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!
I’ve been revisiting some beautiful old folk songs lately. With all the pain and difficulty in the world right now, these songs bring comfort and connect us to our joy. In 2018 I gave you an intermediate arrangement of Shenandoah, a gorgeous 19th Century ballad popular with lonely river men and sailors. Today I have an advanced arrangement for you, and will also reissue the intermediate arrangement to you. The advanced arrangement is only available for a year, so print today! After that it will be for sale along with many more of my arrangements at Sheet Music Plus.
Click DOWNLOAD to print my intermediate arrangement of Shenandoah. Hint: the first 2 notes in the treble staff are F and G. Sorry they are so low, but I wanted to offer this arrangement in the Key of C, which put the first 2 notes on the F and G below middle C 😊
I hope you enjoy playing Shenandoah this month! If you are a beginner, just play the top notes of the intermediate arrangement, wherever you see lyrics. Ignore the notes with no lyrics below them- they are what we call “fils.” Fils fill in the spaces between the melody, but are not part of the melody.
Happy Easter, Ramadan and Passover to all who celebrate, and enjoy the splendor of spring! With love and music, Gaili
Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere! Though it feels like our cold, wet winter will never end here in California, my garden is abloom with the vibrant colors of spring. I love the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes with their equal measures of darkness and light, because it reminds me to think about balance: to balance work with play ⚖️ intensity with calm ⚖️ solitude with social activities ⚖️
For piano players, it is also a great time to learn or review Dynamic Balance exercises – drills that can help you to play louder with one hand than the other. This is an important skill for bringing out melodies and for playing ostinato (repeating) lines more gently. (Note: Dynamic Balance exercises are for more experienced piano students – intermediate and beyond.) I have made videos of my six exercises to help you increase dynamic balance and overall finger control. Read my post HERE; play the exercises in all 12 keys at least 3-4 days per week during the spring season, and by summer you will notice that your hands can move more independently! Stronger, more agile hands will enable you to play more expressively, and that is what we’re going for. These exercises are not all that fun or creative; but as one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert said,
“The difference between those who do and those who wish to do is often those who can bear the tedium.” 😅
So balance out these exercises by playing some or your favorite songs and pieces, while enjoying the increased agility and power they will bring to your fingers!
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. If you are ready for some new books, here are some of my favorites:
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.
January 1st is the most wonderful day for music arrangers; known as Public Domain Day, it’s the day that a whole year’s worth of songs and pieces (plus other media) come into the public domain. Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies (published in 1927) just came into the public domain today, so I am super excited to be able to offer a free piano/guitar/vocal arrangement of this popular song to you! Blue Skies has been recorded by many of the greats: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Willie Nelson to name just a few. And even though this is an “intermediate” arrangement, even a “late beginner” could play it by playing just the bottom notes in the bass, and just the top notes in the treble. My Blue Skies arrangement is just one page, with two repeated sections, so you will be able to learn it quickly!
This arrangement will only be available for free for one year, so be sure to print it now!
Do you have any resolutions for 2023? Or maybe, if you are like me, you write in your journal at the beginning of each new year about things (attributes, changes, improvements, etc.) you want to bring into your life in the coming year, and things (attitudes, fears, obstacles, etc.) you want to let go of. I also like to choose three primary areas to focus on over the course of the year, and I check my list every quarter to see how I am progressing in those areas. For example, in 2023 I might choose: 1) Practice piano and accordion every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. 2) Cook vegetarian dishes 4 days per week. 3) Spend more time with friends. I think a lifetime of learning new things and growing as a musician and as a person keeps us interesting to others and interested and engaged in our own lives. And of course, self-examination and change is good for the brain, and the spirit.
Do you have any beginning of the year rituals or practices? I always enjoy hearing ideas about how people ring in their new years.
I hope 2023 brings you peace, joy and love, and that you find time to play your piano consistently. I have some big news about free video piano classes (which will follow my Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 1) I will be giving in 2023 via an online community called Sixty and Me. I’ll give you more information in a couple weeks, but if it sounds interesting for yourself or a loved one, you might like to check out: Sixty and Me. For now, I hope you will enjoy Blue Skies, wherever you are!
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. below you can click to view some of my books on Amazon, or click HERE to view my book descriptions, song lists and sample pages on my website.
The Music Remedy No. 3: 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Discouraged to Hopeful is on the shelves! My team and I have been working hard to get this book finished for the holidays. It’s available now on Amazon and can get to you or a loved one in 2 days.
I started writing The Music Remedy books during the pandemic, because as it says in the introduction, “…listening to and playing music is deeply therapeutic, and more often than not, we musicians have the power to take our emotions into our own hands and literally play our blues away.”
The Music Remedy: No. 3 was created for anyone who is feeling discouraged, and might benefit from some musical therapy (piano players, guitarists and singers can all use it). Here is a list of the songs and pieces in this book:
As you can see, The Music Remedy No. 3 is an eclectic mix of classical, jazz and popular music. I love the old jazz standard Everything Happens to Me, and I think Peter Gabriel’sDon’t Give Up is one of the best songs ever written. My arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is now 3 pages long (I’ve pared it down a bit from the 4-page arrangement I gave away a couple years ago, and it feels just like the right length now), highlighting the most beautiful themes. (I also shortened the Moonlight Sonata!🌙) I love all of the pieces in this book, and worked hard to curate the best music I could find, to help you move from feeling discouraged, to feeling hopeful.
I hope you might consider purchasing one of my Music Remedy books for yourself or a loved one this holiday season! They are art books as well as sheet music collections, which makes them great for gifts, or for treating yourself. Learn more on my website. By the way, Amazon has discounted all three books to $10.95 each, until the end of December.
You might also want to consider giving one of my Songs of the Seasons ⬇️ music books (Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn) which are arranged for beginners (years 1-3), or my ⬅️Upper Hands Piano books for older adults who might want to learn or re-learn how to play the piano.
OK, commercial over! Usually I offer free sheet music, worksheets and practice tips on this blog, but I hope you don’t mind if once in awhile I tell you about my books.
Soon I will tell you about a great new free offering for beginning piano students! But for now, I want to wish you all a wonderful week of holiday music and magic. We celebrate the return of the light 🌞on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year! Many thanks for your support, and Happy Holidays! With Love and Music, Gaili
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, as promised, I have posted the full arrangement of Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2, transposed to F. You can find the original sheet music plus my demonstration video for the first two pages in last month’s post. Here is my demonstration video for the third and fourth pages:
Have you been playing the first two pages of the Nocturne in the last month? How is it going? I hope you have been enjoying learning this beautiful piece; it is not easy, so take it slow, and be patient with the process. This link contains all four pages, but you can print just pages 3-4 if you already have pages 1-2:
Happy August! I hope you are taking some time to be with family or friends this summer. I just visited a friend who lives on the Central Coast of California, and enjoyed a pastoral vacation watching hawks, deer, sea otters, seals and many other animals. It was cool and quiet, and getting away from the city felt rejuvenating!
This is your last chance to print my free arrangement of the Maple Leaf Rag before it disappears on September 1st. The link above contains demonstration videos in two tempos! It’s a great piece but very difficult to play in its original key of A-flat; I transposed it to C, so print today!
Enjoy the rest of your summer! With love and music, Gaili
P.S. Here are some of my books – thanks for supporting my blog!
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:
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!
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.