If you are purchasing sheet music from GregHowlett.com that comes with a soundtrack (performance track), here is some useful information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are these the same soundtracks used by me in concerts and recordings?
Are the written arrangements exactly as you play them?
They are very close. I never play these songs these exactly the same way twice. But when writing these out, I did try to match them to the recording as much as possible. You will note very few if any differences.
Why do you charge more for arrangements that come with soundtracks?
Soundtracks are very expensive to produce. In fact, big songs like “To God Be the Glory” cost me more than $3000/hour in the studio before mixing and other expenses, so they end up costing many thousands of dollars each.
Can I perform these along with the soundtracks in my church?
Yes, I encourage it. When you do, record it and put it on YouTube and let me know!
Is it hard to play with a soundtrack?
It definitely takes some time to get used to it. But with practice, it sounds great and is a lot of fun.
Are the written arrangements hard?
Note the sample pages of the arrangement you are considering buying. I have tried to include pages that are representative of the difficulty of the song. That being said, many of these arrangements are going to be challenging for most pianists.
Can these arrangements be performed without the soundtracks?
Some of the arrangements can be performed without soundtracks if you have access to musician(s) who can play the included obbligatos. The obbligatos are single instrument parts for violin, cello, flute, and oboe that are written to complement the arrangements. However, these arrangements will not work unless you use either the obbligatos or the soundtracks because the piano does not always play the melody.
Quick guide to playing with sound tracks
Playing with soundtracks can be intimidating at first, but with a little work, you will soon be enjoying yourself. Here is a guide to get you started.
First of all, don’t be surprised if it takes a little time to get used to these arrangements. Some of them are very technically challenging and others are challenging because the tempo is so fluid (rubato). You will not play these through perfectly the first time.
All of these tracks have the orchestration on the left channel and a tempo guide on the right channel. The tempo guide will consist of a voice counting off the measures or a metronome keeping you on the beat.
Due to the rubato, it is unlikely that you will ever be able to stay with the orchestration without the tempo guide in the right channel. I always play with the tempo guide even in performances. However, you can control how much you hear of each channel by adjusting your left to right settings on your player. During practice, make sure you can hear both channels well.
Technical tips for performance
When you are ready to perform these pieces (and we hope you will perform them), you will need to do a modest amount of technical setup to make it work. Obviously you do not want the audience to hear the tempo guide but you need to hear it yourself. Here are a few configurations to make that happen.
In most churches, the sound technician will know how to play the orchestration track where he/she splits the left channel to the main speakers in the auditorium and the right channel to the monitors. You can then plug a small earpiece into the monitor jack and hear your tempo guide.
I do something a bit different. I use a simple MP3 player and start my tracks from the piano. A simple cable connected to the player splits the tracks into the left and right channels. The left channel is plugged into the main sound system and I feed the right channel to an earpiece in the ear away from the audience.
If you are not technical and have no idea how to get started with this, just talk to your church’s sound technicians. Making this work is really very simple.