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My Obsession with Arranging (including a list of arrangements!)

Arranging Composing

My Obsession with Arranging (including a list of arrangements!)

When I hear a piece on the radio I am more often than not struck with inspiration. The music can give me ideas on styles, harmonies, themes and much more, but when I hear something that would make a good arrangement, I am obsessed with the project until completion. There is just something about the challenge of writing a good arrangement for piano that I love. There are many factors that go into this labour of love: deciding on the format (solo, duet etc), the level for which to arrange, what key to write in, and more. Most times I try to keep the...

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Becoming an Improv Star

Composing Improv

Becoming an Improv Star

I used to be afraid of improvisation. And what was worse, people thought that because I could play the piano, I could play anything. I got asked to play jazz, pop, funk, alternative, industrial and more on a regular basis. If I had the music in front of me, great- I’m a sight-reading machine. I have a decent ear too, so I could listen to something and figure it out right away. But improvise something...no!!! I’m classical trained. And the “old style” of conservatory-based learning placed little importance on learning musicianship skills, and included absolutely zero improvisation. Therefore, I was defenceless. It...

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It's That Time of Year Again...

It's That Time of Year Again...

The local music festival has been a part of life for (shockingly?) over thirty years. I competed fiercely in this festival until the year I left for University. And now- being an area teacher- my own students enter this same festival each year.Mind you, I do feel like the competitive factor has dropped dramatically. But I’m quite sure my students don’t mind. They have a positive experience every time, gaining confidence in performing while receiving valuable feedback from the adjudicator. They come away with lovely certificates feeling proud and accomplished. Check ✅I still have vivid memories of the more competitive...

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Why I Love Duets

Composing Duets

Why I Love Duets

You've read articles before on why playing duets is important to the well-rounded musician. So many skills are developed when playing ensembles: listening, breathing, counting/rhythm and more. To me this natural development is a bonus in addition to the main purpose of playing with another person: to have FUN! I love the challenge of composing a compelling duet with a theme; I often use imagery in the title, description and cover of each piece to help students realize the mood or energy it requires (along with other musical aspects). I encourage them to convey the spirit of that piece, or maybe tell a...

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Music With Heart

Composing

Music With Heart

When composing music for piano I often gather ideas away from the instrument. In fact, it's possible to form nearly the entire composition this way: develop an idea/theme, decide on style, choose a time signature/tempo and even write melodies. But the real heart work comes when I finally sit down and face those 88 keys. This is where my ideas come to life, where they gather momentum and weave themselves together until the song is finally complete. And if I'm composing a song to fit a specific piano collection it must meet certain standards: it must be at the correct...

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