My version of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams

So this isn’t exactly ‘Happy’, but it does have that familiar tune.  I added in a few extras to make it my own arrangement of it.

My students certainly loved playing it, and it’s short and sweet.  I wrote it for 4 violins, and the melody is shared between Violin 1 and Violin 2.

Hope it puts a smile on your face!

Happy – Pharrell Williams

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Are you a little rusty on Scale Degrees and Modes?

I certainly was.  After spending so many years teaching students in the lower grades for piano, I had forgotten a lot of the things I learned many, (many) years ago that I was sure I would never forget.

Needing a reminder of what the names of the scale degrees were (there was one that had me stumped), and something I could perhaps show my students, I came across some sample pages from Jerald M Simon.  Jerald has very kindly put up some free sample resources of his books on his website (found here: )

There are some scale exercises, some Jazz books, “Cool songs for cool kids” and lots of other goodies.  It’s worth taking a look.

The modes and scale degrees are in his ‘Scales and Modes’ book.


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Christmas String Group in November

December is always a busy time of year, so we did our Christmas String Group songs in November, and we had December off.

I thought it would be lots of fun to invite the parents in, give them some percussion to do in our Christmas songs, and perform some favourite previous String Group pieces we had played during the year.  Despite the pouring rain outside, we had lots of fun.

Here are the Christmas songs we did:-

Jingle Bells Sleigh Bells Parents (Jingle Bells parents percussion part)

Jingle Bells (The entire score – a violin trio plus the percussion part)

Deck the Halls Parents Percussion (The percussion part only)

Deck the Halls (Violin trio plus the percussion part)

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Friday Night at the Movies Violin Trio

This violin trio is an original piece of mine.  I had the idea of dramatic movie themes, and taking my violin students on a movie journey during their Friday Night String Group.  This piece has been one of their absolute favourites so far.  We couldn’t get it quite up to speed on the night, but we had a lot of fun with it.

Friday Night at the Movies

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Erin’s Dream – A RH Song

I wrote this piece for a mid-teen female student of mine who was fun and whimsical and absolutely adored Anne of Green Gables.

This is a very pretty piece (it suits the student very well).  Fairly simple RH only song for the piano part, but the teacher part is ‘interesting’.

Erin s Dream RH song

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Bronte’s Ballad – A RH Song

Ever had a student break their arm?  It’s heartbreaking when they get sad because they think they can’t play piano.

One particularly gorgeous student of mine managed to injure her arm twice.  The first time she got really worried, until I advised her Mother “It’s okay, I can write music for her until her arm heals”.

So this time wasn’t as sad.  This song was written with this particular student in mind, which captures her beautiful, whimsical nature perfectly.

Bronte s Ballad RH Song

It’s not a difficult song, but it does have some hand rolls that are required to prevent injury.

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When You Wish Upon A Star violin trio

I wrote out this arrangement in September 2013 for my String Group.  It sounded great with the three parts!

I haven’t included any fingering, but the top part does require some position work.

When You Wish Upon a Star

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‘Nimrod’ from the Enigma Variations for 4 Violins

I love this piece by Edward Elgar.  There is something so soothing about it, so moving.  It was also one of the last pieces the Athens Symphony Orchestra played after it was asked to shut down by their Government :(   So sad!

I wrote out an arrangement for my String Group, for 4 violins.

It’s not an easy song to play in a group.  The timing is tricky, and the first violin part does go up to 5th position but it was lovely to play.  Here are the parts:-

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations Violin 1

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations Violin 2

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations Violin 3

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations Violin 4

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations score

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All Through the Night – String Group

Another String Group song: All Through the Night for 4 violins.

A very simple but pretty arrangement:- All Through The Night 4 violins

The melody is shared between violin 1 and violin2.

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A Natural Minor Scale Round – Violin Trio

A very simple round for students to play – the A Natural Minor scale as a round/violin trio.

I love the harmonies created by the natural minor scales, and as the AMEB don’t have string players play them (only as the melodic minor scale descending), it is up to teachers to explain them and have their students play them.  This is how my students learn to love them.

A Natural Minor Scale Trio

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