February Free Sheet Music: Romance Sans Paroles (by Fauré)

📷 by David Brooke Martin

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? Romance No. 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:

Print Romance Sans Paroles (intermediate)

Remember, all the free sheet music on my site is only available for a year, so print now!

Print the original sheet music for Romance Sans Paroles below:

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!

With Valentine’s Day 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

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

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

Coping With Corona and Free Sheet Music

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.

For many of us, it has been difficult to focus on anything beyond the Coronavirus. On any given day we might feel the full spectrum of negative emotions, sometimes even concurrently. When our thoughts turn their darkest, it can be helpful to balance them with feelings of gratitude; gratitude for nature, for family and friendships, for good books and good music. Though this virus seems interminable, remember that as our mothers told us, this too shall pass. Here are some things that have helped me remain positive:

Comfort food. For me, there is nothing more comforting than eating pancakes. Since I am allergic to gluten I make my pancakes with almond flour, but they are delicious nonetheless. Chocolate is also helpful, and filled with antioxidents! What foods bring you joy when you feel scared or depressed?

Nature walks. Since I don’t feel like going to the gym these days, I have been taking walks up the foothills near my house. The wildflowers are beginning to reappear, and when I go out early enough I see the cutest jack rabbits scampering around. They fill my heart with joy.

Playing the piano. I’ve been playing some of my favorite pieces by candlelight in the evenings, letting myself fully appreciate the beauty of the music. Why punish ourselves by limiting our thoughts to pessimism? Appreciating beauty is allowed, and even essential, when dark thoughts are conspiring to dominate our minds.

Dancing. Another great way to exercise alone is to put on some music that makes you want to get up and dance. You can dance or sway any which way; as long as you are moving to the beat you are getting a great workout and releasing endorphins into your brain that will make you feel better. On Tuesday (St. Patrick’s Day!) you might try dancing to some Irish music on Youtube.com or other music sources. Irish music always gets me going!

Sensual pleasures. As long as I am washing my hands all of the time, I am using scented soaps that I love. If you are able to find a scented soap that tickles your fancy, washing your hands will become more enjoyable.

Maintaining a balanced view. I have found this video of a patient from the quarantined cruise ship helpful in giving me a balanced view of this virus:

“For me, the most inspirational people are the ones who put their shoulders up against the wheel of despair and PUSH back really hard — not just once, not just a few times in their lives, but every single day.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat, Pray, Love

To help cheer you up, here is the sheet music for 🌹Red Is The Rose🌹 (the same tune as the Scottish Loch Lomond) which I posted a few years ago. It think it is one of the most beautiful Irish songs, with beautiful chords and a familiar melody. Even if you have played it before, now would be a good time to enjoy it again! Click to Print:

If you feel like sharing some of what is helping you to cope in these dark days, we would love to hear about it. I look forward to the warmth of spring and am holding onto positive thoughts of our lives returning to normalcy as this virus fades into history, as no doubt it will. Until then, join me in looking for ways to enjoy life within your music and beyond. With love, Gaili

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

BOOK 1

April Free Sheet Music: Amazing Grace

A thousand apologies for my tardiness in posting my April free sheet music. March is a busy month for me- I start the month practicing Irish tunes for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day gigs, then on March 18th I get serious about doing my taxes. Then my students and I have our spring Piano and Poetry Party (a friendly, informal recital). Along with all of that March madness I spent many hours arranging Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan for you, my beloved blog subscribers. It was a tough challenge to represent Saint-Saëns’ many gorgeous harmonies into an easy(-ish) arrangement for solo piano. By the morning of April 1st I had the 3-page arrangement all finished except for the fingering…..when my computer crashed. I had saved the score to a thumb drive, but when I loaded Sibelius (my music notation software) onto another computer, The Swan file popped up as “corrupt file.” I tried every known fix for my crashed computer but no luck, the computer is toast. Hopefully I will be able to extract The Swan from the internal hard drive in the future, but until then, I decided to switch to working on Amazing Grace instead. (we have to roll with the punches, right?)

Have you seen the documentary about Aretha Franklin called Amazing Grace? It was filmed in 1972, but is now finally being released nationwide. In honor of the amazing Aretha, and to celebrate Earth Day, I’ve arranged Amazing Grace three ways. You can play the first version (easy), the second (intermediate), the third (advanced jazz/gospel), or play all three as a progression from simplicity to the fully colorful. If a version feels too difficult for you this year, print it anyway, and you may be able to play it next year.

CLICK HERE to print Amazing Grace

As with of my free sheet music on the UpperHandsPiano.com website, Amazing Grace will only be posted for a year, and then I need to make room for new pieces. Look at the other sheet music and print whatever you like now, before it’s gone! If you are reading this after it has disappeared from the website link above, email me at upperhandspiano@gmail.com to send you a copy via email.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and is a time to actively protect our environment. Some people plant things, or clean up public spaces, or attend weekend festivals which educate and inspire. You can look here for ways to celebrate Earth Day 2019.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I am learning the new version of Sibelius software with its steep learning curve, but as we all know, learning difficult things, like playing the piano, is the best way to keep our brains functioning optimally. So it’s all good 🙂

If you haven’t already, please check out my piano instruction book series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind Heart and Soul, along with my Songs of the Seasons books of seasonal favorite pieces (all available on Amazon.com).

I hope you are enjoying the first flowers of spring, wherever you are! Please leave a comment and tell us which version of Amazing Grace you are playing! Any and all comments are gratefully received. With love and music, Gail

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

November Free Sheet Music: Sonata Pathetique (Adagio cantabile)

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To reawaken love and beauty when life feels overwhelmingly painful, we can turn to our music. This gorgeous theme from the  2nd movement (video) of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique reminds me that alongside recent horrific events, there have been incredible acts of human kindness and generosity that fill me with optimism and love. I hope that playing Beethoven’s music swells your heart as it does mine.   

Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique is an advanced piece, but as you know, I like to take difficult pieces and make them accessible to beginning and intermediate piano students. So I have transposed the Adagio cantabile theme to the key of C, and simplified it ever-so-slightly for the intermediate student. I hope in doing so I have retained the original beauty of the movement, while offering a challenging, yet more easily played arrangement for the intermediate pianist. 

CLICK TO PRINT Sonata Pathétique, Adagio Cantabile, intermediate (on our website)

Note: I can only keep each free sheet music arrangement on my website for a year. If this title is no longer available on the Free Sheet Music page of my website, please request it by email: upperhandspiano@gmail.com and I will email it to you! Don’t worry, I won’t spam or share your email. 

I also have a very easy 1-page arrangement of the Sonata Pathetique for beginners. The easy arrangement loses much of the beautiful harmonies of Beethoven’s theme, but for the beginner it might be a fun entry. To get the 1 page arrangement, please email me at upperhandspiano@gmail.com and I will happily send it to you. No spam, ever, I promise! 

Because I have been suffering from some nasty food poisoning, it’s taken me awhile to tell you my big news… 

American Music Teacher magazine has published an article I wrote entitled Geragogy: The Joys of Teaching Older Adults, in its October/November issue! American Music Teacher is The Official Journal of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) of which I am a proud member and contributor. 

American Music Teacher magazine, Oct/Nov

If you are a member of MTNA you can read my article on p. 16 of the current Oct/Nov issue, or you can read it online here. I offer specific teaching examples for piano teachers, but most of the article is useable by teachers of all instruments. Thanks American Music Teacher for encouraging me to write about my passion: teaching piano to older adults. I’m working on a follow-up article about teaching students using scientific studies on how the brain learns and retains musical information (for teachers of students of all ages.) 

I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with good food, good friends and/or family. Perhaps you can serenade your loved ones with the Adagio cantabile if you start practicing the piece today! Look around and see how the faces of your audience have softened into love, peace, and joy while listening to your beautiful music. Remember, it doesn’t have to be even nearly perfect. Play from your heart and your listeners will feel elevated by the beauty of the music. 

With love and deep gratitude, Gaili

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

Available on Amazon.com

September Free Sheet Music: Clair de lune

Clair de lune

I have had many requests for easy sheet music to Debussy’s Clair de lune, and so have transposed it to C and simplified it for the intermediate piano student. I have also arranged a one-page EASY version of Clair de lune for the beginner.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT Clair de lune (intermediate and/or easy)

Note: I can only keep each free sheet music arrangement on my website for a year. But I have reissued it here.

Here is a performance of this intermediate arrangement of Clair de lune:

Clair de lune, (translation: “moonlight”) is the third movement from the Suite bergamasque by French composer Claude Debussy. It has been featured in many films for its beautiful, emotive quality. I have written in fingering, but as always it is only a suggestion, and you can change it per your own comfort.

Labor Day feels like the beginning of the end of summer. Are you sorry to feel the air chilling and the days shortening? Autumn is my favorite season so I am happily anticipating the days ahead. Perhaps you or your students can learn Clair de lune to play for your family on Thanksgiving! Remember that sharing your music is a gift to your loved ones, and planning to play for an event is a great way to get motivated to practice. 

For those of you new to my blog, let me tell you quickly that I am a piano teacher of over 30 years, who has spent the last decade doing research on how the brain learns and retains musical information. I’ve used principles of the learning sciences to write a series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul (available on Amazon.com), and am currently writing a series called Piano Powered, for children and young adults. I have an article coming out in the magazine American Music Teacher soon about teaching older adults, with an article about the best ways to learn and retain music, to follow. 

Thanks for subscribing to my blog. Feel free to request simplified sheet music for pieces you love (written before 1923!) and reach out with your questions, comments, observations and celebrations. I love to hear from you! With love and music, Gaili

Gaili Schoen

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

UpperHandsPiano.com

PianoPowered.com

Accountability

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Play music together!

 I recently heard author (of Eat, Pray, Love) Elizabeth Gilbert speak about creative work:

Everything that is interesting is 90% boring… and we are in a culture that’s addicted to the good part, the exciting part, the fun part.

I laughed out loud when I heard her say that. It’s so true! It is incredibly difficult dealing with the tedium of practicing something challenging, day after day…but the willingness to work through that tedium is exactly what separates the artists from the quitters. What can really help us become more productive is a system or structure of accountability. If you are a piano player, please read my post called Have a Plan, with lots of suggestions for getting your bottom to the bench. 

Luckily for me, piano students usually require teachers to make sure they are playing correctly. Good teachers also act as trusted mentors, helping students to stay on track with consistent practicing. An effective mentor guides without dictating; s/he offers you the wisdom of experience while also listening to and respecting your voice. Director Steven Spielberg famously said, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” A mentor or teacher should hold high expectations of you, and question and challenge you in a positive way. The ideal piano teacher is open to the styles of music you want to play, and helps you address your challenges. Give your piano teacher permission to level criticism when s/he sees you going astray, or not taking your piano studies seriously. Teachers should also acknowledge your progress.

Another great means to accountability is playing the piano for and with other people. My students and I hold a Piano and Poetry Party three times per year to share music, and support each other’s progress. It is wonderful for me to see my students making more time to play  before a performance. The anticipation of performing gives us that extra edge of motivation to practice. As a result, the pieces we perform are the ones we remember the best, even years later. If you don’t have recitals or performing opportunities with your piano teacher, you can seek out other ways to get social with your music. There are lots of meet-up groups and open mics for musicians that want to play for each other, and pianists can get together with other instrumentalists such as guitarists, flutists, violinists and singers to jam on a few tunes.

Ultimately, however, you must make yourself accountable to your values and your vision. Plan your practice sessions at the beginning of each week, allocating the minutes (or hours) in your calendar. Establish a structure for practice and stick with it. When you need to miss your practice session for an extended period of time, such as for a vacation, write your intention to leave for the appointed amount of time and resume your practice when you return. Take yourself seriously; keeping aligned with your creative objective even when it is incredibly difficult is an act of self-love and a sign of healthy self-worth.

How to you hold yourself accountable to your creative practice? Please leave a comment! It is great to share ideas 🙂

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Passion Practice

This post has been excerpted and edited from my upcoming book called Passion Practice: A Playbook for Overcoming Obstacles to Creativity, which will hopefully be available in the fall! I will be giving 10 copies away as soon as it is in print, through Goodreads and Amazon.com. I’ll keep you posted!

With love and music, Gaili

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

UpperHandsPiano.com