Categories
General Music Theory Other Piano Lessons

The piano is dead?

Just an article to get the mind thinking. I’d love to hear some insightful comments on this subject.

Are people learning to play the piano enough to keep the piano going as a popular instrument? Is it becoming like the pipe organ or electronic keyboards/synthesizers, all instruments played by a small percentage of musicians?

Is the future of music in technology? Is music moving to the point where one uses a midi controller (either a keyboard like instrument or a drum pad like Maschine) to produce a loop that is then played by pushing a button on a machine or computer (like an iphone/ipad)? Most music heard today by the majority of people is electronic based music. You may love classical music or live music without processing, but that’s the minority. Even if there is a live guitar player, it is unlikely that it hasn’t been processed by something, whether through an electric guitar amp or a foot pedal or computer based effects. Most TV & film music uses electronic samples (recordings) of instruments. Most live performances, like the large big-name touring artists give have pre-recorded elements as part of the performance. Even the voices are manipulated to make the singer stay in tune. One can half-way learn an instrument, record the bits and pieces, manipulate it in a computer and make it sound like a virtuoso. They then go on stage and play that recording – which I give them credit is something they created – while playing very simple parts. Is the need to learn an instrument really necessary?

If you can put together decent sounding material and play it back through a decent sound system while appearing to perform (like a DJ does), is that not sufficient? Over time as you create the raw material you would naturally become more proficient in your instrument. It would take much longer than in traditional lessons, but you’d still learn. Besides, you can rely on the technology to present a product that people like and that’s what matters.

I ask this because my main livelihood is as a piano teacher, apparently a career that is going the way of the dinosaur. I was shown an article in an actual printed paper (Gainesville, FL Sun 1/3/2015 issue) that said that Piano sales are way down and that fewer & fewer parents want their kids to learn piano. The reasons apparently vary between the appeal of learning computers and technology (eg video games) and the, in my opinion, misguided idea that team sports is preferable to music. I’ve lost many a student to sports and it always seems to be the ones that really should stick in music that go off to sports. It makes me wonder if I should switch to teaching how to use drum machines, music notation/composing software, home recording, etc? Would parents or potential students be more interested in that?

I could write volumes on why team sports is not as good for kids in the long run as taking music lessons. I can’t help but think of the quote from “1984” that goes “Films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult….” I would paraphrase that to say “Entertainment, alcohol, gambling and above all else, sports captured everyone’s attention so controlling and manipulating, misleading, spying on and taking advantage of society was easy.” (Entertainment being things like Films, TV, YouTube, twitter, etc.). But much better authors than me have pointed out the fallacies of focusing on sports for children. Unfortunately, the parents making the decisions about music lessons don’t listen or don’t care about those facts.

Even if sports were not a big distraction for children & parents, would the side of technology that makes it far to easy to produce music that sounds good be sufficient reason for people not to take serious music lessons? What should a piano or music teacher do if the field of learning a specific instrument is dead or dying?

Comments, ideas? Please share.

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General Piano Lessons Reaper Sibelius Website News

Piano lessons and music lessons over the internet

Piano

I’m happy to announce that I’m now teaching piano lessons and general music lessons via the internet. Please pass the word on to all you know.

I mainly teach piano lessons, but I am also available to teach Composition, Music Theory, Sibelius 7, Reaper DAW and Native Instruments Komplete 8 (with the various software like Absynth, Battery 3, FM8, Guitar Rig 5, Kontkat, Massive and Reaktor). For piano I teach all levels of experience and all styles. For Composition, Music Theory and Sibelius 7, I teach all levels, from beginner to advanced. For Reaper DAW and Native Instrument software contact me for details. If you are interested in organ lessons via the internet, let me know.

All that is required of the student is the ability to hear them clearly and see their hands on the keyboard.

Being able to see the piano student’s hands and their keyboard is preferred and is almost essential for beginners. But, if a video connection is impossible on the student’s end, then audio will also work. For other non-piano lessons, audio is sufficient although being able to share our desktops with one another would be desired.

For a limited number of new students, lessons (of any type) are ABSOLUTELY FREE through the end of 2012. After that, I will charge half price through May 2013, then go to regular price.

For general information about piano lessons, either in person or via the internet, use the contact page link in the menu above.

Don’t forget, we have over 400 free sheet-music titles available on my website for FREE! All we ask is that you consider making a donation to help the effort.

Categories
Piano Lessons

Piano Teachers and Professional Organizations – yes/no?

Professional organizations for Piano Teachers

I ran across a Piano Pedagogy book that got me thinking. I won’t mention the book’s name because, frankly, there are too many assertions in the book with nothing to back them up. The first part of the book has some comments and assertions about professional organizations and piano teachers that I’m not sure I agree with. I’ll also add that I would think a Pedagogy book would include lists of curriculum appropriate for those students who have moved on past beginning method books, but it does not.

The book asserts that a good, professional piano teacher will be actively involved in at least one, if not more, local professional organizations. These might include local music teacher’s associations, guilds, music workshops and the like. It also asserts that a truly professional teacher will continue to attend education courses. The book gives no convincing reason why any of this is true. For that matter, it doesn’t give much of any reason why these assertions are true.

Supposedly, the book suggests, only by being actively involved with such an organization will a piano teacher have the skills, knowledge and ability necessary to teach piano students. This assertion is never explained with sufficient detail. I would expect most teachers would never be convinced to join such an organization based on this book. Also, it is supposedly only piano teachers who enter all or at least those ready to do so in annual competitions sponsored by these professional organizations that are any good as teachers. Again, no sufficient explanation is given as to why this is true.

My Experience

I’ve been teaching piano lessons, albeit not full time, but continually since the 1980’s. I’ve worked in an urban/suburban area of slightly less than 2 million people and in a similarly sized area with less than 250,000 people. I’ve been members of organizations that dealt with music education, church  music and pipe organs. If I had known in the 1980’s I’d be writing such an article, I would have kept statistics to prove my assertions, but I’ve not yet learned to predict the future.

One organization did nothing but have a one-week summer workshop. At least 90% of the classes offered were taught by members from within the 2,000 or so member organization. While it was a nice social event and a nice opportunity to perform with other professionals, there was nothing being done by anyone that was ever of any help to me. With so much of the course content coming from within the group, I never felt that I was being exposed to what was going on in the rest of the world of music, only what that group did. After a few years, I found the workshop to be a nice vacation and a nice ego boost but little more than that. It and the courses available became predictable and boring very quickly.

Another organization I was associated with planned about 9 concerts during the year. As with the previous organization, the majority of the concerts were put on by members of the organization with very few outside performers. There was nothing in the way of educational classes – either for us to learn more or to learn how to teach. I could have saved a lot of gas money, stayed home and watched a video or listened to a recording of a single performer and gotten as much out of that organization.

Finally, one other organization I belonged to was a music teacher’s organization. The people who attended the meetings were, for the most part, middle-aged or near retirement age housewives who taught on the side in order to make some extra money or because they liked teaching. The meetings were little more than monthly social gatherings where I can’t remember even one discussion on teaching technique, pedagogy, curriculum or the business side of being a music teacher. They did sponsor a once a year music festival where piano students played so that someone other than the student’s teacher could offer comments and suggestions to the student. The “judges” were always from within the organization, the rooms where the student’s performed were barely big enough for 10 people and sometimes the pianos were digital pianos.

Recitals and competitions

Without exception, every teacher I’ve ever known who was actively involved with competitions and annual recitals fell into one of two categories: 1) The competitions and recitals were venues for the teacher to show off how good she/he thought they were or 2) The students spent all of the time between competitions/recitals learning material for the next competition/recital. Few of their students went on to study music in college or go on to work in the music business. I don’t know if any continued to play piano after leaving those teachers or not.

I’ve had quite a few piano students take lessons from me who previously had teachers who were big with competitions and recitals. Of all the transferring students I’ve had, those students were the worse overall musicians. They knew very little if anything about music theory. In some cases, they didn’t even know the letter names of the notes on the staff. (I’m thinking of some book 2/book 3 Alfred basic piano library students). Others had so-so technic and others had obviously had no aural (ear) training.

Whether recitals or competitions, my observation is that students who take lessons from teachers who require their students to participate in such events are being shortchanged. Their sight-reading skills are poor and their general music theory and ear training abilities are sub-standard. That’s my experience.

The Academic Circle

The assertion that a characteristic of a professional piano teacher is to actively take music courses themselves reminds me of the hamster running around in its exercise wheel. I call this the Academic Circle. (I assume the courses would be college level and related to teaching, but that is not said in the book).  While I agree that reading articles about piano teachers, piano teaching, and the use of new materials (not just technology) for teaching is something one should do. But taking college level courses or taking any sort of paid course seems to be nothing more than keeping the Academic Circle going.

It goes like this. A student takes piano lessons from childhood, graduates from college where they paid a lot of money, were most likely classically trained, and performed music that, let’s be honest, very little of the world population has any interest in hearing. They then decide to teach. If they want to teach in the public schools or a university they then have to spend more money to earn a master’s degree. The degree they earn is probably going to be so specialized that unless they are going to teach, the degree is pretty much useless unless they are in the top 5% of musicians. If they are in that category, it really doesn’t matter what their master’s degree is in.

Now, the student has their master’s degree. They can teach in university or public schools. If they perform what they learned in college, they often will do so in their own university or as guests at other academic venues and rarely in non-academic venues. Their university students then pay a lot of money to be exclusively classically trained. Most of that money does not go to the teachers if the teachers are in the public schools or universities. Private teachers, if they are able to get enough students are better off. Now those students of the original students go on to pay more money for master’s degrees that do little more than allow them to say they have a degree and go on to teach. Almost all public school teachers and I would guess most university teachers would be required to take college courses to keep their license to teach or their job.

So, what the first student learns stays within the academic world, for the most part. Then their students stay in the academic world and the circle continues. Once a teacher, they then keep the Academic Circle going by having to take college courses and so on.

Conclusion

I know this may not be the best written article I’ve done and the last section is not as well written as the other sections.

I welcome comments. As I moderate all comments, I will not be approving all comments. If you want your comments to show up here, please provide the hard facts that I don’t have and thus did not include in my post. For example, if you believe that those students who participate in competitions do better than those that don’t, please include hard facts such as documented percentages/numbers, links to websites of those who made a career in music whose websites discuss how those competitions helped, etc.

Thanks

 

Categories
Arranging Church Music Sibelius YouTube Videos

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

Our latest additions to the catalog at our website consists of the title: O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.

There are two titles available. They are both upbeat, rock/pop adaptations of this classic hymn tune also known as AZMON.

One is an MP3 recording and the other is a sheet music transcription for solo instrument. The sheet music version is for solo instrument with piano and optional rhythm section and keyboards. The keyboard part is also made available in parts that could allow you to perform this piece with a full orchestra (with a piano and instrumental soloist).

We try to be versatile with our music and allow for it to be performed with a variety of possible instrument combinations. Much of our instrumental solos, orchestra, instrumental, brass, woodwind and string music can be played by instruments other than indicated in the descriptions. Most, but not all titles include parts for C, Bb, Eb, F and alto clef instruments. (The catalog description specifies which parts are provided).

As with all our music in the past 3 years, it was typeset using the Sibelius notation software program. For recordings, we use the excellent Reaper DAW.

Check out a short YouTube video where you can listen to this title:

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaoX950jl2c]

Categories
General Website News

Ragtime Music

"The Entertainer" sheet music cover
Image via Wikipedia

We’re happy to announce that we have a healthy sized collection of ragtime sheet music available at the website. Specifically, the favorites of the king of Ragtime, Scott Joplin. These are the original versions. The titles are:

The Entertainer (Joplin)
The Easy Winners (Joplin)
Rag-Time Dance (Joplin)
Peacherine Rag (Joplin)
Palm Leaf Rag (Joplin)
Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)
Eugenia (Joplin)
Elite Syncopations (Joplin)
A Breeze From Alabama (Joplin)
Something Doing (Joplin)
Sun Flower-Slow Drag (Joplin)
Swipsey (Joplin and Marshall)
The Cascades (Joplin)
The Chrysanthemum (Joplin)
The Favorite (Joplin)
The Sycamore (Joplin)
Weeping Willow (Joplin)

Each of these is available for download in the PDF format and at a reasonable price — below what most music publishers charge.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XoOtljJMsQ?hl=en&fs=1]

The music has been recently typeset to meet modern typesetting and layout conventions. In other words, it’s easier to read than the original printed version.

Categories
Arranging General Website News

New titles added to the website

New Titles – December 2011

We’ve added three new titles to the website.

Shake The Duck’s Jaw

A Novelty, Humor recording. It is meant to be silly and funny. Elementary school-aged children seem to really like it.

Short Tease At The Fountain

A peppy piece with a nice blending of acoustic and electronic instruments. Loosely (very loosely) based on a hymn tune.

Soft And Hard

An MP3 recording. A moderate speed piece consisting of a synth lead with rhythm section.

In addition to the recording, there are three sheet-music versions available

We hope you enjoy these titles. We’d love to hear your comments about any of our music.

Categories
Arranging Reaper Sibelius

The Cat

New Video

I’ve uploaded a new video to YouTube.

The soundtrack is an original piece originally written as a school assignment (years ago) to accompany a section of a cartoon. It has since undergone some revision. The music was written for Flutes (including Alto), Saxophones, French Horn, Trumpets, Guitar, Electric bass, drums and piano. The somewhat odd instrumentation was due to the requirement’s of the school assignment.

The music was originally written using MusicPrinter+ (anyone remember that?), Finale (97?), then converted to Sibelius 6, then Sibelius 7.

The recording of the music used the Reaper DAW for recording & mixing. I used a few Native Instruments products (Kontakt 4, Komplete 7) and built in effects in reaper.

The video part shows some still images put together to make a video of the day in the life of The Cat. The video portion is not as important as the music.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njgeW8iHrsE]
The sheet music and a full mp3 recording can be found at JamesGilbertMusic.com

Questions or comments? Drop us a note.

Categories
Arranging General Website News

New additions to the catalog

Some new mp3 instrumentals have been added to the music catalog at http://www.jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php

The two new title are Leoni in Africa and Sweet Feel.

The first is a blending of African drums and Middle Eastern melodic instruments. A considerable portion of the music consists of a variety of African drums.  The melody is added on top of the drums. There is no harmony to speak of besides what is implied in the melody. Take a listen.

The second is a jazzy/bluesy instrumental featuring the piano. It is a combo of bass, guitar, drums piano and solo piano. A catchy tune, it might even count as a pop/jazz crossover. Take a listen.

We’d love to know what you think of the music. Please leave us a comment.

Categories
General Piano Lessons

Introduction to Chords, part 4, Inversions & Voicings

Part 4 of our continuing introduction to chords series is now available on youtube.

In this video we introduce chord inversions of chords and voicing of chords.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDDNDmNyJ0A?hl=en&fs=1]

As always, your comments and suggestions for future videos are welcome.

Categories
General Piano Lessons

Tips for Practicing The Piano – Intermediate to Advanced level

Another look at practicing the piano. This time for intermediate to advanced level students.

This is one approach to practicing the piano. It is by no means meant to be the only way. Use this as a supplement to other ways of practicing.

Before You Play

  • Look through the piece of music and look for anything that might be different than what you are use to.
  • Do you know what all the terms (eg. morendo), and symbols (eg. accents, fermatas) mean? If not, learn them first.
  • Make sure you are positioned comfortably and use good posture.

When you play

  • While you may not need to keep every finger curved and the wrist level all the time in more advanced music, don’t forget that a good hand/wrist shape will help you play better.
  • Scales, arpeggios and other technic exercises: Start SLOW and gradually speed up. Use them to focus on how you play – position of wrists, fingers, fingering, and volume/intensity of each finger. Take your time. Don’t rush through them just to say you’ve done them. Always practice them with precision.
  • Use the correct fingering on scales and arpeggios. If you have any problems with the fingering, start over this time SLOWLY. Wrists should remain LEVEL throughout the entire scale. (A slight leaning to the right when ascending or a slight leaning to the left when descending is okay). This includes when fingers cross over/under or when playing the thumb or 5th fingers. Keep your elbows in the same general position and avoid letting them stick out when crossing your fingers.
  • Look ahead several notes, or even several measures as you play. Adjust your fingering accordingly.
  • As you are learning a piece, be sure to count with precision. No pausing or hesitating should be allowed. If you are hesitating anywhere in a piece of music you need to work that section AND slow the entire piece down until you can play the entire piece at the same speed. You MUST count when learning a piece of music. Keep the tempo steady and precise. Add rubato later. Use of a metronome can be helpful.
  • Fingering: Use standard fingering for scale, scale-like, arpeggio or arpeggio-like passages. Don’t invent your own fingering. The simpler the fingering and the less motion of the hand, especially the less crossing of fingers over/under, the better. You should almost NEVER slide from one note to the next using the same finger (when playing just one note, with chords & harmony it is okay).
  • Where you have problems, work – slowly – just that section, then increase to regular tempo. Then add a measure or two before and after – slowly first – then a whole phrase, then the whole piece.
  • Understand the theory behind what you are playing. What chords and chord progressions are you playing? What is the relationship between the chords and the key of the song? What is the key? What is its relative major or minor key? Look for scale like passages (ie. 4 or more notes in a row) and figure out what the scale is (or might be if it had all 7 notes).
  • Phrasing. Pay attention to slurs. At the end of a slur, let your fingers breathe similar to how a singer or wind instrumentalist does. Don’t change the tempo, but rather shorten the last note of the phrase a slight amount (eg. make a quarter note 0.9 beats long instead of 1.0 beats).
  • Rhythm. In addition to basic counting to keep the tempo steady, double check the length of individual notes (or chords) and make sure you are playing them the correct length. Use of a metronome can help to insure that you are playing all the notes correctly. Look at the rhythmic relationship that exists between the hands. In some songs, for example, there are passages where every beat will consist of 1/8th notes, but not necessarily in both hands. Use the rhythmic flow of a piece to help you in playing the rhythms correctly.

The best advice I can give about practicing is to play the piano every day and try to play correctly. If you skip days between playing the piano, it will slow down your progress.

Categories
General Piano Lessons

Chords – Part 2

Part two of my continuing video tutorials about chords is now available on YouTube:

 

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCvHrSsyDWY?hl=en&fs=1&w=425&h=349]

This video gives an intro to chords that have more than 3 notes, like 7th and 9th chords.

Any comments or questions, feel free to ask.

Categories
Piano Lessons

Practicing the piano, some suggestions

One approach for beginning to intermediate level students.

This article contains some suggestions on how to practice the piano. These are geared toward pianists from the absolute beginner to intermediate level. This is only one of many approaches to practicing, but all the suggestions are worth applying to your practice routine.

First a brief comment. I’ve been teaching music in some shape or form for many years. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me to take piano lessons and tells me how they’ve been trying to learn on their own but aren’t getting anywhere. I know there are many online sites – I’m tempted to call them scams – that say you can teach yourself to play the piano, often in a short amount of time, without any help besides their latest and greatest video or online lessons or book or whatever. The truth is, you need a teacher to guide you and make sure you are doing things right. If you’ve tried taking piano lessons from a teacher and not been able to learn anything, I’m afraid the honest truth, even with a terrible teacher, it was probably not the teacher’s fault. There are some people who do not have or do not want to obtain the self-discipline and patience that learning to play the piano requires nor are they willing to do the work necessary to learn. Those people also waste their money on ‘learn to play quickly or learn to play by ear only’ type of scams. Now on to practicing.

Before you start playing

Get comfortable

Adjust the piano bench so you are in the right position – the bench parallel to the piano, centered around middle C and not too far or too close to the piano. Make sure you have enough light to read the music. If using a keyboard, don’t just set it on the bed or a kitchen counter, get a stand that’s at the same height as an acoustic piano and use a standard size (height) bench.

piano fingers

Curve your fingers, level wrists, relaxed shoulders

Hold your hand, palm up, as though you are trying to hold a small ball in your hand. Note the natural curve. Turn your hand over, keeping that same shape not letting the ball fall, and place each finger (which in the piano world includes your thumb) on a different white key. Your wrist should be level with your fingers. Don’t let the wrist sink below the curved finger heights. Don’t let it rise above the curved finger heights. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Don’t let them push up from their normal standing or sitting positions. The picture shows the extremes, one wrist is a bit high, the other is a bit low and because the fingers are on the black note in the LH, they can’t be as curved as in the RH.

Think about what you are going to do

Don’t let other things or people in the room distract you. At least for brand new beginners, I recommend that you focus on all the things I’ve mentioned so far before you start to play. As you get ready to play keep thinking about these things at the same time you focus on other things.

Do you know the terms and symbols at the start of the piece?

Finally, before you start playing, do you know the terms and symbols at the beginning of the music? Is there a 4/4 or 6/8 or 3/4 at the beginning? What does that mean? (Time signature). Are there sharps or flats just before the time signature? What do those mean. What is the tempo? You should know those terms before you play. The composer or arranger put them there for your benefit so you should take advantage of them.

While you are playing

For the most part, keep all your fingers, including your thumb on the keyboard

As mentioned before, all your fingers should always be on the keyboard (including the thumb) and in a curved position with a level wrist. As you play there may be some movement of the wrists up and down, but at least for a  beginner, there should be very little up and down motion.

Listen as you play

Do you like what you hear? If not, maybe you are playing something wrong. Double check the printed music and make sure you are playing the right notes and rhythm. Sometimes what you play may not sound right to your ears even when you are playing the correct notes. So, before you change something just because it sounds funny, make sure you know why you are changing.

Slow down

Too many beginning and intermediate pianists (and a few professionals I know) want to play a new piece at the speed indicated in the music (the tempo) even when they are not capable of doing so. It always acceptable to play a piece of music slower than is marked when you are learning. This is sometimes essential to learning the music. So, slow down, learn the piece properly.

Always look at your music, not your fingers…

…Or so you’ve probably heard people who play piano tell you. I believe it is acceptable to sometimes look at your fingers, but only sometimes. The reality is that music moves by so fast that you don’t have time to read the music and look at your fingers. Being aware of what notes your fingers are on without looking at the keyboard even if you move your hands is a skill you need to learn.

Play by intervals but also know the letter names

Learn the distance between the notes on the music and how that relates to your fingers (the intervals). If you play a note with your second finger and the music goes up one line from the line it is on, the next note is played with the 4th finger. You don’t need to know the note name. Sometimes this is faster than trying to figure out the note, then figure out what finger you need to play it with and then play it. However, you can’t play by intervals alone anymore than a well-rounded pianist can play just by ear. You still need to know what note(s) to start on so you absolutely must learn the names of the lines and spaces in the treble (RH) and bass (LH) clefs.

Keep the tempo steady, don’t stop at the end of a bar

When playing a piece of music, you should keep the tempo steady, almost with a machine like precision, at least to start with. Those vertical lines in the music, the bar lines, do not mean stop, pause or wait. The only thing they are there for is to tell you where one bar (aka measure) ends and another starts. So, don’t stop at the end of a bar. And remember that the first beat after a bar line is always beat one.

Articulations

Are there slurs? Are there staccatos? Are there accents? Those are collectively known as articulations. If so, be sure to observe them. Watch out if one hand has slurs and the other doesn’t. In those situations, it is sometimes easy to make both hands slurred or to forget to do the slurs in one hand.

Rhythm and counting

Rhythm is the relationship of the value of the notes to one another. A quarter note should always be the same length throughout the piece of music. A half-note is always twice the length of the quarter and the whole-note is always four times the length of the quarter. This is true throughout the song. You need to count the beats in a measure. The 4/4 at the start of a piece of music tells you there are 4 beats per measure and that a quarter note gets one beat. As you play through a piece of music, count the beats in the measure – keep the counting steady – and play the notes on the beats they are supposed to occur on. The beat should be as steady and consistent as the flow of time is steady and consistent. Time never stops, nor should the beat.

Are your fingers curved, wrists level and shoulders relaxed?

By the way, are your fingers curved, wrists level, and shoulders relaxed. If not, go back to the beginning and re-read this.

The unfortunate truth about becoming a good, well-rounded pianist is that it requires work, dedication, commitment, self-discipline, patience, time and work. Did I say it takes work and time, lots of time? I hope these suggestions help you as you practice the piano. Don’t give up. Keep with it and the rewards will be far more than the effort it took you to get there.

 

Categories
Website News

New sheet-music

Four new titles are now available in the music catalog at the website.

These titles are for solo organ, solo piano, instrumental solo with piano accompaniment and an organ hymn accompaniment/alternate harmonization.

O Day Of Radiant Gladness
jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php?sid=OR22
This arrangement is based on a German folk tune, also known under the hymn tune name ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVOGELEIN. This is for solo organ. It was written with a postlude in a church service in mind. It is a contrapuntal arrangement, almost like a fugue. The pedal part is not difficult. This piece makes for a great postlude. An organ teacher might also find it useful as a supplemental piece to regular lessons.

Episode
jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php?sid=PN15
An original piano composition. It is a slow, thoughtful piece. An episode is similar to an interlude.  It is designed to be played between other (perhaps non-musical) activities. It would be a great piece for an intermediate piano student to learn for a recital. It could be used as part of a concert program where you need a slower piece between faster pieces. For church use, it would work quite well as an offertory or communion (Lord’s supper) piece.

Jesus Loves Me
jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php?sid=IS10
An arrangement of the well-loved hymn for solo instrument with piano accompaniment. This setting is an adaptation of the solo organ title already a part of the music catalog. Rather than the typical 4/4 or 2/4 meter found in the hymnal, this setting is in a slow 6/4 time. This slows the piece down from its typical sung speed and allows for more expression from the soloist. I didn’t have any particular solo instrument in mind when writing this, but violin or oboe would work well with this. Parts are provided for C, Bb, Eb and F treble clef instruments making it playable by a wide range of instruments including: Flute, oboe, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, French Horn, Trumpet, Violin, Guitar, Recorder and a solo keyboard (eg. a synthesizer lead). If you play bassoon, cello, trombone or viola and can read treble clef, you could easily adapt this for your use. French horn players may find this a challenge due to its high range, but feel free to transpose down an octave.

GROSSER GOTT
jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php?sid=ORA37
This is an organ alternate harmony to this hymn tune. I use capital letters whenever mentioning tune names. Since so many hymn tunes have multiple titles, if I list the most common title, in this case “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” I end up leaving out other titles, so that’s why the tune name. This accompaniment is best used on the last verse of the tune. This accompaniment has a number of harmony changes that will require the congregation to sing in unison (as they would typically do to begin with). The piece does not always play the melody as the highest note and does a bit of a descant. But, it is not so different that the congregation will lose its place. When first used in a service it received good comments from those singing and a few were surprised at one or two of the harmonies.

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Me playing the piano

Here’s a video of me playing the piano.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LU7478Ir0w]

Some people who haven’t seen me play the piano in a while (if ever) wanted me to put up a video of me playing the piano.

This video shows me making up some music off the top of my head one day as I wait for my piano students. I know that the video and audio quality aren’t the best. The only camera I have is a still digital camera that does low quality video and audio. I had to stack several books up in order to get the height to make a few of the angles work. As I said, the music is just something I made up on the spot so I don’t expect it to win a grammy, but it isn’t bad. (My CD’s and mp3 files at the website are better).

The piano is a Kawai 5’2″ small grand, purchased in 2008. The location is the Church of the Mediator, Micanopy, FL. It is an historic building built around 1875. The acoustics are very live with a nearly 5 second reverberation rate, even though the building is only about 50′ x 25′. (I think? those are the outside dimensions).