Monday, April 3, 2023

Free Simplified Piano Easter Arrangements

As I opened my inbox this morning to discover this powerful Easter message of inspiration from Russell M Nelson, I realized that I had missed the opportunity to send my piano students home with their favorite Easter music arrangements before spring break.😞 But they can click the links below and print from home if desired.  

One of the most motivating factors for me to practice piano and violin came from the feelings of peace I enjoyed as I played sacred music regularly, even though I admit sometimes I was trying to just play catch up on my orchestra practice record by playing hymns for hours on the violin on the Sabbath😉

Elementary Easter Piano Arrangements

Gethsemane  This simple arrangement is for beginners with the melody split between hands and optional chord symbols above for lead sheet style playing. Although the "slow strings" setting in the sample video below on my keyboard doesn't allow for as much volume control as the piano, I love the soothing resonance it creates making me feel like I'm playing in an orchestra.

 Students can play either the melody alone or chords alone as they sing the melody. 

Layton Simplified Primary Songs  The primary song arrangements by D'net Layton include just the melody line split between hands primarily written near middle C. Even though a few include accidentals or trickier rhythm patterns, children who are familiar with the song can usually easily play the rhythms by ear.

LM Did Jesus Really Live Again (page 27 Layton Simplified Primary Songs F# and eighth note pair

LM Families Can Be Together Forever page 34 - Eighth Notes, Fermata

LM He Sent His Son page 41 Dotted Quarters, Eighth Notess, Fermata

LM I Know That My Savior Loves Me page 48-49 3/4 Time, Tied Notes, Fermata

Intermediate Easter Piano Arrangements

I love the large variety of Piano Song Download leveled arrangements for various holidays and familiar favorites and was happy to discover a few options for sacred Easter music too!

PSD Jesus Christ is Risen Today Left hand stays in primary chord position, Right hand includes multiple hand shifts at phrase endings.

PSD The Old Rugged Cross - Key of Bflat w/ Left Hand 158 accompaniment pattern

Gethsemane " I Can Play It"  from the Friend Magazine

Recommended Intermediate Easter Piano Arrangements for Purchase

Although the next 2 pieces aren't actually "free," I have fallen in love with the simplicity and beauty of Marshall McDonald's hymn arrangements in the Simply Sacred books ever since I was looking for the first musical number for one of my students to play in church! I don't get any benefit from promoting this music. I just like it and find so much satisfaction in playing it for prelude music! You can download individual pieces, or if you like several songs, books are available at Chesbro locally or online with shipping fees.

He is Risen by Marshall McDonald ($2.95) 

Gethsemane arranged by Marshall McDonald ($2.95) Sacred 2 as it does require a lot of left-hand crossovers for the 2 8va arpeggios that can be tricky for students with smaller hands.

Nearer My God to Thee by Marshall McDonald

Happy Easter!

Related Posts:

Friday, March 24, 2023

Intermediate Music Concept Tutorial Videos

I love using a flipped learning approach in piano lessons. 

During piano lab,  having students watch quick video clips about musical concepts is a great way to introduce or review concepts.

Having students preview concepts in advance allows for more repertoire focus during private lessons and accelerates learning with repetition.

Below are some great intermediate-level piano video resources.

Lengthy explanations can quickly bore students and adults! I find the most effective videos are multi-sensory, brief, and use simple language. Here are several I have hand-picked after browsing hundreds of tutorials on YouTube.

Intermediate Music Theory Terms and Signs Videos

CK Tempo -  brief definitions of rit. ritard. rallentando, repeat, staccato and slur

CK Intermediate Terms and Signs -   brief definitions and  memory aids for sempre, lento, larghetto, alla marcia, vivace, presto fp, sf and con moto

CK More Intermediate Expression and Articulation -  brief definitions and memory aids for giocoso, maestoso, espressivo, portato and marcato

CK Intermediate Terms and Signs - brief definitions of dolce, grazioso, cantabile, fermata, accent, staccato and  tenuto (stress), 8va, 8vb, 1st & 2nd endings

Intermediate Piano Scales and Keyboard Skills

Pianoanne Circle of 5ths and Piano Scales - How does the circle of 5ths relate to piano scales?

Scale Blocks Sharp Key Signatures - Watch this quick strategy to visualize scales with sharps.

Tip for Identifying Sharp Key Signatures - This fast effective memory aid for remembering sharp scales was an unforgettable tip introduced to me by my first piano teache.r

PianoAnne Relative Minor Key Signatures- How to identify relative minor keys

MTG Inversions - Figured Bass and Jazz Style Chord Symbols

Intermediate Technique Videos

Intermediate Music Rhythm Concept Videos

Pianote Cut Time- What does cut time mean?  How is it different from 4/4 time?

Syncopation - Memorable syncopated rhythm practice with fruits

MTG Inversions - Figured Bass and Jazz Style Chord Symbols

Intermediate Music Ornamentation Videos

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

"I Can Do All Things With Christ" Simplified Piano Lead Sheet

Introducing piano students to lead sheets and lyric sheets empowers them to play their favorite pop songs with greater ease. 

Instead of playing complicated left-hand accompaniment patterns, lead sheets allow students to ease into a piece by starting with simpler root notes in the bass and gradually working up to more sophisticated rhythms or chords if desired.

I remember the frustration as a younger pianist trying to play accompanist versions of my favorite Christian songs but being frustrated because it's hard to play 3 parts with only 2 hands! 

And without the melody line that is often omitted in the accompanist part, the song does not satisfy... unless you sing along!

I created this simplified excerpt of "I Can Do All Things With Christ" (the 2023 youth theme song from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Now my students can enjoy playing the piece while learning some basic skills for arranging and playing from a lead sheet. The original version is available for free download so students can compare the scores and spot the differences. It pairs perfectly with the Greensleeves lead sheet in Piano Adventures 3A, giving students extra practice reading a lead sheet.

The following steps can be applied to create lead sheets from other pieces.
  • Start with the melody only from a part of the song. You can play just the theme or chorus without having to arrange the whole piece.
  • Double the value of the rhythms if needed to make it simpler to read (quarter notes become half notes, half notes become whole notes).
  • Transpose to a different key if needed to make it easier to play. (For example to change a piece in B to C, move every note up a half step to avoid having to play a lot of sharps!)
  • Add chord symbols. If not included in the original song, analyze the bass notes to figure out which chord to use. You can also play I, IV or V chords and listen to which sounds best in each measure or phrase.
  • Experiment with different bass styles (root only, blocked chord, broken chord, syncopated rhythms, open intervals, etc.). 
  • Lead sheets give you the flexibility to imitate the style of the original or create your version.
For example, by playing broken intervals in Forrest Gump style, the Piano Guys transformed this traditional classical piece into a more modern version.

And Row Your Boat is definitely different than the version you sang in preschool! 
They took the liberty of changing up the bass pattern.

For more practice playing from lead sheets, check out this great selection of familiar tunes in lead sheet format from Piano Song Download.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Resources for Teaching Piano Arpeggios

This month my piano students will be completing an Arpeggio Challenge to boost their skills and understanding of this fundamental pattern that comes up in music over and over. 

While prepping for our piano arpeggio-themed group lesson I discovered some new arpeggio resources and revisited some of my favorites from the past.


Hand over Hand Arpeggio Video

The Piano Safari's rote pieces are favorites for my beginners because they can play by rote much more than they can read in those first months of lessons.

 "Rainbow Colors" is a beautiful piece that combines the hand-over-hand arpeggio motions with 4 chords. 

Piano Safari Rainbow Colors Reminder Video

Piano Safari Rainbow Colors Performance Video

The middle note of  each chord is omitted so when I introduce it, I sing "Open Fifths then crossing over, open 5ths then step up" to solidify the pattern or similar lyrics that reflect the patterns played.


I love how Lisa Witt demonstrates how to combine arpeggios and chord progressions for some super-satisfying piano improvisation in this video.

This Blank Keyboard Printable is a great resource to help students solidify finger patterns as they write  arpeggio fingering groups.  

Instead of having to memorize arpeggio fingering for every single key, I love how Joy Morin has grouped keys based on their arpeggio fingering in this helpful Scale and Arpeggio Fingering Reference Sheet. I call them Vanilla's, Hamburger's and Oreos.

I use those same groups when introducing 5 finger patterns to beginners with D'net Layton's Keyboard Pentascale Free Printable.

2 Octave Arpeggio Sample Video

Pianote Intro to 2 Octave Arpeggios Tutorial


Watch this video to learn some excellent specific technical tips for arpeggio playing.

See how adding accents or changing rhythms can improve your arpeggio skills in difficult passages.

Explore the pitter-patter, mind bender and dreamscape variations based off of arpeggio patterns that create different moods and sound impressive without being difficult to play once you see and feel the groupings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Piano Accompaniment Patterns for Left Hand

 Playing with a lead sheet gives you the power of choice to stylize songs however you like.

And there are so many options! Listen to a few below. Then choose some of your favorites to use as you accompany the melodies of simple folk or Christmas songs you already know.

Block Chords: Stacked up Like a Snowman

Hey Ho Nobody Home 

Block Chords with Syncopated Rhythm: Bop di Bop

Broken Chords: Oom-Pah

Jingle Bells

Alberti Bass: Bottom Top Middle Top

Alberti Bass Two Minute Tip

Broken Intervals: Chord Pieces

Forrest Gump Style: Interrupting Eighths

Piano Guys Ode to Joy

Alberti + Broken Intervals + Forrest Gump

Bluesy 5-6 Swing Beetles

Bluesy Swayin' 1-5-6

Going Further:

Watch the following videos if you'd like to learn more left-hand styles and see them in action.

Pianonote 3 Easy Left Hand Patterns (Broken Intervals, 1 8va Arpeggio Variations)
Tutorial with sample at the end (8:20).

Thursday, October 13, 2022

12 Days of Halloween Piano Free Printable Rhythm Dictation Activity

Listen to the 12 Days of Halloween.

12 Days of Halloween with Lyrics

12 Days of Halloween Piano Version

Print the 12 Days of Halloween Free Printable.

Can you dictate rhythm patterns below each picture? Hint: 3 Black Cats= 3 Quarter Notes

1-Owl in a Rotten Oak Tree

2-Two Trick or Treaters

3-Three Black Cats

4- Four Skeletons

5- Five Scary Spooks

6- Six Goblins Gobbling

7- Seven Pumpkins Glowing

8- Eight Monsters Shrieking

9- Nine Ghosts a Booing

10- Ten Ghouls a Groaning

11- 'leven Caskets Creaking

12 Bats a Flying

Challenge: Can you change the "12 Days of Christmas" into the "12 Days of Halloween" by transposing it to the Relative Minor key? (Music on "Making Music Fun")

1- Add a flat to the 3rd and 6th notes of the scale.  Remember to check the key signature!

2-Change the melody rhythms to match the Halloween lyrics. For example "Halloween" has more syllables than "Christmas" so change the quarter note in the first measure to an eighth note.

3-For an easier version add primary chord symbols (i, iv or V) above each measure and play as a lead sheet instead of playing the left hand as written. 

Hint: Owl in a Rotten Oak Tree= i-iv-i-V-I

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Free Piano Improvisation Printable: Who Can Sail Without Wind?

If your piano lessons are focused on just reading music from the method books, improvisation can feel a bit scary. Some students are so stuck to the printed page they are scared to make mistakes.

This is similar to reading a speech from a script. But with a little guidance, exploring improvisation can be much more exciting than a speech read just like hearing a speech given from the heart can be more engaging than a recited speech from memory.