Author Archive

Interlude

I got an email last night from a friend who is hard at work getting everything ready for our Grand Opening Day. Their email reminded me that these days are not just full of hope & excitement, though they are certainly present. But there is also stress & frustration, confusion & long hours, along with lengthy lists of things to be found & problems to be solved. And we are coming down to the wire…things that we could put off til tomorrow can no longer be put off! The learning curve is steep and the clock is ticking…

But…

As I read his email I was reminded of something I had read … the story of King David talking to Solomon about building the temple of God in Jerusalem. There’s a little verse tucked in there that I wanted to share with you; something that I think God wants to encourage you with today. “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.” (1 Chron. 28:20)

I know that my friend is only one of dozens of people volunteering long hours & sacrificing a lot for the sake of God and his church here. Thomas Merton once wrote, “The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.” I wanted to say that all of you who are working so hard, giving up your time & energy in service to God here are not just “working” or “volunteering”… you are living a spiritual life! Letting your faith not just be words, but also actions…because you are building God’s home; a place where His people, and those who may someday be His people, will come and learn to love and live out loud for Him.

So, be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, our God, is with you! He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the building of His Church is completed.

[written by Rachel Mulder]

cm

March 3, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 comment

Loops and click tracks

One of the awesome features of our new 16-channel monitoring system is … well, 16 channels! To date, our monitoring system (HearBack) has been limited to 6 channels plus a stereo house mix. As such, adding additional instruments or other sound sources has been very difficult. But with our 16 channel mixers, a whole new world has been opened to us.

Two sound sources that I want to begin employing in our new worship center are loops and click tracks. This will certainly be a learning curve for us all. If you’ve never played to a metronome before – start practicing now. I used to think that I had a really strong sense of time until I recorded myself playing along with a click track.

This will open up new possibilities in our worship services – like syncing to video elements or lighting cues. (Our lighting board can actually be programmed according to BPM – beats per minute). Some of you may recall a powerful worship service that we watched online from Newspring Church in Andersen, South Carolina. The service ended with their lead female vocalist, Rose-Angela, singing an incredible feature with scenes from the Passion Movie woven throughout the song. Creative elements like this are made possible by the use of a click track.

There is a song by Matt Redman and Paul Baloche that I hope to introduce soon called I Cling to the Cross. It has a very cool electronically produced percussion loop that plays throughout the duration of the song. It’s subtle but it adds an incredible texture to the song making it even more powerful and effective.

So – instrumentalists? Get out your metronomes. Our world is changing. And I promise that you will become a better musician for it. Gauranteed.

digital-metronome

cm

February 21, 2009 at 12:12 pm 3 comments

One Note Samba (a post for keyboardists and guitarists)

If you are a jazz aficionado, you probably recognize the title of this blog post – One Note Samba. It’s a classic latin jazz standard written by Antonio Carlos Jobim. As the title suggests, the melody (for almost the entire song) is just one note … which, admittedly, sounds a bit boring. But it isn’t. And here’s why. With each chord change, the “constant” melody note takes on a new “flavor” in relation to the chord.

Allow me to explain. In the song One Note Samba, the melody note starts off as a minor 3rd in relation to the chord-of-the-moment. Then it becomes a major third. Then it becomes an eleven. And then it becomes a flat-five. With each chord change, the melody note becomes a more interesting extension of the chord beneath it.

How does this relate to playing worship? I’m SO glad you asked. For electric guitarists and keyboardists – often the most creative and compelling musical thing you can do is to keep playing the same note (or notes) in the middle-upper registers of your instrument.

Imagine a simple worship chorus in the key of C with the following progression: C – Am – F – Gsus |repeat|. A new musician would commonly approach this progression with all root position triads. They might even experiment with different inversions of these triads. With this approach, the listener is only ever hearing root, third and fifth degree notes relative to the chord-of-the-moment. But with the One Note Samba approach, the listener is exposed to a whole new set of notes and degrees (relative to the chord). Imagine a keyboardist playing a C – G interval in ¼ notes over each of the chords in the above mentioned chord progression.

For the first chord [C] – the listener hears a root and fifth. On the second chord [Am], those same notes become a minor-third and a seventh. On the third chord [F], they become a fifth and a ninth. On the last chord [Gsus], they become a suspended-fourth and a root. Just like in the song One Note Samba, with each new chord, the notes played in the right hand become more interesting extensions of the chord underneath.

For another example of this simple “comping” (accompanying) technique, take a look at the piano figures found in the new Paul Baloche song Hallelujah to My King. The piano figures are in the middle staff. Click here for the full PDF.

hallelujah-to-my-king-highlight3

Notice the three note pattern found in measures 14,15,16 and again in 18, 19 and 20. These three notes start as a third, fourth and fifth. In measure 15 they become a seventh, eighth (root) and ninth. In measure 18 they become a fifth, sixth and seventh. Same notes but a different “sound” with each new chord. The guitarist on Paul Baloche’s recording of Hallelujah also employs this same technique.

I hope that you all find this to be a helpful tool to add into your personal musical bag-of-tricks.

(Thank you Antonio Carlos Jobim.)

cm

February 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm 3 comments

Two Percent Encouragement

Hey all.

Patrick Carney walked into church at 7:25am on Sunday for rehearsal and said “Good morning, Wamily” which immediately prompted some singing. “We are wamily; I got all my sisters with me; We are wamily; Get up ev’rybody and sing.”

We are wamily.

I want to thank you all for taking seriously your “charge” to grow and hone your God-given gifts and skills. The last several Sundays have been exceptionally strong. This past Sunday I had two people comment to me on how “joyful” and “engaged” the band / vocalists were. I had another two people comment on how “tight” the rhythm section was. Way to go!

Last week I posted an entry about “the last 2 percent.” Well, here’s a small first installment of two percent truth that I’ve observed and gathered over the past month or so. And be sure to receive this all in light of the high-praise in the previous paragraph. You guys rock!

1. Noodling: Main Entry: noodle
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): noo·dled; noo·dling \ˈnüd-liŋ, ˈnü-dəl-iŋ\
Etymology: imitative
Date: circa 1937
: to improvise on an instrument in an informal or desultory manner

Noodling is fun … and even encouraged at rehearsals (within reason). However, Sunday morning is a noodle-free zone. If you’re tuning, punch out. If you’re not sure if your instrument is “on”, don’t noodle. Trust the sound ops. If they mess up, they’ll hear from me 🙂

This is just one of those little tiny things that help us create a consistent, polished, distraction-free environment.

2. Punctuality: Main Entry: punc•tu•al
Pronunciation: \’pəŋk-chə-wəl, -chəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English
Date: 1675
:being on time : prompt

Need I say more 🙂

3. Reaching: Main Entry: reach
Pronunciation: \’rēch\
Function: verb
Etymology:Middle English rechen, from Old English rǣcan; akin to Old High German reichen to reach, Lithuanian raižytis to stretch oneself
Date: before 12th century
intransitive verb1 a: to make a stretch with or as if with one’s hand; b: to strain after something

Here is a pattern that I often see happen on a Sunday morning. The first service ROCKS! We nail it. Even the most difficult passages in the most difficult songs are executed flawlessly … and done so with seemingly little effort. But then something happens. Our comfort level with the first service compels us to “reach” and strain for something more in the second service. We “hear” in our mind a great run or fill … and because things went so well at 8:45am, we GO FOR IT at 10:15am.

Just as Sunday morning is a noodle-free zone, it also needs to be a “reach”-free zone. Play within yourself. Save “reaching” for rehearsing at home and on Thursday nights.

————————————————

Thanks for the privilege of serving together with you. It’s one of the great joys in my life. Truly.

cm

February 9, 2009 at 9:48 am 3 comments

Cargo Shorts at the Gym

This isn’t a post about cargo shorts. But there is a humorous and circuitous connection between the title of this post and its content. Allow me to explain. I’ve been going to the gym 3 or 4 times per week since mid-December … and up until this weekend, I’ve worn navy blue cargo shorts each time.

Those of you who are fashion conscious probably just *gasped* out loud because you know this is a major faux pas. I’ve never been overly concerned with fashion, but in the last week, I had no less than 3 people tell me that I needed to stop wearing cargo shorts to the gym. Cease and desist. In fact, one of the above-mentioned fashionistas put money behind their words and bought me a pair of real gym shorts. (And here is where I will make the circuitous connection between the title and the content of this post.)

This past Monday morning – while at the gym in my swanky new fashionable non-cargo gym shorts – I was listening to a leadership podcast from Willow Creek Community Church where they talked about leadership axioms. Short, memorable statements that help communicate values and principles within an organization. One of the axioms they discussed was “telling the last 2 percent.”

Almost everyone would agree that speaking the truth is important. But we often stop shy of telling the whole truth for fear of causing offense or hurt feelings. This little axiom speaks to the importance of creating a culture where you can speak the whole truth – in love of course. A culture where we can be humble (and brave) enough to speak and hear the whole truth … even the last 2 percent (which is always the hardest).

I received a GREAT email from Matthew Paul (one of our gifted electric guitar players) a couple of weeks ago where he expressly gave me permission to speak the last 2 percent to him. Carte blanche. The email from Matt arrived in my inbox shortly after a communication that I had sent out to all WAMmers about the gravity and magnitude of the transition that lies before us – about how we will ALL need to elevate our involvement in both heart and skill.  He gave me full permission to say whatever needed to be said … even the tough stuff. If I saw any area that needed improvement, I had the green light to say it.

WAMmers – as we head into this transition, I want to ask all of you for “last 2 percent” permission. For those of you who are new to WAM, this may be more difficult for you than it will be for our WAM veterans. Clearly this will require mutual trust – a trust that I will do my very best to honor. And while chatting with Benji over coffee about this idea of “last 2 percent” permission, he requested that I ask you to give him the same privilege – as he too will have a voice in leading us (and the rest of the church) through the transition before us.

One more thing. I know that adopting this axiom cannot be a one-way street. And so, I also want to give each of you the same permission toward me.

It’s a privilege to serve alongside with you.

(Feel free to leave a comment. And a special thank you to those who were willing to speak the whole truth to me – even the last 2 percent – addressing my fashion-oblivious-cargo-shorts-wearing-gym-going tendencies. Thank you.)

-Curtis

February 2, 2009 at 4:48 pm 8 comments

New Balance

This past Tuesday, I had the chance to be a part of a gathering of Pastors in Asheboro, NC. Before the event began, there was a live hillsong worship DVD playing on a nice large flatscreen TV near where everyone was gathering. I was distracted from my pastor-chatting by how distraction free the Hillsong worship DVD was. It was their newest DVD release called The I Heart Revolution. Honestly … it was really REALLY exceptional.

Watching that DVD immediately brought to mind our impending move and our future use of live video in worship. I guess what struck me most was how professional the production was … but yet it didn’t in any way draw attention to its professionalism (which can be VERY distracting – when you can tell people are thinking more about what the “crowd” sees than what God hears). It didn’t say “look at me!!! I’m AMAZING.” Rather – it said, “we are here to worship” and nothing more. It was genuinely moving.

Our upcoming move is taking us into a whole new uncharted world. And in the uncharted waters ahead, this is a new balance that we (instrumentalists, vocalists, technicians, etc)  will all have to aim for. Excellence with humility and authenticity. Great without ego. Mindful of “horizontal” appearance but with a heart fully focused “vertically” upon God. Make sense?

I found this hillsong video link on YouTube. It isn’t from the DVD mentioned above, but its a pretty good example of what I’m talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ERnX1ezh5c

If you are a WAM volunteer, please check out this link sometime before next Wednesday – the next scheduled WAMnation blog training update. Looking forward to the journey before us 🙂

-Curtis

January 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm 1 comment


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