41 pages / 14 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Christmas Meditations songbook is the companion sheet music book for Gary Schmidt’s 2020 solo piano album by the same name. All 14 of the carols from the recording are included, and none of them are very long or difficult, making the book a lot of fun to play. It also makes the pieces excellent additions to student piano recitals, family gatherings, and church services. I like the way Gary has woven some classical pieces into the carols - all very nice combinations! I am reviewing the PDF version of the book, but it is also available as a printed paperback book on Amazon and as a spiral-bound book on Gary’s website.
One of the things I really enjoy about reviewing new Christmas music is hearing how some of my favorite artists have arranged some of these so-familiar gems and made them their own. Some composers’ arrangements stay very close to the traditional versions and some are barely recognizable; most are somewhere in the middle, as Gary’s arrangements are. There is “A Note From Gary” in the book that explains his approach: “I do hope the music brings you some extra joy and true peace for the Christmas season. My hope was to try and provide a musical oasis that I hope you will find rejuvenating, refreshing and calming. My goal was to try and give these timeless Christmas melodies a new meditative feel that is both fresh and familiar at the same time.” I think Gary has succeeded well with his goals for this music!
As I mentioned, I am reviewing the PDF version of the book, but the printed books should be the same. There are a few 10th chords, but not many, and pianists with smaller hands can roll those chords or change them to octaves; some of the top or bottom notes of the 10ths can be reached with the other hand. This is a very enjoyable collection and most pianists at an intermediate or upper-intermediate level should have little trouble learning most of the songs.
The titles of the songs, the keys they are in and the number of pages are:
Carol of the Bells - Key of D (2 sharps) - 3 pages
Silent Night - Key of Bb (2 flats) - 2 pages
O Little Town of Bethlehem - Key of Bb (2 flats) - 2 pages
I Saw Three Ships - Key of F (1 flat)/ G (1 sharp) - 4 pages
Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming - Key of F (1 flat) - 2 pages
Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod) - Key of C (0 sharps or flats) - 2 pages
Ave Maria (Schubert) - Key of Bb (2 flats) - 3 pages
Angels We Have Heard - Key of F (1 flat) - 3 pages
It’s the Most Wonderful Time - Key of C (0 sharps or flats) - 3 pages
In the Bleak Midwinter - Key of F (1 flat) - 3 pages
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Key of D (2 sharps) - 2 pages
Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella - Key of G (1 sharp) - 2 pages
Little Drummer Boy - Key of Eb (3 flats)/ E (4 sharps) - 3 pages
I’ll Be Home For Christmas - Key of D (2 sharps) - 3 pages
November 23, 2020