted my arm confidently to play a passage. A flurry of wrong notes rang out. I had a moment of panic…and was beginning a litany of self-blame when I heard a voice in my head, with [my teacher Sebők’s] quaint Hungarian accent: ‘The problem with you, is that you’re a perfectionist.’ I played more freely…. [My other teacher] Leland had been right to remind me that there was no end to the details one could strive for. But Sebők was also right—the desire for perfection could be a deadly weakness. Living comfortably in that paradox…is part of being a musician.”

In case you didn’t know, my other passion besides music is books! I publish reviews of novels mostly featuring older adult characters, as well as non-fiction titles by and of interest to older adults at RipeReads.net. If you’re interested, you can read the full review there.

I hope the summer brings a sense of hope and renewal, wherever you are. As always, playing your piano can be a healing refuge. 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 ➡️). 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.

Free Cinco de Mayo Sheet Music: De Colores

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.

Click to print De Colores

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

Enchanted April free sheet music

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:

Click “Download” below to print Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, which I arranged for the Upper Hands Piano: Songs of the Seasons, SPRING book:

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!

With love and music, Gaili

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

Happy Birthday Bach! (Free Sheet Music & What is Desirable Difficulty?)

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:

Print ARIOSO

For more advanced pianists here is the original sheet music in A-flat:

I read a wonderful book by Brené Brown called Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience. I have learned so much from Brown’s book about the nature of emotions and how, when and why we experience them.

As soon as I read Chapter 4: Places We Go When it’s Beyond Us, I wanted to share what I learned with you. Brown speaks about Effortful Learning, something I discussed in my blog post entitled The Best Ways to Practice Using the Latest Brain Research:

Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. [Repetitive] learning that [seems] easy is like writing in sand, here today, gone tomorrow – Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

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.

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, Songs of the Seasons, and The Music Remedy, Sheet Music Collections to Restore and Revitalize.

(1) Bjork, R. A., & Bjork, E. L. (2020). Desirable difficulties in theory and practice. Journal of
Applied research in Memory and Cognition, 9 (4), 475-479.