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Four Simple Tips to Help You Become a Great Vocal Accompanist

May 14, 2018 - By 

One of the most demanding jobs a pianist can have is playing for individuals or groups of people while they sing.

Why is it so difficult? It doesn’t have to be, but it is very different from playing on your own. Here are some tips for you to consider as you prepare to accompany your favorite singer in a performance.

1. Know the music.

This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but you might be surprised at how many times pianists are un- or under-prepared for their task. So, the first and most important part of a successful performance is to be very familiar with the music. Where are the tough parts? Marking them in with a highlighter so you know when they are coming can be helpful. How can you be ready for page-turns? Do you need to recruit someone to turn pages for you? Are there unexpected key changes or time-signature changes? Your vocalist partner will be counting on you to be aware of these things and to be prepared.

2. Make sure your volume level is appropriate for the setting.

You need to take a look at the room where you will be performing before you begin. Check the acoustics to be sure the piano is not too loud. It can be very easy to get involved in the beautiful music you’re playing and not realize that you’re too loud or too soft. If possible, have someone else listen from various spots in the room to see how your instrument sounds. Is the vocalist using a microphone? Is your instrument miked? You need to check on all of these things in advance. If you are fortunate enough to have a sound person on hand, make sure he is aware of the level of your instrument’s sound levels, and not just focusing on the singer. It is important to be sure you have a well-balanced sound. Unbalanced levels can spoil an otherwise exquisite performance.

3. Don’t play the melody along with the singer.

This may be questionable advice, depending on the circumstances of your performance. If you are playing for an amateur or a child, you may find that you need to help them in their performance, or that they can’t find the melody without you. However, if you are playing for a professional or even a good amateur, you probably don’t need to play the melody. In fact, at times it can be quite annoying to hear the melody line played along with the singer.

What do you do if the sheet music includes the melody in the accompaniment? You can usually simply avoid the lead line. Sometimes this means leaving out the top line of three staves, or the notes with tails pointing upwards on the treble line of a grand stave. If you are a good enough pianist, you may be able to improvise a counter-melody with your right hand. Another option, If you are capable of it, is to follow the guitar-chords that are often included above the staves. This kind of improvisation can be challenging if you are not used to doing it, but it can be particularly effective if you are playing jazz or pop music.

Of course, this advice is given with the understanding that the vocalist must be comfortable with whatever you choose to do, which brings me to the last bit of overall advice.

4. Make your vocalist into a star!

I’m sure you are a great pianist and you are to be congratulated for all the years of hard work it takes to get where you are. That being said, when you are accompanying a vocalist, you must always strive to stay in the background. If you do your job correctly, the listening audience should hardly be aware of your presence.

Follow the singer, no matter what! You may be an excellent sight-reader. You may always be right. That is not the most important fact during a vocal performance. The vocalist is the star, and you are there to back her up, no matter how great you are. It may be very likely that you are the better musician of the two of you, but your job is to make her shine, so even if she makes mistakes, you must do all you can to prevent your audience from knowing it.

If you need to slow down or speed up to follow her, do it. If she is a good vocalist, she will be interpreting the music according to the emotion of the piece, so it’s essential that you follow their lead. Don’t forget to employ your soft pedal when needed to make the dynamics of the music bring out the emotion of the singer, and come out strongly with energy and power to highlight the excitement and drama when appropriate as well.

Although the singer is the star, no performance is complete without the talent of a good accompanist. You can make or break it! By remembering and practicing these simple tips, you can become an accompanist extraordinaire!


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Creatively enhancing your worship service with these keyboard tricks

April 9, 2018 - By 

As a church pianist, I think it’s helpful from time to time to focus on your artistry. I know the church pianist serves a purpose, and it’s important for us to consider our role as servants in the church. (I do believe people are called to serve, and all Christians are “wired” with ways in which they serve the church. There is great value to servant-hood, and it’s a broad Scriptural principle.) But to maintain merely a utilitarian view of our position is to miss out on opportunities to be creative and artistic.

A couple of preliminary thoughts. First, make sure your leadership is on board with your ideas. This also means you need to clearly and precisely communicate your ideas. Don’t just do some of these “tricks” without informing anyone; that would not be wise. Further, know that change is sometimes difficult to implement, and can often be met with resistance. This is not a blog about change in the church, but I’m sure there could be entire blogs devoted to the subject. Just use your wisdom, and the combined wisdom of your peers, team, and leadership. In most of the examples below, I would recommend that you showcase or demonstrate what you have in mind–in detail–so that everyone is on the same page.

Change up the prelude.

Maybe you just have a CD play; spice it up with live musicians. Maybe you just play a bunch of hymns in the hymnal; change it up with some modern songs, or a variety. Maybe your church likes a lively prelude as people enter; consider throwing in one meditative song, perhaps in the middle, that might help people to reflect and pray. Add instrumentalists. Have an acoustic ensemble. Incorporate a student ensemble. Do something out of the ordinary that says you’re being intentional about all aspects of your corporate worship.

Add transitions between songs.

Tying your songs together with seamless musical transitions helps create momentum and a sense of direction. Including the lyrics on the screens or in the bulletins best facilitates this, but it can also be creatively achieved by using a hymnal. Some modern hymnals contain a few ready-made medleys available for use. Even if you have to spend time writing out your transitions, it will be well worth your time.

Provide background music for segues and prayers.

Sometimes, dead space is appropriate. But sometimes it’s helpful to include music to help transition, or to provide an atmosphere of thoughtfulness or reverence. Of course, we don’t “create” worship. But in the same way that a full orchestra aids in worship, or an organ or a guitar aids in worship, so can our keyboard artistry. Use simple, whole note chords and progressions. Don’t have distracting melodies, that might actually compete with the speaker or worship going on.

Introduce a poignant instrumental solo or ensemble.

At our church, we normally have an instrumental during our offering. It’s just been our tradition that has worked well, and it certainly gives a lot of our keyboardists and instrumentalists ample opportunity to serve. Perhaps you do too. But what if your instrumental was placed strategically at a location that really made people think. You could include some of the lyrics on the screens or in the bulletin. Especially if it’s thoughtful, and especially if it works well with the progression of the song portion of your worship service, this could be very effective.

Provide thoughtful invitation or response music.

Yes, our church still has an altar call. And if your church still utilizes a church pianist, there’s probably a good chance that you have one, too. Let’s not do a raise of hands, but many of us have sat through a boring, repetitive invitational played while the pastor prays, or calls the congregation to some sort of response. Why not play quiet, contemplative, and simple chords under the final invitation. An invitation hymn could be alluded to, but not outright played. And I’ve found playing at a much slower pace significantly helps the time to be more thoughtful and reflective.

Your service in the local church as a keyboard artist should provide you with many ways to explore creativity and imagination. With alignment and backing from your church’s leadership, you possess some powerful tools that enable you to provide variety and creativity in your church’s expression of worship. Ultimately, our goal is to exalt the greatness of our God (Psalm 145:3). In all you do–no matter how creatively or imaginatively–may that remain your top priority.


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How to simplify your congregational accompanying

March 16, 2018 - By 

Simplified piano accompanying is not something new or original with me. A lot of people are teaching this concept these days. Bob Kauflin, and many others who lead worship with a band, emphasize the importance of utilizing the keyboard in a way that enhances the mix, and doesn’t draw attention to itself. (Many are even minimizing the role of the accompanists in an effort to emphasize the actual singing of the congregation, which is a great trend!) But I’ve found that this technique, while necessary and appropriate in a praise band setting, also works very well in a more traditional setting (which is what I’m more familiar with).

If you’re the only accompanist for the congregational singing, I suggest you take this tip with a grain of salt. Sometimes, what you play (or don’t play) will make the difference between the congregation feeling very confident and singing out, versus them feeling uneasy and possibly even derailing the song. Your goal as an accompanist is to build confidence and provide support. Another factor involved is how long you’ve been their accompanist, and how well the people are used to you. If you’re a newbie, you’re going to want to take every precaution to ensure your playing is super supportive.

But if you are fortunate to play with other instruments (an acoustic band or a church orchestra), or your church is a four-part-harmony-singing type of church, you might find it helpful to simplify your accompaniment to compliment the ensemble or the singers. Let me give you a few examples.

Example 1

Here we have a pretty basic rendition of Amazing Grace, built on the harmonies found in the hymnal. This will work well with playing with a church orchestra.

Example 2

In example 2, you’ll find a much stronger bass line. I will often incorporate this style, especially if we don’t have adequate representation of the bass section (either brass or strings). Also, our church’s piano is a 9′ concert grand; those bass notes resonate beautifully and powerfully.

Example 3

Example 3 emphasizes the mid-section, and also provides some momentous movement in the left hand. (Movement helps maintain momentum, or keep a lagging group moving forward. But be careful. Too much movement–sixteenth notes and such–can slow things down.) This rendition works well when your highs and lows are represented well in the church orchestra. It also works well when you’re the only accompanist, or one of a few.

Example 4

Now things are starting to get exciting. Example 4 shows how you can eliminate some melody notes, and still provide support and momentum. Let’s face it, most people know this song really well. So the melody on beat 3 of the first full measure is not necessary. Notice the right hand pattern in the second full measure. It grows out of the harmonies of the chord, and provides the movement while the voice holds a half note out.

Example 5

Example 5 will actually only (best) work when you are the only accompanying instrument, mainly because we’re beginning to steer away from the harmonies found in a hymnal. If you are playing with an organ, or with an orchestra, or with four-part singing, this option likely won’t work. It will work best for congregations that are used to singing melody, or used to occasionally singing in free form.

Go ahead and hum the melody while you play through this example. The second full measure is really exciting to me. It not only helps continue to maintain momentum, but it builds into the next measure. Notice I removed the E minor chord on beat 3 of the third measure.

It occurred to me that you’re beginning to see the thought process that goes into arranging music. A pattern like this would work well for accompanying a soloist (vocal or instrumental) on this song. Even while simplifying, great interest has been added.

Example 6

Now let’s have some fun. Again, hum through the melody while playing this example. You won’t be able to get away with this pattern for a whole stanza, but you might be able to maintain it throughout the first half. It’s very open sounding, almost ethereal. This will also work well when you want a stanza to be very reflective.

Example 7

Since we’re getting crazy, have a look at this fun example. This is obviously very open and sustained. It will work in very few contexts. Our congregation follows a song leader who is confident and inspiring. Vocally, he can keep the momentum. That being the case, I might have liberty to experiment with options such as this. It wouldn’t be common, however.

Hopefully, whatever you decide to do, you will provide the congregation support, and you will enable the most important thing about congregational singing to be emphasized: the singing itself.


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Church pianist tips and tricks

February 22, 2018 - By 

Church music ministry looks different than it did 20 years ago, and even 10 or 5 years ago things were vastly different than they are today. Church pianists have to adapt. Skills that worked long ago must be developed, updated, and built upon.

As one of our church’s pianist, I’m constantly reminded of the need to change things up. Change is a good thing. Here are a few ways you can change things up, and hopefully see improvement in your worship service.

Simplify

Less is more. That’s never been more true than today. It used to be more desirable to be a flashy church pianist. I remember being in awe as I heard church pianists in college who executed stunning arpeggios and runs. But when it came down to it, I’m not really sure that helped me to sing better. (In fact, as an observant, aspiring musician myself, it was probably more distracting than anything.)

I’m not suggesting that we need to be less creative. The fact is, it takes a great deal of creativity to accomplish your accompanying goals in a minimal manner, as opposed to using more and louder notes. Less truly is more.

Emphasize

When it comes to congregational singing, what is the most important element? The accompanist? No, not really. Sure, the accompanist provides support and confidence, but the singers are the most important part. It’s what it’s all about.

Seek ways to emphasize the congregational singing. For me, it involves not always playing the melody, especially when it’s a song that the congregation knows extremely well. For example, songs like “Amazing Grace,” “In Christ Alone,” and “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” rarely need the melody played. I can emphasize the congregational singing by minimizing the notes that I play.

Modernize

Let’s face it: The model and techniques we were taught in the university 20, 30, or 40 years ago aren’t always relevant to what we’re doing today. You’re going to need to modernize your approach. The stride that was popular generations ago is–by and large–rarely ever used today. I rarely use full 4-note chords to achieve a loud sound. I’ve found I can achieve a loud sound with just a few notes, and be even more effective.

I’m not suggesting that older techniques and effects were wrong. They served their generations well. It’s just that modern ears are used to something different. Find out what that is, and employ it.


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Church Pianist Challenge: Disruptive Congregation

July 27, 2017 - By 

This is the first in a series of articles I will be writing about challenges facing church pianists today. It grows out of this article, which seemed to hit a nerve.

Church pianists are valuable resources to the church. Just ask someone who attends a church without a pianist, and they’ll tell you how important they are!

When a pianist prepares an instrumental solo, what’s involved? Many things. Initially, there is the time investment to peruse and discover new and appropriate repertoire. Then there is a financial investment made to obtain this music. Finally, there is the mental and time investment for preparation, which may include many hours of rehearsal. Add to that the stresses of performance, like perhaps dealing with the quarks of a less-than-ideal instrument, awkward or difficult page turns, air handlers blowing your music everywhere, or coping with stage fright and performance anxiety.

All of this, so that the congregation can take part in a special aspect of worship through music. Scripture is replete with God’s desire for instrumental music (2 Chronicles 29:25-28; Psalm 150; Revelation 5:8, 14:2-3, 15:2-3). Psalm 33:3 seems to have a directive specifically for instrumentalists: play skilfully and loudly. The passage seems to emphasize a need for precision and confidence. When this is achieved, an opportunity for worship (minus the distractions) exists for those who listen.

I also think you can make a case that, when instrumental music is not accompanying singing, it ought to be used to remind us of songs the congregation already knows, so that the truths of those songs can be non-verbally communicated (reminded) through the music. Not everyone sees it this way, and there is certainly room for varying viewpoints. Bottom line: the music serves a purpose.

If a congregation is unengaged, uninterested, or otherwise distracted, it will deflate any purpose of the instrumental worship. Ultimately, a church pianist is not responsible for the behavior of a congregant, any more than a senior pastor is responsible for bad behavior during his sermon. It’s important for pianists to remember this. We should be very thankful for pianists who dutifully perform their responsibilities, regardless of the attention level, response, or outcome. They have the right perspective. They are ultimately playing for the Lord, and they are grateful for the handful of people who “get it,” and find encouragement and worship opportunities through their keyboard artistry.

A congregation that is disruptive during an instrumental offertory simply doesn’t understand the opportunity for worship they are carelessly discarding. A church pianist would be wise to work with the leadership of the church (the pastor, the worship pastor, the song leader, etc.) to identify the problem, and seek appropriate resolution. Perhaps a song leader merely needs to occasionally remind the congregation that the offertory is not filler, but rather an important part of service. If there are “main offenders,” they need to be gently and personally approached, and dialog should take place to find a solution.

What else can be done to emphasize the spiritual ministry of the instrumental? Make lyrics available to the congregation, whether on overhead projected screens, or in the bulletin. Even if lyrics to the entire song aren’t practical, include just the refrain, or a main thought from the text. In addition to helping emphasize the meaning of the music, this might just help with quieting people down.

Pianists should also evaluate their playing. Listen to recordings of your performances. Ask some questions to help when evaluating. Is this arrangement interesting? Is it unnecessarily lengthy? Am I playing with expression and dynamics (or am I just pounding)? What can I do differently to build more engagement into the mix? Would I enjoy listening to someone else play this?

In my experience, the prelude and postlude serve as background music, and talking by an entering or exiting congregation is expected. I plan accordingly. But for offertories, we still regularly feature the instrumental solo, and our congregation knows this is an opportunity to worship God through their joyful giving in the offering plate, and through thoughtful meditation of the Scriptural truths presented through the message of the song being played. It is our prayer that we will point people to Christ through our ministry.


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Challenges facing church pianists

June 26, 2017 - By 

Church pianists are amazing people! They solve problems you didn’t even know you had. (Such a great t-shirt line!)

I recently posed this question on my Facebook page: “What challenges do you face as a church pianist?” There were many responses. It was surprising. You can view the post here for yourself.

I decided to break down the responses into common categories, and include them here. I will post the challenge, and then include some personal observations. Here goes:

People talking during the instrumental offertory. So, apparently this doesn’t just happen at my church! 🙂 The prevailing consensus is that it really comes across as rude, especially to the performer (effort, time investment, etc.), and to the purpose of the offertory (to minister through the message of the song).

Phasing church pianists out. Many churches are transitioning from traditional music to contemporary music, from the traditional choir and orchestra, to a few featured voices and a band. As a result, the trend seems to be putting church pianists out of a job, or at least out of a job as they knew it. Some fortunate church pianists will adapt, although not always happily. Others will be out of a job. It certainly doesn’t feel good to have a ministry that is no longer needed.

Finding music that works. While some have difficulty finding more challenging music (publishers seem to be publishing more intermediate level music, no doubt because it probably sells better), others have trouble finding music that isn’t too difficult for them. I’m pretty sure this is a challenge that faces all musicians, and each musician has their own method for finding the music that works for them.

Finding music that works for the musicians they serve with. Many church pianists are involved in the planning and preparing of church music for vocalists and other instrumentalists. It can be challenging finding music for your musicians, especially if they are not all studio musicians. 🙂 Less experienced musicians will need easier music, or music that is simplified. It sure would be nice to have a go-to resource that would provide such music, or at least point people in the right direction.

Training future church pianists. This is such an important endeavor, something that today’s church should take a long and hard look at. There seems to be a distancing from education in the church. While the church’s purpose is not primarily education, it is undeniable that the church should have a role in training future church musicians. Specifically, church pianists face the challenge of how to convey their artistry and years of experience to young learners. A further challenge is finding opportunity for these young learners to participate in worship, so that they have the chance to gain experience and grow as a church musician.

Lack of dedication from other church musicians they serve with. In my experience, church pianists are some of the most dedicated church musicians. I’m not just saying that because I am one. Really. It can be very discouraging when another scheduled musician chronically cancels at the last minute, or half the choir doesn’t show up to rehearsal. Added to this challenge is the fact that most church pianists aren’t in a position of authority to deal with this issue. In most cases, other than appealing to the church leadership (worship pastor, choir director, pastor, etc.), they very often have no recourse and must altogether keep silent on the matter.

Too much of their time monopolized. I can see this. If a church has only one pianist, my heart goes out to that pianist. No doubt they are asked to play for every service, for multiple elements in each service. All of this takes rehearsal, and often, much preparation is needed before rehearsal can even happen. This has got to be a big challenge for many church pianists today.

Maintaining their own spiritual heart, even when called upon to regularly perform. Some find it easy to maintain a heart of worship during a worship service in which they are significantly involved. But others are more naturally distracted by their craft and artistry. For the latter, the challenge is to maintain times of personal worship outside of the worship services, so that when they are called upon to “perform,” their relationship with the Lord is where it should be. (Don’t let that word “perform” throw you. The distraction doesn’t come from trying to perform, but rather from the attention needed to stay focused and execute their craft well with excellence.)

Other challenges that were mentioned are trying to keep your music fresh and current sounding, tactfully helping weaker musicians without coming across as arrogant or being offensive, people trying to have full-on conversations during preludes or postludes, those pesky page turns in the wrong places, and of course, nerves! Humorously, someone said they have a shaky music stand, so they have a hard time reading the notes that are jiggling all around. 🙂

I’m convinced: being a church pianist is not for the weak of heart. There are genuinely difficult challenges for those in this field. I’d be interested in learning of other challenges you face as a church pianist. Even more importantly, I’d like to know how you overcame some of these challenges.


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Solved: Problems with the Store

May 1, 2017 - By 

If you purchased music from the Koerts Music store in the last year or so, chances are very strong that you may have had an issue actually receiving your downloaded links. For those who have registered their email with the site, this wasn’t an issue, as they were able to access all former purchases from their account page. But for others, this often led to a long waiting period, in which nothing was delivered. Inevitably, I would receive a message from the buyer, and would have to manually send them the links to their download(s).

The processes of sending the links to those who didn’t automatically receive them was time consuming, and it was becoming an increasingly regular problem. I hated to have to apologize so frequently that my system was not acting the way it was supposed to act.

What led to this problem? I’m not even sure I understand. Basically, there were certain email domains (for example: @aol.com or @yahoo.com) that would reject any emails sent from my system. It was fairly random, but there were a few email domains that gave frequent problems.

What was the solution? A more reliable email delivery system. It was a project beyond the scope of my understanding. Some of you may be surprised to know that there is no team behind Koerts Music website. I’m it. I have no employees, and I certainly don’t have a web development team – though I would love one! Fortunately, I do have a friend who knows a lot about the websites, and he has helped me much over the years. Through his expertise, we were able to get the email delivery problem solved.

I’d like to be able to say that the problem has been 100% solved, but the percentage is more like 99%. Occasionally, we still have a random customer who does not receive their download links. If this happens to you, contact us right away, and I will personally make sure you receive your music as quickly as possible.


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Why Choir?

January 18, 2017 - By 

Recently, a friend of mine sent me an article on reasons why it’s a good idea for a church to have a choir. It was a good list. You’ve seen these types of articles, haven’t you? I gave it a read, wondering if I would discover something new, or at the very least find something that confirmed my already opinionated thoughts on the matter. (After all, the choir is a big part of my ministry.)

What stood out, however, was what was missing. I wrote my friend back: “It’s a good article, but the author missed the most important reason to have a choir: it’s God’s idea.”

It’s true, there are a lot of good musical, social, and spiritual reasons to have a church choir. As another friend recently reminded me, choirs are the quintessential “small group” of the church, offering tremendous opportunities for worship, edification, and spiritual growth. And this is all true and important.

But to me, the most compelling reason to have a choir is simply because it was God’s idea. From the early beginnings of organized Temple worship (2nd Chronicles 5:13, see the whole chapter), to the mass choir of eternal worshipers (Revelation 7:9-12), God has implemented, accepted, and enjoyed the ministry of the choir of believers.

Can a modern church truly be a New Testament church without the ministry of the church choir? Sure. Church plants and small congregations may find it to be low on the list of their immediate priorities. But eventually, as a healthy church grows numerically and spiritually, it would be wise to evaluate the validity of the church choir (even if it could really be called an ensemble).

And it would be a good idea… because it was God’s idea.


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What I’ve been up to

January 5, 2017 - By 

So 2016 was a whirlwind year. The year in which I turned 40 gave me no time to pursue a mid-life crises, ha! My first priority has been my family. Our daughter (9 years old) enrolled in a Christian school for the first time this year. She is a social butterfly, and flourishes with friends, schedules and structure. In addition to that, we home school two of our boys, and our three year old continues to bring an overload of joy to our family.

Second has been my church ministry. Things have continued to grow and flourish. We are enjoying the second year of the implementation of our music leadership team, a group devoted to the growth and work of the ministry. I attribute much of the success of our ministry to this group of fellow laborers who love the Lord and are committed. And frankly, that describes the majority of the people I am privileged to serve with week after week. Above all, God is doing a great work at Mikado Baptist Church, and as my pastor likes to say, “we are just glad to be on the bus!”

It’s been a joy to continue to contribute to the online work here at Koerts Music. Here is a list of all the major projects I was able to accomplish in 2016, thanks to the grace of God:

In addition, about half way through 2016 I began recording and making YouTube videos of all music I produce on this website. Please check out my channel, and if you like what you see, please subscribe. I expect to continue this with all future projects.

So, it has been a very busy year, and I give all the credit to God who has allowed me to keep up at this pace.

What can you expect this year? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few plans I have for 2017

  • Continue my current pace of musical output. Perhaps even exceed expectations. There are plans for new piano collections, more duet and duo arrangements, as well as more Flex Instrumental solos.
  • Continue to deliver amazing content for the Piano Club members.
  • Release a new simple series, with piano collections that include arrangements that are easy.
  • Releasing music by other composers, not just that James Koerts guy. 🙂
  • A renewed emphasis on blogging.

Let me just park there for a moment. Blogging is, frankly, a chore for me. I find it easier to “do” ministry than to blog about it. But the longer I’m in church music ministry, the stronger my passions in the field have become. There are some things I simply want to say. There are other things that I just can’t figure out, and I’d like your input. I view it as a worthy exercise, and so it’s something I’m willing to commit to do in 2017. I don’t know if it will be once a week or more or less frequent than that. But I do plan on sharing my thoughts more often, and my whole goal is encouragement and engagement.


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New Choir Music

October 28, 2016 - By 

I realized I haven’t shared some of my recent choral music, so this post will serve to make you aware of some new and fairly new choir anthems released within the last few years. Click on the pictures to access more info such as demos, preview pages, and purchase information

 

Not Ashamed

Publisher description: James Koerts’s rhythmic arrangement of Patricia Mock’s uplifting Gospel song expresses gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and underscores the message: “I’m not ashamed to sing out His story!” Add the optional rhythm to amplify your worship experience.

Forever and Until

Publisher description: This anthem of dedication beautifully expresses the believer’s desire to respond to God’s call until Christ returns. “We are here and we are Yours, lead us in Your way. May we be Your messengers tomorrow and today.”

Read more…


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How Great Thou Art

October 28, 2016 - By 

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Here’s a new piano arrangement of How Great Thou Art.

Learn more about the piano arrangement here.

Watch the video:


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Repeat the Sounding Joy – Piano Duets

October 28, 2016 - By 

I’m really excited to introduce this piano collection of piano duets: Repeat the Sounding Joy.

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Learn more about this digital piano collection here.

Preview pages here.

Watch the videos here:


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New Bundles: Spirituals & Seasonal

October 28, 2016 - By 

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These are great ways to get lots of piano arrangements, and save some money in the process. Click one of the pictures above to learn more.


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African American Spirituals – Book 2

October 28, 2016 - By 

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Here is the newest collection in the African American Spirituals series. The titles included are: Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley * Little David, Play On Your Harp * Lord, I Want to Be a Christian (with I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me) * Ride On, King Jesus * They Crucified My Lord (He Never Said A Mumbalin’ Word) * Wayfaring Stranger * Were You There * When the Saints Go Marching In

Preview pages here.

Purchase your copy here.

Watch the videos:


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Higher Ground

October 28, 2016 - By 

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Here’s a new piano arrangement of Higher Ground. Enjoy the corresponding video:

Get the piano arrangement here.


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Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

October 28, 2016 - By 

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Here is another monthly piano club arrangement that can also be purchased here at the Koerts Music store.

Here’s the video:


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For the Beauty of the Earth [video]

October 28, 2016 - By 

From time to time I discover videos on YouTube of my arrangements. I really enjoy listening to them. I’ve been very impressed with this particular YouTube user who is making some great music.

Here’s a video of the free piano hymn arrangement, For the Beauty of the Earth:

You can get this free piano arrangement here.


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New piano collection: Spirituals

July 30, 2016 - By 

Here’s a new piano collection of African American Spirituals. It’s the first of probably four or five such collections.

spirituals-cover

On my Facebook page, I asked for suggestions for a new spirituals collection that I wanted to arrange. The suggestions were excellent, and many are included in this first collection.

As I was researching the project, I found that there were nearly 50 African American spirituals that I was familiar with. I was amazed at how much material there is! So I’m excited about future projects!

Here are the preview pages.

You can purchase it here, and watch demo videos.


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New Video: More Love to Thee

July 7, 2016 - By 

Here’s the newest solo piano video: More Love to Thee.

If the video above doesn’t display, then copy this address into your browser address bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBGdDsQ52rg

Find the sheet music here.


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Video: It Is Well with My Soul

May 27, 2016 - By 

Here is a new video of one of my new arrangements, It Is Well with My Soul.

Copy this link into your web browser’s address bar if you don’t see the video above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df9DZaZ_BpI

Purchase the sheet music here.


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Introducing the James Koerts Piano Club

May 17, 2016 - By 

I’ve been very busy here lately, and I’m excited to share with you some new and exciting things. In addition to the new YouTube videos I’ve been producing lately, I’m pleased to tell you about my new piano club.

PianoClub

For $25 a year, this premium piano club will deliver brand new piano arrangements to your email inbox each month!

Here’s what you get with your membership:

  • Monthly piano arrangement
  • Accompanying audio file of the complete arrangement
  • A note from James about the arrangement
  • An automatic 10% discount on all future purchases

Click here (or on the picture above) to learn more and sign up.


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Videos: The LOVED Piano Collection

May 9, 2016 - By 

I have finally completed all of the videos for the Loved Piano Collection. Now, when anyone wants to preview the collection, they can listen to it in its entirety.

Instead of posting each video as an individual entry, I decided to put them together as a Playlist on YouTube (and here in this blog post).

If you like it, would you subscribe to my YouTube page? I would greatly appreciate it.

Expect to see many more demos on the site in the coming months.

If you don’t see the video above, copy this url into your browser address bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLidK6gA7gI&list=PLQm9Ioy48lI81hmFox2F2ma2cPjzOEdZ3


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Video: Oh, How I Love Jesus

May 3, 2016 - By 

Here is a new video of the gospel song, Oh, How I Love Jesus:

Copy this link into your browser’s address bar if you don’t see the video above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1QQQV3ce_g

Purchase the sheet music here.


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Video: I Am His, and He Is Mine

April 28, 2016 - By 

Over time I will be introducing new videos that contain demos of my new piano arrangements. Below is my first video, an arrangement of “I Am His, and He Is Mine.”

If it doesn’t show up, copy this link into your browser’s address bar: https://youtu.be/dulDrNyOTKY

If you’d like to purchase the sheet music for this song, visit this link.