Category Archives: arrangement

City of Stars from La La Land

The tunes from the movie La La Land are catchy and sticky. I daresay all songs are played on the piano, and as such pianists everywhere will feel emboldened to figure out the notes. I am positively sure that one of the songs will get an Oscar. [Feb 27: in fact, this song did win the 2017 Oscar for best song from a movie!] Continue reading

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Case Study: adapting music for amateur choir

A trained soprano approached me recently about adapting a famous Buddhist song, arranged for four-part voice, for a 45-person amateur choir, pianist, cello, and saxophone. Continue reading

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Have ʻuke, will travel

tiny_tenor

Tiny Tenor of Romero Creations (mahogany)

This past January, I introduced myself in Joel Katz‘s intermediate ʻukulele class by announcing that I was downsizing from the nine foot grand piano to the less than two foot ʻukulele. People laughed.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t giving up the piano by any means. Rather, I was embracing the ʻukulele. It has my namesake after all: KU in ʻukulele.

In truth, I didn’t know what I was getting into. A few of my music students had shared their love of the instrument. One even gave me a hand-built ʻukulele stand as a parting gift. Eventually I succumbed to my usual thirst for novelty and variety.

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Fly Me to the Moon for Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday

2015 is a year many Sinatra lovers will celebrate with songs that he made famous. One of these is a favorite among my piano students. Each year, a new pianist will ask to play “Fly Me to the Moon.”

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Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival poem and song: dan yuan ren chang jiu

When I asked my mom to select songs made popular by the late Teresa Teng besides my favorite Ni Ze Me Shuo, she mentioned Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu. On the night of the super blood moon and lunar eclipse, I learned of its significance. The lyrics come from a famous poem by Su Shi, also known as Su Dong Po. The song is associated with the Mid Autumn Festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. For 2015, it’s Sunday September 27th.

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Flowers for your heart: Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana O (すべての人の心に花を)

No sooner than finding sheet music to BEGIN’s Hana, my retired Japanese language professor friend in California introduced an even more nostalgic song from Okinawa. It’s also called Hana. The composer is Kina Shoukichi (喜納昌吉).

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The flower of sanshin: san shin no hana 三線の花

At the annual Maui Okinawan Festival, I heard three youngsters announce the songs they would be dancing to. When one of them added “and this one is my favorite,” I took out my iPhone to record it and began my journey of discovering this famous song about the Okinawan instrument. Continue reading

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