My new favorite company…

Learning how to use sheet music notation software has been a major learning curve for me. I’ve had moments where I enjoyed the process, and moments where I thought I might be wasting my time trying to master Finale! When it comes to writing out congregational accompaniment, I’ve really learned to love it. I work hands separately, studying the lyrics to add in improvisational elements that allow the text to shine. Writing out arrangements for the video courses is also super fun.

When it came to writing out the sheet music for the brand new piano album, I realized I was in over my head! When I play congregationally, each hand has a specific role that is quite clearly defined. In general, the right hand plays the melody, while the left hand incorporates a variety of fill-ins and rhythmic movements to provide the accompaniment. For the CD arrangements, however, I employed a much more artistic style. The arrangements weren’t spontaneous. I had developed them in a particular style that fit the theme of the album, “Haven of Rest.” They’re much more flowing, expressive arrangements than I would use when playing for a congregation to sing. I sat down with the first audio file, and after five hours of working, had only completed sixteen measures. That was discouraging, to say the least!

That’s when I decided to reach out for help. I immediately contacted My Sheet Music Transcriptions, a service I had heard of and briefly considered but had not used yet. They replied quickly with a reasonable quote, and got to work! Their turn-around time is unbelievable and their customer service is unparalleled. They took each of my audio files, and transcribed them completely by ear, and by hand. They had every song done in record time, and I am truly amazed at the accuracy and professionalism.

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Sunday Hymn Series

If you look at the date of my last blog post, you’d think I haven’t been doing very much over the last several months! But, on the contrary, we’ve been producing a new course that released in November 2019 (find it here), creating a Facebook page to share more music, uploading lots of content to my YouTube channel, teaching many live one-on-one lessons every week, filming a new set of video lessons for congregational playing, and writing sheet music to go with each lesson! In addition, I’ve been working on my original songs for a CD our family is planning to record in a few weeks. It’s an exciting time, and Josh and I are thankful for every door God is opening right now.

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Wedding Song Ideas

I’ve played in weddings since I was about 13 years old (I’m amazed a bride and groom trusted me to play at their wedding when I was that young, but I’m glad they did!). Through those years, I’ve learned some really beautiful love songs, and some that honestly weren’t that great. Often, brides ask me about wedding song ideas, so I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites.
the blossoming cherry on a piano

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Playing for Invitations

The video below specifically works on “I Surrender All,” but the style is appropriate for invitational hymns, in general. The main point to remember when playing for an invitation or time of prayer is to play much more softly than you do for congregational music. You are there to provide more of an atmosphere and a spirit of prayerful meditation than anything else. This is not the time to practice your arpeggios and Southern gospel frills or jazz chords. Just keep it simple. 🙂 Even playing just the four notes from the hymnal with a few connecting fill-ins is sufficient. I usually keep the soft pedal pressed the entire time I play for invitations, unless the congregation is asked to sing a verse.

You can also just play two or three notes in your right hand (melody, then add an alto or tenor harmony) and keep a soft rolling pattern in your left hand, as seen below.

Giving Your Preludes a Theme- Part 2

Sometimes, I theme my preludes by key change progression, either in half-steps, whole-steps, or through the circle of fifths. For example, I’ll play a song in A flat, B flat, C, then D. Other times, I may choose a topic. Every now and then, my preludes work for both types of groupings,  like this prelude on “Heaven” for the video below. I used three upbeat gospel songs about Heaven, “Heaven’s Jubilee” in A flat, “Just Over in the Gloryland” in B flat, and “Everybody Will Be Happy over There” in C. They key changes work seamlessly and this upbeat prelude will encourage your congregation to participate in the service with energy.

God bless you efforts as you do your best to serve Him with music!