Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: "What Praise Can I Play on Sunday?" arranged by Carol Tornquist

In addition to privately teaching piano, I also serve as a church music director.When my son and I were shopping yesterday, I found a book of arrangements in a bookstore called What Praise Can I Play on Sunday? Book 6: November and December Services  arranged by Carol Tornquist. My son was being cantankerous, so I briefly scanned the list of titles and the pieces inside, tossed it in the cart, and did not look at it again until much later that night. 

Later, as I played through the arrangements, I knew that I had found a wonderful resource for the upcoming months. Carol Tornquist has written tasteful interpretations of well-known contemporary pieces or praise songs, and, even though they are contemporary, they are written in such a way that traditional congregations (such as mine) will enjoy hearing them, as well. 

Here's the list of the songs that are in this collection:
  • 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
  • All the Earth Will sing Your Praises
  • Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)
  • Emmanuel
  • Find Us Faithful
  • Glory in the Highest
  • Immanuel (From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable)
  • Joy Has Dawned
  • Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)
  • Mary, Did You Know?
Each arrangement comes with details about its length (helpful in determining whether to use the piece for a prelude, offertory, or postlude), and suggestions on which Sunday the piece would work well. For example, All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises is recommended as a Christ the King Sunday piece.

For me, one of the challenges of being a part-time music director is finding enough time to practice, especially on top another job and learning all of the other music that is necessary for a church service. It is important that books of arrangements are easy to prepare and that most of the pieces within the book will be practical for Sunday morning. Some books look useful in the store, but when brought home, it becomes apparent that only one or two out of twelve pieces will be serviceable. It can be expensive to purchase book after book, only to use a few arrangements from them. 

As an example of how easily these arrangements can be learned, here is a partial video of my first play through of Mary, Did You Know? from this collection. It's certainly not perfect, and needs further work for it to be church-ready, but I have a good start with just sight-reading:

I know that I will be able to use every arrangement in What Praise Can I Play on Sunday? and I definitely plan to purchase the other books in the series to add to my library.  I highly recommend this book to any church pianist looking for a great service music resource.

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