Corden & McCartney sing Beatles songs in Liverpool

What a great idea to travel down memory lane singing songs you wrote in the different locations of your home town! That’s exactly what Paul McCartney did in Liverpool recently. The 24-minute Youtube video moved me to tears as “Let It Be” did for James Corden, host of “The Late, Late Show” in London.

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City of Stars from La La Land

I watched “La La Land” with my high school classmate June and two of her children, one of whom delighted in figuring out the songs on the keyboard — by ear.

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 “City of Stars from La La Land”

I Gotta Feeling for Easy Piano

Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling is addictive and fantastic for piano ensemble playing.

I first heard the Black Eyed Peas in the Netherlands. I can’t remember how exactly I heard their smash hit “I Gotta Feeling” but definitely I worked out to it in the health club across the canal from my house. Anyway, every time I hear it, I just want to move. Their “Boom Boom Pow” is equally addictive.

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Imagine by John Lennon for easy piano

Anne Ku arranged four different versions of John Lennon’s Imagine solo piano accompaniment for different levels of playing.

John Lennon’s Imagine is a song with piano accompaniment in the key of C major. These days, you can play a well-tuned piano to his official video on youtube, as we did in class to any number of versions I arranged for the different levels of my adult piano students. In all versions, both hands are to play one octave lower than what’s written.

Click on the excerpt to download the full PDF version. It’s Christmas come early.

Easy piano arrangement of Imagine by John Lennon
Easy piano arrangement of Imagine by John Lennon

Slightly more difficult is the following version because I left out the fingerings and the right hand has to do a little more work than before.

Slightly more difficult version of Imagine by John Lennon
Slightly more difficult version of Imagine by John Lennon

To imitate the authentic piano arrangement, we need repetitive broken chords in eighth notes, on the right hand.

Authentic piano accompaniment for John Lennon's Imagine on the right hand
Authentic piano accompaniment for John Lennon’s Imagine on the right hand

Finally, for those whose left hands are powerful enough to play octaves, here’s another version.

Left hand octaves accompaniment for Imagine by John Lennon
Left hand octaves accompaniment for Imagine by John Lennon

UPDATE @ 8th April 2018
Imagine is one of 23 songs we will be playing and singing on Wednesday 11th April 2018 in our thematic ukulele jam session in Historic Lower Mills — the theme is “Easy Beatles.”

Requesting sheet music

I get requests for sheet music I have composed, arranged, played, or simply acquired. I usually don’t know how to answer these requests. Why?

1) I don’t have the requested sheet music at my finger tips. It’s not like I can just click on the e-mail address of the person who requested, open my mail, type a few polite words, attach the PDF of the score, and press . It’s far more complicated. I have to locate that PDF first.

2) The requested sheet music is not in a format that I can easily attach to an e-mail and send off. It could still be in Sibelius. I’d have to open Sibelius and print as a PDF, and repeat step 1 above. It could be a physical printout or hard copy. I’d have to scan it. Open it in Adobe Professional or other high-end software to check that it’s been properly scanned and repeat step 1 above.

3) The requested sheet music is not for me to share or send. Perhaps I bought it. Perhaps I borrowed it. Perhaps it was dedicated to me.

4) The requested sheet music is incomplete. I may not have all of it.

5) The requested sheet music is not what I have but I’d have to do work to what I have to make it available. For instance, it could be in a different key.

6) I don’t have the time to do any of the above. Of course, I even get requests to pay for the music I have. While it may be a motivator, I still have to make a conscious effort to set a price, get payment, and do one of the above. It’s much easier to say,”please order one of my solo piano CDs or my piano guitar duo CDs from CDBABY and let me know you have done so and then I will happily e-mail you what you want.” For some reason, people never respond to my request. They probably think “but I don’t want a CD much less pay for it. I want that piece of sheet music!”

7) Once upon a time, I have dutifully responded to requests positively and e-mailed the requested sheet music. I have stopped doing so because I usually don’t get a thank you, feedback, or any sort of follow-up or reciprocation.

8) When there is a piece of music I really want, it’s usually something I want instantly. That’s when, out of desperation, I too will email to request for the piece of music. And usually I get dead silence. Perhaps the person who has what I want is also struggling with one of the above.

9) One of my students asked me to find the score for “Lean on Me.” I did a little search and found no free sheet music that’s really easy to play. So guess what? I arranged it for his level. Now, maybe there is a value proposition in customizing music to suit a person’s level.

A Thousand Years for easy piano

Anne Ku arranges Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” for beginning piano students.

How do you teach complete beginners how to play the piano?

Start with a tune they want to play.

So I searched Pandora and Youtube for the most popular movie themes. Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” is one of those sticky melodies that haunts me like the movie Twilight. Although I’ve yet to see Breaking Dawn, I can see why young people like it so much.

The short cut is to search for the sheet music online. However, it’s in a key too challenging for most beginners. Plus there are too many notes. Too much variety.

So I reduced it from 6/8 time to 3/4 time and transposed into the white key of C.

The result is something quite do-able, particularly with added fingerings. Of course, it’s always possible to simplify this further still. I will assign my students to figure how how it ends.

A Thousand Years for easy piano arranged by Anne Ku
A Thousand Years for easy piano