With all the record-breaking storms bombarding our world these days, I was reminded of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17, Movement 3, also known as “The Tempest,” which is one of my favorite pieces of all time.
The Tempest is gorgeous, dark, and certainly tempestuous, a mood we can all relate to sometimes! The Tempest theme which I originally arranged for my song book called: The Music Remedy No. 2: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm, is appropriate for the intermediate student.
I hope you are doing well in your part of the world. This month I am traveling to Barolo, Italy for my daughter’s wedding! It’s very exciting, and is also keeping me up nights thinking about all I need to do before my trip. I am also visiting Provence, a place I have wanted to go for decades. If you have any recommendations for places to see or people to meet in Provence, please message me! What are your summer plans? No doubt they will include lots of piano playing. If a storm hits, don’t worry, just go to your piano and play The Tempest!
Our beloved Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this day, January 27, in 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. To celebrate his birthday and to set the mood for February, the month of love 💌, I have arranged Mozart’s Romanze, the beautifully tender and tranquill 2nd Movement of his piece Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. I have arranged a Romanze movement for both beginners and intermediate pianists, and have also included the advanced sheet music below.
I hope you celebrate Mozart’s birthday by listening to and playing some of his exquisitely beautiful music! Have a great weekend wherever you are, and enjoy a Romanze-filled February! 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 Seasonspiano sheet music books for seasonal classical and popular favorites, and my latest piano/guitar/vocals books calledThe Music Remedy: sheet music collections to restore and revitalize the spirit. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view a few of them on Amazon.com.
I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, filled with music, love and gratitude. Today I got out my holiday cookie recipes and am looking forward to baking for my piano students!
This month I wanted to offer you an arrangement of the Ukrainian Bell Carol which we call Carol of the Bells. It’s a beautiful carol with a mesmerizing ostinato (a musical phrase that repeats throughout a piece) and not too difficult to play:
Carol of the Bells will only be free for 1 year so print today!
I also have created an arrangement for the traditional Hanukkah song, Rock of Ages (A.K.A. Ma’oz Tsur) for early intermediate piano. If my arrangement is too difficult for you, leave off the top note of any bass chord, and the bottom note of any treble interval.
I hope that wherever and however you celebrate this holiday season, you will enjoy playing and giving the gift of music. And maybe send some love to the embattled Ukrainians as you play Carol of the Bells.
I have some BIG news coming soon about my new book, and about a new project I have begun to offer free video piano lessons to older adult beginners. More news about these projects in the coming weeks. Many thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy playing Rock of Ages and Carol of the Bells this month! I LOVE your comments! Tell us what you are playing or what you would like to play on the piano?! Or just say “hi!” I love getting to know who is receiving and playing my free arrangements!
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. Check out my books on the websites above, or click below to view a few of them on Amazon.com.
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.
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 last year I have been researching calming, melodic pieces, and Gabriel Fauré’s Romance Sans Paroles Opus 17, No. 3 is a beautiful, lyrical “song without words” addition to my list. I hope you or your student will enjoy playing the Romance in February, the month of piano love ❤️🎹❤️.
It’s been about a year since the pandemic shut us in, and I am finding that I need to play and listen to beautiful music more than ever, don’t you? RomanceNo. 3 has a strong repeated melody that you can really sink your heart into; I transposed it from A-flat to C, added fingering, and simplified the left hand to eighth notes instead of sixteenths, but the melody is the same and the harmonies remain intact. Below you can print my intermediate arrangement from my website, or print Fauré’s original if you are a more advanced pianist:
If you are new to my blog, welcome! And thanks for joining us. You might want to check out some of my former posts including the best ways to practice using what we know about how the brain learns, help for losing your place in your music, motivational practice tips, or click to print some free worksheets to help you learn to read treble and bass ledger lines. Check the blog posts listed on the right ➡️ for more inspiration!
I hope you are staying warm and snug ☕ wherever you are. It has been raining here in Southern California, and we love the rain! Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are playing right now. Are you finding it easier to practice during lockdown due to fewer distractions, or is it more difficult for you to get yourself to the bench?
Please click on the links below to view my piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul plus my Songs of the Season books. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are a gentle and fun introduction for mature adults wishing to play the piano. The Upper Hands Piano series is steeped in research into the best ways for older adults to learn both classical and popular piano, including lots of chords, brain games, review, mnemonics, videos, and support. I just noticed that Amazon put Book 1 on sale! Thanks for checking out my blog and books!
I hope this finds you well, and feeling at least somewhat optimistic about 2021. Last year was admittedly abominable, but some of us have been fortunate to have also acquired some new skills, or have experienced some new growth, or other benefits due to the pandemic: I have learned how to teach piano online, and although in-person lessons are more enjoyable, my students have embraced the technology and continued with lessons in a way they never would have dreamed of before it became our only option; since April my husband and I have been hosting sing-alongs on Friday nights that wonderful neighbors we hadn’t previously met attend in their cars; some of my students that have been too shy to perform in my in-person piano recitals, have been participating in my video recitals; and I have been writing some fun new music books and reading great new novels (if you love to read, see my reviews of books that feature older adult characters at RipeReads.net!) with my extra time.
I have heard people refer to these positive aspects of our stay-at-home lives as Silver Linings, a term that reminds me of an old standard I love, called Look for the Silver Lining by Jerome Kern and B.G. DeSylva which has been recorded by so many great artists: Tony Bennett, Chet Baker (uptempo), and Judy Garland (she adds the introductory phrases), and contemporary artists Brad Mehldau and Lane Webber.
I have arranged Look for the Silver Lining three ways. On my website you can print the intermediate/advanced arrangement:
Will you please comment below and tell us your silver linings stories? We can all use the encouragement! If you have lost someone you love, then you will be hard-pressed to see any positives, but I hope that playing this song can help some of you to Look for the Silver Linings in your life.
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.
Some of my students who have been working through the ledger line worksheets are having trouble figuring out which octave in which to play the low bass ledger line notes. To help you get a handle on which bass note is where, I have created another set of worksheets 😆
The first page starts with a chart to show you that A3, which is two white keys below middle C, is written on the top line of the bass clef, A2 is an octave below A3 and is written on the bottom space of the bass staff, and A1 is an octave below A2 and is written three ledger lines below the bass staff. If you can learn the octaves for those three As, you can use them as touchstones to find the octaves for all of the notes in between. I have color coded the notes by octaves, so that you can refer back to the chart on page 1.
If locating the correct octave is an issue for you with bass notes, start by playing line 1 forwards and backwards for at least a week, until you feel confident that you know where each note is on the keyboard. Then slowly go through the first few lines on page 2, referring back to page 1 to make sure you are in the right place. As always, play the lines forwards and backwards to double your practice, and challenge your brain. Another great way to practice is to say either “A2,” “A3” or “A4” when you come across each A.
I hope you find these worksheets helpful! I’m always looking for ways to help students overcome their musical obstacles, so leave a comment if you have another issue you would like me to highlight.
If you are new to this blog, thanks for joining me! 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. My mission is to make learning how to play the piano easier and more fun for older adults by applying the latest innovations in learning science, along with using larger notes and fonts, brain games, videos and lots of encouragement. You can check out the books on my website, or on Amazon.com.
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. I just noticed that Amazon has put Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 2 on sale for about 25% off at $16.63 (regular $21.95). I have no idea how long it will be on sale, but if you’re nearing the end of BOOK 1, now might be a good time to purchase BOOK 2!