Tag Archives: church music

Sunday Lyrics – Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Irish Folk Tune

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!

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!

Keeping Piano Lessons Fun

I just finished giving piano lessons, so I’m still thinking back over how they went. (The students did great, by the way; it’s the teaching part I’m thinking about.)

I always want my students to love music and love playing the piano. I try to make the lessons fun, too. I know that scales and chords can’t be all that exciting by themselves, so I try to explain and give examples of how that element is used in music. (say church music, for example)

I’ve explained to students before how inversions play such an important role in hymnplaying. They look at me like I’m kidding. But then I play a hymn and show them what I mean. Then I say something like, “See? Chords and inversions are so cool! You can do so much with them!”

You can see their eyes light up, either with understanding or amusement at their teacher. But that’s ok. I don’t mind. When they get up to play a hymn in church and use an inversion, they will see how much fun it is.

Our excitement in lessons tonight was me killing a HUGE mosquito with my shoe (while jumping up and hitting the wall) and recording a song using my iPhone.

Yep, fun stuff! (You should try it sometime!)

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

Piano and Cowboy Boots

I’m very picky about what shoes I wear to play the piano.

Flats don’t work. Wedges don’t work.

Heels do work, but not too thin of a heel. Not too chunky either. (I’d take chunky over thin, though.)

So, this week I’m faced with a dilemma.

Our church has a special Sunday this Sunday called Fall Festival Day. It’s a day where the service is more casual and somewhat of a western theme.

It’s a day where cowboy(girl) boots are the “in” footwear. And, yes, I do own cowboy boots. And I love them.

My boots

My boots

But I’ve never played the piano in them.

I have played wearing winter boots before, and I didn’t like it. The boots were just below the knee, and when I lifted my foot for the pedal, the boot rubbed against my leg in a very weird way.

I really want to wear my boots. If I don’t wear them, I’m not sure what shoes I would wear.

Decisions, decisions.

What do you think? Would you wear cowboy boots to play the piano? Have you done it before?

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

ForScore: Music App for iPad

Several of you have shown interest in how I use my iPad for the music service. Hopefully, this article will help explain the concept and how it works.

I am already so addicted (if I can use that word) to using my iPad for the hymns and I’ve only been using it for a little over a month. There are more possibilities to how I can use it in the music service, but I’m trying to learn carefully and not over-do it. The last thing I want to do is flub up the service because I don’t know what I’m doing.

Ok, with that being said, here is the process I use:

1. I downloaded the app ForScore from the iTunes Store. It isn’t free, but the $6.99 or so that you will spend will be so worth it. (If you look for the app on your iPhone, it won’t come up. It’s an app for iPad only, so you have to look for it on your iPad…makes sense.)

You may ask why I use ForScore? Well, it’s simple. My music director uses his iPad for the service and he uses ForScore. He’s the one who recommended it to me, so wha-la, that’s what I use. Plus, it makes much easier for sharing files…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. Unfortunately, ForScore doesn’t come with the hymns pre-loaded. I wish!!! So, the question that everyone wants to know, how do I get the songs on my iPad?

My music director scans the hymns from the hymnbook into PDF files (individually for each song). He then uploads them to Dropbox. (If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, you need to be. You can set up a free account and share/store files and access them anywhere.) Dropbox even has an app for the iPad!

We share the music folder on Dropbox. I pull the PDF files from Dropbox and open them in ForScore. Once you open them in ForScore, they are automatically saved. Nice. Our files are named by hymn number then the title (ie: 591 Have Thine Own Way).

NOTE: It is convenient to use the same app/program as my music director because you can email files from ForScore (in case a song doesn’t get added to Dropbox).

3. Once I have all the hymns stored in ForScore, I’m ready to make my setlist (like a playlist). I name my setlists by the date of service and AM/PM. I add my hymns for that service in the order they are listed on the order of service. If a song changes or the order changes I can easily rearrange the order of the songs.

Then I select the first song in the setlist and I’m ready to play!

4. This is where I absolutely LOVE using the iPad vs the hymnbook. The hymnbook is so big (at least ours is) and the pages are difficult to turn while transitioning to the next song. For example, we might sing 43 All Hail the Power and then have to transition to 772 When We All Get to Heaven. Do you know how cumbersome it is to flip/turn 700 pages while transitioning to the next key?

On the iPad with ForScore, you only have to tap the screen (on the right side of the screen) and it will turn to the next page. If the song has two pages, you will have to tap the left side of the screen to go back to the next verse…but that’s ok. I started out swiping the screen, which also worked, but then I discovered I could tap the screen and it worked just as well.

Aren’t you just a little curious to try it? Doesn’t it sound incredible?

Like I said before, there is a bit of a learning curve when first starting out, but take your time and practice with it. The pros definitely outweigh the cons! Speaking of cons, I will be doing an article here soon on some of the cons I’ve encountered so far (not many to be sure) and how to troubleshoot them.

I am loving all the comments and feedback you all are leaving on here and on Facebook! Don’t stop! I want to hear if you try ForScore, if you like it, if you hate it, all of the above. If you have a different method that works for you, I would love to hear that as well. We’re here to help each other provide a great music service for The Lord. Keep it up!