Free Sacred Piano Duet – In Christ Alone

One of my graduating students asked me if we could play a duet together at her graduation/senior recital. She was especially interested in a duet of In Christ Alone. Well, after searching for such a duet extensively, we finally decided that the only way we were going to come up with something we really liked was to arrange it ourselves. So we set to work!

Composing/arranging is definitely not my strength, but we do have a duet to play now! Praise the Lord! You can listen to our arrangement here. And, if you’re interested, you can also download and print a copy of the sheet music.

For those unfamiliar with this hymn, here are the lyrics. I tried to capture the emotion of each verse as I worked on the arrangement.

In Christ Alone
by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Share Your Music at Sutros.com

I have been having way too much fun over at sutros.com! A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from one of the site developers, letting me know about it and encouraging me to check it out and sign up. I just finished setting up my own page and uploading a couple of my own pieces.

The site is very well designed and very intuitive to use. You can upload your own songs, explore music shared by others, create playlists, and more! You can even copy and embed the code in your own website or blog.

Here is the song “One Heart” that I wrote for my sister’s wedding, taken from the words in Jeremiah 32:38-41:

One Heart by Natalie Wickham

This is a piano arrangement that I wrote for some friends who were getting married. I asked the bride and groom for their favorite hymns and then incorporated both of them into the bridal procession that I played at their wedding:

Tiffany’s Processional by Natalie Wickham

I’m still setting up a playlist and trying to figure out some other things on the site. There aren’t a lot of users contributing music yet, but hopefully we can change that! According to the developer who e-mailed me, they have plans to add many more great features this year. If you do some of your own composing/arranging, you should check it out and set up a page. Just be sure to let me know!

Premiere Performance

Each year our state association commissions a composer to write a piece of music. This year’s composition, Impressions, is a piece for Quartet – piano, violin, viola and cello – by Miriam Overholt.

When asked by our Commission Composer Chairperson what he could share with us about her, she responded: “A Mom can write music.”


Miriam Overholt introduced the performers and shared a little about the work:
The form is A-B-C-A. It is Intro by cello, joined by piano, straightforward and simple melody
B Section – move into the impressionistic feeling with richer harmonies.
C Section – major key, faster tempo, repetitive rhythmic motif.
Return to the A section, larger, louder and played by the piano, with a cadenza and then the ending.

The performance of this gorgeous piece will be followed by a brief time for questions and answers from the audience. If you ever get a chance to hear this work, I highly recommend it!

SibeliusMusic.com

So…a while back I had a brilliant idea. I was sure it would be a hit. The idea came to me one day as I was working on a Christmas arrangement for several of my students. Six of my students wanted to play on ensemble for the Christmas recital. They had played a Patriotic ensemble this summer and loved it and wanted to work on something else as a group. I thought it was a great idea and set about to find something for them. Haha. There was nothing to be found. There were several trios – mostly too easy. There is a good selection of 2 piano/8 hand music, but that would be too hard to adapt for six players. But I could find nothing for 2 piano/12 hand at an intermediate level that would work for the Christmas recital. My students told me I just needed to write something for them. Against my better judgment, I agreed. 🙂 I wrote an arrangement of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing with Away in A Manger. They loved it! They played it beautifully.

Anyway…back to my brilliant idea. I thought it would be wonderful if there was a website dedicated to making available for others all the compositions and arrangements by teachers and others who compose and arrange a little here and there, but probably won’t ever seriously pursue being published (like me :-)). It would be a marketplace of sorts where teachers could set up a little store for themselves and sell their compositions and arrangements to others who might be looking for that very piece or instrumentation or combination, etc. Of course, the site would be set up in a very clean and organized manner to make it easy for visitors to search the site and find what they are looking for. Thousands of people would contribute and could make a little bit of money selling their scores or they could offer them for free for the pure enjoyment of knowing that others around the world could enjoy the fruit of their labors. And the site operator(s) could take a small cut of all the sales to cover the cost of running the site and make some money on the side. Doesn’t that sound like a brilliant idea to you? Well, apparently it did to the folks over at Sibelius Music too because they beat me to it! I came across their site the other day and couldn’t believe how much it resembled what I had envisioned. So much for that idea…

Boasting the availability of 61,633 scores to date, Sibelius Music is chock-full of compositions and arrangements for nearly every instrumentation and genre you can think of. You can view, play, download and print whatever you want right from their site. And many of the pieces listed are offered free of charge. They even offer the option for composers/arrangers to set up their own store and house it right there on their server.

The site is so vast, it feels very overwhelming and somewhat complicated to find what you’re looking for. First time users should definitely stop by the information page to help alleviate these feelings! For those interested in selling their own scores, head on over to the FAQ page for sellers. The Sibelius Music folks seem to have thought of everything. The only problem is that I’m not a Sibelius user. I’m a Finale user. So, who wants to start a site like this for Finale users? 🙂

The First Noel Piano Duet

You know you’re a piano teacher when you’re playing Christmas music in October! (And I even feel like I’m behind in getting ready for the recital this year!)

Our annual studio Christmas recital is a favorite for students, parents, family, friends and myself! Each year I try to do something a little different. This year I’m encouraging families to work together to come up with some sort of ensemble. My students should plan to play the piano, but other than that they can be as creative as they want!

I’m going to be digging through my files of Christmas music this week to help come up with music for the students and families. I spent part of this afternoon arranging a simple piano duet for a girl and her brother. The brother just started lessons this fall and wants to play a duet of The First Noel. I plan to teach him his part (the melody) mostly by rote and by ear, so I put it in the position one would use if they were playing a D scale with the tetrachords split between the hands. His sister has been taking lessons for about a year now and has played through all the Major pentascales and chords, so I wrote her part using mostly chord patterns that she can learn fairly easily.

Here’s a recording of The First Noel duet that I made using the Audacity recording software I posted about in this previous post. (It was kind of tricky because I recorded each part separately and then had to align them just right so that they played in sinc with each other!)

Here is a downloadable file of The First Noel primo part.
Here is a downloadable file of The First Noel secondo part.

Because of the nature of what I’m asking families to do this year, I think I may end up doing more arranging than I usually do. I love little projects like that and just wish I was more skilled in this area so I could arrange more advanced duets and solos as well. Anyone know of good resources for learning arranging skills?