Sunday, August 15, 2010

Turning Pages

To celebrate the Assumption of Mary at Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton, Oregon, our pastor, Father Dave Gutmann, requested Schubert's "Ave Maria" at the Preparation of the Gifts, sung by Mark Nieves, our cantor and Director of Music Ministry. I enjoy playing the classics but the only arrangement I could find was an old choral octavo with eight pages. Yes, this meant I had to turn the pages several times while playing a piece that requires much concentration. Mark sang beautifully, as always. Hopefully, my page turning wasn't a distraction.

After each liturgy, several people came up to me and asked how I turn my own pages so effortlessly. I wrote a blog about this very topic on in 2008, but it somehow got lost. So here is an encore posting.


It’s a skill that every liturgical pianist must eventually master: turning sheet music pages while playing. And I don’t mean by using a friend or assistant to turn the pages for you. I also don’t mean xeroxing all the pages of a song and spreading them across the piano music stand. That’s cheating and, besides, we’re not supposed to be xeroxing copyrighted music without proper permission from the songwriter or publisher.

Just the other week, we sang the song "Jesus Christ, You Are My Life" at my parish liturgy. Everyone who has played this song knows that there are two nasty page turns to this Communion Song classic. Check it out at Spirit & Song-2, #349. You have to turn the page in the middle of the verse, then turn it straight back to play the refrain, over and over again. Flip! Flip! Flip! Arrgh!

I’m not usually one to brag, but turning pages is a musical skill of which I am most proud. Believe me, it took years, and I mean years, to master the technique. My choirs often remark how effortlessly I seem to do this, and I am the envy of the younger musicians that I mentor. “What’s your secret?” they often ask me.

Here, at long last, is the Ken Canedo Page Turning Method (patent pending) . . .

1. If using loose-leaf sheet music or octavos, utilize a hole-puncher and insert them into a standard three-ring binder. This will ensure that the flipped pages won’t go flying off into the baptismal font. If using the Spirit & Song Guitar/Assembly edition, be sure to use the spirial-bound version, not the perfect-bound.

2. Don’t be afraid to dog-ear the corners of the pages. This is essential to effective page turning. “But the sheet music will get worn out,” some musicians might protest. So? It’s your music, and sheet music is supposed to serve you in your performance, not the other way around.

3. At the last measure before the page-turn, I sometimes pencil in the next chord that I will play on the following page. This is a technique that I borrowed from Gregorian chant notation, which utilizes this handy preview feature before every page-turn.

4. Practice the song! Yes, even after decades of playing music in church, I still practice, even the old favorites. The more you know the song, the less distracting it will be to turn the page. Practice also the act of playing and turning, without skipping a beat. How is this done? You have two hands, right? Continue playing the song with your right hand and turn the page with your left — or vice versa. Simple as that.

“But won’t the music suffer from the lack of one hand?” you might ask. Not really. Think about it. You’re usually playing with an ensemble, or with a choir or cantor, or with the assembly singing, right? They will carry the song while you let go of one hand to turn the page. Then you just continue as if nothing happened.

That’s it! After a while you will get good at this and start turning pages with your own little flourish. I have actually refined the technique so the page is turned in time to the music. No lie! This sometimes makes my musician friends laugh. Hey, we’re one of the few groups of people who get to “play” for a living!

Successful page turning will help you win friends, influence people and get you a stint on “Stupid Human Tricks” on The Late Show with David Letterman. Only kidding! But it will help you become a better pastoral musician as you give the glory and the honor to the Lord.


And now, here is a funny video on piano page turning, featuring the late, great comedian-pianist, Victor Borge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Hey Jude" and Me

Today, August 11, is a red-letter date in my musicianship and, indeed, in my life. On this day in 1968, the Beatles released what would soon be their most iconic hit single ever, “Hey Jude.”

I remember hearing the song on the tinny table radio my brother Keith and I kept in our bedroom. Living in Los Angeles, we were always tuned to either KHJ or KRLA so we could stay in touch with the Top 40, the soundtrack of our youth. The summer of 1968 gave us a few good songs to groove to: “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel; “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris; “Jumping Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones; “Hello, I Love You” by the Doors. Great songs all, but these hits didn’t soothe the troubled spirit of America, which was still reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, the civil unrest that followed, and the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

I think I first heard “Hey Jude” on KHJ on The Real Don Steele Show, and the DJ introduced “the latest hit by the greatest band in the world” with his usual enthusiastic coolness. I was immediately mesmerized. A new Beatles song was always cause for celebration but this was something altogether different, coming on the heels of the band’s experimental psychedelic era. “Hey Jude” was essentially a simple ballad, stripped of the sitars, mellotrons, and Stravinski-esque orchestras of their trippy Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I loved the song’s optimism and warmth that reconfirmed for us fans that the Beatles were still making the coolest music ever. It was just the song that America needed to hear in that troubled summer. But more than anything, what really caught my ear was Paul McCartney’s piano playing. The Beatles used piano on their songs before, on “Slow Down,” “Not a Second Time,” and “Good Day Sunshine.” But “Hey Jude” was their first song where the piano, not the guitar, was the featured main instrument. The song was played endlessly by AM radio, and each hearing only goaded me on to one inevitable conclusion:

I must learn how to play the piano!

My family had a nice upright piano in the living room and I dallied on it, like most kids did, by playing “Chopsticks” or “Heart and Soul.” But now I wanted to really learn how to play. So I went to a music store and found the sheet music for “Hey Jude.” I already knew how to read notes because I had been playing the flute since third grade. How hard could it be?

Plenty hard! Now I had to figure out the bass clef and fit both right-hand and left-hand parts together. I struggled mightily, and my halting rendition eventually annoyed my siblings who had to endure my playing over and over again. In frustration from my lack of progress, I slammed the piano cover shut, stormed to my room, and turned on the radio. Once again, “Hey Jude” was playing, well on its way to Number One, a position it would hold for nine weeks. So I listened again, this time with great concentration, and noticed that Paul was not playing what was arranged on the printed sheet music. He was playing simple chords that I identified as F, C, Bb . . .

Ah ha! This was one of the greatest “ah ha!” moments of my young life. I ran back to the piano and simply played the chords that Paul was playing, with the same rhythm and beat he applied. I eventually figured out a way to fit the melody with the chords in the right hand, and play a simple bass in the left hand. Who needed to read the sheet music exactly? All I needed was a knowledge of the chords, a grasp of the melody, and a sense of the beat. More than anything else, I needed to “own” the song in my heart. The ubiquitous presence of “Hey Jude” on the airwaves that late summer ensured that the song would be burned into my subconscious.

And then I did a totally reckless thing: I decided to perform “Hey Jude” at my school’s talent show that fall.

I must have been crazy. I went to Queen of Angels High School Seminary in San Fernando, California. That June, I went home for the summer not knowing how to play the piano. Now, I returned in the fall to my sophomore year, claiming to not only be a pianist but a performer of the year’s biggest song? It was suicide. If I failed, I would be ostracized by a seminary community that pulled no punches in caustic humor and sarcasm.

So I practiced. And I practiced. And I practiced. Some of my classmates who doubted my ability poked their heads into the music room and began to believe I might be able to do it.

The talent show (we called it that oh-so-seminary name, “gaudeamus”) was in October. As I recall, there were the usual duos who sang and played guitar, and maybe one or two pianists who performed some classical pieces. I was the lone sophomore on the bill and when I was introduced a cheer went up from my classmates. I took my seat at the piano, the crowd grew quiet, and I started playing “Hey Jude.”

It was a simply chorded rendition that probably came across as grade schoolish, but I moved the song forward with a good beat. No one sang the vocals; it was a pure piano realization. I really don’t remember if I was nervous. I do recall feeding off the good vibes of performing, of having the appreciation of a listening audience. And then I did something that I probably shouldn’t have done: I played the “Na-na-na-na” ending chorus for the full seven minutes that the Beatles played on the record.

Na, na, na, na-na-na-na.
Hey, Jude!

Some of the guys were starting to grumble but I was determined to finish the song. Finally, at the last chord, I slowed to a ritardando and stopped. The audience erupted into cheers, perhaps more from relief that the song was over than from anything else. As one last flourish, I pulled a page out of Arte Johnson’s “old man” character on the then-hot Laugh-In TV show and fell off the bench in a dead feint. Now the audience was on its feet.

Not only had I learned to play the piano in a couple of months, not only had I performed a popular hit Beatle song before a discriminating audience, but I also flashed a hint of the showmanship that would serve me well in my later years. It was the greatest feeling in the world!

To this day I still get teased about my piano debut by some of my high school classmates. But my friends know that I went on from that landmark moment to build a career for myself as a musician and composer. And it all began with “Hey Jude.”

Friday, August 6, 2010


Eulogy for Terence Patrick “Tops” Canedo
Given by his brother Orlando
Church of the Visitation, Los Angeles
August 4, 2010

Tops was born on a Tuesday, September 20, 1960. He was the sixth of the nine children of Betty and Del Canedo. 5 boys and 4 girls: Kenny, Keith, Desi, Delfin, Teresa, Tops, Celeste, Orlando and Vicky.
Being the only left-handed boy, he was already something special to our mom, not that she didn’t love us all equally. (wink)

Tops was an incredible musician, he could play any instrument he picked up. I’m not talking plucking out “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” but really play the instrument like he’d been playing it for years. I’d been taking drum lessons and I was getting pretty good. I could keep a pretty steady beat. One day I heard someone playing my drum set in my room and I was thinking, “Geez, whoever’s playing my drums is really good.” I opened the door and there was Tops playing like a pro. I had never heard him play my drums before and that was the first time I realized my brother was a musical genius. The same thing happened a few years ago on Thanksgiving. We were celebrating at my sister Celeste’s house and I heard someone playing the piano, incredibly, in the other room. I looked in and there was Tops playing effortlessly, as if he were Elton John himself.

Tops was also a very skilled visual artist. He would always amaze us with his pencil sketches, capturing perfectly the likeness of his many subjects. In high school, he received high praise for a comic strip he created: “Bennie, the Filipino Houseboy Who Didn’t Know He Was a Monkey.”

Tops had a wicked sense of humor. Everything and everybody was fair game. You didn’t want to be the butt of his jokes because his attacks could be relentless. But this is where his songwriting talents began. He started making up hilarious ditties about our neighborhood or something he saw that made him laugh that day. These songs are witty, priceless time capsules of our childhood. Growing up, me and Tops shared a room for many years and we’d stay up late making each other laugh till we fell asleep.

As he grew older Tops refined his artistic skills, adding web design and other computer graphics to his already vast repertoire of skills and talents. He continued to write marvelous songs and record them in his home studio.

His home was the garage at mom’s house that he converted into a nice apartment. Yes, the man had even more talents. He was a great carpenter and handyman, as well. He did all of the upkeep on the house for mom after dad passed away, including taking care of the lawn and garden. He’d do anything for mom. Actually, he’d do anything for anyone in the family. Behind that sharp sense of humor was a very caring and giving person. If one of us needed help, he would be happy to do anything he could.

But the biggest joy in his life is Katya, his daughter who is now 16 years old. Tops has done an incredible job as a parent. There is a lot of Tops in Katya. She has grown to be a strong, caring and giving person just like her dad. And also, just like her dad, Katya has taken to the guitar like she’s been playing for years -- and she has the voice of an angel. I know her dad was very proud of her and she will continue to be a source of pride for her family because of the values and talents that Tops has instilled in her.

When Tops was in the hospital, Katya would visit him every day after school. When he changed hospitals, Katya would take the bus clear across town to visit him after school. I could see the joy in his eyes when Katya entered the room. And although her father was very sick, Katya would sit by his side for hours if she could because she knew it made him happy.

Happiness is something that Tops could give his family, even in his last weeks. Every day I went to see him in the hospital he would find some way to make me laugh, even if he was in extreme pain. Also, during this time, Tops was writing notes to mom in a journal, about his day and how he was feeling. Even when he was in constant pain, he was thinking about the happiness of others. He was thinking about mom and the comfort that these notes would give her. These notes would be his final communication with mom and his last cherished gift to her.

And now, here are some memories of Tops by some of his siblings:

When Tops was in 6th grade he became an altar boy at St. Gerard Parish. We used to have Sunday afternoon rosary and benediction and five altar boys were required, but only Tops and I showed up. So I gave Tops a crash course on how to be thurifer, or the server in charge of incense.

So there’s Father Doherty on the altar with the Eucharist. I’m ringing the bell, and poor Tops is behind me, struggling with the chain-link incense burner.

Later, in the sacristy, Tops said, “That holy smoke was going up my nose!” Even Father Doherty laughed.

I bought Tops his first electric guitar when he was 14. It was right-handed and a dark hunter green. Tops took that guitar apart, hand-sanded off the green to its natural wood, stained and varnished it, switched over the pick guard, and re-strung it to “left-handed.” The next time I saw it, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

Tops touched our lives in the same way. He improved all of us. He could alays be counted on to “take a sad song and make it better.”

Jessica and I were driving home last Sunday night from mom’s house. Keith followed in his car because he was staying with us. On the I-405, a van swerved into our lane, hitting us on the passenger side by Jessica. All three cars pulled over to the shoulder.

Keith checked to make sure we were okay, then approached the driver of the van and said, “What the hell are you doing?” He was protecting Jessica and me.

It reminded me of the time my car was hit in front of mom’s house. The two young men immediately started blaming me for hitting their truck and were very angry. Tops ran out of mom’s house yelling, “What the hell are you doing?” The two guys quickly backed down and admitted they were at fault.

That horrible Sunday when Tops passed away, and with help from Keith, I felt Tops was still protecting me.


Katya thought that it would be nice to read some of her father’s lyrics today. She found a wonderful song, the very last entry in his song notebook:

We draw the lines through space and time
Ultimately in our minds they can disappear
There is a richness in diversity
No prejudice
Showing the world
Creating with each other
A sister or a brother
We become strong in ourselves
What to do with the freedom
Embrace the higher good feeling
Envision thought more
Take action less
You were always valued
Always known
Nothing to fix
Well being is abundant
Don’t follow the old ways if they don’t serve you
Find new ways to live
Find new ways to survive
When the old ways don’t apply

©2010 Terence P. Canedo


At the Door
A poem by Delfin M. Canedo


A Mother’s Love
A reflection from Terence’s mother Betty
Read by his brother Keith


(Closing remarks by Ken)

Thank you, dear brothers. Thank you, Monsignor Gonzales. It is so awesome to have an old family friend celebrate this Memorial Mass. Thank you also to Visitation Choir. My sister Desi sings with them on Sundays and I am so thrilled she is part of the music ministry here. Thank you to Vallimar and Frank Jansen for sharing their talents and representing my OCP family. Lastly, my family thanks all of you for sharing this liturgy of remembrance with us. As I look out on across this church I see many friends of Tops from his workplace and other connection, plus friends of my siblings. I invite you all to the parish center after Mass so we can get to know each other better and continue to share the love we have for Tops.

I wrote a tribute to my brother on the day that he died. It’s rather lengthy and I invite you to read the whole thing on my website. But I would like to close with the final paragraph:

My brother died today, and I will miss him forever. I can never begin to understand why something as terrible as cancer had to take Tops away from us so soon. I can only cling to my faith in God, and to the hope that we will all be reunited with our brother in the life to come. In my spiritual imagination, our brother was warmly greeted at the gates of heaven by our dad. I also like think that God let Tops go straight to work, adding some rock pizzaz to the angelic choirs, tending the divine gardens, and fixing the leaky roof over the Father’s house that has many dwelling-places (John 14:1-6).

My brother died today, but he will live forever in our hearts.


Amazing Grace sung by ValLimar Jansen, accompanied on the piano by her husband Frank.

Obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Mother's Love

Reflection on Terence Canedo by his mother Betty
Read at the Memorial Mass by his brother Keith
August 4, 2010

My son, Terence Patrick “Tops,” was not just a son to me. He was also my right-hand man and my caretaker. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He did all the repairs around the house and even put up a new roof. He took care of all the chores and tended the yard and planted beautiful flowers for me – sweet-smelling roses and gardenias, the two flowers that he loved, and several other lovely plants.

Terence was a loving, thoughtful and generous son. He took me to several entertainment places such as Disneyland, the zoo and the Pomona County Fair, pushing me in my wheel chair. He treated me to Medieval Times on many occasions. We celebrated Mother’s Day there last May and arranged for their special package that allowed us to sit two rows from the arena where we could almost touch the knights. He took me to see Cirque du Soleil, to Santa Monica Pier, and even to several movies, knowing that I would not even hear what the actors were saying on the screen.

Terence never forgot to bring me long-stemmed roses for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and my birthday. He even brought me roses when all my teeth had to come out, just to cheer me up from my pain. Out of the blue, he would often come home with a bunch of flowers for no special reason but to cheer me up.

My son and I had a very special bond and he could often read what was on my mind. This was proven several times, and here are two examples. Sometimes I crave certain foods and wish that Terence would get me some on his way home from work. Sure enough, he would come home with just the food I was thinking of. One day, I ran out of lemons, but it was late in the evening so I wished that Terence would pick me some lemons from our tree before he went to work. When I woke up in the morning to fix breakfast there in the sink were the fresh-picked lemons. I was amazed. When he would do these things I would thank him and tell him he read my mind again. And Terence would just give me a big smile.

While sitting at his bedside at his hospice room on that final night together, it occurred to me that this would be my last opportunity to thank my son for everything he did for me. Running my hands gently over his arm, I said softly, “Terence, I want to thank you for being my son. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for taking me to Disneyland, the zoo, and the fair while pushing me all the way on my wheelchair. Thank you for taking me to Medieval Times and to Cirque du Soleil. Thank you for the beautiful garden and the new roof. Thank you for taking me to the movies. Thank you for all that and so much more!

“But there is one other blessing for which I am grateful. Thank you for a lovely and loving granddaughter. Katya is my lasting connection with you now. You will always live in my heart through her. I pray that Katya will continue to grow in the love and wisdom that you imparted to her.”

As I sat there beside Terence on that final night, it pained me to watch his agony as he gasped for every breath. I gave up my selfish desire to want him to live. So around 10:00 that night I softly spoke to him. “Terence, I release you, my son. We all release you. Do not fight it anymore. Let it go, my son. Go with God. Jesus is waiting for you. Let it go.”

Still, he clung to life with every labored breath. As I watched him I kept telling him in my mind to let go and finally, around 7:10 on Sunday morning, he stopped breathing. I was filled with two emotions: joy for his being finally released from his pain; and sorrow for losing my beloved son. But the joy exceeded my sorrow. I went to him and kissed his forehead and cheek as I stroked his forehead and said, “You are free, my son. You are finally free! Go with God! Jesus is waiting for you.” My tears rolled freely to his pillow.

So from now on, whenever I smell roses or gardenias around the house, I will think of you and ask, “Is that you, Terence, my son?”

Rest in peace, my son, my dearest son. I love you.


My mother is very hearing-impaired and has lived with the challenging effects of Diabetes Type 2 for many years. Please pray for her. Thank you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Brother

My brother died today, after a valiant two-month battle with cancer. Always in good health, Tops’ sudden illness blindsided us, his family. We tried to be brave for him and for each other and found in his uncomplaining spirit a strength that inspired us and gave us hope.

My brother died today and I found out in an airplane, that loneliest of venues if one is traveling alone. I was heading home to Portland after a fulfilling week of serving on the leadership team for the We Remember, We Believe youth liturgy conference in Sacramento. The plane was picking up speed and ready to take off when, suddenly, the pilot stepped on the brakes and aborted the flight because of mechanical failure. It was terrifying. As we sat idly on the runway, a text message came in on my cell phone from my youngest brother Orlando.

My loving family. Tops left us at 7:10 this morning. He is no longer suffering. He is free of pain and on his next adventure. Love to you all. –Orlando

I looked at my watch. The pilot hit the brakes at 7:10. Because cell phones are turned off in-flight, I would not have received news of my brother’s death for another hour and a half if we had taken off as planned. The realization of that coincidence (grace?) had me shaking like a leaf. And then, it hit me. Tops was gone.

I cried. Alone. On a plane. I wanted so desperately for someone, anyone to hug me. The only thing I could turn to was prayer. I prayed three Hail Marys for the repose of my brother’s soul.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. . .

My brother died today. We buried our father in 1986 after a long struggle of convalescence from a massive heart attack. We held out hope back then for dad’s recovery, but he was in his 80s and his tired body could take no more. An adult child expects to someday bury a parent. To bury a sibling, a brother with whom one has played with, fought with, cried with, and had adventures with -- it just seems so wrong.

My brother died today. Little things cause me to tear up without warning. I see a little kid on a bicycle on the street and that reminds me of the way Tops used to tag along with me on our many bicycle romps to the beach during those carefree summer days of long ago. The tears come. I turn on the radio while driving and hear the Beatles on the oldies station. Then I remember that I treated Tops to his very first rock concert when he was 15. We saw Paul McCartney & Wings during their 1976 tour. I remember looking back at my little brother as we sat together in the sports arena, his face beaming with joy as we heard our favorite Wings and Beatles songs performed live. I have to pull over and stop the car because I am sobbing uncontrollably.

My brother died today. His Christian name was Terence but we called him Tops, a quirky, unique and oh-so-wonderful nickname. In childhood, we called him Topsy, and I like to think it was because he was the “Top C,” meaning the Top Canedo. He shortened it to the cooler “Tops” when he became a teenager. But mom has another explanation: We called our brother Tops because he excelled in everything.

Tops was a cartoonist, an artist, a gifted musician, a recording engineer, a website designer, a creative gardener, and general fix-it man. His portfolio of hand-drawn and graphic art is beautiful to peruse. If I ever needed a lead guitarist for one of my many pick-up bands, Tops was there, wailing away on riffs that would make Carlos Santana sit up and take notice. If I needed to make a demo recording, Tops was there for me in his garage studio that was set up like a mad scientist’s lab, with makeshift recording equipment that proved just as effective as the professional stuff. Was the roof leaking from the rain? No problem! Tops was up there on the roof, fixing it himself.

But of all his skills and talents, Tops’ greatest gift was to be a caring son, a supportive brother, and a loving parent. His daughter Katya is a sweet high school girl who has inherited her father’s good looks and musical talent. When I was in Los Angeles in June to visit Tops in the hospital, Katya played her guitar for me and sang her favorite pop song. I was overcome by the realization that my little niece had blossomed into a beautiful, talented young woman who is as loving and gifted as her father.

My brother died today, and I will miss him forever. I can never begin to understand why something as terrible as cancer had to take Tops away from us so soon. I can only cling to my faith in God, and to the hope that we will all be reunited with our brother in the life to come. In my spiritual imagination, our brother was warmly greeted at the gates of heaven by our dad. I also like think that God let Tops go straight to work, adding some rock pizzaz to the angelic choirs, tending the divine gardens, and fixing the leaky roof over the Father’s house that has many dwelling-places (John 14:1-6).

My brother died today, but he will live forever in our hearts.

Tops as a young father, holding his new-born baby Katya.