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
Happy May Day – the midway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice! According to Celtic tradition, May Day is the time to think about what you want to weave into your life (hence the Maypole!) in the coming year. I am weaving in more calm and more music practice for myself, and wishes for good health and an end to war for the world.
Another holiday we celebrate in the U.S. is Cinco de Mayo, a yearly celebration commemorating the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over Napoleon’s French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In Los Angeles we celebrate this fiesta by playing Mexican songs, and eating Mexican food (yum!) To help you celebrate I have posted the Mexican folk song, De Colores. Here are the lyrics:
“De Colores, de colores se visten los campos la primavera. De colores, de colores son los pajaritos que vienen deafuera. De colores, de colores de colores es el arco iris que vemos lucir. Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores resme gustan ami.”
“Colorful are the fields in springtime. Colorful are the little birds that come from outside. Colorful is that rainbow that we see shining. And that is why I love the many colors so much.“
What would you like to weave into your life today? Leave a comment below and let us support your goals, intentions and dreams. Enjoy the flowers, birds and rainbows of spring! And I hope you can munch on a taco on Cinco de Mayo! With love and music, Gaili
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.
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.
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 🙂
Good morning and Happy May Day! I chose this Gilbert and Sullivan favorite from The Mikado because it’s such a fun song, and it’s time to bring some fun back into our lives!
🎶 “We welcome the hope that they bring, tra la, of a summer of roses and wine…”🎶
What are your hopes for your spring and summer? Today is the ancient Celtic holiday Beltane, a time when we light bonfires and reflect upon the new threads we wish to weave into the fabric of lives in the coming year. What are you most excited to do after you have been vaccinated and our country begins to reopen? I’m excited to see friends, eat at restaurants, go to the movies, and play music in public again. And most of all I’m excited for an end to the looming fear and isolation that plagued our daily lives under Covid-19. As for new projects, I have started arranging songs for my 2nd and 3rd books for a new series that I can’t wait to tell you about! More details this summer.
⬆️ This is an early-intermediate piano arrangement of The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring, featuring the left hand chord inversions and 7th chords you might have learned in my Upper Hands Piano books 2 and 3. (I like to offer you original sheet music when possible along with my arrangement, but in this case, the original is a very large orchestral score, so just get my arrangement today.)
Remember, I can only post this free sheet music for a year, so print it today!
I hope you enjoy the flowers of spring in your part of the world. Please let us know what you are playing and how you are feeling as the specter of Covid begins to retreat. With love, music and flowers that 🎶 “…breathe promise of merry sunshine…” 🎶 Gaili
Happy April! Today I have arranged April Showers as a slow jazz ballad, because it seems to encompass the wistful sentiment of the day, and as actor Timothée Chalamet says in the film A Rainy Day in New York, “I love a cocktail lounge piano, outside it drizzles, gray….” My favorite April Showers recordings are by Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra!
The April Showers jazz ballad is a late-intermediate arrangement, and it will only be on the website for a year, so print today!
I hope that you are doing well and feeling hopeful today. I am receiving my second Covid vaccine tomorrow, and feel so excited about the new freedom and peace of mind it will bring me in two weeks. I am imagining seeing students in person again, going to the movies, LA Philharmonic concerts at Disney Hall, and eating at restaurants with friends. What are you most looking forward to doing again? Will you go back to in-person piano lessons, or will you opt to continue with online lessons? Leave us a comment and let us know how you are doing! Have you April-fooled anyone yet today?
I am still working on my new books: I can’t wait to share them with you. They are being reviewed by publishers this month. Meanwhile, below you can find my Upper Hands Piano books for adults over 50. Take care and be well!
With all of the extra time you now have, it is a great time for you to stick your toe into the pool of songwriting. Ok don’t scream, shudder or declare “absolutely not!” before you hear me out. Think about this: We improvise all of the time in our daily lives; when we speak, when we prepare a meal, when we exercise, etc. We are born improvisors, putting things together as we go along. So why not play around a bit on your keyboard just for the fun of it? Or just out of curiosity? Also, improvising is REALLY GREAT for your brain. If you don’t believe me, listen to Charles Limb’s 16 minute Ted Talk and you’ll be fully convinced. Then please read or reread my blog posts about improvising: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to get you started playing to some chord progressions.
If I have convinced you to try improvising, here are some ideas to take you to the next step. First, de-clutter your practice space. Move sheet music you aren’t currently playing away from your field of vision. An open space supports an open, creative mind. Keep your tools (blank manuscript paper, pencils, eraser, pens) neat, clean and visible, so that you’re reminded to practice whenever you pass by. Begin your practice with small steps and low expectations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every artist was first an amateur.” Start by setting an intention to just mingle with your keys for 10 minutes a day. Make it part of your healthful daily routines such as brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast. Don’t let your head hit the pillow at night until you’ve jammed on the keyboard for 10 minutes. Notice which musical phrases you liked, and which you didn’t like. Write down the phrases you liked either as notes on manuscript paper (blank sheet music lined paper) or as letters going up or down on the page. You might use the phrases you like in a song later.
If you would like to try to write a song with lyrics, scribble words—any words—on paper for 10 minutes. Write about your angst, your fear, your lethargy, your blank page—whatever the obstacle is feeling like at the moment. I have a piano student who one day realized that he wanted to become a songwriter. When I asked him what he’d like to write about first, he grimaced, “I can’t do it! I’m so uncomfortable!” “Great!” I replied. “That’s your first line.” And he wrote a great song called, Uncomfortable. Or you might write about what or who you love, about your gratitude, or about something fun (remember having fun? call upon those memories even if you aren’t having fun right now!) Just play around with your lyrics ’til you get a couple of lines down that you like. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is great advice. Forget about creating your masterpiece. Just flex the muscles of your imagination. Shake hands with it and take it out for a little spin. Taking those first tentative steps daily, saves us from the tyranny of procrastination. With time, try to become a little braver during your 10 minutes . Trust your creativity more than your fear. As author John A. Shedd said, “A ship in harbor is safe. But that’s not what ships are built for.” What are you built for? Begin to tap into your own style, voice, and perspective. Get curious and dabble. Then find a small focus towards your creative progress and work on it. For at least 10 minutes each day. Set your phone timer for 10 minutes then forget about time and focus on your art.
In my next post I will help you get started with putting a song (with lyrics) or instrumental piece (without lyrics) together.
How is your piano practice going? Do you find it relaxing to practice? I hope you are coping as well as can be during our quarantine. With love and music, Gaili
P.S. If you need a manuscript book for your compositions you can click on the yellow book below to purchase ours on Amazon. You can also check out our Upper Hands Piano instruction book and our Songs of the Seasons: Spring book!
Subscribe (top left) to receive new sheet music coming May 1st!