Tuesday, November 20, 2012

That's YOU, Mommy!

A lovely package arrived in the mail from the Church Music Department!!  They sent a CD recording of the whole concert we attended at the Assembly Hall on October 26th...and a complete songbook of all the songs that were performed.  Oh, and a fancy certificate to hang on the wall as well!

I popped that CD right into my car stereo and turned it up.  The first track is the guy who welcomed us all to the concert and then introduced us, one by one to the audience...he's going through the names...and he gets to mine..."Elizabeth Giuliacci, from Tracy, California..."

MARK (age 4): "MOMMY, THAT'S YOU!!"

So here's the recording:

See the Sheet Music Here!

I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all my family and friends who have been so supportive through this crazy journey.  I truly could not have done it without you...I know it sounds lame and cliche, but when I felt like giving up, one of you always came along and told me I was an idiot.  So thanks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Suitcase

needed a last-minute suitcase to take with us on our Utah Trip.  I hadn't put two-and-two together that both Paul and I would be traveling at the same time, so I got to go out and buy the most hideous suitcase I could find.  

Hey...just like the super-old guy at the baggage carousel at SLC said, "Well, at least you'll never miss it!"  Or the girls behind us at the Southwest counter who asked, "Are you guys going to Hawaii or something??"  Nope...just wanted a girly suitcase...

And it was on clearance.  For $59.  At Target.  If you want to go get one yourself, you'd best be hurrying.

Clearly, mine is the more exciting, shall we say...

I don't know if you can see it...but there she goes, onto the airplane!

Heading home...she was a great traveling companion!

If you'd like to borrow it, I'm sure that can be arranged.  Just sayin'....


There are no words to describe how awesome this past weekend was.  If you're just tuning in, the long and the short of it is that a hymn I arranged, "The Lord is My Light" received Special Recognition in the 2012 LDS Church Music Contest.  It was featured in a concert in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City this past Friday and will soon be published on the Church's music website. 

I wasn't about to miss that concert!  So my friend Dean Wendel and I hopped on an airplane Thursday night and had ourselves quite the parTAY!  Let's just take a peek at a few of my favorite photos:

When I picked up Dean for the airport, she opened the door and shot this photo at the same time...SURPRISE!

Our lovely friend, Linda Brown drove us to the airport...that was a blast...THANK YOU, LINDA!

At Temple Square to watch the MoTab...OK FINE, we hit the City Creek Mall first!

Watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse...WOW!  So you know, someday I WILL sing with that choir...

Friday night at the Blue Lemon across from Temple Square, ready to go to the concert!  Dean and I met up with more friends who made the trek out for the big event.  From left: Shannon Nightingale, Carmen Mansfield, Cheryl Polson, Caitlyn Polson, and Nick Polson

More of my besties who made the trip out: (from left) Me, Sadie Bergstrom, Dean Wendel, and Meghan Goodfellow

On our way over to the Assembly Hall.  It's been over a year since I've seen Sadie...it's time you move back now!

Can you tell I feel like throwing up right about now?

Relief Society Choir from the Fruit Heights Utah Stake warming up before the concert

I got to sit in the RESERVED section with the other composers.  This is Rachel Mecham Goates (on right) and her fabulous friend.  Rachel's daughter, Emily Goates wrote an amazing arrangement of "As Zion's Youth in Latter Days," sung by a choir of Young Women.

Anna Molgard, who composed "Simple Joy"...AMAZING!


I'll give you a hint...she wrote "I Love to See the Temple" and "A Child's Prayer".

Janice Kapp Perry, I want to be just like you when if I grow up!

I hope to see you ladies again next year!

Remember Rebecca Brown Wright?  She made it down for the concert too!  (Her mom was the one who drove us to the airport, BTW...)

Dana Glenn, one of our very favorite babysitters from years gone by...SO great to see you again!

More lovelies!

After-Party at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building...at the top floor...check out the view!

The After-AFTER-Party...we found an empty chapel in the building and had an impromptu concert with Bill Hatch!


This concert was the most amazing, inspiring, exciting experience of my musical journey, to date.  I can't wait to see what unfolds in the future!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Born to Be a Queen - NEW SONG!

See the sheet music here!

Young Women in Excellence is coming up next month...which means we need another musical number for our girls to sing.  Last year, we did "The Lord is My Light", which was a huge success.

What to do...what to do???

Cheryl Polson and I puzzled and stewed, and puzzled some more, but nothing fit quite right.  The theme we came up with for the night is "Born to Be a Queen", based on two amazing talks.  The first, "Remember Who You Are", by Elaine S. Dalton:

The second, "Your Happily Ever After," by my favorite, President Uchtdorf.  (OK FINE...it's a tie between Uchtdorf and Holland!)

So what to sing??  A NEW SONG, OF COURSE! 

The creation of this song has been no different that the others.  Cheryl quickly worked some amazing lyrics (cause she's the lyric machine), gives me some melody to work with, and 1 - 2 - 3 - GO!  I got the first verse and chorus quite easily...like 20 minutes - TOPS easy.  Then comes the part where I hit the wall.  Depression sets in.  I'm certain the song is terrible and needs to be reworked from the top.  Song sits on the shelf for 5 days cause I'm mad at it and mad at myself for writing trash. 

CHERYL POLSON TO THE RESCUE!!  Basically, she tells me to quit wallowing, write the bridge, and it will all work out.  She was right, of course.  I wrote the bridge, worked a key change and the song finally has a MOMENT. 

But I want you all to know that the song didn't give me goosebumps until we wrote the end.  And by WE, I mean 6 of us at YW Board Meeting a couple weeks ago.  I had the whole song written up to the end of the chorus after the key change...but no end.  That ending was the product of a brainstorm between myself, Cheryl, Caitlyn Polson, Meghan Goodfellow, Ashley Howes, and Lindsay Eccles.  I love being in YW!!!!

We're excited for our program.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 22, 2012

We'll Cross That Bridge When We Get There

How many times have we used THAT phrase??  Well...the bridge needs crossing, people.  THIS happened today:

This week is looking totally different now.  Many of you know that my husband, Paul works for the San Francsico Giants.  Yay...totally cool...he's livin' the dream, right?  Well, when the team goes to the World Series, the Giants charter a plane and take the whole front office with them.  Which is so awesome and cool...EXCEPT WHEN IT'S TIME FOR OUR TOTALLY AWESOME GIRL TRIP TO UTAH!!

So, I told Paul weeks ago when I bought my plane ticket to SLC that if the Giants go to the World Series, we're getting a babysitter for the kids while he's gone at the AL Champ home games...which is, of course Detroit...why it couldn't have been NYC...that would have been WAY better!

Enter Ashley and Will Howes...probably the nicest people on the planet. 

They have agreed to come stay with the kids for the weekend.  They're amazing.  And she's a preschool teacher...it's PERFECT! 

Now I just have to go pick out the perfect outfit for the World Series Gala we suddenly heard about that will take place tomorrow night in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel.  I mean...housewife from Tracy with 5 kids can't look all frumpy now, can she?

It's going to be a wild ride this week....

Stuff Piano Students Say - Part 2

Today, cute Little Miss K came to piano.  We are learning the letter-names of the white keys on the piano.  "D" looks like a dog house and is probably the easiest one to memorize.  I explain that the there is an animal waiting right outside the dog house to torture that poor dog and make it bark at him...and that animal begins with "C"...has four legs...is furry...makes dogs bark...(adding in more and more clues until cute Little Miss K gets it)...

Suddenly, she gets it...


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Annual Halloween Recital

Last night, we held our Annual Halloween Piano Recital.  It's probably the best recital of the whole year...cause who DOESN'T love wearing a costume?  Everyone did such an amazing job.  I was SO proud!

If you have photos from the recital you'd like posted here, please email them to me.  This is one gem we've come up with so far...this is cute, adorable little Miss K.  She is a brand new student and this was her very first piano recital.  She dressed up as a fairy.  Cutest fairy EVER!

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Week to Go!!!!

We're down to ONE MORE WEEK!!  I got a fun surprise in the mail from the Church Music Department.  It was a letter that stated:

"We are delighted to know that you will be attending our Church Relief Society Music Festival on October 26.  The enclosed card and the name tag will admit you and your guest to the special reserved section for the concert at the Assembly Hall.  A reception for composers, their families and friends, and choir members will be held after the concert in the Relief Society room on the mezzanine of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building."

It's an AFTER PARTY...Mormon-style.  That's what I'm talking about, people!!

It's a good thing I went shopping...

By Request, "Teach Me To Walk" for a Baptism

See the sheet music here!

After the second time someone requested "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" WITHOUT the totally awesome "Arise and Shine Forth" part in it, I've decided to make the "Teach Me to Walk Without Arising" available here on my site.  One of my friends will be having this sung at her daughter's baptism this month...so I can see why you wouldn't want a Youth anthem in there...makes sense, right?

My only suggestion would be, that if you are using this modified "Teach Me To Walk Without Arising", your accompanist takes it easy on that second verse.  The accompaniment really lends itself to more of a Youth Anthem...POWER TO THE PEOPLE - type singing.  But with just the usual "Teach Me To Walk" lyrics, it should be a little more on the reverent side.  I don't know if that makes sense...just take it easy on the piano, ok people?!?!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Round trip tickets to Salt Lake City?  BOOKED.

My dear, dear friend Dean and I are traveling together. 

A little over a month left to wait...I think I'm gonna make my kids make me a paper chain to countdown the days!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stuff Piano Students Say

The other day, I had this precious conversation with a darling 8 year-old girl, encouraging her to practice regularly:

Me: Could you practice in the morning before you go to school?

Student: I have a really hard time waking up in the morning.


Student: Yeah, I get like these marks under my eyes in the morning because I'm so tired.

Me: I know what you're talking about.  My eyes get all puffy in the morning!

Student: Ummm...yeah, you still have puffy eyes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The True Story of the White Pilgrim

See the sheet music here!

No, "Turn White Pilgrim" (Benjamin's Song) is not a racist song!  In fact, my personal opinion is that the title is probably meant to have a comma in it, which changes the meaning a little... "Turn, White Pilgrim". 

When Linda Brown gave me Benjamin's Song, we were all a little perplexed about the meaning of the title, being that those three words were never used in the lyrics.  After some research, Linda came up with the true story of the White Pilgrim. 

Basically, Joseph Thomas, the "White Pilgrim" was a traveling revival minister in the Eastern States in the early 1800s.  He rode from town to town on his white horse, wearing all white, instead of the customary black minister frock coat.  You can read all about it here.

Other fascinating Benjamin Brown reads:

His journal can be found online.
A short online biography.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Benjamin's Song - Part 3 LAST ONE!

See the sheet music here!

The conclusion (finally, I KNOW!) to the story of how I REALLY started arranging music.

That RS function was the first time that Linda had heard Benjamin's Song performed.  It is my understanding that she loved it.  So much that she wanted to take it to a professional recording studio to have it recorded for posterity.  Linda scheduled it for Spring Break, when Rebecca would be in town visiting for Easter.  Rebecca was to play the piano for the recording, her being the one who started this whole thing in the first place, and the one who is Benjamin's posterity.  Bob was invited to come sing for the recording as well.  I was thrilled to be asked to come along and help Rebecca and Bob rehearse, being as Rebecca had never worked with Bob or the arrangement before.

It was just 2 weeks before the recording studio date when Bob and I decided to rehearse again just to make sure we had it.  It was then that I realized that I didn't know that Linda and Rebecca intended to have all 10 verses recorded in lieu of the version we did for the Stake RS function which was only 4 out of the 10 verses. 

This posed an ENORMOUS new set of challenges...HOLY COW!!  If they did 10 verses like that over and over again....that would get pretty redundant.  That's when I urged Linda and Rebecca to consider making the hymn a 5 verse hymn like I had originally heard it in my head.  They immediately agreed.

I told Rebecca to come up with the complete melody for the whole hymn and get it to me ASAP...I mean seriously!!  The recording studio date was looming only 2 weeks away...less, even, I think.  Linda showed up at my doorstep the next morning, melody in hand.  I was worried that the accompaniment wouldn't come as easily as it had before, but I sat down with it immediately and the same amazing experience happened yet again.  I heard exactly how it was supposed to sound and it was childishly easy.  This time, I was prepared and I wrote it down immediately.  

We went to the recording studio on April 8, 2010.  This place in Stockton,
Studio C was AWESOME!!  The studio had a large room with a GORGEOUS black Steinway grand piano.  The whole process took about 2.5 hours.  It was amazing what Sam, our recording engineer was able to do with his fancy-schmancy equipment. 
We all joked in the studio that everyone involved in this project is now family.  I, however was feeling something less than joking.  That whole day, I felt a weird something connecting me to this Benjamin Brown...something more than just a really cool song.  Something more than these wonderful friends Linda, Rebecca, Rex, and Bob. 

I decided to dig further the next day to see if there is any connection in our family trees that would make us even remotely related.  It was a longshot because I wasn't aware of any early Latter-Day Saint heritage on either side of my family, what with both of my parents having joined the Church together as newlyweds in the early 1970s. 

Sure enough, I received word from
my favorite Uncle Kent that, through marriage, Benjamin Brown IS related to me!!  I mean...NO WAY!!  Benjamin's great-grandfather John Brown married a woman named Abigail Randall who is my first cousin 10 times removed.  So if we do the math right, then Benjamin Brown...through marriage...is my first cousin 7 times removed.  I KNEW IT!!! 

But on a serious note...this whole experience has had an unimaginable impact on me and my family.  I never before thought that I would be able to arrange music like this.  It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to work with the Brown family on such an inspiring project so dear to their family...and now mine!

A photo of Benjamin (can you see the family resemblance?!?!):

I don't think Rex and Linda have put me in their will yet... 

Benjamin's Song - Part 2

See the sheet music here!

The continuing story of how I REALLY started arranging music.  

Let's pick up at the part where Linda Brown asked if I (who had never, to date, ever considered the idea of arranging/composing) would help arrange an original song written by both a beloved daughter and great-grandfather.

NOT ON YOUR LIFE, LINDA!  I think I laughed at her.  This conversation happened over two years ago so the details are a little fuzzy, but I'm certain there was laughing.  Followed, of course, by my explaining my incompetence to her and assuring her she had the wrong gal for the job. ..something about barking up the wrong tree..

I told her I'd give it ONE shot (that was generous)...for two reasons.  #1: Linda is one of my dearest friends.  #2: I'm a sucker for cool family history stories, so something about this account piqued my interest.

I took her daughter's handwritten music home with me and didn't look at it until the following Sunday morning when I had a few free moments to sit at the piano.  I played through Rebecca's creation and decided that, while the melody was good, and clearly inspired, it needed a little something for an accompaniment. 

LINDA, this is your ONE shot...don't tell me I didn't try.  Not knowing what to do, I simply put my fingers on the keyboard and started...playing...

What happened next was totally indescribable. 

I started to play, and even before I played each note, I could hear in my head what was supposed to happen next...maybe a full measure ahead of time.  And it was GORGEOUS!  Of course, I've heard way better stuff come out of the famous greats like Mack Wilberg, but coming from me...I knew there was no way that actually came from my brain. 

Also, I heard more to the song that Rebecca hadn't included.  When Rebecca copied down Benjamin's lyrics, she figured it was a 10-verse hymn that is very short; like a 2-liner like "Upon the Cross of Calvary"...but the way I heard it was really a 5-verse hymn in the traditional format with 4 lines.  But I didn't have the heart to mention it to Linda when I went to call her...it would seem ungracious and presumptuous of me, so I left that info out...besides, what do I know?!  I'm not a professional composer/arranger!  Nonetheless, I finished the song totally overcome and immediately ran to the phone to call Linda.

"WHO IS THIS BENJAMIN BROWN CHARACTER?!"  I had to know.  I had an urgent need to get to know this man.  Linda related a few things they had learned about him from his journal.  Later that day, Rex (Benjamin's great-great grandson) brought with him to church, my own personal copy of Benjamin's journal.  Over the next couple days, I marvelled at what an amazing man Benjamin was.  I felt incredibly honored to have been asked to participate in this journey with the Browns.

The biggest task was to get what I heard in my head written down on paper so I could rehearse it with my singer and perform it, less than 2 weeks away!  It's one thing to hear music in your head and spit it out onto the piano, but ENTIRELY another to remember what it is that you did a day or two later and write it down. 

It was enormously taxing trying to figure out how to actually write stuff down...all that music theory I never really paid attention to taking piano lessons all those years ago, and cutting all those Music Theory classes at Ricks College...nope, not helping too much.  Which way do the stems go?  Incomplete measures, eighth note bars, tied notes, just to mention a few.  Key changes?  How in the world am I going to come up with a keychange that sounds anything close to Mack Wilberg's amazing keychanges?? 

In just a couple days, I came up with my finished product and was ready to rehearse it with our singer, Bob Green, a member of our ward...who only recently discovered that he is related to Linda Brown by marriage through one of his cousins.  Kind of a family project...except for me.  But I did think it pretty amazing that I was able to finish this arrangement in only a couple days and still take care of the kids, teach piano lessons all afternoon, etc.  It really was nothing short of a miracle. 

Bob and I rehearsed and then performed Benjamin's Song, "Turn White Pilgrim" at our Stake Relief Society function on Saturday, January 23, 2010.  Listening to Bob sing, I could see in my mind's eye, Benjamin Brown singing...pleading with his family to go with him to Zion.  

Turn White Pilgrim - by Benjamin Brown

Will you go to the land where Patriarch died,
Where the souls of the blessed are free?
Will you go with saints to the house of the Lord,
To Zion's bright mansions with me?
Where prophets, apostles, and high priests rejoice,
Where the pillar of glory shall stand;
Where the sons and daughters of God shall rejoice
In a perfectly glorious band.

Where the cloud rests by day and the pillar by night,
And its glory shall be a defense;
Where the righteous shall gather and greatly rejoice
For in Zion salvation is strength;
Her walls are salvation her gates are all praise,
For judgement her prophets all stand;
Her priests are exactors of sweet righteousness,
At the courts of fair Zion they stand.

Where the cause of the widow and orphan is heard,
And they execute truth in their gates;
For deception is fallen and truth takes her stand,
And the poor in their rights they instate;
Then come, O my people, thus saith the Lord;
Come forth from confusion and strife;
Embrace the pure Gospel of Jesus your Lord,
Escape ye and flee for your life.

O why will you tarry, o why will you stay,
What comfort in Babylons found?
She sinks like a millstone cast into the sea,
The decree is she must be cast down;
Then why my relations, o why not believe?
Repent ye and then be baptized,
For remission of sins as old Peter has said
And the spirit you then shall receive.

These signs then shall follow saith Jesus my Lord,
And to this the apostles respond;
And the former day Saints with the latter accord,
And in witness and spirit abound
The banner in Zion is waving for you,
And the Elders proclaiming abroad;
These are the last days as the signs plainly show,
Come obey your Redeemer and Lord.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Benjamin's Song - Part 1

Check out the song itself here!

This is the story of how I REALLY started arranging music. 

First, let me introduce you to the FABULOUS Rex and Linda Brown. 

When we moved into the Hidden Lake Ward in 2002, I became acquainted with Rex and Linda's daughter, Rebecca, who was still in high school at the time.  I didn't really get to know her until just recently when Linda asked if I would help her and her now grown-up daughter arrange an original song.  In order to properly tell this amazing story, I have invited Rebecca Brown Wright to tell the beginning.  My part of the story doesn't start until halfway through... heeeeere's REBECCA!!!....

"Benjamin Brown, my great-great-great grandfather, is a bit of a legend in our family history.  My dad would occasionally read to us from his copy of Benjamin's account of his life.  Benjamin experienced all sorts of miracles and suffered all kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual hardships. 

The one experience that seemed to impress my brothers and me the most was when Benjamin was attacked by a mob for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  A mob of men were angry with him for preaching in their town, and they followed him with the intent to kill.  They beat him, and one man even broke his ribs by jumping on his chest with his knees.  I am certain he would have died, as that seemed to be the mob's intention, had he not thought smart.  After struggling to get away, he thought to act as if he were dead.  He lay as still as possible, and in the darkness of the night, the men believed him to be dead.  Satisfied, they left him alone.  Knowing this story of such bravery for sharing truth, even when an actual life is in danger, I have always admired Benjamin. 

One day, my mom and I visited the LDS Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.  On a whim, I typed Benjamin's name into the database.  Many results came up.  Some -- like the journal my dad had a copy of -- I expected.  But there was one entry that intrigued me.  It was titled "Song."

I asked if I could see the song, and after storing all my belongings in a locker and signing my name and information, I was able to sit down and hold a poem written in Benjamin's own hand.  I wasn't sure why it was categorized as a song because there was no music anywhere to be seen -- just a poem written to his relatives.  The document was too fragile to be photocopied, so I sat down and began to copy the words onto a piece of paper.

Several verses into the song, my hand writing at a somewhat steady tempo, I started to hear a melody.  "That's interesting," I thought, and continued copying.  The melody became louder and louder until I realized, "Hey!  I should write this down!"  I have never composed music, and I do not sing, but from my years of piano teaching, I had developed an ear for the intervals of (or distance between) notes.  I didn't know on what note the melody should begin, but I knew the intervals that needed to be between each note.

I came home, found the correct starting note on the piano, and wrote the melody.

And then I was done.  I didn't know what else to do with it.  I couldn't make it pretty or presentable.  My mom wanted the song to be performed at a church meeting in California, so she asked me to do what I could with the arrangement, and she would find somebody to play it.  I knew my work on the song was done, however.  I threw out a really awful accompaniment, and gave it to my mom, knowing with a sure knowledge that whoever she found to play the song was going to be inspired to arrange it to the beauty it needed to be arranged.

When she told me she had found Elizabeth to play the song, I told her to give Elizabeth free license with the piece.  Her only instruction was to leave the melody as is, since I believe it was a direct inspiration.  Elizabeth told my mom she wouldn't dare touch any of it, but I wanted her to arrange the piece.  She seemed to have little confidence in her abilities, but without even knowing her all that well, I had complete trust that she was the right person for the job.  I was stunned -- blown away -- by the arrangement Elizabeth was able to put together.  And as time went on and she polished the arrangement up, it became more and more beautiful. 

Any time people have heard it, they have been moved.  The piece is beautiful, the words are powerful, and for some reason it was meant to come together at this time and place."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Come Unto Jesus

Whew!!  It's finally done!  This is a mostly unison song, with the exception of a really cool (IMHO) TTBB verse and a brief period of SSATB at the end.  You could really do a lot of variations with this song.  You could have it be an all men's arrangement all the way through...that could be really cool.

This arrangement, like all the ones before it, has been quite the adventure.  I started this arrangement with the intention of creating a vocal solo.  When I got to the second verse, I thought, "Wouldn't it be AWESOME to have some TTBB goin' on here?!?!  And wouldn't it be AWESOME to segueway into 'Nearer, My God To Thee'?" 

I woke up the next morning with an incredibly clear spiritual impression that I should not include any other hymns, that I should stick with just "Come Unto Jesus."  I couldn't say why, and as you all know, I try to go with the inspiration I receive.  I think I know now why I was supposed to stick with the one hymn, but I'm not going to say at this point.  I'm going to let that one play out a bit.

So I went to work creating a TTBB second verse.  Now THAT was fun!  The harmonies in that verse are probably some of my favorites in any arrangement I've done to date.

Finished with second verse...great.  Problem...I suddenly realized that the flow was ALL WRONG.  You can't just go from a soprano solo straight into a sudden full-on TTBB verse, right?  Usually there's some build-up to magnificent harmony, right?  Yeah...that's when the arrangement got put on the shelf for the first time (out of many).

Fast forward through all the boring details...let's just say that it was like pulling teeth to get this arrangement to come together in a way that flowed correctly.  This song never gave me goosebumps like my other arrangements did...

...until I had the privilege of listening to our ward choir running through it for the first time yesterday.  Don't I always say that hearing your arrangement LIVE for the first time is a magical experience?  This one didn't disappoint.  A big, HUGE thank you to Colleen Tibbets, our Ward Choir Director who humored me when I called her and asked if they could sing through it once for me even just in a practice so I could hear if it works or not.  We have a wonderful Ward Choir.  Our ward is FULL of amazing musicians, so we are quite lucky. 

Last, but not least, I have to again give credit where credit is due.  I know you probably get sick of me saying how grateful I am for the inspiration that comes from the Spirit when I need it.  The Lord made me work for this one a little harder, but that's ok.  Again, His timing is pretty incredible.  At the moment I was certain I should give up on this song and all future endeavors, convinced my music stunk...I got that awesome letter in the mail saying it most certainly DOESN'T stink!  (Once again, the letter didn't actually say that, but basically it did.)

OK, one last thing...if you use this arrangement in your ward, let me know how it goes!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Too Good To Be True!!

It just keeps getting better...I checked my mailbox this morning...check out what came today from Church Headquarters (regarding "The Lord is My Light"...see the post before this):

Dear Sister Giuliacci:

"...Although you did not receive a cash award, we would like to publish your work on the Church music web site.  Enclosed is a contract which confirms that the Church has permission, without further notice or compensation, to freely reproduce, perform, record, distribute and otherwise use your music submission.  If you agree, please return the signed document to our office before July 27.  If you agree, your work will be included in an Assembly Hall concert on October 26, 2012."

I'm sure I don't need to tell you all of the unfathomable shock and excitement I am currently feeling.  The last letter I received rendered me unable to sleep until 2AM that morning.  It's gonna be another long night, people.

I've already got the road trip all planned out, in case you are wondering.  I've never actually driven to Utah before.  It's time...BEST GIRLS' TRIP EVER!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Special Recognition!

Unexpected delivery in my mailbox yesterday:

I entered a few arrangements this year in the annual LDS Song Contest.  There are at least 8 categories and for each category there is an Award of Distinction, an Award of Merit, and Special Recognition.  My goal was to someday receive Special Recognition. 

The letter that accompanied this list of winners was in reference to "The Power to Choose" that I arranged for Debbie Fox.  It states:

"Although your submission, 'The Power to Choose' was not a recognized entry, we wanted you to know that it was among the finalists.  This is an accomplishment worthy of note, since there were scores of entries for review.  We commend you for your efforts and hope you will continue to submit works in future years.  For your information a list of recognized entries is enclosed"

SWEET!  I was thrilled for my friend Debbie who put her heart and soul into that song.  In fact, on a side note...our Primary Children will be singing it this fall as part of their Sacrament Meeting Presentation! 

So, while sitting at our swim teacher's pool watching swim lessons and reading this letter, I started to peruse the list of winners.  I recognized several names on the list including Janice Kapp Perry and Sally Deford.  Imagine my complete and utter surprise when, upon reading the last category, the last column, the last name..."'The Lord is My Light', Elizabeth Giuliacci, Tracy, CA"...

WHAT?!?!?! (screaming and jumping up and down)

I think Miss Marsha, our swim teacher must have thought a big hairy spider landed on me or something.  Unbelievable!  I still can't believe it.

Here's what I have to say about that...I have to give credit where credit is due.  I would be terribly remiss if I did not thank my Heavenly Father for the gift of music in my soul.  I'm grateful for the flows of inspiration that come when I least expect them.  Most of the great ideas I get are not my own.  Mostly they come from the Spirit OR they come from amazing friends.  I just do what I'm told!

I continue to be fascinated by the Lord's timing and how His hand is made manifest my life.  Check this out for timing: The night before I opened this letter, I went over to the Polson's house to try and finish up my latest arrangement.  This arrangement hasn't come quite as easily as the others have.  I worked on just a couple measures for over an hour and left their house wondering the following: Why do I even bother??  How do I know I don't stink?  What if my music is really pretty bad?  Seriously.  I wasn't feelin' it, people.  So then what happens??  The next day I get this amazing letter in the mail informing me that MY MUSIC DOESN'T STINK!!!!

They didn't exactly say it like that.  But they may as well have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Irish Christmas

This song was written for Norah Barry Conway. For about 9 years, I have been researching my husband's family history. Obviously he's Italian, right? Little known fact...he's actually 50% IRISH. I always say that's what's wrong with him...that, and his Italian grandparents are second cousins...different story for a different day...ANYWAY, Paul's mother is 100% Irish. She's an amazing woman, and I have grown to love her like my own mother.

When I started searching my mother in-law's roots, we didn't know very much. We could only go back a generation or two. We knew the Conways came from Ireland and settled in Manhattan. I found that her grandfather, Edward Conway married Norah Barry in Manchester, England in 1878. That's smack dab in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, in MANCHESTER. Being Irish, I'm sure their plight was not ideal.

Norah and Edward started having children right away. Let me just give you a timeline of events here:

Nov 1878: Married

Nov 1880: Elizabeth born

1883: Edward Jr. born

March 1884: Hannah born

May 1884: Hannah dies at 8 weeks, COD "Exhaustion from improper food and neglect of medical aid"

Let me just take a break here and say how much that breaks my heart. When I received the Death cert in the mail, I have to admit I judged. Until I considered how desperate their situation must have been.

Summer 1884: Edward Sr. immigrates to NYC, arriving Oct 1884

Early 1885: Patrick born which means Norah must have learned she was pregnant after Edward set sail for America.

1885: Norah and her 3 children sail to NYC

17 Aug 1886: Edward Jr. dies at age 3, COD - Croup. My kids have had croup dozens of times. I think of Norah every time I soothe my sick babies and count my blessings.

28 Aug 1886: Patrick dies at age 11 months, COD - Cholera

Only 11 days separate the deaths of these two babies. Unbelievable.

July 1887: they bury an unnamed baby in their family plot in Calvary Cemetery, presumably stillborn

Oct 1889: Agnes born

Feb 1891: Thomas born

Feb 1893: Margaret born

Jun 1894: Edward born...yes, another Edward Jr.

1896: William born

Sep 1897: William dies, COD unknown.

Jan 1898: John born

Apr 1900: Mary born

Feb 1901: Mary dies age 9 months, COD - Acute Bronchitis

Dec 1901: Mary C. Conway born

May 1902: Mary C. dies, COD - unknown

May 1903: Joseph born (my husband's grandfather)

May 1905: Agnes dies age 16, COD - Tuberculosis

1905: Francis born

Jun 1927: John dies age 29, COD - Tuberculosis

Norah states on Joseph's 1903 Birth Record that she had previously had 16 children, of which, only 7 are living. She had one more child after this, putting the total at 18 children. If you count up how many I have accounted for, you'll find we have 3 "missing" children. I can only suppose that those children were born in England. The only way I'll prove that is to travel to the General Registrar's Office in the UK. I'll get there eventually. I WILL find those missing children.

Norah's husband, Edward died first in 1928. Norah followed him in death a few years later in 1932.

I'm not sure how that woman survived all she did. So much loss. She must have been a woman of great faith. She must have trusted in God. I hope she knows how grateful I am for her incredible faith and sacrifice. Had she not had that 17th child, my husband would not be here today.

I don't know how Norah celebrated Christmas. I don't know if she even knew these traditional Irish Carols. This is my gift to her, from my heart. When I think of where she is now, I don't think of heartache. I think of the promise of eternity. I think of her with her sweet babies and her husband, together for eternity. Someday we will meet face to face, and we will pick up our friendship right where we left off.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Daughter Divine

Relief Society Christmas Dinner 2011. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to present the music portion of the evening while the ladies are finishing their dinners. Like a dinner show sort of. And this year, the husbands were invited to the Christmas dinner...it seemed weird to me when it was announced but it turned out to be a lovely evening. Anyway, being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't even think about the show until the week of the dinner....yeah...good going. Hey...cut me a break...remember I had just been called into the YW presidency!

Cheryl Polson to the rescue...you remember she's our new YW President and also new-found bestie, right? She's got all the creativity, so I asked her for ideas. We landed upon a reader's theater called "The Women Who Knew Christ." Narrations are given by Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, the mother of Joseph the carpenter, the mother of Mary, the innkeeper (Cheryl tweaked it...the original used to be the innkeeper's wife), a shepherd (again, Cheryl tweaked it), Mary (the mother of the Savior), and lastly, a present day young woman. We decided each person who narrated would then sing a solo when they were done.

We had a song lined up for everyone EXCEPT for the mother of Mary. It was Wednesday...dinner is on Saturday night. Still no song for Mary's mom. Cheryl Polson and I both attended a small luncheon at our good friend Rachel Garner's house (ok fine, I have a lot of besties, alright? Rachel is my unofficial photographer and Recital Chairs chairperson). Those present helped us brainstorm a song for Mary's mom. Nope. Nothin'....until Cheryl blurts out:

Cheryl: "Hey Elizabeth...why don't we write our OWN song."

Me: "Like an original song?"

Cheryl: "Yeah. Why not?"

Me: (thinking she was kinda kidding and it would never actually happen) "Fine. I'm in if you're in."

Cheryl: "Fine."

Me: "You write the lyrics and I'll write the music."

Cheryl: "I'll have it to you by this afternoon."

Me: laughing..."Rrrrriiiight."

Cheryl was good on her word. She got me the lyrics less than 2 hours later, people!! And these weren't crappy lyrics. These were can't-get-through-em-without-crying lyrics. What now?!?! I have like 24, 48 hours TOPS to write this song, never mind REHEARSING the dang thing! Thankfully, it was Cheryl all along who was planning on portraying Mary's mother, and her actual daughter Caitlyn (my mini-bestie and image consultant) who was planning on portraying Mary. Cool, huh?

Wednesday night, I fell asleep still praying in my bed. I had never before written an original song. Arranging music was still so new to me...Composing music...fuhgeddaboutit! I woke up Thursday morning still praying. I set myself up at the piano...everything I needed right there. I had my two little boys watching a movie. I knelt down to pray...please, please, please help me come up with an awesome melody that doesn't stink. I just need a melody worthy of these amazing lyrics. I opened my eyes and looked at the computer screen right in front of me...

YOU'VE GOT MAIL!! No seriously...before I started praying, I had no new emails. When I opened my eyes I had a new email...from Cheryl. She had just, in the last few minutes, come up with a melody to the beginning of the song!!! Dude. God sometimes answers via email! It was the first few lines of melody, which was enough to get me going...kinda like your first time riding a bike without training wheels...I'll never forget my Dad pushing me off and running along-side of me until I had the hang of it...but I digress...that's all it took!

That's about all I got on Thursday. What was supposed to be a 2-hour composing session ended up being one interruption after another. I swear, forces of evil were combining against me, trying to prevent this song from happening. I almost called Cheryl Thursday night to tell her it just wasn't gonna happen. Maybe for next Christmas. Too much pressure. But I didn't call her. I decided to sleep on it. Maybe Friday would be a new day.

It was. Friday morning, I woke up still praying. My skeleton of a song I had completed on Thursday needed an amazing accompaniment. But what?? I drove the kids to school in the morning and as I was driving back home, I had ANOTHER LIGHTNING BOLT MOMENT!! The first words to the song are, "When I was younger I had a dream; a dream of a daughter divine." HELLO!!!...when I was younger I LOVED music boxes. This accompaniment needed to sound like a music box! I RACED home and got busy writing a music box-ish accompaniment. When Cheryl heard the first draft, her comment was that it sounded like a hauntingly beautiful music box...BINGO!!

I finished up the arrangement Friday night...actually, I had everything except the very last few bars. I could feel what it needed to be but I couldn't hear it yet. I emailed what I had to Cheryl and Caitlyn so they could have as much time as possible to rehearse with it...24 hours...and I went to bed. As I was falling asleep, I was running though it in my head and...say it with me, people...ANOTHER LIGHTNING BOLT MOMENT...my poor husband who was almost asleep..."I'VE GOT IT!"

And so, Saturday morning, the finished product was sent over to the Polsons and we performed it Saturday night. I'm just glad the piano was hiding my face cause I wasn't just crying at the piano...I was sobbing. I usually get a couple months of practice with my singers to become immune to the emotions of the song, but this one was still so raw.

I think Cheryl would agree with me that this was an incredibly amazing experience. Heavenly Father really does hear and answer our prayers. What happened here was truly miraculous. And I feel that it was a preparatory experience in some way. We all know that everything happens for a reason and everything happens in His own way and in His own time, right? But sometimes we catch a glimpse of why things happen the way they do. And it's amazing. I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing my life with the gift of music. And I'm grateful to amazing friends and family who encourage me to continue developing that gift....

Like my bestie and mini-bestie and co-image consultants; the lovely Polson ladies...

P.S. Cheryl and I have always said that this song could be tweaked slightly to apply to all mothers and daughters, not just specifically Mary and her mother.  Really, the lyrics only specifically refer to Mary briefly in the second verse.  Other than that, it's universal.  Our original plan was to tweak the lyrics and submit it to the 2012 LDS Church Song Contest.  It never happened cause neither of us could come up with something awesome (Deadline was March 31, 2012).   Anything we tried fell a little flat. 

I think we should have a contest...first person to come up with alternate lyrics wins a big fat prize!!  (And their name on the sheet music with us!)  Seriously, people...get your inner poet going.  Check out the "Sheet Music" link and click on Daughter Divine to download it.  Submit your entries to egiuliacci@gmail.com

Monday, April 30, 2012

Teach Me To Walk In The Light

See the sheet music here!

In the Young Women's program of The Church, we have an annual "New Beginnings" night which is designed to introduce the new 12 year-olds coming into the organization during the coming year, as well as highlight the Personal Progress program.

Our Young Women's Board started planning for our big night in Jan/Feb.  At one particular Board Meeting, we were going throught the program for the Night.  Hmmm...what to do for a musical number??...we wanted something that would go with our theme the Night: "Lights, Camera, Arise!" with Hollywood premiere-inspired decor. 

So...musical number?  We could do an '80s revival and sing some of the "Arise and Shine Forth" numbers from MY day....maybe not.  How 'bout a hymn?  OK.  Which one? 

Meghan Goodfellow (yeah, ya totally guessed it...another one of my besties) suggested "Teach Me to Walk in the Light".  NOW my interest is piqued.  Hmmm...we could do a new arrangement, couldn't we?  Even better still, Meghan suggested breaking up the hymn a little bit and throwing in a new verse with lyrics including the mutual theme for the year:

"Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations." Doctrine and Covenants 115:5

I'M IN!!!  I could hear the music in my head as we were wrapping up our Board Meeting.  I couldn't WAIT to get home and start working on it!

Just like my other arrangements, this one came very quickly.  It was almost too easy.  I brought it to church the next Sunday and introduced it to the girls for our opening song.  Let me tell you, there is nothing so sweet and wonderful as hearing your work come to life for the very first time.

We had our New Beginnings night in March 2012.  It was an amazing evening, made even more special for me because my oldest daughter, Nicole was the one and only 12 year-old introduced this year.  To say that she is excited to be in Young Womens is a gross understatement.  She has been the ONLY girl in her Primary class her whole life.  And the boys she has been with all these years...well...let's just say they're very spirited!  So it was a special night for the both of us.

Teach Me To Walk...Mother's Day Style!!

I felt from the very beginning that this song should be sung on Mother's Day by our combined Primary Children and Young Men/Young Women.  The end lends itself to congregational singing...like a Mother's Day miracle!

Recently, I felt that the end also needed support from the organ.  So I arranged an organ part and called on our two buddies, Peter and Nathan VanKatwyk.  Nathan had already called dibs on accompanying this song shortly after I finished it.  Peter eagerly agreed to learning to play the organ, foot pedals and all to be a part of this Mother's Day extravaganza. 

Today, I had the opportunity to hear the boys rehearse.  HOLY COW!  Those boys BLEW. ME. AWAY!  I CANNOT WAIT for Mother's Day!  It is going to be A. MAZ. ING!!!

Another photo of my favorite musicians (don't tell me it doesn't make you chuckle just a little bit):

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Piano Recital

All I can say is "WOW!!"  These kids are amazing, and they all performed so well tonight....Probably because cute little Joshua Garner (handsome young man in the red vest and bowtie) said a heart-felt prayer over his dinner tonight, "Please bless that the piano concert will be fun, instead of making people nervous.  And that we will have what we need to do good...Like talent."  I love you, Joshua Garner. 

Thanks to everyone who came to support these kids, those who brought treats to share, and for all the clean-up help.  We've got a great bunch!  Look at these kids (Thanks to Joshua's Mom, Rachel, our official photographer):

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Lord Is My Light

October 2011 brought huge change.  Cheryl Polson (who I didn't know very well at the time, but is now another bestie) came to my house, worked on a random project with me, and I was pretty certain at that time that she would be called as the next Young Women's President in our ward.  Just a hunch...and then another strong hunch that the two of us would be working together with these amazing girls.  The hunch turned out to be right, and Cheryl and I were called into the Young Women's Presidency with our dear friend Heidi Spencer in October.  While I was really sad to be leaving Primary after so many years, I was excited for something new.

While I was being set apart, Brother Noll mentioned something about making music for the Young Women.  Sorry Jason, I don't remember exactly what was said, but it was electrifying at the time.  I hadn't thought of it, but YES!  Of COURSE we will be making music together!

The first opportunity came not long after as we were meeting as a new Young Women's Presidency discussing a quickly approaching Young Women in Excellence Program in November.  The Young Women had already been practicing "The Lord is my Light" for the occasion.  Theme for the night was "Shine!".  When I heard they were singing it straight out of the hymn book (disclaimer...totally nothing wrong with singing out of the hymn book!!) I asked if Cheryl would be ok with my playing around with an accompaniment that could freshen it up a bit.  No promises. 

I sat down with it that afternoon, and just as ALWAYS happens when something is right and meant to be, it came very quickly.  I got to the chorus and had another lightning bolt moment.  "This Little Light of Mine" might just fit in this chorus, and furthermore, it might fit singing both choruses at the same time...and LASTLY, "I'm gonna let it SHINE" totally works for the theme, right?!?! 

Once again, hearing our amazing young women sing this arrangement for the first time that Sunday was such an incredible experience.  We have some young women who can really, really sing.  When they split at the end in the two choruses, it was magic!

The Young Women did sing it at Young Women in Excellence in November, and it was a beautiful way to end the night.  They also sang it in Sacrament Meeting a few months later for a special musical number.

P.S. I entered this arrangement in the 2012 LDS Church Song Contest.  Winners will be notified in July.  I'm not hoping to win...my hope is that one day I will receive an honorable mention!  :-)