Dances and Duets – Marvellous Musical Monday

Have you ever saved something and then not been able to find the place you saved it from originally? This happens to me all the time with music. Like many classical musicians, I download a fair bit of music from IMSLP to peruse and potentially perform. Like many Australians, I read English quite well. Unfortunately for mono-lingual me, many of the scores from IMSLP have titles in French, Italian or German, or the file is missing a title entirely. So today I was planning to upload an instrumental duet of a sonata written by a man named Chedeville, but today I also found out that I can’t find the original file, and, not wanting to accidentally infringe on copyright, I’ve decided on another piece of his instead.

So today I bring to you Five Dances from Chedeville’s first volume of dances (premier Receuil). This is the first of an eight-volume set that Chedeville dedicated to one of his lady friends. (The amount of information on this lady friend is scant; she could have been a patron simply commissioning work from Chedeville, or something far more intimate.) They’re short and sweet, and somewhat fun to play. You barely begin before you’re done, but they could work nicely for an intermediate duo who are looking for something not too difficult to expand their repertoire. Written for a treble and bass instrument (non-transposing), these short and sweet pieces would work for Violin and Cello, Flute and Bassoon, or any other similar high-low duo you can think of! Please check it out at the link below:

Five Dances

Avalon – Marvellous Musical Monday

A new year is upon us! That means it’s time for fresh starts, promises to yourself and promises to others, often known as New Year Resolutions. I generally try to pick an interesting resolution, rather then the stock-standard ones like ‘eat healthier’ or ‘exercise more’ (though those are both good goals, and probably things I should also do). This year I’ve chosen to try something that I’m hoping will go well. It’s a long term resolution; if I do it right it’ll take all year. I’m vowing to publish a new piece of music every week, for free, for everyone to peruse and hopefully perform. This shall be known as Marvellous Musical Monday!

As I’m sure most of you know, it’s now 2019, and that means that 100 years ago the roaring 20s were just about to start. This was the beginning of the Jazz Age, a time which was crucial to the development of jazz as we know it today. It was an ingenious combination of blues and ragtime, with a touch of marching band heritage, that had its roots in the African-American  communities of New Orleans. Jazz was a melting pot, and absolutely scandalous at the time. Young adults were listening to syncopated rhythms and cheeky lyrics which horrified their parents, but the young adults of the time just didn’t care. World War I had ended in 1918, and it was the war to end all wars, the Great War, and there would never be another war like that, right? On top of it all, soldiers returning from the war had bought back with them the Spanish Flu (so-called because Spain was one of the only countries to have uncensored media in the wake of the war and therefore talked about the spreading pandemic). While the Spanish flu did stick around until December 1920, the worst was over  by early 1919 and the death rate slowed. With everything that had happened, the young adults of the time were feeling pretty lucky, and they wanted a way to celebrate!

So we’re starting off the year with some 20s-style jazz, a genre that I was lucky enough to learn about due to my involvement with the New Empire Ballroom Ragtime Dance Orchestra, Australia’s only authentic 20s jazz orchestra. (As a side note, what make a 20s orchestra authentic is the strings section – violins were an integral part of a jazz orchestra until the mid-30s.) Written by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose, Avalon went soaring to no.2 on the charts of 1921 and continues to be popular in gypsy jazz to this day.  People who have recorded Avalon include Bing Crosby, Natalie Cole and Harry Connick Jr, among others.

The arrangement I’ve made is in lead sheet format, and I’ve made it available in two different keys; G for a male singer, or D for a female singer. Both of the original verses are included; the second verse is rarely preformed now but was included in Jolson’s original recording. The wonderful thing about lead sheets is their flexibility; I’ve included everything I think is important in the music but you can do with this information whatever you please!

Avalon – Key of G (male) – Key of D (Female)

New Adventures!

Today’s post is a little bit exciting! I’m trying out something new: recording audio and video for the music that I write, and so today’s blog features a video of an arrangement I made recently.

Now, I’ve made a few videos in my time, notably last year for my Christmas Carol Advent Calendar, but most of those were recorded in one take on my phone (with the exception of the two carols I recorded with The Emerald Ruby, we used her setup for those and she edited them). I’ve used recording software and equipment in the past, but that was at uni, so not only was the equipment and software provided for me, it was top-level professional gear, and I can’t afford that! This was my first foray into more high-quality video production, and I’m using the gear I have, which is:

  • An S8 Galaxy phone as the camera
  • A $20 eBay condensor microphone that doesn’t have a brand
  • A Cello Pickup, whose brand I forget
  • An MAudio Audiobox and accompanying Studio One software

So nothing particularly fancy, but it’s what I’ve got.

The recording I made is of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which is an absolutely iconic tune but a hell of a thing to play! The giant jumps in the melody, which are relatively easy when you sing it, is just a giant slide, and a fast one at that. The first jump you hear is an octave and a semitone… so just further then your ear expects, and jumping straight up the A string. After you’ve done that first jump, it just jumps around a little more, and then settles back into pretty easy territory. The accompanying parts are actually pretty simply too, so this arrangement is best played by a group with a more advanced first player.

I say first player because I’ve made this arrangement for Violin, Viola and Cello quartets – I’m trying to diversify a little! The Violin arrangement is a little easier, because they have an additional string and therefore don’t have to do that nasty jump up the A string, but it’s still pretty wicked. If ever there was an interval difficult to pitch on a string instrument it’s a minor ninth! As I’m a cellist, I’ve recorded the cello quartet version, but all three are basically the same (and coincidentally, compatible with each other if anyone were to want to combine them). Have a look! It’s just below, and the links to the sheet music are just below the video.

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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for Violin Quartet
By Elton John. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 10 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.419331-289990).
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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for Viola Quartet
By Elton John. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 10 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.419329-289990).
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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for Cello Quartet
By Elton John. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 10 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.419327-289990).


111 Days Till Christmas!

I have an unpopular opinion amongst musicians: I actually really like Christmas carols and songs.

Most musicians get really sick of them, playing the same old boring arrangements over and over again, and the same songs year-in, year-out. One friend even told me that for her playing Christmas carols feels yucky, like something she shouldn’t have to do but needs to for money. Teachers especially have a hard time, kids take time to learn things and often you’ll play Christmas carols for all of Term 4, meaning you can get sick of them really fast.

But I’ve always really enjoyed them! There’s a reason that our most popular carols have stuck around for literally hundreds of years, and that reason is that they’re well written and popular tunes. Many are even on the Roud Folk Index, which means they’re defined as folk songs, and others were traditionally hymns. (A cursory glance at the RFI shows at least 7 well-known carols are on it, including The Twelve Days of Christmas, We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Auld Lang Syne). And then there’s the newer carols that have become a part of our holiday experience, songs like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Let it Snow and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, which have held their popularity for decades and will probably continue to do so.

But possibly the most well known tune of our modern era is White Christmas, a short song composed by Irving Berlin in the early 1940s. The recording made by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all-time, and it’s not just because of his warm, sonorous vocals. Irving Berlin is one of America’s musical giants, writing for 19 different Broadway Musicals (including Annie Get Your Gun), and having written over 1000 different (published) tunes in his lifetime,  including Blue Skies, Puttin’ on the Ritz and There’s No Business Like Show Business. Irving Berlin was a machine of music, and one of the most prominent composers of the mid-20th century. It’s almost no wonder we still play his most iconic Christmas tunes – he wrote a melody for every holiday he could think of, so that none would be left out!

I can’t think of a better song to kick off the Holiday Season! (I know it’s early, I’m sorry but also not.) And to imitate Berlin’s prolific nature, I have not one, not two, or even three but four different arrangements for you! They are all for different string ensembles, so feel free to click through and check them out!

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White Christmas for String Quartet
By Irving Berlin. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 9 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.410465-934800).
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White Christmas for Violin Quartet
By Irving Berlin. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 9 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.410459-934800).
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White Christmas for Viola Quartet
By Irving Berlin. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 9 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.410463-934800).
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White Christmas for Cello Quartet
By Irving Berlin. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 9 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.410451-934800).


When you’re not enough.

Sometimes, I forget that the work I do depends on people wanting me to do that work. That if they decide I’m not experienced enough, or not old enough, or not good enough, they’ll tell me to stop, and I have to, because I’m a contractor and not an employee and contractors don’t get notice.

Sometimes this happens with almost no notice. A student decides the morning of their lesson that they no longer want to continue playing music and all you get is a text message. You get a phone call, and suddenly you’re not teaching that ensemble anymore. Or a surprise meeting, and you lose half your hours.

It sucks.

It especially sucks because it often blindsides you.

This one blindsided me.

I had a meeting this morning. I had no idea what the meeting was about, and as I’m an otherthinker I’d thought of nearly everything that it could possibly be, but it didn’t even occur to me to that someone had decided that I wasn’t enough as a teacher, that someone else would be better, and they didn’t need me anymore.

It didn’t occur to me at all.

Do you know why? It’s because I’m a good teacher. I’m not boasting, or trying to prove anything. I’ve been told by many different people, and especially by students, that I’m a good teacher and that they enjoy having their lessons with me. As a result, I’ve never had anyone, student, parent or boss, tell me that they didn’t want me to come back.

I went home, scared, because I have to pay my rent somehow and I needed to do calculations to make sure I would still be able to. I went home, and called my mother because I needed someone to talk to and I live alone in this town ten hours from where I grew up. I went home, and did a few more calculations to make sure I’m going to survive the school holidays, when I won’t be working and earning an income.

That last one I’m still not sure of.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not particularly good with rejection about my music. I can deal with rejection in just about every part of my life except for music, this part of my life, my work, my hobby and my passion. I’ve dealt with it before, of course, in competitions and auditions, it’s part of life as a musician. But there’s something especially hurtful about being told that they don’t want you to keep doing what you have been doing because they don’t think you’re good enough.

And that’s what it boils down to. Someone doesn’t think I’m good enough, and that really hurts.


I think I need to stop there. This blog isn’t as anonymous as I’d sometimes like it to be, and while I have much more I could say it should remain private. Please remember that musicians are not just professionals. We’re passionate professionals, and music is often our whole lives, work and play. And your rejection, as politely as you word it, will always boil down to one thing:

Someone didn’t think we were good enough.

But I know that I am.

Big Projects

It’s been quiet around here lately!

Very quiet.

In fact, it’s been a month since I was last here. But I have a good reason!

I’ve been working on a very Big Project (yes, the capitals are necessary) which is taking a very long time and all of my compositional energy to do. I’ve been writing a pedagogical resource for instruction in the operation of the Contrebasse for those inexperienced in the matter; in simpler terms: A Bass Book for Beginners! (Yes, the complicated synonyms were also necessary.)

I’ve discovered recently, in my adventures as a teacher, that there’s a distinct lack of Double Bass repertoire, and as I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I aim to try and fix it. One of the things I’ve found is that there’s not a lot of material aimed at young students, and even though there’s a lot of good material out there for learning the bass (Simandl & Rabbath are popular), lots of it isn’t particularly interesting to the student, or to me, for that matter. I don’t know about you but I dislike using boring resources to teach such an interesting subject as music!

So that’s what I’ve been writing, a book that teaches you how to play double bass (based on the Simandl method) but which is still interesting to students. I’ve been trying it out (successfully!) on a few of my own students, but now the book is almost done, I’m after some more Guinea Pigs! I expect that I will finish the raw material of the book in a week or so, and from there there will be formatting and editing to do but the raw material of the book will be complete. If you would like to try a copy, please contact me through this, my blog, or through my Facebook page. I’m looking forward to work shopping it a little and hearing some feedback!


Orchestrating Piano Music

This will probably be the first in a series of posts I make about orchestration. Today, I’m talking about orchestrating piano music, as the title would suggest.

One of my goals with my music arranging and creating is to arrange pieces I really love for ensembles I really love. Those who know me know I play a fair few instruments, and I dabble in several more, but the three I focus on are cello, double bass and piano. Objectively, of the three, I should really be writing for double bass because there’s a distinct lack of double bass music, but I really love string quartets, so that’s what I write most for. Specialising in three instruments, of which two are quite similar, means I’ve seen a lot of repertoire from different composers and genres and eras and everything else, and it often makes me sad that good repertoire is not available for all the instruments (again; see double bass, but I’m working on that).

One really good example is Frederic Chopin. He wrote a lot of piano music (and I do mean a lot) but not much else. Sure, there’s scattered piano concertos, one piano trio and a cello sonata, but I really feel like he could have done some fantastic work in chamber ensembles, especially considering the tones, textures and timbres he managed to pull out of the piano! So I decided to do it for him, and have arranged his Opus 64 waltzes for String Quartet.

When I was writing these out, there’s two main steps. The first is to separate the layers of his piano writing into different parts and lines and then assign them to an instrument. I tend to arrange in a very literal way, because I want the original material to shine and not be significantly changed, so I’ve mostly separated his waltzes into melody, accompanying chords and bassline, which I then write into my file. I tend to start with melody, followed by bassline and then chords, because sometimes I’ll accidentally press too many keys and melodies tend to be distinct, so they’re easy to keep track of in a file. Again, the fact that I tend to literal transcriptions means that the bassline will go to the cello part, and the first violin gets the melody, with the inner strings making up the chords between them. This works nicely in the first and last waltzes, but the second waltz (C# minor) is a good example of where I have to be a little more creative. It’s got a melody with a harmony line, along with the chords and bassline, but is written in a way in which it’s obvious that it’s a very expansive sound, so my writing has to reflect that. When this happens, the parts change around a little more, and the roles tend to be more flexible for each instrument.

The second is to go back and look at the textures and voicings that Chopin has used in his writing, and if his piano writing isn’t translating nicely to string quartet voicings (which function differently then piano voicings) to find ways to make the sound work. There’s a section in the third waltz (Ab major) where Chopin’s piano writing just seemed particularly orchestral to me, and I’ve chosen to use tremolo to create the gentle sound I believe he was going for instead of the repeated pianissimo chords that he wrote. In this sections, I’ve bought out a cello melody and decorations that appear in the violin parts, but the remainder of the accompanying chords are tremolo, and it creates a really beautiful orchestral texture, which is the kind of section that makes me wish Chopin wrote for instruments other then piano more often! Bowings, articulations and shifting are all also aspects of the work I have to take into consideration that Chopin didn’t (because he wrote it for a different instrument), and register is also important. There are some sections which I’ve simply transposed an octave down because it would have made the violin writing ridiculous, instead of merely difficult. There’s also a line at the end of the Ab major waltz that it simply isn’t practical/possible to play on a single string instrument, and I wind up weaving it through three different parts to make it happen.

Wow, that was a lot of words! If you would like to check it out, it’s published on Sheet Music Press and you can find it here:

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Three Waltzes (Op.64) for String Quartet
Composed by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Romantic Period, European, Wedding, Graduation, Recital. Score, Set of Parts. 71 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (S0.382947).

Score Preparation

Writing music is one thing. Presenting it well is an entirely different thing. I’ve been revising my score and part layouts for more then five years, and I somehow doubt I’ll ever stop. I have a standard template which I adjust for whatever instrument group I happen to be writing for, and every time I adjust it I think I’ve covered everything, but somehow I always find something new which isn’t quite right!

This probably sounds a little boring, but engraving music; that is editing and preparing music for publication actually requires more time for me then the writing of the music itself. This morning I’ve spent two hours editing parts and the accompanying score to make them look more legible and professional, and to facilitate page turns, and make sure nothing bumps into each other but that the music spacing isn’t stretched in a ridiculous manner but isn’t too squished either. I actually have a list (I’m a list kind of a person) which I follow to make sure all the text portions of my publications are exactly the same, and I have standard spacing arrangements in place for staves and systems, but every piece is still different. This one was a little trickier because it’s longer then my usual arrangements, so I had to find decent places for page turns. The Violin 1 part is 5 pages long! That’s 2 page turns, no matter how you try to edit it, and it also happens to be Mozart, so the first violin doesn’t ever really stop playing enough for there to be a good spot for a page turn. I did however manage to find a few semi-decent spots, so I’ve finished it up, wrapped it all up in a paper package and tied the bow. (Not really, but I did export the PDFs which means it’s done.)

In reality I’ll probably revisit it in a few years time and redo the engraving, because I’ll continue to develop as a musician and gather more skills and experience and then become unhappy with what I’ve done previously, the same way I’m not happy with how I edited music last year. (Already! Could I give myself a break?) But for now, I’m quite satisfied with how the engraving turned out, so if you’d like to see my latest efforts you can have a look at the link below.

By the way, the piece is Mozart’s Rondo in Bb for Solo Violin and Orchestra, which I’ve re-orchestrated as String Orchestra, but re-orchestration in the correct style is a whole other kettle of fish which I’m not opening right now!

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Rondo in Bb for String Orchestra
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Classical Period, Wedding, Graduation, Recital. Score, Set of Parts. 46 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (S0.378811).


Free Music!

I’ve had a freebies page sitting empty on this blog for a little while now. Good news! It’s not empty anymore!

I’ve just uploaded a bunch of music, sorted by instrument page. At this stage, all the music is for beginner string players (including Double Bass!) but I’m aiming to expand it, and hopefully it just keeps growing over the years.

These are my categories. Please check them out and tell me what you think!




Double Bass

Flexible music

Every single musician I know have been part of flexible ensembles. Some are in bands, and have members change occasionally so are constantly revisiting their music to make sure it still works. Some work solo, but occasionally gather a band around them. The more classical musicians I know also work flexibly – there’s rarely enough musicians on the right instruments, especially in amateur and community groups.

My first memory of flexible playing is from when I was about 14. I grew up playing in traditional string ensembles and orchestras, and we played normal, traditional string ensemble arrangements. I participated in a yearly summer camp, which meant that for a week, we attended our Conservatorium for 6 or 7 hours a day and played music together. At one of these camps, we were preparing a few pieces for a concert later in the year, a concert where we would be playing with woodwind players among others. One of the pieces was the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, and is traditionally written for string orchestra and two solo oboe players. But we were a string orchestra and didn’t have oboe players to rehearse with, so two of our violinists played the parts instead.

Looking back, it seems laughably stiff of us to be excited about modifying an arrangement in such a small way, but it opened the gates for me personally, and I started thinking about flexibility more. (The year before I had also started Jazz piano lessons, so that may have had something to do with it too!) The ability to make a piece work for any ensemble has become quite valuable to me, but it’s not something I reflect in my writing. I decided to do something about that! So I wrote an arrangement of Charlie Puth’s Attention for two parts; two parts which are flexible and can be interchanged freely.

You can play it with any combination of:

Violin, Viola, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon


Viola, Cello, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon

As long as there’s at least one player on each part, it doesn’t matter what instrument they’re playing! I find this really exciting, and it was a little bit of a challenge. I haven’t included brass instruments because personally I’m not that comfortable writing for them, but that will hopefully come in the future. You can check out the music at the links below.

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Attention for Flexible Wind Duo
By Charlie Puth. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 23 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.370205-SC000015577).
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Attention for Flexible String Duo
By Charlie Puth. Arranged by Laura Chegwidden. Score, Set of Parts. 15 pages. Published by Lcheg Music (H0.370207-SC000015577).