Imagine by John Lennon – My Solo Piano Version

What this post is about

I love the song Imagine by John Lennon; not only because it is a musical master piece, but the lyrics are so deep and inspiring!

So I thought I’d make it into an instrumental version for solo piano, and attach a little message to it. That’s how the idea of the video was born. John’s lyrics are the perfect message for Donald Trump. I explain it in detail below, but you may want to first watch the video. It is pretty self-explanatory.

Learn how I arranged the song Imagine for Solo Piano

In case you are a keyboardist who wants to learn how I arranged this song I have good news for you: I posted an article on my blog PopJazzKeys.com at popjazzkeys.com/imagine with the sheet music where I show you the arranging techniques I used to creat my piano solo version.

But before you head over there, please read on if you are at all interested in the political context I put this song in.

Imagine – A Message for Donald Trump

Why this song is more relevant than ever today

John’s song (written almost 30 years ago) could have been written today as a message to Donald Trump.
Why?
Because the world John invisions in his song “Imagine” couldn’t be more different from the world Donald Trump represents. John sings about his vision of a unified peaceful and all inclusive world “No Possessions…, …No Countries (no country = no boarders)…, Sharing All The World…, about Brotherhood and Peace”.  
Contrary to that Trump is all about possessions and isolationism, strongly focused on creating a disconnected world ruled by self-centered leaders who all fight for themselves while taking advantage of the less privileged.

 Thank you John for this wonderful and timeless song!
And peace to all of us!

Life’s A Dream, When You Keep Dreams Alive

What dreams are we talking about

I define dream as the intense desire for something we want more than anything in the world; something we dream about at night, and can’t stop thinking about all day. Furthermore, the dream I am talking about is not like winning the lottery. It is the kind of dream we have to work for, and are willing to sacrifice other things to achieve it. Only those kind of dreams ultimately energize us, focus our efforts, and make us live up to our potential.

Your dream(s) can still come true

Everyone has – or had at some point in their life – a big dream. Unfortunately, it is easy to give up on our dreams for all the wrong reasons.
My song Life’s A Dream, When You Keep Dreams Alive wants to revive the hope in you that one day your dream(s) can still come true, as long as you don’t give up believing in them, and as long as you keep them with you day and night.
There are many personal stories of people that prove that if we just want something badly enough, it’s only a matter of time that we will achieve it.

We are (NOT!) born a couch potato

Someone once told me this: “We are all born to become couch potatoes”. I couldn’t disagree more with this kind of pessimistic thinking! We only become lazy when we give up on our ambitions, in other words, when we ignore our hopes and dreams that drive us to do more with our lives than just waiting for a lottery ticket to come through.

Don’t you give up on your dream(s)!

Life can really grind us down when we don’t pay attention to our dreams anymore. Successful people know that learning to embrace failure is a prerequisite for becoming successful. They don’t give up on their dreams no matter how often they fail. In fact, failure only motivates them to work harder.

It’s all about the journey

The bottom line is that when we believe our dreams will come true, our life already feels like a wonderful dream. In that sense, it doesn’t matter at all whether we reach a particular dream. All that counts is that we enjoy the process of trying to make it a reality.

I truly hope that this song inspires everyone to believe in and pursue their dreams with all they’ve got.

Wake up your dreams,
Embrace them and trust them,
Turn your life into a dream!

Quote from song

View or download the free sheet music below.

Lyrics to LIFE’S A DREAM, WHEN YOU KEEP DREAMS ALIVE!

1. Verse (female voice)

Life is made of dreams,
those dreams that live within us;
they show us a world without boundaries;
they give us hope,
and make us happy;
you won’t believe
what dreams can do.

2. Verse (male voice)

Dreams come from our imagination,
filled with desire
that we can’t ignore.
Follow your dreams
and you’ll be changing
for you will find out that your

1. Chorus

life’s a dream,
when you bring dreams to life;
life’s a dream,
when you keep dreams alive,
life’s a dream, when you’re living your dreams;
keep dreaming, turn your life into a dream!

stop wasting time,
welcome your dreams now!
keep them with you every night and day.
Dreams do come true,
for you and me, too!
So let us toast to dreams once more.

2. Chorus

Life’s a dream,
when you bring dreams to life;
life’s a dream,
when you keep dreams alive,
life’s a dream,

when you believe in dreams.

3. Chorus

Life’s a dream,
when you bring dreams to life;
life’s a dream,
when you keep dreams alive,
life’s a dream,

when you wake up to your dreams.
believe in…

Outro

life’s a dream,
keep dreaming!
life’s a dream,

keep dreaming!
life’s a dream,
when you bring dreams to life.
Wake up your dreams!

Wake up your dreams!
embrace them (embrace them!)

and trust them,
turn your life into a dream!

Das Meer (The Sea) – an original song by Thomas Gunther

About the song Das Meer (The Sea)

I wrote the song Das Meer as part of the accompanying music to a text by Oscar Wild called “The Young King”. The Song “Das Meer” (The Sea) describes the sea in all its different facets. I finally found the time to record it and create this video.

Composing music in the style of Debussy and other composers of the impressionistic period is an exception for me. I am much more at home in more jazz influenced styles and genre. This said, most contemporary jazz pianists are or at least have been influenced by the classical repertory of the past 300 years for good reason.
“Das Meer” is written out note by note, from start to finish. In that it is different from how I usually compose and arrange music. Often I give the performer(s) the possibility to improvise between written out parts.

Maybe one day I will add an improvisational section to it. Or use the different sections as a source for improvising variations instead of playing them as written. Music is a living and breathing art after all.

View or download my original sheet music for Das Meer below for free.

Should you ever decide to perform the piece I would love for you to forward me a link to the audio or video of the recording.
And I encourage you to interpret the music in your own way. Can’t wait to hear what you do with it.

About creating the video

Creating the video was also a lot of fun. I love working with graphics. Many concepts of the visual arts are similar to composing music. Maybe I should not deal with it given the amount of time it takes just learning all the software. But hey, I have fun with it, and save a ton of money. I also believe that somehow it will improve the way I create music. The brain works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it!

Classic German Christmas Songs CD

I am proud to announce my newest music production:

A Blues & Jazz inspired CD of Classic German Christmas Songs, featuring Herbert Quelle ( the German Chancellor General of Germany to the United Stated of America) on Harmonica.

What, is it already Christmas again?

Well, no. I just wanted to be early to make sure everything is in place for the Holiday madness.

To learn all about it just click/tap on the photo below.

Swing Fever Song Review

Dear Swing Music Fans and Dancers!

The first official review of my original Swing Fever Song is here and I’d like to share it with you. Health Andrews, an independent writer selected by Arial Publicity, conducted and wrote the review.

A note of caution: We can all agree that reviews by nature can never be 100 percent objective and therefore should not be overvalued. 
It is also rather rare that a review is positive all the way from start to finish. I’ve found that even when the writer likes a song there will be at least a view things she/he didn’t like about it, and if only to give the article more credibility.

This being said, I think that Health Andrews did a great job with his review of Swing Fever Song.
In regards to what he wrote about the lyrics let me just say this: Made in Germany 😉

To read the review click on Swing Fever Song Review , or use the download button to download the pdf.

Do blind pianists have an advantage?

 

Call me crazy, but I am convinced that blind pianists to some degree have an advantage over the rest of us. Let me explain.

“We do not play with our eyes. We play with our touch, ears, and imagination”.

Franz Liszt, virtuoso pianist – who was, by the way, not blind!

Below is a list of some blind jazz and pop pianists that made it big:

  • Marcelo Bratke: blind classical pianist
  • Art Tatum: arguably the greatest jazz pianists of all times
  • Ray Charles: pop singer and pianist
  • George Shearing: jazz pianist who developed the so called “Shearing Sound” based on block chords
  • Stevie Wonder: few know what a great jazz pianist Stevie actually is, because he is most famous for his brilliant song writing and singing.

Listening to those brilliant blind pianists could indeed lead us to conclude that our eyes are unnecessary when it comes to playing the piano. For example, it is well documented that blind people have a better developed memory for acoustic events, a skill they are forced to develop in order to compensate for their missing eye sight, of course.

 Here is a great tip:

Have you ever played the piano blindfolded?

 Try it:

Blindfold yourself, or make the room completely dark, and play the piano. By the way, I take no responsibility for any insure or damage that may be caused by this experiment; watch your step!

Once you are done write down everything you noticed about this experience. If you can’t think of anything, try answering the following questions:

  • How did it make you feel?
  • What was different from “playing with your eyes”?
  • Did the keys feel differently?
  • Were you focusing more on playing than usually?
  • How did it sound?
  • Did you make more mistakes?
  • Which passages where especially difficult to play?

I find this to be an amazing exercise that helps me sharpen my awareness of how I am sitting, the distance between the keys, the feel of the keys, the sound, all of which are things I usually don’t pay attention to. It also seems to increase my focus on the music, because there is no visual distraction that can get in the way.

 Conclusion

Maybe we should always play as if we were blind. Admittedly, being able to see the keys may give us a higher sense of security, especially when our hands travel great distances. But then again, Art Tatum didn’t miss a key even when he jumped over 3 octaves in a milli second. I observed famous concert pianists perform the most difficult music without once looking at their hands or the keyboard. Instead, their eyes are often directed towards the ceiling or straight ahead. I often wondered why they do this. Fact is that many brilliant pianists recommend not to watch the fingers and keys if at all possible. You may assume that not watching the keys, hands and fingers gives you less control, but it is just the opposite. Looking at the hands can actually greatly distract a pianist; not only that, but it actually might cause memory slips and other unwanted side effects.

Closing words

The key to playing the keys seems to be more than anything – as Liszt pointed out so poetically – in our touch, ears, and imagination.

So let’s all close our eyes and focus on the music instead of staring at our hands!

The sustain pedal as a means to pain-free piano playing

The sustain pedal is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to ergonomic, pain-free piano playing.

The function of the sustain pedal is to keep notes ringing without the need of holding down the key. This allows us to move our fingers to a different position while sustaining the notes, and blending notes for phrasing or other purposes.

In this article I will focus on the sustain pedal as a tool to preserve energy and avoid any unnecessary tension.

One of the things I observe frequently when students practice the piano is that most of them don’t utilize the sustain pedal enough or for the right reasons. (By the way, this may be simply because they practice on a keyboard at home that doesn’t have a sustain pedal, something that has to be discouraged.) Consequently, they hold down the keys as long as they want to hear the notes ring which causes them to barely find time to reach for the next chord. They also often spread their fingers unnecessarily wide. Both results in unnecessary tension and technical limitation.

There are many problems that come with this kind of playing. Musical considerations set aside, the most serious one is the risk of injury.

I strongly urge piano teachers and students to give priority to mastering the use of the sustain pedal. It will improve the students technique greatly and can help prevent long term injury.