Apr 16 2013

Psalm 61 – Congregational Song

psalm 61I wrote this song in a hotel room in Hawaii about seventeen years ago. Now I know you feel sorry for me about the whole Hawaii part of the story, but not everything is always wonderful–even in “paradise”. I was working a sales job in the pharmaceutical industry that had me in Hawaii for 5 weeks straight, I didn’t know a soul (although I later connected with a wonderful church while there), and was a bit lonely. One day, Psalm 61 was part of my devotional reading and I decided to try and put it to music to help me meditate on the passage. This song was the result. To this day, I think it is the only song I have written without sitting at the piano to work on the tune.

Our church enjoys singing this song, and so I wanted to make the leadsheet available for free in case it might benefit other ministries (or your personal devotions) as well. Have a wonderful day!

View/Print Psalm 61 Leadsheet (C)


Apr 10 2013

Behold Our God Intermediate Piano Duet

four-handsMy boys have been after me for a while to write an arrangement of this song for them. The words and tune (chorus especially) are both absolute home runs! We just sang it as part of our 7th Anniversary service at my church this past weekend, in fact, and I commend it to you for use in your own congregation. You can find the words here. My boys are reaching a level where they are playing some pretty difficult stuff, so I am classifying this as an intermediate level piece. The use of sixteenth notes, bigger chords, and significant ledger line reading requirements are the things that (to me) push this up from student to intermediate. But, I think that could also make it a nice duet for regular church pianists or even piano/organs duets? It is certainly my hope you may find it useful. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have for me after you’ve listened and viewed it below (or after you have used it if you decide to buy it)!

  

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Apr 9 2013

5 Tech Tools for Church Musicians

The worlds of music and technology have always been closely intertwined for me, and I continue to be amazed at the wonderful software, hardware, tools, apps, and ideas being made available to musicians.  I’m going to occasionally highlight some of the things that I use (or that have caught my attention), but I would really like to hear from you as well and learn about some of the things you find useful.

music technology

1) Yamaha Clavinova – maybe it’s because my first piano lessons as a 5-year-old were on a Yamaha digital piano (group lessons in Singapore as a missionary kid), but I am VERY biased towards Yamaha in general (I’ll take a C7 Grand for the house if anyone would like to donate one!)…and Clavinovas in particular. They are just so incredibly versatile. All the recorded piano you hear on mincymedia (including all of my CDs) has been done on a Clavinova. Just the ability to transpose at the click of a button and record tracks for playback makes it worth its weight in gold for a church accompanist. I could write multiple posts on this…but I’ll stop now.

2) MultiTrack DAW – I do a great percentage of my recording via an iPad these days, and this app has been bullet-proof and a joy to use. It also has incredibly easy sharing features, including my favorite–the ability to share wirelessly between devices.

3) Alesis ioDock - pair the MultiTrack DAW above with this dock (which is what I use…$125-$150 new) and you have yourself an instant studio.

4) Orchestra – I love this app  just for its name, but it can also be confusing at first because it is not a music app at all…it’s “your to-do list, connected to everyone”. Think of it as a simple to-do list, BUT something that can also “orchestrate” projects and tasks between groups of people. If you are like me, you are always looking for better ways to stay organized as a musician, and this an easy–and FREE–way to do it.

5) Music Teacher’s Helper – I saw this the other day and, although I do not have a need for it personally, thought it looked like a really good idea. It is designed to help automate and manage most of the business aspects of running a music teaching studio. Just thought it might be of interest to anyone who teaches lessons.

So what about you? What is a tech tool you have found to be really useful?

 


Mar 28 2013

Reading Music On An iPad

forScore App LogoAt the start of this year, I realized that, for the first time, the core members of our church music team all owned iPads. Since I had been noticing with interest various apps and programs that enabled playing sheet music from the iPad, I figured the timing was right to see if it would work for us. We have now been using our iPads (with a wonderful app called forScore) exclusively (for all our music, for all our services) for three months. While there are certainly occasional challenges, I think iPads (or whatever tablet comes next) are here to stay for our ministry. Here’s our list of “Pro’s” and “Con’s”:

PRO’s

  • Awesome, fast, DEPENDABLE app that works on any generation iPad
  • User friendly
  • Simple import of PDF’s (we use…and there is a direct connection to…DropboxI am a HUGE fan)
  • Easy, but mind-blowing score editing (and email changes to your team instantly)
  • Intuitive setlist creation and sharing (via email)

CON’s

  • Can only view one sheet of music at a time (instead of two, like in a notebook or hymnal)
  • Page size is smaller than regular sheet of paper (but so are most hymnbooks and octavos…some solo pianists/musicians, however,  may find this a challenge)
  • Some types of instruments may find they want a foot-pedal for page turning (I, personally, have been just fine)

While we have been super happy with this app, I have also heard some good things about Planning Center Online (more of a full suite of service-planning products…what they call their “music stand” being just one part). So what are you doing as a church or independent musician? Are you using an iPad or tablet? Is there a different app you have found useful? Do you have any other questions about things I may not have addressed? Join the conversation by commenting below (please)!


Mar 19 2013

Free Easter Leadsheets

It is my intention to do two things with this post: to start (restart, really) an area for free music/resources, and to get a conversation going about what the music is like in your church on a weekly basis.

These first two things I have put up in the free music area are leadsheets for the classic Easter hymns Christ The Lord Is Risen Today and Hallelujah, What A Savior. I have found it needful to make leadsheets for some of the classic hymns to: 1) lower the key (make them easier to sing), 2) provide more logical and accessible (but hopefully interesting) chords for my music team, and 3) get the hymn on one page (so many hymns “bleed” over by one staff to a second page…we use ipads and this becomes an inconvenience…more on this in a post soon!). It is my hope that maybe they might be useful for your ministry…which brings me to the second thing I wanted to talk about…

It seems to me that the music landscape is fairly varied from church to church “out there”, and I am curious if there is a dominant methodology. My intention is to put up a survey in the next week or two to better understand this…things like: do your church musicians use leadsheets, hymnbooks, a combination? What does you music team “look like” for a church service…piano, organ, piano/organ, full orchestra, praise team? What does your congregation use…overhead projection, hymnbooks, bulletin inserts, a combination? I am just really curious to understand more around this whole topic and, in the meantime, would welcome your feedback. Have a great day!


Mar 8 2013

Heart Hymns CD Released!

In response to many of you who have asked when/if the recordings of my piano solos for some of these newer songs (like All I Have Is Christ, In Christ Alone, and Speak, O Lord) would be available, I am pleased to announce the digital release of a new CD, Heart Hymns. I trust this music will have a Romans 12:1-2 impact on your life!


Mar 4 2013

All I Have Is Christ Piano Solo

This song has been real blessing to me personally, and is definitely one of our congregation’s favorite hymns to sing right now. Regardless of whether you decide to use/buy this piece, I encourage you to click on the link below and listen to the arrangement while also viewing the music (so that you can read the words). This song will challenge your heart!
Just a couple of things to mention:
1) I have included the words of this hymn in the arrangement to help us (I hope) focus on the message of the song as we play (I’ll be playing this as part of our Easter service). I hope to continue doing this moving forward.
2) This song is a good congregational hymn for Easter, so perhaps this arrangement can serve as a teaching tool for congregations not familiar with it. The arrangement is in D Major, which is the same key as the congregational version. You can download a PDF of the congregational music for free here (use your CCLI license to project or include in a bulletin).

  

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Feb 28 2013

Victory in Jesus – Student Piano Piece

I am officially opening a new category of arrangements here, and hope to begin providing student-level arrangements on a somewhat regular basis. Right now, 100% of the inspiration is coming from my desire to provide my children with arrangements of hymns and songs they enjoy, but I would welcome any requests from you as well!
This song is one my oldest son requested. He’s a “lively fellow” ;-) and so I tried to incorporate a bit of “jauntiness” into this arrangement. The difficulty level of this piece corresponds well with the latter portion of Alfred’s Premier Piano Course Level 2B. Practically, this arrangement incorporates the following concepts:
1) Playing in G Major and C Major (with a key change)
2) Playing single eighth notes
3) Ties and syncopation
4) Intricate fingering and shifting hand positions
5) Accidentals and chromatic movement
6) Use of Damper Pedal
7) Dynamic and tempo variation

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Feb 28 2013

Complete in Thee – Student Piano Piece

You may remember that I had offered an intermediate/advanced-level piece of this same song a while back, but my second son had asked for an arrangement of this song that he could play and so I wrote this student level piece as well. The difficulty level of this piece corresponds well with the midway mark of Alfred’s Premier Piano Course Level 2A. Practically, this arrangement incorporates the following concepts:*
1) Playing block chords (triads, inversions)
2) Ties and eighth notes
3) Fingering and shifting hand positions
4) Left hand melody
5) Use of Damper Pedal
6) Dynamic and tempo variation
*This song is originally in 3/4 time, but I put it in 6/4 in order to stay within the learned concepts of this piano level (primarily the fact that they haven’t been exposed to dotted quarter notes yet)

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Feb 28 2013

Oh the Deep Deep Love of Jesus – Student Piano Piece

This a beautiful newer song, and one worth, perhaps, introducing to your ministry if you find it unfamiliar (you can read the words and download a free hymn version here).
Difficulty Level: corresponds well with the beginning of Alfred’s Premier Piano Course Level 2B.
Incorporated Concepts:*
1) pre-dotted quarter note rhythm (through use of quarter to single eighth ties)
2) Fingering and shifting hand positions
3) Left hand melody
4) Use of damper pedal
5) Dynamic and tempo variation

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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