of you may know I’m a classical music nut. I love music in general,
so I’m thrilled every summer to teach at a music day camp for kids.
This year’s theme just so happened to fit in with the story I’m preparing for
publication (
retelling of the fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians”) as it
was Animals, specifically the “Carnival of the Animals” by
Camille Saint-Sa
ëns. This lighthearted orchestral suite, written in
1886, is comprised of fourteen entertaining movements, each depicting
a different animal taking part in a carnival. I’ve loved it since I
was a kid, but teaching about it at the music camp was the first time I actually studied it.

you haven’t heard this fun, fast-paced piece, give it a listen and
let me know which movement is your favorite! Mine are 1) Aquarium
(which sounds similar to the prologue from
Beauty and the Beast
2) Fossils (that iconic xylophone piece that sounds like dancing
bones); and 3) Swan (probably the most recognizable movement from the

music have you been listening to and loving recently?
Photos of Music Camp

For many people, summer is independent of all the other seasons, keeping its own schedule and playing by its own rules. So . . . I don’t know . . . is that a good enough excuse for my blogging silence for much of the summer? Hopefully maybe? I helped with a Bible camp for teens and a music day camp for kids (which finished up in August), and in the interim days was preparing for each one, on top of working my normal jobs. I’ve had a marvelous time!

But, confession: I’ve hardly done any serious writing. (Hence Camp NaNo in July was not an option for me.) However, now that life, from this vantage point at least, seems like it will settle into a straight line again, I hope to return to my writing routine. I started a new Marielle story and am tossing around a few other ideas as well.

Music Camp

Choir Practice
A Musical Game
Learning about the Planets and Decorating T-shirts

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Gustav Holst and his orchestral suite The Planets, but that’s been a bit of an obsession with me lately, as I had the pleasure of introducing kids at the music camp to it since our theme was “Outer Space: The Music of the Spheres.” The Planets is one of my favorite pieces of classical music. Our solar system’s planets fascinate me, so I had a great time discussing both the music and the planets themselves with the kids. If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it! It’s made up of seven unique movements; you’re bound to like at least one of them. My favorites are Jupiter and Neptune; my least favorite is Mars.

I. Mars, the Bringer of War. Holst wrote The Planets during WWI, so this ominous piece reflects the destruction and senselessness of war underneath a triumphant veneer.
II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Gentle, melodious tones bring peace and healing, with a sense of sadness for what has passed, but hope for what lies ahead.
III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger. Speedy Mercury is represented by the shortest movement in the suite. The quick, darting theme remind us of a bird.
IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Jupiter is the “king” of the planets as it’s by far the largest. The music sounds like subjects celebrating their beloved king.
V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. This sad, wistful piece sounds like an old man remembering the glory days.
VI. Uranus, the Magician. One pictures a pompous magician (dressed in blue?) waving his wand around performing tricks.
VII. Neptune, the Mystic. Deep blue Neptune reminds us of the ocean. The quiet, changeful, siren-like music images an underwater journey.

What have you been doing this summer? On my second note, have you ever listened to Holst’s The Planets?


 Something that goes hand in hand with good literature, in my mind, is good music. And while there is good music being produced today (especially movie soundtracks!), my personal favorites are all what you’d call classical. There’s nothing that soothes me more than hearing these pieces . . . especially those from the nineteenth century and earlier. They’re beautiful, rich, and timeless. (Plus studies show that listening to this kind of music is good for you!)

If you’re looking for some music to slow down your pulse, or maybe to make up a writing soundtrack or give you some inspiration, here are twelve of my favorite short and sweet pieces:

Pavanne for a Dead Princess – Maurice Ravel
Reverie – Claude Debussy
Gymnopedie No. 1, 2, & 3 – Erik Satie
The Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Claude Debussy
Standchen (Serenade; Swan Song) – Franz Schubert
Lark Ascending – Ralph Vaughan Williams
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis – Ralph Vaughan Williams
Adagio in G Minor – Tomaso Albinoni
In the Steppes of Central Asia – Alexandr Borodin
Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale” (First Movement) – Ludwig Van Beethoven
Swan Lake, Swan Theme – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Notturno in G Minor – Fanny Mendelssohn

Of course, I have favorite longer pieces, too, but posting their links would be overkill. But here’s a partial list:
Swan Lake – Tchaikovsky
Nutcracker – Tchaikovsky
Carnival of the Animals – Camille Saint-Saens
Four Seasons – Antonio Vivaldi
Scheherazade – Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
New World Symphony – Antonin Dvorak
Symphony No. 6 – Beethoven
The Planets – Gustav Holst

Do you like classical music? What are your favorite pieces or your favorite composers? 

all pianists! With a Joyful Noise has released a new piano solo book for
late-intermediate to early-advanced pianists. Whether you are your church’s
pianist or you simply enjoy learning new music for personal enjoyment and
reflection, finding new music books is always a joy. Coming from a church
pianist who knows the struggle of finding new offertories, Amanda Tero has
taken timeless songs and woven advanced techniques into simple, relaxing

songs in the piano solo book are commonly known as “invitation songs,” and the
messages ring true. Have we laid all on the altar for God to control? Have we
acknowledge our need for Christ and turned fully to Him? Have we truly
surrendered all to Him? Are we daily seeking to be near Him so that we can say
in assurance, “It is well with my soul?” Are we eagerly awaiting His eternal
plans for us or do we still cling to that which will one day fade away?

to all of the songs on

About the Book
Level: Late-intermediate/Early Advanced
Pages: 37

the Book
Visit or email Amanda at for more
information on purchasing your own copy (digital or print).

About the Arranger
Amanda Tero is a born-again
believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, currently living and teaching in
Mississippi. She has played piano since 1998, studying under Karen Tero, Donna
Hopkins, and Shelley Hayes. The Lord has given her opportunities to be involved
in accompaniment, congregational playing, hymn-arranging, and recording since

Connect with

not all blog-readers are pianists, there are two giveaways going on, so no one
is left out! First, you may enter for a physical copy of Amanda’s piano solo
CD, The Solid Rock. Second, you may
enter to win a print copy of Surrender
for yourself. Note: these giveaways are open to U.S. Residents only (non-U.S.
residents may enter the giveaway for Surrender
if they would like to win a digital copy instead).

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Be sure
to hop by the other great blogs that are featuring Surrender on their blogs this month!