May 282013
“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”
~Marvin J. Ashton
Here’s something to warm your heart–the story of a young girl who was bullied by her classmates, and the young men who stepped forward to prevent it. If you haven’t heard the story (or even if you have!) take five minutes to watch the video–it will make your day.
“Angels in Disguise”
So many people in this old world desperately need to see evidence of the love of God in the actions of their fellow men and women. Sometimes the challenges they face are apparent; sometimes they are brought to our attention by a parent or friend; and sometimes they are invisible, hidden away in hearts too fragile to share.
“…in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”
~Susan Evans McCloud, from the hymn “Lord, I Would Follow Thee

The new song this time is called “Only Love,” written for solo voice in a medium range. The title of the song is an imperative, much like the commandments the Savior said are the greatest in the law: love God and love His children. Love is a choice. If it were not so, how could the Lord command us to do it? And how different would the world be if each one of us would only choose to love, to act in accordance with these two great commandments in every situation, in every moment of our lives?

Imagine what could happen in today’s world… if each of us would vow to cherish, watch over, and comfort one another. Imagine the possibilities!
~Marvin J. Ashton

The lyrics were co-written with my friend Josh Weed. He and his lovely wife Laurel came all the way from Seattle one weekend so Josh could sing the demo track. When he stepped into my little makeshift studio he had no idea what a relentless taskmaster I turn into under headphones, but he was a good sport about it, and did a great job on the vocals. If you’d like to record your own version of this song, check out Josh’s post here for details on a contest he’s hosting. 😉

May 242013
Since I’m off visiting my parents this week, I don’t have my nice, organized (oh, very!) stacks stash of music handy. So in place of a Friday Favorite, I’ll give you the scoop on the SSAA Primary medley I did for last October’s General Women’s Conference of the LDS Church.

This arrangement ended up with a bit of backstory which has nothing to do with the arrangement itself. Well, except for one chord.

Late last May I received the assignment to arrange a medley of “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” and “He Sent His Son” for the October Conference session. These are two of my favorite Primary songs ever, so the idea was intriguing and downright fun. The assignment had a July 1 deadline, and since June was already pretty full I divvied out the month, reserving the last week for work on this arrangement.

waldo-canyon-fire-1Then on June 23, a wildfire of epic proportions broke out in the forest near my home, and I spent the last week of June being evacuated along with 32,000 other residents of Colorado Springs.

So much for my nicely-scheduled life.

After the danger was over, and we were allowed back into our homes (ours was fine–we had friends who weren’t so lucky) I spent the next few days playing Frantic Madwoman Arranger, trying to overtake July 1st. Which didn’t happen, but considering the circumstances, I didn’t miss the deadline by too much.

I listened with delight to the beautiful YSA choir that performed it during the Conference (and they really did a fabulous job!) until they got to the chord at about 4:35. Which wasn’t a chord at all. Which meant that in my rush I had omitted the harmonies from the score, and missed it in the proofreading. (Oh, and it was such a glorious chord!) Can you spot it?
Layout 1
It’s an interesting feeling to watch a broadcast happening hundreds of miles away and find yourself actually ****blushing****. Oh the poor altos! It was a nasty jump to a rather high note, and I hereby officially apologize.

Jackman music has published the score, complete with the harmonies that belong in that measure. (I didn’t publish it on this site because it was an arrangement of several other composers’ work and I really don’t want to deal with royalties. So Jerry did it for me. 🙂 )

The score is available here, as either hard copy or PDF download.

May 122013
Once Upon a Time there was a girlface small Little Girl who needed a syringe smallshot at the doctor small doctor’s office. Oh boy was she scared small scared! Her Mom heart small Mother said, “I will watch you, and if you do not cry, I will buy you a Strawberry Float small Strawberry Float!!!” The girlface small Little Girl tried. She winced and gritted her teeth and … she cried.

Her Mom heart small Mother bought her a Strawberry Float small Strawberry Float anyway. And the girlface small Little Girl learned that sometimes trying your hardest is enough, even if you fail.

When first grade came around, the girlface small Little Girl wanted to have a Party hat small birthday party. Oooohhhhhh how she wanted a Party hat small birthday party! So she invited her whole class over after school for her baby brother’s Party hat small birthday party. Without telling anyone. They all came.

Her Mom heart small Mother ran to the store, bought more birthday cake smallcake, and then laughed after the Party hat small party ended and the panic subsided. And the girlface small Little Girl learned that there are things in this life you just have to throw up your hands and laugh about.

Before she knew it, it was time for the girlface small Little Girl to enter that Dread Chamber Of Horrors… Jr. High School. At the end of each day full of awkwardness, walking past groups of Bully smallMean People With Nothing To Do to get on the school bus small school bus home was a Remarkably scared small Scary Thing.

Often as the girlface small Little Girl walked that walk, she would find her Mom heart small Mother waiting at the end of it, to take her for Ice Cream Cone small ice cream, and to talk, and to listen. Mostly listen. And the girlface small Little Girl learned that listening is a Very Good Thing.

The girlface small Little Girl loved to Girl Playing small sing and play, and to write down the words and Music Notes small melodies that floated around in her brain. It was hard work, since she had no instrument.

So her Mom heart small Mother saved Coins cmall pennies and nickels and dimes, and bought an Old Piano small old piano with 55 keys that worked and gave it to the girlface small Little Girl.

And the girlface small Little Girl learned that things do not have to be expensive to be priceless.

The girlface small Little Girl Girl Playing small played and sang, and Girl Playing small played and sang, and scribbled on Staff Paper smallpaper and napkins and receipts and sometimes her hand.

Her Mom heart small Mother listened to every song, and honestly believed they were really good. And the girlface small Little Girl learned that “the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards.”

The Little Girl watched her Mom heart small Mother in good times and bad times, and saw her absolute dedication to the SLC Temple small covenants she had made. And the Little Girl learned to be unshakeable in her own commitment to the same SLC Temple small covenants.

When the girlface small Little Girl had a Family small family of her own, her Mom heart small Mother gave her the Rocker small Old Rocking Chair from home, and the Spinet small Sweet Little Spinet piano that had replaced the Old Piano small Old Broken Piano.

And the girlface small Little Girl thought of the empty spaces these gifts would leave, and finally learned what it really means to share.

The girlface small Little Girl still composes on that Spinet small Sweet Little Spinet; the Rocker small Old Rocking Chair moved on with her daughter so she can rock the grandbaby smallGrandbabies; the Lessons are her inheritance forever.

Every time she touches the Piano Keys small keys on that Spinet small Sweet Little Spinet, the girlface small Little Girl remembers the Lessons her Mom heart small Mother taught her, and learns anew that the best inheritances are the ones bestowed while we live.

Flowers small Happy M-day mom.

May 112013

Mother’s Day is tomorrow, at least here in the US. To celebrate Mother’s Day Eve, I thought I’d share a couple of favorite videos. The first one is light-hearted, the second is a more serious tribute. Wherever you are, whenever you celebrate Moms, and whatever you may call the day, one thing is certain: every mom deserves a day just for her.

I’m a music nerd married to a science nerd, so it’s no wonder I appreciate this one:

And knowing how much our Heavenly Father loves the women who care for His children, I think this one is beautiful:

“Life doesn’t come with a manual,
it comes with a mother.”
May 092013

There have been quite a few things in the pipeline for more than a year now, waiting for me to have five minutes free to actually post them. Since it really is about time, here are a couple of them:

Jacosa Limutau
The first is a new accompaniment for “It Was for Me,” which is actually the first serious song I attempted, oh so many years ago. The accompaniment has bothered me for years, so I arranged it anew and I think I may like it better. (Time will tell–it always does.) Jacosa Limutau‘s gorgeous vocals were set to the original, but I’ve remixed it to include the new accompaniment.

Sarah Crowther
The other is a new solo version of “My Sister’s Hands.” I re-did this one for my friend Sarah Crowther to sing. You may have heard how amazing she is on violin, so I thought you should hear hear lovely voice as well. I think I like this accompaniment better too, but… ditto. 😉

Impatient Music Figure
Quite a few other songs and arrangements are drumming their fingers, tapping their feet, and sighing impatiently in queue, so updates will probably be a bit more frequent for awhile, lest they get fed up and mutiny.

Happy Thursday!

May 032013

Here’s a piece I’ve used a couple of times at Christmas, both with my ward choir and the Institute Choir. It’s called “O Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” a medley of the traditional French carol “Sing We Now of Christmas” and the traditional English carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” arranged by Betsy Lee Bailey.

In spite of the minor key of both songs, this arrangement is upbeat and quite cheerful. My choirs found it a bit of a challenge, but by no means impossible. Don’t be fooled by the mostly-quarter-notes look of the accompaniment. It’s written in cut time, and it’s very quick. You’ll need a very capable accompanist.

After we had this one learned, it was one of those songs that we couldn’t help smiling over when we finished. It definitely passes the Fun Test.

If you listen to the audio demo, you’ll notice that it is accompanied on the organ. We used piano instead–I just preferred the sound of this one on piano. The percussiveness definitely adds to the effectiveness of the piece. You’ll also notice that this sound file includes only the first three pages of the song, which is too bad. Oh well.

Definitely one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Click here for the Audio Demo or to order sheet music.