“I could never write my own music; I don’t know how you do it!”
This is what I hear often when I tell people I arrange my own music. But, arranging is so much fun! Why should only a few people get to arrange? That’s why I’ve designed a course for you to learn the basics. This is never going to replace a college course, or an advanced theory class. What is will do is start you on your way.
Below you can view lesson 1. If you would like to read more, please sign up for this FREE course in the main menu My Courses.
In this first lesson of Hymn Arranging, we will be writing a simple melody into free music notation software, Musescore, If you have not downloaded this programme, please do so now.
We will begin by typing the Melody “Jesus Loves Me” into Musescore. If you are unfamiliar with this melody, please listen to it here until you can remember it.
- Once, you have downloaded Musescore, please open the programme. Now go to file/new/Title. Title: “Jesus Loves Me”, Composer: William B Bradbury. Click Next. Click Grand Staff. Click blank clef for C Major. Click Next. Time signature: 4/4. Finish. You now are ready to start typing in your melody.
- Begin by typing “n”. This will allow you to select a note. Move your cursor and click on the “G” on the treble clef. You now have typed your first note. Continue to type the melody of “Jesus Loves Me” in the key of C Major, starting on the note, “G”.
Click on the notes above the staff to change note values. Alternately, you can hover over the note values, and discover that the numbers on your computer keyboard will alter the note values more easily. Finish typing out the entire song.
- Now go back and play your melody on the piano, or use the spacebar (in Musescore) to play your tune. Does it sound right? If not, go back and make corrections.
- When you are satisfied with your tune, go to file, and click export. Save your file as a .mscz file for later, and as a PDF.
- Now, practice playing more simple tunes in your right hand at the piano. For example, Happy Birthday or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Start in the key of C. Once you’ve mastered each in this key, try them in F or G. We will add chords in the next lesson, but you need to be able to play a few melodies by ear first.
- Sit down at the piano for 10-20 minutes at a time. You would be better to sit down for a couple of shorter sessions than to sit for ages getting frustrated. Try to practice every day.
- When you can play simple melodies in your right hand, record yourself playing your favourite by ear.
Congratulations! You have now completed your first step to hymn arranging by writing a simple melody and typing it into free music notation software!
This is the first of five lessons in Hymn Arranging. You may view the rest of the lessons by signing up under My Courses in the main menu. This course is completely free. By signing up to the course you gain access to a few cool perks such as online quizzes. (Ok, I think that’s pretty cool, but maybe that makes me a little bit crazy!)
You are now ready for Lesson Two: Adding Basic Chords to a melody.