Websites and Products
(If you find any broken links, please let me know.):
www.greghowlett.com-Excellent lessons at a bargain price! Greg has great material-much of it is free, and you can purchase his entire Church Pianist’s Package for only $139.00! I have watched several of his videos and interviews, and learned quite a bit from Greg. I personally have a bit of a different style and different approach to hymn-playing, but that doesn’t stop me from recommending the excellent videos on techniques that Greg has created. Purchases completed through this link help to support this website.
www.koertsmusic.com-James Koerts is a favorite of mine, when it comes to vocal accompaniments. Simple, beautiful and supportive are words that describe his arrangements. Sign up at Koertsmusic.com and receive free arrangements! Check out his blog too! He has a lot of great stuff there for church pianists.
www.fayelopez.com-Probably my favorite current arranger of piano music! Excellent, accessible arrangements that are not difficult to understand, and sound beautiful! Faye arranges for every level from beginner to advanced and also writes sacred music which you can find in some modern hymnals.
www.Churchworksmedia.org-Here you can find original works by Chris Anderson, and Greg Habegger, as well as a growing list of new authors and composers. The music on this site is available for free for use in corporate worship.
www.robertsterlingmusic.com-One of the instructors at the Pine Lake Music Composer’s Symposium in Atlanta. Robert is one of those guys, who you may not know by name, but have probably heard his songs. His compositions are, from what I have seen, excellent. They are crafted with care, and with quality. You may have heard his arrangement of Jesus Paid it All.
Other Websites with Similar goals as Hymnprovisation.com:
NWmusicservices.com -Pianist and Graduate of Crown College, in TN. Resides in the great Northwestern part of the USA, and has a blog with some excellent information.
Harmannymusic.com -Church music minister with a heart for helping church musicians.Plays organ. Some arrangements available on his website.
Evangelisticpiano.com -A college student (piano) who has found a number of excellent resources available.
Church Music Institute.org -These guys definitely tend more toward traditional liturgical services. Geared toward worship leaders of all disciplines.
The Church Pianist.com– This lady has quite a bit of useful blog posts and video clips for church pianists.
The Music Ministry Coach.com-This guy has a website devoted to helping mainly vocalists learn to sing with excellence.
Finale -THE notation software. This is the industry standard notating software for composers, arrangers and musicians. It is the most powerful software on the market for writing music. As such, it does have a learning curve, and frankly, I found it easier to use on Macintosh than on a machine using Windows. I use this software when I am writing or arranging printed music. You can download a free version called, Finale Notepad, which is limited, and really nearly 100% different than the full version, but it does work in a pinch if you need something for free. If you want more than the free version offers, there is also Finale Songwriter, which gives all the basic needs without the advanced capabilities. If you are in school, (even homeschool) or a church musician, you can often get the Academic/Theological version, which has everything, but is at a discounted price.
There are instruments, and there are objects shaped like instruments. Generally speaking most any instrument made by Yamaha, is going to be of decent enough quality to not make a student totally discouraged.
Seriously though, while I am not an expert in strings, it is my understanding that stringed instruments, with the exception of guitars, are so different one to another, that it is very hard to recommend a particular brand. Also, the bow is going to affect everything as well. I have heard from an excellent violinist and teacher, that the Beijing Conservatory is putting out some fine instruments which, with a little adjustment can be a rather decent value.
I picked up a violin at a yard sale for $85 once. It had no name inside, but was valued at between $1600-$1800. It all depends on so many factors, it is hard to say a specific brand is better than another.
It is not uncommon for the bow alone to cost thousands of dollars, although there are very good ones for much less.
Guitars Acoustic- Martin (D28), Taylor, Takamine, Gibson, Breedlove, Alvarez.
Guitars Acoustic Classical- Jose Ramirez, Cordoba, La Patrie, Yamaha CG192S
Again, though, as with any instrument, but especially strings, it is going to be a little different with each instrument.
Trumpets- Bach (Stradivarius), Schilke, Kanstul, Yamaha. These are some of the top brands for Trumpets. For students, I recommend Yamaha to start with.
Trombones- Antoine Courtois, S.E. Shires, Bach (Stradivarius), Kanstul, Yamaha.
Euphoniums- Mirafone, Yamaha,
French Horns- Alexander, Paxman, Hans Hoyer, Schmid, C.G. Conn (6D, or 8D), Yamaha also makes a pretty good quality horn.
Tubas- Adams, Mirafone, Meinl Weston, Yamaha, Kanstul
Adams,Yamaha, Ludwig, Majestic, Tama, Musser
Flute/Piccolo: Armstrong, Haynes, Muramatsu, Pearl, Powell, Yamaha, Gemeinhardt.
Clarinet: Selmer Paris, Patricola Model CL7, Selmer, Buffet Crampon (R-13), Buffet Crampon (E-11), Yamaha.
Oboe: Fox, Yamaha, Buffet, F. Loree (or their student line, Cabart), or MCW Oboes–all are highly reputable. Higher level would be Rigoutat, Howarth, and Fossati`s.
Bassoon: Fox, Yamaha, Schrieber.
Keyboards: In this category, there are the electric products, and the acoustic products.
I do not recommend electric keyboards with the exception of some of the Yamaha models, particularly, the NU-1, which you absolutely should play. This is hands-down, the absolute best non-acoustic piano I have played!
As far as acoustic pianos, there are only a few pianos I will recommend to people and I have to say right out front, that while Steinway makes a very high quality piano, it is not my favorite to play although, I’ll be more than happy to get to play a well maintained Steinway D any day! From the technical standpoint, I’d prefer to own a Mason and Hamlin up to 1930 restored, or one built after 1995. From the mid ’30s up to the 80s’ they were a garbage quality imprint manufactured by Aeolian. These are not the Mason and Hamlin I am speaking of!
I know all you Steinway people would probably hang me for saying that I prefer Mason and Hamlin, but ever since the first time I played a Mason and Hamlin, I thought it sounded a bit like a small orchestra! I didn’t know this then but I wasn’t alone in this opinion. Most of the Steinway pianos I have played with the exception of maybe two or three, had a much heavier touch and a darker sound.
I have met the owners of Mason and Hamlin (One of which has gone to be with the LORD now) and not only did their humility impress me, but also their ingenuity and the achievements in advancing the design of 300 years of piano building. No other piano has the ability to retain the crown of the soundboard so well. No other piano is manufactured with such cutting edge parts! No other piano I have ever played had the beauty, sweetness and power which is a trademark of the Mason and Hamlin. For these reasons, I will recommend them.
That being said, if you want quality at top price, and status as a “somebody” you may want to purchase a Steinway. It is a very high quality piano, right up at the top tier along with Mason and Hamlin. 🙂
On a much lower tier, yet still of exceptional good quality, you can find the Yamaha P2, the U, G, or C series, now called CX series, or their premium quality CF or SX series acoustic pianos. I will not currently recommend any of the newer models without inspection. So far, I have found them to be inferior in general (except for the NU-1), which you absolutely should play. Incidentally, this is hands-down, the absolute best non-acoustic piano I have played!
“Mason & Hamlin is the Stradivarius of pianos”
-Yehudi Menuhin Concert violinist
Until you’ve played one, you can’t truly appreciate all that goes into them, but they have been accurately described as “A Small Orchestra”, “The Stradivarius of pianos”, and “An incredible work of art”, among many other glowing accolades.
There is an incredible depth to the bass, a crisp, almost bell-like top end, and perfect center. No matter what kind of music you play, a Mason and Hamlin will be your best choice.
M&H are the most expensive pianos to build, as they have unique features which no other manufacturer has implemented, including their famous, patented Tension Resonator, which serves to retain the crown of the soundboard for the life of the piano. No other piano has this, and many older pianos have flattened soundboards that make them not worth restoring. Mason and Hamlin continues to pave the way in piano technology, making the greatest strides in over 300 years of piano building. They have learned how to do what others have claimed impossible, and they continue to forge ahead making new discoveries.
Henry Mason was a pianist, and his brother, William, was one of America’s foremost classical pianists and composers. Their father was the famous composer and educator Lowell Mason, a visionary who was the first to bring music into the public schools of America. He was also known throughout the world as a composer and publisher of hymns, and is often called the “father of American church music.” Henry Mason shared his father’s lifelong dedication to music.
Emmons Hamlin was not a musician, but instead a brilliant mechanic and inventor. Together this team hired brilliant designers who contributed much to the piano industry.
Before Steinway came to America, one could find a Mason and Hamlin grand piano on the concert stage. Unfortunately, around the time of WWII, Mason and Hamlin, along with nearly every other American piano brand, were swallowed up by the conglomerate known as Aeolian corp. From then on until the mid 1990’s they got a bad rap due to the poor quality standards of Aeolian.
In 1995, Gary and Kirk Burkett, of Pianodisk, purchased Mason and Hamlin, and are doing an excellent job restoring to their original standards. Even beyond that, they have made some incredibly gutsy moves partnering with Wessel, Nickel, and Gross, manufacturers of composite action parts, that are pushing the envelope of piano design. Mason and Hamlin is once again being revered and praised for their incredible sound, fantastic touch, high quality, and beautiful, impeccable craftsmanship.
I think you would really enjoy reading their mission statement:
“At PianoDisc (Mason and Hamlin’s parent Co.*) we are committed to leading our industry by serving our customers, our dealers, our employees, and our vendors all over the world. Our servant hood is manifested through superior products, excellent service and honest communication. There is no better example of the servant leader than the Lord Jesus Christ. Our business is dedicated to Him, and we have dedicated ourselves to modeling His example- with His help and to the best of our ability.”
*Parentheses added for clarity.
Click here for a partial list of institutions that use Mason and Hamlin.
I hope someday I can own one of these. If I could afford it I would get the model BB. which, although the same size, I prefer over a Steinway B! Apparently, I am not alone in this opinion!
If you can’t afford a Mason and Hamlin BB, or a Steinway B, or you or your church are looking for a piano that is more versatile, I recommend you take a hard look at Yamaha’s Yamaha, and especially their NU-1. The quality is really good, and probably the best of all Asian built pianos, though it shouldn’t really ever be compared with Steinway or Mason and Hamlin, just like you wouldn’t compare a Toyota Camry with a Maserati. However, all that aside, to my knowledge, nobody else beside Yamaha makes a keyboard that has real piano action in it and the samples of their $200,000 CFX series concert grand. It is simply incredible sound and touch you won’t believe, coming from a non-acoustic instrument.
I don’t receive a penny from any dealers or manufacturers, but I recommend them because they are the best bang for your buck. In this case, the NU-1 is the best bang for your buck! If you live in the Northwest United States, I will recommend that you purchase from my friend Alan, at Tri-City Music. Tell him I sent you.
Tri City Music-Richland, WA Rodgers organs and Yamaha Pianos. Allan Willis is the proprietor and he is a personal friend. Tell Alan that Chris sent you!
Clearwater Music-Spokane, WA General music instruments and supplies
Classic Pianos-Portland, Oregon. If you are looking to buy, play, or rent a Mason and Hamlin piano, talk to the people at Classic Pianos. They have a large selection of all the finest brands, new and used. They are a Yamaha and a Mason and Hamlin dealer. You can also find Steinway, Bosendorfer, Schimmel and other fine pianos there.
Steinway Gallery-Spokane, WA If you are in the market for a Steinway, go to the Steinway Gallery in Spokane, WA. Joyce and Ryan are the nicest folks ever, and have a great selection of Steinway, Boston, and Essex pianos. They often host free concerts and recitals for the community in their recital hall.
JW Pepper-Delivering music since 1876. JW Pepper ® is your sheet music store for band, orchestra and choral music, piano sheet music, worship songs, songbooks and more! I have done business with these guys for many years and have never been disappointed in the service. They issue an extensive catalog of church music every year and have online examples of most of their offerings.
SheetMusicPlus.com/-World’s largest inventory of sheet music. Discounts available. Check our blog from time to time for sales. Clicking this banner or using this search box will help to support the ongoing ministry of this website.
This is the web hosting service we use. They are inexpensive, better and easier to set up than Bluehost, and provide the most excellent support service. They also will transfer your WordPress.com to WordPress.org for free! Everyone else I found wanted $150 for that! On top of all that, they are faster, safer, and better than the webhosts who won the popularity contest. We highly recommend them as a Web host! What are you waiting for? Click on the banner to sign up with them, and help support this ministry today.