My New Guitar Practice Companion; iLift iPod App

Thanks to Praise Weekly: P & W For the Not So Gifted (cute subtitle) for sharing this tool.

The ability to slow down complex riffs on guitar has become a necessary evil. How else do you think people have written out guitar tab for Lincoln Brewster’s monster solos.  They slow it down and reverse engineer the guitar playing.

Here’s an iPhone application that will do just that. No need for a computer or separate device — it’s now in your pocket.  From Praise Weekly…

My New Guitar Practice Companion; iLift iPod App

I always thought that it will be really nice to play, slow down, loop, change keys directly from iPod. Last week, it dawned on me that there might be a iPod app out there that can do this. With some researching, I finally found one! It is iLift app. It does exactly what I was looking for and it is free!. (Free version only lets you add 3 songs in its playlist, but it is enough for me for now) I hook this up with my POD Live x3 playing “Savior of the World” by Ben Cantelon from key of B to G and it worked really well. I was able to loop the intro so that I could repeat it again and again.

It is really difficult to practice with songs with keys that we don’t really sing with. iLift will help you to do this much easier. Try it out and let me know how it you like it. Enjoy!

via My New Guitar Practice Companion; iLift iPod App.

Worship Loop and Click Track Library – mymusicwriter.com

In a minute, I’ll mention the loop contest mymusicwriter.com is running, but first — how we use loops and click tracks in worship.

This past week at Topeka Bible Church we ran the majority of our worship songs with loops and click tracks. Though I played keyboards for the band this week, it was nice to have additional sonic material happening in the mix.  It allowed me to play less, sing more, and focus on playing my 1/6 part of the role of the 6 member band.

The nicest part of using click tracks is having steady tempo and smooth song starts. You know those nasty drummer stick clicks.  With a silent count in, the band simply starts.  Flow is much smoother as a result.  Also, no more subjective “it feels fast” or “it’s dragging” thoughts.  The tempo is set.

The final advantage with the loops and click tracks are the vocal cues into the song sections. It serves the song on a silver platter.  There’s no questions where the verse, chorus, bridge, turns are — because you have a voice counting you in.  Sure, it’s not as flexible as a custom roadmap — but there’s never harm in dialing out the volume of the click when you decide to veer from the stated roadmap.

So do you use loops and click tracks in worship? If not, it’s not difficult once you have it set up.  If you’ve ever wanted to get started with loops…here’s an easy way to get started — mymusicwriter.com is giving away it’s entire loop library to a lucky Twitterer — but you can also pick up $10 of free loops.  Here’s the deal from mymusicwriter.com

For the launch of our new site at mymusicwriter.com, we’d love to get some free loop goodness out. Yes, it’s the same awesome site — just a new look.  So we are giving away $10 worth of loops on orders over $30.  And to top things off, we are giving away our entire worship loop library ($200 worth of loops).

Crazy!

To grab the free loops, enter FEBLOOP on orders over $30 (your cart will be discounted $10). We know, it’s a discount — but that’s more change in your pocket.  Code is good through Feb 28, 2011.

And for the full blown chance to grab the entire mymusicwriter.com library giveaway, all you have to do is tweet this.  “Awesome. @mymusicwriter is giving away free worship loops and click tracks.  Go get some. http://tinyurl.com/6l7n2tg

We’ll pick on March 1, 2011. Good luck.

via Worship Loop and Click Track Library – mymusicwriter.com.

How to transition when using click tracks and loops #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists #WorshipSet

There’s a problem in lots of churches when it comes to worship participation — there’s lots of standing around waiting to be led in worship. You know what I’m talking about.  There’s that 16 measure rippin’ electric guitar solo, the 12 measure outro that’s the same as the intro, the 2 second pause between songs, and then the 8 measure needed intro to establish tempo/key/feel.  That’s a lot of ‘waiting around’ for worshippers who are used to more of the ‘sing only when directed to’ type of format.  More charismatic influences use these times to allow the song and worshipper to breath.  But it’s a problem in my churches who do not follow that more charismatic/free worship structure.

The solution is to turn these non-participatory moments into participatory ones can greatly increase the tracking of worshippers.

Here’s what I mean…

The most difficult part (and crucial part) of any musical worship environment are the transitions from song to song. Once you establish a key, maintain tempo, get a groove, and begin singing — a song can virtually run itself.  However, once the song is over, getting to the next song can be a challenge.  There may be a tempo difference, difference in key, a mood/texture shift, or even needing room for something else to happen (pray, scripture reading, video, etc.).

Using click tracks to create “transition click tracks” can create a smooth flow from song to song.  This means there are clicks/loops for the songs, but also click tracks and loops that guide through the in-between times.  These loops can create a smooth live feel that link songs into a more seamless set.

Worship Set from mymusicwriter.com

For example, this past week we had these three songs in a row.

Sweetly Broken (B)
New Doxology (E)
You Shine (E)

Began Sweetly Broken with the full intro (to establish key/tempo/feel). When we got to the end of Sweetly Broken, we simply played an Eno3 chord on the final word — leaving a deceptive/unsettled feel.  It’s typically OK to leave a song hanging at the end on a dominant (V chord) or subdominant (IV chord) if it sets up the next song’s key.  For example, if a song is in the key of B…the the deceptive chords to end on would be either an E or F# (subdominant and dominant respectively).  The *Eno3 chord played at the end of Sweetly Broken sets up the beginning of New Doxology (Key of E).

*no3 simply means the chord doesn’t have the third played in it, so you’d play an E and B…or sometimes called open fifth

The more tricky transition is going from the New Doxology into You Shine. Yes, they are the same key — but they are drastically different in both tempo and style.  The solution here is to sing a SLOW version of You Shine’s ‘pre-chorus’ in order to denote that we are transitioning to a new song.  This means after the last note of New Doxology, while still stirring the last Eno3 chord — a NEW click track would count off into You Shine’s pre-chorus at a slow tempo.  Once the pre-chorus is completely sung at that slower tempo, another click track triggers for the actually You Shine song.  Also, the proverbial 8 bar intro into You Shine is stripped down to simply two measures of Eno3 vamp to launch into the first verse.

It sounds complicated, but all these transition loops are automatically built into the click tracks & loops available at mymusicwriter.com — so all the work is done.  Figuring out transitions can be daunting at first.  It takes time and fore-thought.  And if you are using click tracks, the live timing and feel are critical for the end result for worshippers who are following.  Minimizing timing distractions and working out flow in advance can increase the opportunity for worshippers to be in an environment that guides them smoothly.

And as for those electric guitar solos or extended piano intros, try displaying Bible verses that keep the worshipper engaged.  It will point their eyes to God, and maybe take them off the stage for that moment.

Here was our line up…

  1. ___ TEST AND SOUND CHECK TRACKS BELOW
  2. Test – click LEFT and loop RIGHT
  3. Sound Check – Full Band
  4. Sound Check – Vocals
  5. ___ WORSHIP SETS BELOW
  6. Set 1 – Beautiful One, Jesus Messiah
  7. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  8. Set 2 – September 14, 2010
  9. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  10. ___ END click here (cue)
  11. ___ SINGLE CLICK TRACKS BELOW
  12. Beautiful One – loop and click 126 BPM
  13. Jesus Messiah – loop and click 86 BPM
  14. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  15. Sweetly Broken – loop and click 93 BPM [Bb]
  16. > Invite to Stand
  17. New Doxology – loop and click 86 BPM
  18. You Shine – loop and click 128 BPM
  19. > Greet & Move Table Cue
  20. ___ END click here (cue)
  21. ___ FULL SONGS BELOW
  22. Beautiful One (A)
  23. Jesus Messiah (A)
  24. Sweetly Broken (Bb)
  25. New Doxology (E)
  26. You Shine (E)

How to make an alternate key of your worship loops and click tracks

A common question is how to edit audio files.

For example…

  1. How can I take off the vocals of a music file?
  2. How can I put the song in a key tailored for my voice?
  3. How can I take out the middle section of this song to make it shorter?
  4. How can I make the song slightly faster, but keep the pitch?

Let’s address just one of these — changing the key of an audio file, such as a loop with a split click track.

Let’s say you just got a tasty loop/click track from mymusicwriter.com to use in your worship gathering. The loop is in the original song key of F#.  However, let’s say you prefer to lead the song in the key of E instead of the loop/click file’s key of F#.  This is because your guitarist would get a hand cramp before measure 8 in the key of F# because he’s too cocky to use a capo.

So here’s how you can change the key, even with a split-track or loop/click track.

1. Download the free open source software Audacity. Then use Audacity to open up that MP3 click track or loop track.  The file will open in one stereo track in Audacity.

2. Then, clicking the pull down menu (arrow), select “Split Stereo Track” so that Audacity will take the stereo track and split it into two tracks, one LEFT and one RIGHT.

3. Highlight the entire track where the LOOP is located. To do this, click just above the SOLO button in a blank area on that track.  This will highlight the entire track.

4. Change Pitch. From the menu in Audacity, we are going to go to Effect > Change Pitch…

5. Select your origination and destination key. In the “Change Pitch” dialog box, simply select the key the loop is already in (from) and select the key that you desire to do (to).  In this case, the original key was F and we are going to G.  Once you’ve established the “from” key and the “to” key — click OK, and you are all set.

Voilà! Almost done.  You’ll notice that when you click the play button — the loop is altered, but the click track and vocal cuing on the opposite panned side is left unaltered.  The tempo is not changed each (since we selected Change Pitch earlier, instead of Change Speed).  By the way, if the loop/click is slightly slower or faster than you’d like — Audacity will bump the tempo from BPM to where you want it.  Simply select Effects > Change Tempo and follow the dialog box.

6. Export to MP3. The final step is to export the track as an MP3 file.   Be sure to rename the file with the new key — to circumvent any rewrite of the original loop/click file.

Happy key altering.

How to not be a jerk when you say, “I’ll pray for you.”

Say "I'll pray for you" and mean it.

It happens to all of us. We have the best of intentions.  Someone it hurting.  You say you’ll pray for them.  You mean it.  But it doesn’t happen for this or that reason.

In steps a free solution that has changed the frequency of my prayer life, thanks to www.echoprayer.com – a free online prayer manager.  Here’s how it works.

  1. You create a prayer list
  2. You set times throughout the week for reminders
  3. Echo emails or texts you one prayer at a time from your list

You can set reminders for specific prayers or random ones, and get them as emails, text messages or both.

There’s also a built-in prayer journal that lets you write notes and automatically keep track of answered prayers.

Pure and simple, Echo is a tool to help you pray more diligently.

Give it a try…and pray for me, would you?

What do we value in worship arts?

Any “band” of people ought to have some type of structure — otherwise they wouldn’t be a “band,” would they?  Corporations have expectations of employees.  Countries have expectations of politicians.  Parents have expectations of children.  And, yes, churches have expectations of their musicians.  So what are the expectations of musicians in a worship band setting?  While each church’s expectations will look differently, here’s what our expectations are.

Let’s begin with expectations, then we’ll contrast with what expectations we ought not to have.

  1. Accountability. Musicians ought to be in a growing accountable walk with Christ. Life off the stage is more important than life on the stage.  Since those on stage are in a pseudo-leadership role, taking a look at 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is helpful. Leading worship is a noble task. Musicians (both instrumentalists AND vocalists) should be above incrimination, the husband/wife of one spouse, restrained, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach others, not addicted to alcohol, gentle, a peacemaker, not a lover of money, manage their family well, not be a recent convert, and have a good reputation with outsiders.
  2. Available. Musicians ought to have availability to be a part of the worship arts family. Not everyone is in a season of life where they are able to participate in the worship arts family.  Attending rehearsals and leading worship regularly with the worship arts family is important. For example, a musician ought to be available to sing/play regularly in a foundational group before leading worship outside that group. It promotes unity, a team-spirit, and contributes to rubbing shoulders with others. Musicians also need to be available enough outside of rehearsal to prepare the music in advance. Rehearsal means re-hearing the music — not hearing it for the first time.
  3. Attitude. Musicians ought to have an attitude that is pleasant and enjoyable to be around. We’ve all been around someone who was incredibly gifted at what they do, but they were a pain to work with. Without an “others first” mentality, it’s hard to swallow — regardless of talent level.
  4. Ability. Musicians ought to have an ability to sing/play at a level God has set up at their local church. For one church, this might mean singing in tune. For another church, this might mean singing at a solo level. While the height of the bar is different at each location, there is a bar.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the “bar” at our church. Someone else’s bar will have a different look.

  • Prepare music in advance of rehearsal
  • Ability to play/sing by ear or written music to keep time/tune with the band, smooth changes, ability to identify good tone
  • Ability to play/sing with confidence to lead, instead of follow
  • Singers, strong ability to harmonize and vary voice slightly to blend
  • Bass guitars, ability to lay down a groove with the kick
  • Guitars, ability to read chords and lead sheets, understand tone, effects, and ability to drive guitar-driven songs
  • Pianists, ability to read chords, written notation, ability to drive piano-driven songs, and knowledge of when not to play
  • Drummers, ability to take notes, play with and without a click-track, simple to moderately-complex worship patterns
  • Keyboardists, ability to read chords, mod wheel use, navigation of keyboard, knowledge of where to play to fill in the holes and when not to play

In contrast, here’s what we ought NOT to look for when it comes to expectations:

  1. Perfect people or spiritual giants. No one is perfect. Not one. (Romans 3:23)
  2. Serving every week with no time to worship off-stage. There’s a margin that needs to be maintained. Burning out for the sake of “always available” ends up being “no availability” in the long run.
  3. A fake-happy-face all the time. We have bad days. We can’t keep up a faux face all the time. Authenticity and being real with a positive attitude is what we are after.
  4. The best singers/instrumentalists in the nation. Many of us are average singers with average instrumental skills. We aren’t recording artists. We aren’t a monster player. There are plenty of others who can sing/play circles around us. Realistic ability is what we are looking for.

What does your #church #tech power-up list look like? #ctdrt

I’ll admit it — I’m a list junkie. So here’s a quick scratch list of what we’ll need to power up.  What lists do you keep?  Care to share?

POWER UP PROCEDURE June 14, 2010
  1. Unlock doors and lights on
  2. Turn on lobby PC computer
  3. Lower Auditorium initial power up
    1. Turn on LA FOH
    2. Recall Aviom memory #1 on both units
    3. Unplug Aviom if sounding
    4. Turn on LA amp
    5. Turn on Hearback IEM
    6. Main Projector
    7. Side TV monitors, white remote
    8. Video toggle switch UP on wall panel
  4. Lobby computer, copy announcement PowerPoint slides from Dropbox to Desktop (7 urgent slides, setup slide show, check advance slide)
  5. Four breakers and cupola stain glass light
  6. Turn on audio studio rack and amp
  7. Grab camera from audio studio, put on tripod, shutter open (three plugs, white balance to A, iris to 2.2, level camera, leave wide shot with Sony remote)
  8. Power to balcony LED clock (weddings sometimes unplug this)
  9. Power up FOH (light switch, kill toggle UP for on, test CD in house)
  10. Lyric projectors and leave up video audio channel to test later
  11. Light console to video studio with adapter cable (if left there from a wedding)
  12. Stage power up: drums, Aviom, keyboards
  13. Video studio: see my video
  14. G5 pull over announcement slides to desktop
  15. Graphic announcements put in PC
  16. Test videos/audio on PC
  17. Leave set of lyrics up before leaving
  18. Run loop test on stage
  19. Jim’s mic on table, batts, tested
  20. RF batts, vocal mic announcement mic
    1. pastor’s countryman
    2. lead vocal
    3. announcement
  21. LA check Aviom click and loop
  22. Boom stand with wide mouth at piano for final song

POWER DOWN PROCEDURE…go in reverse