What’s Your Name For This Familiar Melody?

I almost called it “Testing Out A Gooseneck Cell Phone Holder For The Purpose of Showing a Bird’s Eye View For Clearer Teaching of Online Students And Improved Filming Of Piano Tutorials”, but decided to call my 58 second experiment instead, Name This Tune…

This pretty Appalachian folk tune is known by many titles, both sacred & secular. (It’s the first etude to learn in my instructional book, The Complete Church Pianist: A Piano/Keyboard Method with Tips for Inspired Improvisation and Worship. https://www.amazon.com/Debbie-Denke/e/B001HD3VPK Folk names for this tune include: O Waly, Waly, Water Is Wide, Wide Is The Water, The River is Wide, while depending on your church denomination it may be called As the Hart Longs or Psalm 42 (Free Methodist), Though I May Speak (Presbyterian), O Bravest Fire (Unitarian). The lyrics vary as much as the titles when I’ve played this in various house of worship. Do you know another name for this pretty tune? If so, please share in the comments.

The gooseneck phone holder I bought for about $15 from Amazon.com  appears to be a good investment clipped onto my piano’s music rack. I extended the 27 inch firm swan-like neck above the keyboard where it held my iPhone 6 with a clip designed to hold phones/cameras about 3 inches wide:

Cell Phone Clip On Stand Holder with Grip Flexible Long Arm Gooseneck Bracket Mount Clamp Compatible with iPhone X/8/7/6/6S Plus Samsung S8/S7, Used for Bed, Desktop, Black

Cell Phone Clip On Stand Holder with Grip Flexible Long Arm Gooseneck Bracket Mount Clamp Compatible with iPhone X/8/7/6/6S Plus Samsung S8/S7, Used for Bed, Desktop, Black

Getting the best horizontal view of the keyboard while capturing my hands upon the most used range took some flipping/rotating of the video after filming. Next I downloaded it to my laptop and ran it through Quick Time Player, because my phone indiscriminately wanted to pose the keyboard image vertically up and down in portrait mode (like an accordion). The short video took considerable time (after getting the image lined up properly); I next moved it into iMovie to try to improve the clarity, lable, tag, and sent it off to YouTube. Perhaps with upgraded equipment or more technical knowledge the process would have been quicker?

I auditioned the gooseneck view with online piano students, and only dropped the phone once per lesson onto the keys, putting its first cracks in the screen. Students, however, concurred that the bird’s eye view was helpful! One suggested a scrim would improve the bright lighting from the noontime studio skylight in order to make the white keys more distinct. What do you think?


CA Here I Come!


The history behind the story also known as…

Bob Takes The 101:  A Road Trip Musical Story/Game

Last Spring our keyboard & bass duo was invited to play a charity fundraising event held in the lovely gardens of El Mirador Estate, Montecito (pictured above). The 2017 theme was “California Dreaming” – they requested that we play as many CA themed tunes as we could – naturally Robert Kim Collins and I included a fair share of West Coast Jazz too. 😉

Once again I turned to musical friends and posted an inquiry on Facebook asking for tune titles specifically written about places in California. I also gathered ideas from my father Frank Denke’s album made for an insurance company in the 1950’s called, Melodies of California: Continue reading “CA Here I Come!”

It’s All About YOU! Party Game

How To Play the Musical “Guess that YOU-tune” Game:

The host will want a copy of Debbie Denke’s album, It’s All About YOU!*


Additionally the host will want a pencil for each guest, a fun dessert to serve for intermission, a prize for the winner (I suggest something musical like an album or a music book as an award), and have copies of the list of clues for each guest (or a page with blank lines numbered 1-16), plus a copies of the lyrics to #16 It Had To Be You. Clues and lyrics are found in this site under the Downloads tab above. Allow about 90 minutes to play this game.

Continue reading “It’s All About YOU! Party Game”

It’s All About YOU!


It all started with the opportunity to play an intimate concert for about 6 couples in the home of some former jazz piano students of mine. This husband and wife invite close friends over for an hour concert (with a dessert break in the middle) dedicated to the memory of Marty’s great aunt – a piano teacher who willed them her grand piano. It is a sweet gig for me, especially since I get to work up solo piano repertoire and select what I wish to play for a small, very appreciative audience. Continue reading “It’s All About YOU!”