June Free Sheet Music: Nocturne from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

📷 by David Holifield

Felix Mendelssohn wrote his Overture (Op. 21) for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1826 when he was just 17 years old, to great acclaim. Sixteen years later in 1842 he completed the score for the play (op. 61) to include his famous Wedding March and this gorgeous Nocturne which celebrates summer, marriage, fairies, nature and dreams.

CLICK TO PRINT A Midsummer Night’s Dream NOCTURNE

Demonstration of Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

If you have used my Upper Hands Piano method books for adults over 50, you played the first page of my Nocturne arrangement in Book 4. However I have now expanded that arrangement to include some extra harmonies and the 2nd section of theme.

This is an intermediate arrangement. Beginners can play the top note in the treble staff- that is the melody line.

For the original sheet music click below:

I hope you are enjoying the increased hours of daylight! The summer solstice (and longest day of the year) is June 20th this year, and Midsummer Night is traditionally celebrated on June 23rd. If you start practicing today, you can play this Nocturne then!

Are you becoming more social after being vaccinated? I am loving getting together with friends and family I haven’t seen since March. There is so much joy in the ordinary pleasures of life. I am continuing to do porch concerts with neighbors and can feel that I am getting better at playing my accordion. I just got my piano tuned and am enjoying playing through this Nocturne as well as some old jazz standards I’ve wanted to learn. What are you playing right now? What are you struggling with in your music? Please leave us a comment, question or observation?!!

Have you been playing the Exercises in Thirds I recently posted? I’ve heard from a few students and piano teachers that the exercises are really helping students play with increased skill and speed, so I hope you will check them out!

Happy June, and have a happy, healthy summer. With love and music, Gaili

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

January Free Sheet Music: Look for the Silver Lining

Happy New Year Friends!

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:

PRINT Look for the Silver Lining (interm/adv)

(The above intermediate/advanced arrangement will only be posted through Dec 2021, so print it now!)

My easiest arrangement is here:

And the following arrangement appears at the end of Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 2, and was designed to help you practice your left hand chord inversions:

Finally, below is the original sheet music for those of you who want to explore the 1920 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.

If you are new to this blog, welcome and thanks for joining us! I give away free sheet music every month, and you might want to check out the list on the right of this post for practice tips, flash cards and other helpful resources. One thing you might explore in 2021 is composing a piece or writing a song! If you have always loved Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue but aren’t able to play the original, check out my intermediate arrangement here! Click the links below to learn more about my Upper Hands Piano books on Amazon.

Many thanks for your support throughout 2020, and here’s wishing you a New Year with renewed good health and happiness. With love and music, Gaili

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

Happy 250th Birthday Beethoven!

This week we celebrate what would have been Beethoven’s 250th birthday! How wonderful that Beethoven’s body of music continues to thrive to this day, globally beloved for its unique, varied and profound beauty.

I have been in search of a Beethoven piece to arrange for you that would uplift us all, and help us to celebrate this important date; these days we need all the celebrations we can get! I decided upon a piece that not everyone will know, but I believe everyone will enjoy. As far as I can tell, this piece has never been adapted to solo intermediate piano, so you might be amongst the very first to play it!

Click to listen to Beethoven’s CHORAL FANTASY (finale)!

Isn’t it a wonderful piece? Some say the Choral Fantasy sounds a little like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy theme (listen at 1:25), but Choral Fantasy was written first, so perhaps Ode to Joy sounds a little like the Choral Fantasy! The two pieces are also similar in that they both deliver a message of universal love. Here is the English translation (from German) for the Choral Fantasy lyrics:

Graceful, charming and sweet is the sound of our life’s harmonies, and from a sense of beauty arise flowers which eternally bloom. Peace and joy advance in perfect concord, like the changing play of the waves. All that was harsh and hostile, has turned into sublime delight.

When music’s enchantment reigns, speaking of the sacred word, magnificence takes form. The night and the tempest turns to light: Outer peace and inner bliss reign o’er the fortunate ones. All art in the spring’s sun lets light flow from both.

Greatness, once it has pierced the heart, then blooms anew in all its beauty. Once one’s being has taken flight, a choir of spirits resounds in response. Accept then, you beautiful souls, joyously the gifts of high art. When love and strength are united, divine grace is bestowed upon Man. [Translation from Wikipedia]

How amazing that back in 1808 Beethoven spoke of the power of music to elevate grace and to bring people together, just as we keep rediscovering today.

I have arranged Choral Fantasy for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano, and put them all together for you, as a theme with variations. The first page is the main theme as sung by the choir and is fairly EASY; page 2 is a variation on the theme as played by the clarinets, and it is INTERMEDIATE; and page 3 is a variation on the theme as played by the violins and it is also INTERMEDIATE. I took the melodies, harmonies and chords directly from the orchestral score.

The double bars on each page indicate that you can end the piece there, if the successive pages feel too difficult to play (you can try playing them again next year!)

Click DOWNLOAD (below) to print Choral Fantasy (finale):

You can also print the gorgeous Sonata Pathetique Adagio (intermediate) arrangement I posted here two years ago:

To print more free sheet music including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, please visit my website!

If you are joining us for the first time, welcome! My name is Gaili Schoen and I post free sheet music at the beginning of each month, arranged for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano. I also post practice tips, worksheets and flashcards – just take a look at the archives to the right of this post. The free sheet music I post on my website is only available for a year, but when I offer downloads like the ones above, they stay put.

I also love to write music books. I have created a set of piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, as well as an easy-to-learn and brain-enhancing format for younger adults called Piano Powered, all available on Amazon. But mostly I like the idea of creating community here on my blog, arranging free piano music, and supporting adults who are taking piano lessons. Please subscribe above if you would like to be notified of my monthly free sheet music and practice tips. I never spam or share email addresses, ever.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, and that you will tip your hat and play a tune to the magnificent Beethoven, one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time.

Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are playing, or what issues related to piano lessons you might like to see me address in the future. I’d love to hear from you!

With love and music, Gaili

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

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

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

Composing – How To Write a Song or Piece, Part 3 Melody and Chords

When scoring a film I am constrained not only by the emotion and action of the scene, but also by its length, which could be anywhere from 5 seconds to a few minutes. Limitations make it so much easier to compose! You might want to set some limitations on your music too. Set an intention to write 2 verses and 1 chorus for your first song, or a short 16-measure theme for your instrumental piece. You might also want to limit yourself to playing in one key. In these videos on composing, the limitation I set was that both my melody notes and chords will be within the key of C. To review the chords in any key, watch Composing – How To Write a Song or Piece, PART 1 and print out the chord chart.

Once you have come up with a short melody you like on the 1-chord (C Major), you can start to expand on the melody. Just work on one short phrase at a time, finding a melody, then the chords to go with it. Or you can start with a short progression of chords, then find a melody you like to go with them.

Keep your piece short and simple. Keep moving forward on your piece even if you aren’t loving it; try to always complete a piece before starting a new one. As with all things, you will get better at composing with time and practice. Don’t expect your first try to be a masterpiece! REALLY, lower your expectations, and enjoy the process of learning without judgement.

If you are drawing a complete blank, take a walk outside, or get in your car and drive, bringing your phone or digital recorder with you. Sometimes when we aren’t so hyper-focused, the creativity flows more easily. While you are driving or walking, think about a memory, an emotion or a story you might like to tell, and start humming melodies. Be sure to record the melodies you have been humming. Later you can listen back and expand on the melodies that interest you.

Thanks for joining me in this composing adventure! Let us know what you are writing 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, Songs of the Seasons, and a wide-ruled manuscript book for your creative endeavors!

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