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Piano Lesson 22: Expressing Our Gratitude

By Gaili Schoen November 08, 2023 Hobbies

Welcome to Lesson 22! Today we are covering p.67-68 plus a couple bonus Thanksgiving songs! If you are following me on my timeline, it’s November, the month to think about, and to express, gratitude.

Since starting a gratitude practice about four years ago, I have noticed that I am generally happier, calmer and more trusting. Many health organizations such as the CDC report that “Practicing gratitude every day can improve your physical and emotional well-being” and can “reduce stress.” NBC news reports that a daily gratitude practice can “train your brain to be happier.”

I started by buying a gratitude journal, but now write a few sentences in my daily planner. Each morning I write a positive affirmation, starting with “Today I…” and following it with something like “…am calm and content, walk with self-assurance, feel love all around me…” etc.

Next, I complete a sentence starting with the words “Today I look forward to….” my walk, playing the piano for 10 minutes, reading my book, cooking breakfast… etc.

Finally, I write about something I am grateful for. It might be something about my life such as my job, or my family. Or it might be something simple or impermanent such as, “I am grateful for…” the beautiful sunrise, a conversation I had with my friend, my good health, my love of music, the rain, a rabbit I saw on my hike, a full night’s sleep….

Then, in the evening, health experts suggest, we write down one to three good things that happened in the day; I usually write my three things in my planner before bed. It’s amazing to see how many nice things happen during the course of our day, when we take the time to notice them.

As we have discussed before in Lessons 16 and 18, when we really want to get good at something, we must make it a habit. By writing about gratitude every day, I have gotten into the habit of seeing beauty all around me, and noticing when good things are happening. This practice has helped me to lighten up, and to feel more content with my life.

Cultivating internal gratitude also helps to prevent us from feeling overwhelmed by the pain and sadness in the world. OK let’s begin Lesson 22!

22.1 Gratitude!

Please watch my introduction to Lesson 22 for some thoughts about expressing gratitude through some new songs:

22.2 For He’s/She’s a Jolly Good Fellow! p.67

I love this song that we sing all over the western world at birthdays, retirement parties, anniversaries, and other occasions when we want to celebrate and appreciate someone. It’s one of the most prominent songs sung in film and we love to raise a glass in tribute as we croon!

A great way to evoke gratitude is through playing music. To express my gratitude, I am giving you some free American Thanksgiving sheet music!

22.3 An American Classic: Over the River and Through the Woods

If you are American, you might enjoy playing the Thanksgiving song we sang in childhood, Over the River and Through the Woods. I have posted this quintessential Thanksgiving favon my Sixty and Me “Free Lessons” page. Click here to print: Over the River and Through the Woods (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

A couple of the left-hand chords will be unfamiliar, so feel free to write in the letters on the left side of (not below) each note. Writing the letters next to the notes helps the brain to associate the note names with the locations of those notes.

22.4 Simple Gifts (‘Tis A Gift to be Simple) p.85

Whatever your nationality, you might enjoy playing Simple Gifts, a simply beautiful Shaker hymn on p.85 of your Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 1. Even though Simple Gifts is far ahead in your book, you can play it now, as it is a lovely song about appreciating the simple things in life and adapting to life’s challenges.

If you are a little more advanced, you can also print and play my intermediate arrangement of Simple Gifts from my recent BLOG POST.

Passion Practice

  1. Exercise #4 – Play in E and B with each hand. Try playing it using a metronome set to 3/4 time, at whatever tempo (speed) you can play it without pausing.
  2. For He’s/She’s a Jolly Good Fellow p.67 – Watch my demonstration video 22.2 above then practice the song slowly.
  3. Chord Calisthenics #4, Appendix viii – Play the minor triads from Cm to Bm as whole notes, with each hand. After you learn Em and Bm, use a metronome and hold each chord (Cm-Bm) for 4 beats at around 70 bpm. Record yourself to make sure you are staying on the beat!
  4. Simple Gifts, p.85 – If you have time, start practicing Simple Gifts on p.85 to play for Thanksgiving. If it is past Thanksgiving for you now, or if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in your region, you can play this song whenever you would like. I posted a demonstration video above.
  5. Do the Musical Mind Games on p.68. You can find the answers to the word scramble here. Play the random notes in the middle forward and backward. Then try the memory boosting game in the box.
  6. Over the River and Through the Woods – Most Americans will know this childhood fav, but if you’re not American you might still enjoy playing it! You can find the sheet music at the bottom of this page.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your part of the world? What are you thankful for? For me, listening to and playing music is uplifting, and it makes me feel deeply grateful for all the good in my life. Which songs or pieces evoke feelings of gratitude for you?

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Am sitting in a snow storm in Michigan’s upper peninsula and wanted to tell you I appreciate your words about Gratitude. Thank you. Also, I have your Music remedy books, 1,2 & 3 and truly appreciate how you elevate the older piano player by your playable renditions of these great pieces – thoroughly enjoy them. Have shared these books with my piano teacher who has incorporated them into my lessons.

Gaili / UpperHandsPiano

Cathy thanks so much for your beautiful comment :) I’m excited to hear that you are playing some of my Music Remedy songs, wow that’s great! Weird – that you’re experiencing a snow storm in Michigan while we have 78-degree weather in Los Angeles. Very rare and wrong for November, here. Stay warm and cozy and thanks for your kindness -Gaili

Last edited 5 months ago by Gaili Schoen

I give thanks for the gift of Gaili who so graciously is leading us through this piano journey. I am Canadian so our Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in October but I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Day from Canada! Thanks for all you do for us, Gaili!

Gaili / UpperHandsPiano

Thanks so much for your kind words Patricia! Happy belated Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m so glad you’re enjoying your lessons, and feel free to ask questions if they arise 🎶🎹🎶

The Author

Gaili Schoen is a passionate piano teacher and learning science researcher. She has written a piano instruction series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Learn more at Follow her blog for free monthly sheet music and practice tips:

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