Category Archives: Accompanying

Spring has Sprung

This past Sunday was my least favorite day of the year – Daylight Saving Time/Time Change Sunday. My body has a very difficult time adjusting, even though I try to go to bed early, etc.

I still don’t understand why they don’t have the time change Friday night/Saturday morning. But they didn’t ask me, right?

Anyway, I’m always paranoid that I’m going to set my clock in the wrong direction, or miss my alarm, or forget to set it altogether. In this day of “smart” technology, we can’t even set our phones ahead. They change automatically. Or, they are supposed to.

I knew someone whose phone didn’t update correctly and they were late for practice before Sunday service. Ever since then, I’ve set multiple alarms and even pulled out the old “manual” alarm clocks.

This year I set my alarm an hour earlier just in case something didn’t go right. The only clock I could set ahead was my oven clock, which I did. Then when my alarm went off at 5:15am, I got up and went out to the kitchen to see if my phone matched the oven clock. It did! Score! Then I went back to bed for another hour. 🙂

We got to church on time and had a wonderful worship service. We sang/played one of my favorite packages – Crown Him King of Kings/Crown Him with Many Crowns. I love playing those songs!

The weather even cooperated and was absolutely gorgeous!

Perhaps Spring has (finally) sprung!

(We are supposed to get back down in the 50s tomorrow, but we won’t think about that right now.)

Do you have any stories from Time Change Sunday? I would love to hear them!

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Missions Conference Music

Next week is our annual Missions Conference at church. The music for these services is obviously missions-oriented.

I love the music for Missions Conference. The choir songs are outstanding – “Be the One,” “Somebody Cares,” “I Will Go,” and others.

The traditional hymns for missions are also great songs, but they are not my best to play. Probably because I don’t play them all that often. However, sometimes we don’t sing the “traditional” missions songs.

We will see what hymns are picked this time.

Regardless of the hymns or choir songs or special music, our Missions Conference is just a special time of preaching and sharing from all the missionaries who attend.

We have a very sweet spirit in our church and that is evidenced by the love we show our missionaries.

I’m looking forward to another great Missions Conference.

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Pedaling for Hymns

pedals1Pedaling is very fascinating to me.

I remember being told by a teacher to change the pedal every time a chord changed. That was very good, basic advice.

When playing traditional gospel songs (ie: Power in the Blood), you will have your three basic/primary chords: I, IV, and V.

If you apply the basic principle of pedaling for every chord change, you won’t pedal overly much.

But if you add anything remotely extra, like any stepwise in either hand or even changing bass octaves within a measure (like moving from Bb to D on a Bb chord), you will want to lift the pedal more often.

I always try to listen for any “muddling” and negate that by lifting the pedal more frequently.

Any stepwise I usually “flutter” the pedal or “half-pedal”. Just a quick lift to clear the air.

Overall, I would rather have less pedal when playing hymns. If they are a little dry that’s ok. A heavy pedal just causes muddles and blurs everything together.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, basic pedaling technique includes the following:

1. Heel on the floor (always, at all times)

2. Play then pedal (have the pedal up when playing the first note(s) of a new chord, then put the pedal down)

Anything you would add? I love hearing your comments!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Saturday…Best Laid Plans…

Very rarely do I have a Saturday with nothing planned that I have to go to (meeting, get-togethers, church functions, etc.). But today was one of those days.

I still gave piano lessons in the morning, but after that was open and free.

My plans: go to the grocery store, clean the house and watch college football (Roll Tide, btw).

Sounds fun, right?

Let me explain…the last two weeks have been pretty hectic, with work and lessons and church music. So, needless to say, the house had been pretty neglected.

So I cleaned. all. day. long.

Seriously, I just finished an hour ago.

But, I have this awesome open floor plan where I can pretty much see or hear the TV from anywhere.

So I also watched/listened to college football. all. day. long.

And, yes, the grocery store run happened during halftime. I had motivation to be quick!

After all that, I just sat down to do some lesson paperwork, plus make sure I’m ready for church music tomorrow. Good thing, since I was contacted to play for someone in the morning service. Plans were quickly made to meet and practice in the morning.

All is well here. My feet hurt. My house is clean. My football team won.

How was your Saturday?

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Falling Asleep at the Piano

No, the title isn’t referring to my falling asleep at the piano, as in my mind going to sleep. Although, I’ve been tired enough sometimes that I felt like I could fall asleep…

Anyway, what I’m referring to is my leg (my left leg) falling asleep while I’m playing. It happened this morning during the service, and I had to move my foot around to wake it back up.

This has happened to me several times at this piano. Mostly it happens during orchestra practice or another rehearsal, but this time it was during the actual service.

Thankfully, I was able to get the blood flowing again before I had to walk down the stairs.

My question is…why is this happening? It’s never happened before on/at any other piano I’ve played on?

Maybe the height of the bench is different?

Maybe I have my leg back at a bad angle?

Whatever the reason, I don’t like it. The feeling (or lack of feeling) is discomforting.

Why do you think this happens? Has it ever happened to you?

Help me out, please! I welcome your suggestions!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Sightreading Tips for Rehearsals

PianoLast night, I had the opportunity to practice with a group after church. They had been practicing on their own previously, and I was just coming in to rehearse before they sing in church.

I had never seen the music before last night. And they just expected me to sit down and play it!!

(Actually, I love sightreading so this didn’t bother me.)

Even though I’ve been sightreading for years, I still do certain things before I start to play. I thought I would share these “things” with you today:

1. Make sure you have the music open to the correct song. Yes, you would think this would be a no-brainer, but it never hurts to double-check. 🙂

2. Look through the music. When I do this, I look for the following items:

– Key signature – what key do I start in?

– Clef(s) – Do my hands start both in the treble or bass clef? Or are they normal?

– Time signature – Does the time signature change at all during the song?

– Tempo marking

– Repeats, D.C. al Coda, D.S. al Coda, codas, etc. – anything that means I have to jump around. If I have to go back to a Sign, I’ll always locate the Sign so I don’t have to search for it while I’m playing.

– Key changes – I don’t want to get thrown off or surprised by going to six sharps. I’d rather know ahead of time.

– Anything else out of the ordinary (unusual rhythms, notes cut off the pages, a capella sections, etc.).

3. After I look through the music, I ask the leader what they want the tempo to be. They usually will count or beat out a measure for me, which is very helpful.

4. Play away!!!

Don’t feel bad if you take a couple minutes to look through the music. The time you take at the beginning is worth it if you don’t have to stop or fumble through the rehearsal.

What else would you look for? Any fun sightreading stories?

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Musical Pop-ups: Practice Schedules

Sometimes I’m asked to accompany one special during the course of a month. Sometimes I’m asked to accompany two or more specials during a month.

For the two or more specials, finding time to practice can be a challenge.

Remembering when I said I would practice is also a challenge.

Take yesterday, for example.

During the day, I received a text asking if I could practice that night at church. Of course, I replied. I said I would try to get there early (hence scheduling practice before the service and not after.)

Now, I was raised to keep my word. So if I say I’m going to practice, I need to be there.

Since I’m a busy person, I need all the help remembering what comes next.

To help me, I set a reminder on my phone. I set the reminder to alert me early enough so I could leave the house in time. (I live 30 minutes away from church.)

It worked and I made it to practice on time.

Also yesterday, I received a text to check my email about practice with another group. I checked my email, saw the question about practicing next week, and replied that I could practice at that time.

They replied that I will get another email with more specific practice details. Something to look forward to for next week…

How do you schedule practice times?

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!