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Twin Cities wedding and event pianist, Sharon Planer, loves the adventure of bringing events to life with her live piano music!

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Opera singer from Albuquerque meets pianist from Minnesota
June 10, 2013

by Sharon Planer, Pianist for Parties

When I received a phone call from a gentleman who needed a pianist to provide piano accompaniment for an opera singer from Albuquerque, I was immediately intrigued! 

The event was a memorial service for the gentleman's mother.  He lived in Albuquerque and his mother had spent the last several years of her life there as well. She had lived most of her adult life in a lovely home deep in the woods on the shores of one of Minnesota's beautiful lakes and the family wished to host her service in this beautiful setting!

Mezzo-soprano, Denise Wernly

Mezzo-soprano, Denise Wernly

A particular opera singer, Denise Wernly, had become a favorite performer of the mother and family while in Albuquerque. Denise was invited to come to Minnesota to perform for the memorial service....and to the family's delight, she agreed!  She sent me her music ahead of time and arrived a day before the event giving us a chance to practice together. 

The family put a lot of thought into the music choices. The service began with Bach/Gounod's 'Ave Maria' followed by 'Pie Jesu' from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Requiem Mass'.

Denise's voice soared and the guests were touched with the emotion and beauty of the music.

The beautiful setting of the home reflected a place where many of the guests had spent time and had wonderful memories. Some of the guests shared their personal memories during the service.

'Silent Night' is not a typical song to be performed for a funeral or memorial service, but this song had particular importance and was the concluding piece.  

The guests were then treated to some lighter musical fare with the beautiful melody of 'La Vie en Rose'. The atmosphere really came alive with some opera favorites . . . 'Voi che Sapete' from Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro' followed by 'Habanera' and 'Seguidilla' from Bizet's 'Carmen'.  

It was a pleasure to provide piano accompaniment for Denise. I enjoyed her music and talent immensely!  Her music and the thoughtful comments of the guests memories made this service a unique and beautiful celebration of a life of a special woman who will live on in the hearts of many. 

Musicians, Piano Music, Funeral & Memorial Music
funeral, memorial service, accompanist, opera, Denise Wernly
Could this wedding have been any more perfect?
June 07, 2013

by Sharon Planer, Pianist for Parties

An outdoor wedding ceremony at Grand View Lodge was beautiful! It couldn't have been more perfect.


What makes for a perfect wedding? I can suggest a few tips from the lovely wedding where I just performed my piano music.

THE LOCATION.  Grand View Lodge is an award winning beautifully restored historic lodge set in the north woods.  They specialize in weddings.

Picture perfect weddings at Grand View Lodge.

Picture perfect weddings at Grand View Lodge.

 Saying wedding vows under the lush canopy of trees on the cobblestone pathway leading down to the lake was this couple's ideal location.  The guests were seated on either side of the path. The bride and bridesmaids emerged from the historic lodge and began their procession down the staircase and along the path. It was a nice long walk which allowed the guests ample opportunity to observe the processionals.

This gave me enough time to play my piano wedding processional music in its entirety. 

The bride and groom stood under a beautiful arbor. They and the guests had a lovely view of the lake in the background. 

Their site was dramatic and beautiful! 


THE STAFF.  The quality of the staff is critical to the success of a wedding.  The staff at Grand View Lodge are exceptional and always friendly and helpful!  

I have always been impressed with the staff at Grand View Lodge, and this event was no exception. 

The wedding coordinator communicated with me ahead of time, covering every detail pertaining to the set up of my portable piano and my wedding music performance and reconfirmed everything as the wedding neared.

Besides performing solo piano ceremony music, I was also going to be accompanying a vocalist and guitarist. The staff made sure to include arrangements regarding microphone and PA for this. The coordinator was very organized and efficient in communicating the details I needed to know. This made my set up on the day of the wedding go ever so smoothly. The coordinator guided the rehearsal as well as on the day of the ceremony. At the start of the ceremony she stayed with the family and bridal party at the top of the stairs and sent each group down at the proper time. This allowed me to play the proper music as the grandparents entered and the groom escorted his parents to their seats followed by the bridesmaids and then the bride.. 

 The audio guys were set up ahead of time and eager to make sure my piano, the vocalist and guitar inputs were balanced and connected properly into their PA. It was especially valuable having them monitoring the sound throughout the ceremony. The PA guys were real pros! There were no sound glitches and the micing and music were amplified perfectly.


THE OUTSIDE SERVICES.  The outside service providers should be professional and knowledgeable in the services they are providing. It is helpful if they are familiar with the venue and consider themselves part of the 'team' working on behalf of the bride and groom.  

The reverend at this particular wedding was very experienced and easy to work with. The bride and groom included communion in their program. At the rehearsal the pastor helped all involved understand how to make everything go smoothly. He provided me with a final outline of the ceremony and we discussed what cues I needed. On the day of the wedding we both knew what each other was doing.

I was delighted that the bride and groom hired me to perform live piano music for their ceremony and also accompany their singer!

View toward lake at Grand View Lodge.

View toward lake at Grand View Lodge.

I had played for prior weddings at Grand View Lodge and was also experienced with the precise location this couple had selected.  I had a prior working relationship with the staff and the PA guys. So I most certainly enjoyed working with them again! I knew what it would take to make my music at this particular location sound wonderful. I also knew how to be prepared in the event of inclement weather. If rain were to force the event indoors, I was familiar with the indoor set up. If rain were to happen midway during the ceremony, I had everything I needed to make it through the ceremony without a disaster on my part. Luckily, the afternoon turned out to be beautiful and I never needed to use my backup plan.  

The vocalist accompanied herself on guitar and I on the piano. We met each other months before the wedding to practice and also at the rehearsal. She gave an outstanding performance of Patty Griffin's, 'Heavenly Day'.  Guests were so wowed, they even clapped! 


Every bride and groom want their wedding to be special and perfect! You can get a lot closer to making this happen by selecting a venue with a quality reputation and whose staff is experienced in handling weddings.  It will help if your outside vendors are experienced with the venue and have a good working relationship with the staff at the venue. Once you select your venue, why not ask them for their recommendation of the other services that you need? You want everyone to be on the same 'team', YOUR TEAM for your dream!

Grand View Lodge   /   Comment
Musicians, Wedding Music
Grand View Lodge, outdoor wedding ceremony, wedding pianist, live music for weddings
Does music matter? a viewpoint from Top Minnesota Wedding Officiant
January 16, 2013

Posted by Rev. Tomkin Coleman, Minnesota Wedding Officiant.

When evaluating a musician for your wedding, or trying to decide what kind of musician, or even if deciding between live music or a DJ, you're of course going to listen to your clips. But here's some advice from my 15+ years as a wedding officiant - I've seen all sorts of weddings, and the difference between live and DJ, the difference between instruments, and the difference between other musicians and Sharon is dramatic. Starting when I first walk into a ceremony site (whether it's a church or a reception hall), I could probably tell by guest's laughter and talking whether there was live music or not. I mean, yes, I can hear whether music is playing, but I could probably tell just from the guests' behavior - if there's music playing, they're all at ease, all chatty, all friendly with each other, but if there's no music, people definitely have an awkwardness to them. After all, they're all dressed up with relatives they haven't seen in a long time, and there's soon-to-be in-laws all around, and so it's easy for people to tense up and be nervous. But live music puts them right at ease - it's soothing, and fills any awkward silences, and makes every conversation easier. Next - the ceremony: With a pianist, it's just one musician, and so there's so much flexibility. When there's a trio or quartet of musicians, it's much harder to get everyone to start and stop the music at an unexpected time, but with a solo musician like a pianist, if the music needs to wrap up quickly, she can end easily at the end of a phrase...and she can start up, too, if needed. Especially in non-traditional ceremony sites, this sort of flexibility makes everything go smoothly (in a non-traditional wedding site, it's not as obvious to everyone how everything matter how much rehearsal was done the night before!) Final - Sharon herself. She has an amazing sensitivity and sense of timing, and those elements, combined with her years of experience, means that even if a mistake is made in the wedding (someone trips, or some child runs off, or anything else), she's there to take up the slack and extend the music, or cut it short, or start in if needed. So listen to all the clips in the world - you're probably better than me at knowing what you like, I'm sure! But from my POV, the choice of musician is incredibly important for reasons besides just the quality of the sound - and Sharon is not only a wonderful-sounding musician, she's one that really makes a wedding go smoothly and easily. Bravo!

Rev. Tomkin Coleman, Minnesota Wedding Officiant

Rev. Tomkin Coleman, Minnesota Wedding Officiant

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Rev. Tomkin Coleman