A Sneak-Peek Inside My New Book of Hymn Arrangements for Violin & Piano!

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicORDER HERE

I am SO excited about my new book of hymn & psalm arrangements for violin and piano! I’ve worked on this book a long time, and it feels so fabulous to hold it in my hands.

f i n a l l y.

Here’s a little sneak-peek into the book!

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicGod of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman Music

Choosing which hymns and psalms to arrange for this book was one of the funnest and hardest parts of the project. Fun because I love so many hymns and psalms, and hard because I love too many. Way too many.

But I had to narrow it down, so for this volume I chose the following melodies:

Be Thou My Vision
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Day by Day
Faith of Our Fathers
God of the Ages
Holy, Holy, Holy
Not What My Hands Have Done
Psalm 1
Psalm 71
Psalm 121
Take My Life and Let it Be
The Church’s One Foundation
There is a Fountain Filled With Blood
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

These arrangements are designed to cultivate the young violinist’s technique and skill and are ordered in a progressive level of difficulty, starting with simple melodies and gradually introducing more complex rhythms, longer arrangements, and harmony in the violin part with the pianist carrying the melody.

I wrote these arrangements for the young violinist’s level, but they are also ideal for more advanced students who love to improvise.

The piano accompaniment parts are written at an intermediate level and are simple enough for the average pianist to learn without a fuss, but full enough to carry the violinist with the flow of a more advanced work.

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicGod of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicGod of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicGod of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman Music

The Music Glossary at the back of the book provides simple definitions of the concepts found in the arrangements and can be used by students to learn and review new musical terms, symbols, and concepts while they are working on their pieces.

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman Music

The Teacher’s Guide contains a piece-by-piece outline of the skills found in each arrangement. New techniques and musical concepts are introduced progressively throughout the book, and this brief overview is meant to help teachers guide their young violinist through any potentially challenging skills new pieces may present.

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman MusicGod of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman Music – 

When I was 11 years old and learning violin, I desperately wanted a book of hymn arrangements to play, but there were none. That’s what made me write this one. I wanted a resource that families, siblings, friends, and churches could use and enjoy for a variety of settings and occasions – recitals, weddings, church, parties, sing-a-longs, and even just around the house.

So SHARE IT with all of your friends! (And don’t forget to order your own copy!!!!!)

God of the Ages Hymn Arrangements for Violin by Lacie Bowman Music

Click Here to Order.

9 Music Books to Read in 2015




There are so many amazing books about music out there, and sadly, there’s not even a fraction of the time we would need to read them all.

So, while you’re prioritizing which music books to read this year, here’s a list of 9 to help you get started. They are some of my absolute favorites.

1  |  The Perfect Wrong Note

This is one of the best books I have ever read. At it’s core, it is an exposition of Beethoven’s “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” The author shows the importance of involving body and emotion (not just brain)  in the execution of a piece and teaches really practical ways to avoid tension and let your body follow its natural flow without sacrificing mental alertness. The goal is this: if you’re going to play a wrong note, play it well.

2  |  Music at Your Fingertips

This one is every bit as good as The Perfect Wrong Note, just in a very different way.  I appreciate so much about the advice in this book. The author is an experienced, international pianist, and she gives extremely practical advice on practicing, musicianship, memorization, developing finger control, preparing for performances, listening, teaching, sight-reading technique, selecting repertoire, and more, and it’s wonderful. This is NOT a how-to-play-the-piano-in-5-easy-steps kind of book. It’s about learning how to handle your instrument like an artist.

Mini-Reviews for 9 Music Books to Read This Year. The Gift of Music. www.sfzMusicBlog.com #book #reviews #books #classical #music3  |  The Gift of Music

I have used this book so many times when studying composers.  Each of the 42 chapters is devoted to a composer and includes a quote, mini-bio, recommended reading list for further study, and recommended listening list.

As a musician, I appreciate the scholarship, history, and education in this book.  As a Christian, I appreciate the authors’ analysis of the composers’ lives, priorities, and standards. Using the recommended listening lists as a guide is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the great composers’ most known works. Definitely add it to your library!

4  |  Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff

If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be adorable. It’s a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life and musical career, and it gave me a greater appreciation for his work. It’s a kids’ book, true. But it’s great for adults and families, too.

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog. www.sfzMusicBlog.com #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

IMG_8990-25 | What Makes Music Work

This is the most comprehensive book presentation of basic music theory that I’ve read to date. Most “Introduction to Theory” books confuse even the most basic concepts by using the most technical and musically scientific terms possible. This book was radically different – simple, concise, and in plain language that beginners can understand. Music theory is only confusing if you make it so, and this book doesn’t.

This book is intended to be a informal course for beginners, though it does venture into some relatively intense theory by the last third of the book – particularly advanced chord structures, harmonization, and composition. These more advanced concepts are taught extremely well, but if it is confusing for the time being, lay that part aside for a while and come back to it when you have worked your way to that point.

6 | The Joy of Music

Actually, I recommend that you read half of this book. Specifically, these chapters:

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
The World of Jazz
Introduction to Modern Music
The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach

These are a collection of scripts from various radio/television interviews the famous conductor / composer Leonard Bernstein gave over the course of his life. So, while half of the scripts are hard to appreciate because they lack the musical context that would have been present in the radio programs, the four chapter listed above are amazing. It’s extremely educational (Bernstein often jumps into conversations on chord structures, compositional forms, and stylistic specifics, complete with musical scores), but the conversational style of the chapters keeps it easy to understand.

Note: There are a few issues with the other chapters in this book, namely language and morally questionable operatic scenes.

7 | What to Listen for in Music

This book is a listener’s introduction to fundamental elements and forms of music, written by 20th-century composer Aaron Copland. First, he talks about what makes music: rhythm, melody, harmony, tone color, texture, and structure. Then he goes on to explain fundamental music forms: sectionals, variations, fugues, sonatas, free form, opera & drama, contemporary, and film scores.

It’s a great resource for music students and music enthusiasts. Although… if you’re an enthusiast, you’ll be a student by the end of the book. ;)



8 | Glory & Honor: The Music & Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach

This is a unique biography because it is divided into three parts:

PART I is a great overview of Bach’s Life and Musical Career. It outlines the highlights of his career without getting bogged down on unnecessary details. And the best part? It’s interesting. It’s worth reading just this section if you’re short on time.

IMG_8902PART II is a close look at Bach’s Character. The author talks about his many strengths and a few of his weaknesses. This is the longest section and does feel lengthy if you’re trying to hurry through it. Still, if you take your time, it is interesting to get such a close look at the person of Bach.

PART III discusses Bach’s Legacy – the way his work affected classical music, history, and us. It really is incredible how great of an impact one person can have on so many other lives.

It’s a great book. I would NOT recommend trying to plow through this one, or it will feel dry. This book has a lot to offer, and it would be best to spread it over a month or two. Definitely a valuable book for Bach lovers.

IMG_89619 | Classical Music

This one is similar to The Gift of Music, only it is twice as thick, covers more composers, goes into greater depth, has fun Q & A boxes, gives more thorough listening lists, and is written from a secular perspective.

Classical Music covers 50 composers, and each with a detailed mini-biography. The author also gives four listening lists for each composer:

The Starter Kit (5 pieces)
A Top Ten (10 pieces)
A Master Collection (25 pieces)
A Beethoven Library (A LOT)

The author is a good writer and has a touch of humor to boot. It’s really an enjoyable book. I have not read all of way through this one, so I’m not able to comment on any problems that may present themselves in the later part of the book. However, the scholarship is excellent, and it is definitely a fabulous resource for musicians.

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I hope you are able to enjoy some of these wonderful books this year. If you read any, I would love to hear your thoughts on them!



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The Story of the Incredible Orchestra: A Pictorial Review

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

Title:  The Story of the Incredible Orchestra
Author:  Bruce Koscielniak
Pages:  33
Reading Level:  Child – Young Adult
Audience:  Music Students, Families
Stars:  ★★★★★

I have been looking for a good children’s resource about the orchestra, but after hunting around for a couple of years, the stuff I was coming up with just was’t that impressive.  Shallow.  Goofy.  Boring.

Then a friend recommended this title, and well…  search over.

The content of The Incrdible Story of the Orchestra focuses in two main topics:

    1. The origin of the modern orchestra and its development.
    2. The history of each instrument in the modern orchestra.

At the beginning of the book, the author takes us all the way back to the Middle Ages – an era before the symphony existed – to teach us about the medieval instruments and ensembles that set the stage for the symphony as we know it today.

After that, the author traces the histories of the main instrument families and gives a layman’s explanation of how each instrument works…  along with lots of illustrations!

All of this is sprinkled throughout a pleasant overview of the four prominent musical periods that have developed since the orchestra’s birth. He even takes the last few pages to introduce jazz and the modern use of synthetics…  all in good taste.

It’s great!

But the content isn’t just great… it’s appealing.  And that is key.  The material is well-organized and interesting, and every page has colorful illustrations.

Stylistically, the artwork is unique.  It looks like an unlikely combination of hand sketches and watercolor paintings.  It is a tad busy, but the colors are soft, which keeps it from being overwhelming.  (FYI: The colors in these pictures came out a bit brighter than the colors in the book.)


#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com. #kids #orchestra #reading #stories#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #orchestra #reading #stories



I didn’t have any concerns with this book – the information was accurate, and there was no inappropriate content.


Studio library, family library, personal library, music classroom…  Go ahead and get it!  It’s great for every occasion.

You can get your copy on amazon HERE.

#Review of The Story of the Incredible Orchestra | The #Music Blog, www.sfzmusicblog.com.  #kids #activities #orchestra #reading


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New Shipment of Books!


I just got a new shipment of music books in the mail!  I’m super excited to get to reading and reviewing this stack of books for The Music Blog.

Here are the titles…  Have you read any of these?  Thoughts?


New Shipment of Music Books | The Music Blog


For Teachers

The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook 450 textbook-size pages full of tips for establishing a professional private studio.  The subtitle is “Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Teaching Studio”, and it looks like it’s going to live up to that claim.  Looking forward to going through this one!

That’s a Good Question: How to Teach by Asking Questions.   I’ve found that asking questions is one of the most productive ways to help my students take more initiative in evaluating their music.  I was excited to find a book that develops this idea.

For Students / Musicians

The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self.  This one was recommended to my by a fellow music teacher and friend [who also happens to be my sister-in-law].  Looks absolutely fantastic.  Thanks, Lily!

Piano Playing with Piano Questions Answered.  Written by renowned concert pianist, Josef Hofmann.  The first half of the book discusses technique and style. The last half is a lengthy Q&A section on all things piano.  There should be some great insight here.

Singing & Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today.  There are a lot of opinions out there about music in the Church.  This author seems to address the topic without sinking to emotional, ad hominem arguments.  I hope it’s as good as it looks!

For Children

The Story of the Incredible Orchestra.  I’ve been looking for a good book for children on the orchestra, and it looks like I may have found it!  Recommended to me by a friend and fellow music teacher – thanks, Hannah!

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff.  From the Great Musicians Series by Opal Wheeler.

Ludwig Beethoven & the Chiming Tower Bells.  Also from the Great Musicians Series.

Meet the Great Composers: Book 1.  An anthology of mini-bios and musical activities about the great composers.  Fun!

Famous Composers & Their Music: Book 2.  Another anthology of mini-bios and musical activities about the great composers.  More fun.  ;)

Great Composers Coloring Book 

I’m going to go get busy reading.

Have any other great books you think I should get that aren’t already here or on the Music Resources pages?  Please tell me!  I love recommendations.  :)



Advice to Young Musicians: Book Review & Free eBook

Advice to Young Musicians  |  Review & Free eBook  on  The Music Blog


Title:            Advice to Young Musicians
Author:        Robert Schumann
Pages:         48
Reading Level: Young Adult – Adult
Audience:   Students, Teachers, Families
Stars:           ★★★


Robert Schumann’s collection of piano compositions, Album for the Young, is well-loved, and thousands of young musicians have played his charming pieces.  But not very many know that he wrote a tiny book of words, too, called Advice to Young Musicians.

Advice to Young Musicians is a classic wit-and-wisdom-style book.  It’s not written in chapters, or even paragraphs, but in sixty-eight short music “proverbs” containing what Robert Schumann considered to be the most important advice he could give to a young musician.

Like most wit-and-wisdom books, some of the proverbs are better than others, and not every proverb is profound.  But the book is enjoyable, and much of the advice is profitable for musicians on a variety of levels.

Here is a sample of the content ~


52.  Do not judge of a composition on a first hearing; what pleases you in the first moment is not always the best.

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31.  If all would play first violin, we could get no orchestra together.  Respect each musician, therefore, in his place.

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11.  You must not only be able to play your little pieces with the fingers; you must be able to hum them over without a piano.  Sharpen your imagination so that you may fix in your mind not only the melody of a composition, but also the harmony belonging to it.

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22.  You should neither play poor compositions, nor even listen to them, if you are not obliged to.

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39.  The study of the history of music, supported by the actual hearing of the master compositions of the different epochs, is the shortest way to cure you of self-esteem and vanity.


It’s a short little book – one you can read cover-to-cover in about 15 minutes.

To get the most out of it, though, reading it all at once isn’t the best plan.  Instead, pick one good quote at a time and make it your musical motto for the day – or the week! This way you’ll be able to focus on internalizing and applying the very best pieces of advice, instead of just reading straight through all of them at once.

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NOTE:  Advice to Young Musicians is a book for “young musicians”, not “young children”.  It is written in older English, so some of the language can be a bit challenging for our modern phrasing and vocabulary.  This isn’t a criticism of the book, just a clarification.

If you would like your young child to benefit from the book, try reading it aloud to them in small portions, offering explanations and application along the way.[/box]

It’s always fun to add a book by one of the great composers to your music library.  You can get your own copy of Advice to Young Musicians from Amazon HERE, or if you like, you can READ THE BOOK FOR FREE here!

Music At Your Fingertips: Review



Title:         Music At Your Fingertips
Author:     Ruth Slenczynska
Pages:      162
Reading Level:  Adult
Audience:     Students & Teachers
Star Rating:  ★★★★★


I appreciate so much about the advice in this book, but I think it all boils down to these three things:  It’s experienced, practical, and to-the-point.


Ruth Slenczynska has spent the greater portion of her life at the piano.  She started studying at age three, made her debut performance in Berlin at age six, and performed in Paris with a full orchestra by age 11.  She spent her following years performing around the world and studying with renowned musicians, including the iconic pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff.  So when she writes about the piano, she isn’t writing dreamed-up ideas of an experienced-pianist wannabe.  She is a real expert, and her writing shows it.  She talks about tried-and-true exercises, and techniques that helped her to develop her strengths and master her weaknesses at the piano, and they work!



So practical.  The subtitle of the book is “Advice for the Artist and Amateur on Playing the Piano”, and it’s true.  Ruth Slenczynska is a concert artist, but these sixteen chapters are full of discussions that are every bit as valuable for student musicians as for world-touring professionals – principles and tips for practice, musicianship, memorization, developing finger control, preparing for performances, listening, teaching, mastering technique, selecting repertoire, and quite a bit more.

Consider this paragraph on mastering difficult passages:

[quote]There is no passage so difficult that it would not be possible to find a metronome speed slow enough to play it comfortably.  Technical problems are controlled by the mind.  We must train the mind before we train our hands… which we achieve by working at a slow tempo.  Forcing speed too soon is like forcing a child to walk before he is ready.  You make no progress, and you can jeopardize the equilibrium and control you may have acquired.  [/quote]

And these rules on developing a defined, expressive melody:

[quote]A melody without direction becomes purposeless.  Here are three basic rules:

  1. Concentrate for the full length of the musical line, with out interruption.
  2. Determine the mood to be expressed and make every detail point toward it.
  3. Find the focal point or climax of a phrase or section in order to give direction to your musical thought.[/quote]

And this tip on working towards a performance tempo:

[quote]…Always aim at a faster tempo than [you] will need.  In performance it should never be necessary to use your ability to the limits; there should always be a margin of reserve. [/quote]

This is advice that you can read, take to the piano, and immediately apply.  I love books like that.  And while it’s true that her instruction is addressed to pianists, the majority of the principles can be easily and effectively applied to other instruments as well.



The author doesn’t waste time or space.  Most of the chapters are 8-12 pages – the perfect bite-size bits to chew on. No worrying about getting bogged down in the middle of a forty-page chapter!  The chapters are relatively disconnected from one another in subject, but each one addresses its topic with competence and perception.  She is concise, and her comprehensive approach to the piano is genuinely fun to experience.

[box style=”white” ]Important Note…  Most of the chapters address a broader arena than the title implies.  The chapters on building and preparing a solo concert program (#8-9), for instance, teach good methods for preparing for a performance of any kind, and the chapter on teaching at the college level (#15) gives teaching tips that are useful for much more than just the college classroom.  So spend a little time in each of the chapters, even if the title seems like it won’t apply to you.[/box]


In SummaryRuth_Slenczynska_Autograph

If you are a musician focused on improving your technique, you’ll enjoy the book.  It’s full of principles that will guide your progress and challenge you musically and physically!  You’ll also enjoy the new drills and historic trivia you learn along the way.

If you’re a music teacher, I encourage you to read the book!  Most of the principles for students apply to teaching students as well, and I gleaned so much from this book as a teacher.  It is, hands-down, the number one resource that has affected the way I teach.

Music at Your Fingertips is certainly not a glamorous book.  The cover design is outdated, the layout is basic, and the pictures are black and white and a little bit fuzzy.  But the content is exceptional!


You can see a preview / purchase the book  from Amazon HERE.  Have fun!