January Free Sheet Music: Blue Skies

Happy New Year!

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!

Click to PRINT Blue Skies

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.

Drumroll please…

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.

The Music Remedy series is intermediate to late intermediate level, for the piano player who has completed all four of my Upper Hands Piano books.

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’s Don’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

December Free Holiday Sheet Music: Carol of the Bells and Rock of Ages

Happy December Piano Friends

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:

PRINT Carol of the Bells

Carol of the Bells will only be free for 1 year so print today!

Demonstration video for Carol of the Bells


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.

Demonstration video for Rock of Ages

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.

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!

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.

Free St. Patrick’s Day Sheet Music!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, so dig out your green clothes, dust off your Irish Soda Bread Recipe, and get ready to play some Irish Folk Music! Last March I posted a jig (The Irish Washerwoman), a reel (The Galway Piper) and a beautiful air (Down By the Salley Gardens). You can still print the jig and the reel HERE, but if you would like a copy of Down by the Salley Gardens, send me an email (UpperHandsPiano@gmail.com) as it is no longer on my website.

This year I have arranged an Irish-American favorite called Too-ra Loo-ra Loo-ral, which has been famously sung by Bing Crosby, as well as Van Morrison and The Band, The Irish Tenors, Rosemary Clooney and many others.

Print TOO-RA LOO-RA

Toora Loora demonstration

I hope you are enjoying some increased sunshine as we edge toward spring. Here in Los Angeles it has been very cold (for LA), but my bulbs are blooming, I’m seeing little blossoms on the neighborhood plum trees, and there is a tiny hummingbird’s nest in our backyard tree. My daughter Maura took this photo- isn’t it amazing? Mama hummer’s two eggs have just hatched and she is sitting on her hatchlings keeping them warm. The nest is about 1.5 inches wide 🙂


And now a word from our sponsor!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I give away free sheet music and practice tips every month. You might not be aware that I have written a series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. This 4-book instructional series is a great choice for older adults who have always wanted to play the piano, or played as a child, and want a refresher course. I have also written 4 songbooks for beginners called Upper Hands Piano: Songs of the Seasons (Spring, Summer Winter and Autumn). For the intermediate and advanced players, I have The Music Remedy (No. 1) : 12 Passionate Pieces to Move you From Loss to Love, and The Music Remedy (No. 2) : 12 Passionate Pieces to Move You from Anxiety to Calm. Click the links below to shop and learn more! Thanks so much for your support, and HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

With love and music, Gaili

Giveaway Winners! And some Practice Tips to review in ’22

I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day spent with someone you love, or doing something you love to do! (Like eating chocolate?! Playing some beautiful pieces?) Congratulations to the winners of my Giveaway for 20 of The Music Remedy books No. 1 and 2! I so appreciate your enthusiastic support and I hope you enjoy your books. Here are the winners:

  1. Helga Kaefer
  2. Fran Tracy Walls
  3. Mary Hebard
  4. Lee Shatto
  5. Raechel Averett
  6. Dee Fisher
  7. Louis Lemire
  8. Mary Ellen Huckstep Labreque
  9. CarolLynn Gregson
  10. Medgar (SailorMargie)
  11. Jolene Hudgens McClellan
  12. Lisa El-Lakis
  13. Cynthia Norlin
  14. Linda May
  15. Agnes Zelgert
  16. Vera Harte
  17. Sandy Ludwig
  18. Beth DeAngelis Gooch
  19. Nicole Rosenbach Brown
  20. Donnamarie Shortt Kavanaugh

Winners: To claim your book, please email your address to me: upperhandspiano@gmail.com, and I will send you your book via USPS. State your preference for The Music Remedy No. 1 or No. 2 (click to see CONTENTS and sample pages) and I will honor your requests until one or the other run out.

Thank you all for your support! I hope you are enjoying The Music Remedy books, and are finding the music to be both beautiful and revitalizing!

||: Beginners you might want to take a look at my post on Repeat signs. It takes awhile to remember repeat protocols! :||

🤏 Intermediate piano players would do well to review this finger exercise for a few weeks in 2022!🤏

🏃🏿 You also might want to review these ideas I posted years ago about Aging Well. Now that the numbers of new Covid Cases are going down (hopefully we won’t have a big Super Bowl surge here in Los Angeles) we can begin to be social again soon. Being social is one of the three main components of Aging Well. 🏃🏿

🌹 Stay warm, cozy and musical for the rest of February. If you haven’t already, be sure to print and play my free arrangement of My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.🌹

With love and music, Gaili

Goals, Intentions, Scheduling, Structure

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. 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz

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.  

-Alan Alda

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

January Free Sheet Music: Someone to Watch Over Me

Happy New Year Friends!

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.

⬇️ Click to print ⬇️

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

Here’s a demonstration of this arrangement:

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.

With love and music, Gaili