February 16, 1848: Chopin’s Final Concert

Born in the Duchy of Warsaw (present-day Poland) and raised in Warsaw, Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) settled in Paris by the time he was 21 years old.  His musical compositions are primarily for solo piano and remain among the most popular selections for students, artists, and audiences.  While admired for his technical virtuosity at the piano, he was generally…

Join the Ranks!

Combining my interest in history with performing on a magnificent organ seemed like a great idea, so when Mike Hobbs, from the Civil War Round Table, asked me to provide a program for them I quickly agreed.  I had absolutely no idea, however, how this event would grow…and grow…and grow over the next days and…

Counting Aloud

Sometimes we run across some wisdom gem or quote or insight that we just have to share with everyone else.  It is especially exciting when that gem happens to back up something we believe and have tried to convey to others, as in,”See?  I TOLD you so!” If you have ever ‘liked,’ ‘shared’ or ‘retweeted’…

Selecting a Portable Keyboard

There are so many wonderful keyboards and digital pianos on the market that to choose one can feel overwhelming.  The question is really, “What kind of keyboard do I need to begin piano studies?” In an ideal world, we would all have pianos with 88 weighted keys. While the debate between preferring acoustic or digital/electronic…

“The Light of the World Is Jesus”

Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876) was one of the five children born to John and Lydia Bliss.  Their log home, typical of the early settlers of northern Pennsylvania, was filled with love and Christian teaching, but formal education was scarce.  Early in life, Philip developed a passion for learning and for music, and took advantage of…

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

In 1923, Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960) wrote a poem about God’s faithfulness to us,  based on the scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm’s life began in a Kentucky log cabin…

“Called As Partners in Christ’s Service”

There are things in my life that remind me of the people in my life.  It could be a recipe, a style of shoes, a particular color, most anything really.  Often, it is a song. In some of the churches I have served, the pastor selects the hymns to be sung by the congregation.  Pastors,…

“When Morning Gilds the Skies”

In Psalm 34:1, David proclaims, ” I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (NIV)  To praise God morning, noon and night, and by everyone, everywhere, is exactly what the author of When Morning Gilds the Skies had in mind.  The original German text of fourteen stanzas first…

“Agnus Dei” (Georges Bizet)

Talk of recycling or repurposing often includes tires, newspapers, pallets, books (shudder!), cooking oil and plastic bottles.  What does that have to do with music?  Of all man-made things, music is surely towards the top of the list of things that have been recycled.  A few notes, a phrase, a theme or entire song may show…

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

Have you ever had one of those seasons when it seems everything you touch crumbles and everything you try to do fails?  Me, too.  Have you had the kind of tragedy in your life that took your breath away, shook you to your core and you couldn’t imagine how to go on? I have, and if…

“Trumpet Voluntary” Henry Heron

Imagine what the keyboard of a piano looks like.  Whether an upright or grand, a piano has one set of keys.  Now imagine what an organ looks like.  Most people visualize multiple rows of keys (called manuals) which are played by the hands, and one big set of keys on the floor (called pedals)  which are…

“People, Look East”

As a church musician, I’ve heard the complaint that the songs of Advent don’t seem as joyful as Christmas songs.  I’ll agree that some of them can feel a little heavy.  After all, Advent is a time of reflection and preparation, and reflections and preparations don’t always come easily or lightly.  Then along comes People,…