Music for Troubled Times

Peace Prayer by Debbie Denke


It’s normally a lively Christmas Season full of parties, pageants, and performances – including outdoor concert venues for musicians, strolling carolers, and elaborately festive church services, but this December 2017 is different. Santa Barbara along with Montecito, Summerland, Carpenteria, Ojai, Santa Paula, Ventura and other nearby cities are having quite the challenge with fires, smoke, power outages, and evacuations.

We musicians wait till the last hour to hear if a gig is still happening,  we check the air quality, look at maps to see if the location has been evacuated, and no one can say for certain what will happen if the winds stir fire and ash up again. We are all truly playing this season by ear. Continue reading “Music for Troubled Times”

Do you suffer ‘Chick Singer’ Syndrome?

Do you hand out bad charts? Show up late for rehearsals and/or gigs? Assume the other musicians in the band will schlep your gear and bring the P.A.?

YOU, my friend, may indeed suffer Chick Singer Syndrome! (Or at least your bandmates suffer because you have it.) And, not to be sexist here, guys can have CSS too.

Caution: The following article is not meant to be taken too seriously, but if any working musician starts to exhibit the following symptoms you are hereby forwarned.  😉 *   Continue reading “Do you suffer ‘Chick Singer’ Syndrome?”

Amazing Gifts

Debbie Denke

What makes an amazing gift? (1/6/16) 

There is delight in unwrapping a special surprise inside a colorful bag or ripping open wrapping paper decorated with ribbons and bows to uncover a thoughtful gift. Yet there are many priceless gifts that don’t cost a thing (except maybe time, talent, or kindness) which can mean so much to brighten someone’s life. Continue reading “Amazing Gifts”

Extras for The Wedding Pianist: True Tales Part 3

Musicians – here is a post about additional tune requests you may encounter doing that special ceremony!

True Tales from a Wedding Pianist Part 1 discussed the essential tunes a musician  needs to play for a no frills basic wedding, and Part 2 was about a wild encounter I had with a last minute call from the Father of The Bride (scrambling to honor his detailed requests for his daughter’s ‘perfect wedding’). Continue reading “Extras for The Wedding Pianist: True Tales Part 3”

Playing the Organ for Pianists


Playing the organ both fascinates and terrifies me! I must admit knowing a bit about this instrument has gotten me quite a few more church and wedding gigs than I would have had if I just stuck to the piano. Perhaps this is because there are so few musicians who are bold enough to play such a powerful and intimidating instrument?

When I was 15 years old my father quickly taught me poor man’s organ from a pianist’s viewpoint Continue reading “Playing the Organ for Pianists”

The Father of the Bride and The Wedding Pianist: True Tales Part 2

The phone rang late one Thursday evening. A male voice on the line calmly asked, “Are you free a week from this Saturday at 9:00 am to play a wedding for my daughter at the North Mission, and do you know the Ave Maria?”

“Let me see,” I said as I checked my book. I was surprisingly available. Continue reading “The Father of the Bride and The Wedding Pianist: True Tales Part 2”

True Tales from a Wedding Pianist Part 1

I like to consider myself first a jazz pianist. But I am also a working pianist, which means I play background music for parties, get employed as an accompanist for singers, will play occasional classical music when requested, perform in a ballroom dance duo, am a gospel choir pianist, and have worked as a professional church musician on piano, organ, and keyboard since the age of 15. I also do a good amount of gigs playing weddings and funerals, which have presented some of the most fascinating experiences for me as a musician! Continue reading “True Tales from a Wedding Pianist Part 1”