Stinking Thinking

running-the-race2

I like going on runs.  Long runs.  I bring my phone to track myself by using one of those running apps.  Sometimes I listen to an album or to the radio.  And sometimes I like to leave the ear buds at home so I can pray and listen.  Today was one of those pray and listen runs.  I’m so glad!  God showed me something today I’ve been trying to figure out for years.  When I experience hurt, disappointment, rejection; any kind of emotional pain, I like to withdraw and fill my head with thoughts.  I let my mind race with scenarios of what might happen if I have another run in with “so and so.”  I dwell on how much I’ve been hurt and how “so and so” is so wrong and I’m so right.  I have repeated imaginary conversations where I finally put “so and so” in their place.  All this thinking…to do one thing…comfort myself.  But the comfort is fleeting and never truly delivers what it promises.  What I really need to do is take those thoughts captive (stop the stinking thinking) and instead start turning to the God of all comfort.  Lord, help me to stop all this useless self-thinking and direct my attention to You as my true comfort.  Remind me how much I’ve been forgiven so that I may extend forgiveness.  Teach me how to comfort to others with the very comfort You have given me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

 

Why I Use Music Teachers Helper

Guitar Group Class

Pat teaching a beginning guitar group class at church.

I’m in my 3rd year of using Music Teachers Helper to schedule all my guitar students.  I started with a 5 student basic account (which is free!) and have grown to 20 students. (You can have up to 20 students for only $14 per month.)

3 years ago, I was searching for a way to present a professional image to prospective lesson clients.  One reason I chose MTH is because every account includes a super-easy way to design your own studio website!  Check out my studio website.  It’s definitely helped me attract new students.  Another reason I signed up with MTH is because of the lesson notes feature – I can easily keep a log of each lesson so I can monitor every student’s progress.  It helps me remember what I taught them last week!  MTH keeps track of all the administrative stuff, too: scheduling, automatic lesson reminders, makeup lessons, mileage, income, expenses, invoicing, etc.  My MTH calendar syncs with my google calendar and there’s even an iOS app!  (BTW, I hear there’s a major iOS app update and a new Android app coming soon!) Tech support has been great, too!

MTH isn’t all about the teacher, though.  Parents and students get their own login.  Students can check their calendars and log their practice time.  Parents (and adult students) can keep tabs on their account balance and they can even book lessons online!  MTH supports online payment via PayPal, too!

This is my honest, shoot-from-the-hip testimony of what I think of Music Teacher’s Helper and how it’s helped me grow my lesson studio business. For the music teacher, I can’t recommend their service enough!  Feel free to contact me as a resource to find out more about how I use Music Teacher’s Helper.  CLICK HERE to get a 20% discount on your first month with Music Teacher’s Helper for reading this post!

Learning the Celtic Strum

I have several students that are in various stages of learning how to play the so-called Celtic Strum.  If you’ve been around modern worship music at all in the last 20 years, you’ve heard this strumming pattern in hundreds of songs.  I’ve heard it called all kinds of things – the worship groove or energy groove – or even “that strummy thing.”

I was first introduced to the celtic strum via Paul Baloche’s original recording of Open The Eyes Of My Heart (Worship Leader’s Song Discovery Issue No. 5).  After that, it seemed like it was in every worship song – there have been countless others: Trading My Sorrows, Sweetly Broken to name a couple more songs that use this strum.

The Celtic Strum is a must-have for the strumming tool box for every guitarist.  Here’s how I break it down for the student:

The pattern is 2 measures long.  Starting with a down-strum, you’re strumming hand will move in a steady down-up motion for the entire pattern.  Every down-strum is an 8th note and every up-strum is an 8th note.  Here’s a PDF of the pattern in rhythmic notation:

Celtic Strum

The arrows show the direction of your strumming hand movement.  The numbers under the notes show you how to count out the rhythm.  Notice there are 4 groups of 3 and 2 groups of 2.  Counting this way will help you focus on the accents which will always fall on 1.  The key to the groove is getting those accents louder than everything else.

Get your strumming hand moving in that steady down-up motion while simultaneously counting out loud (making “one” louder than everything else): “One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two, one-two.”  Start out slow and as you gain confidence, speed things up.  You’ll notice that your strumming hand will be moving in the opposite direction for the first 4 accents or ones and then down for the next two accents.  When you get to the end, loop it around again and again.  One of my students used my phone to make a simple video demo of the accents this morning:

I’ll add more to this post in the future.  Click like to let me know if you found this helpful.  I welcome your comments below!  Happy strumming!

Do you suffer from G.A.S.?

BOSS Guitar Effects Pedal

I confess — I suffer from, Gear Acquisition Syndrome.  G.A.S., as I call it, strikes with little warning.  For the guitarist, it hits the hardest.  Come on, guitar players, you know what I’m talking about — the inability to resist that 3rd trip to Guitar Center this week or throwing away the latest Sweetwater Music catalog or deleting the latest “deals” email from Musician’s Friend.  Before you know it, you’ve acquired yet another guitar, effects pedal, or a sackful of indispensable accessories.

One of my students asked me this week… Pat, I was wondering if I ever got an effects board, what you would recommend?

I can spot the tell-tale signs of G.A.S.  Poor kid.  He’s been secretly drooling over my POD HD 500.  (The result of a particularly intense attack of G.A.S. I had a couple of years ago.)  It isn’t unusual to covet your teacher’s gear.  I remember taking lessons from (Name drop warning!) Preston Reed back in the early 90’s.  He used D’Angelico strings and Goldengate thumb picks back then…and in no time, so was I.

Every young guitar player risks being seduced by all the cool gear and easily tricked into thinking, “If I just had that cool effects pedal, I could play that song.”  (Come to think of it, the same thing happens to old guitar players, too!)  The coolest old-school guitar sounds, which all these fancy effects devices are trying to emulate anyway, were accomplished with an amp, guitar, and a set of nimble fingers calloused by hours in the woodshed.  I remember what a humbling lesson it was for me when I realized that shelling out a wad of hard-earned cash wasn’t changing the fact that my playing stunk.  The truth is… working on your playing technique is always the best thing you can do.

As I continued to ponder my student’s question, I recalled some sage advise my friend, Michael Muilenburg once said.  “Never underestimate the tone that comes from a player’s fingers.”

That’s it!  That recollection inspired me to encourage my student to advance his skill and to resist the onset of G.A.S.  Which is exactly what I did…and then I promptly invited him to come with me on a trip to Guitar Center over Christmas break!

Guitar Lesson – Bb Major Chord Scale

I’m currently training 3 teenage guitar players at my church.  I started them out by teaching them the 1 – 4 – 5 – and 6m chords in the key of G.  When it comes to playing a song in a non-friendly guitar key, like Bb, I usually make use of Planning Center Online’s chord chart transposition features.  With a couple of mouse clicks I can quickly produce a capo 3 chart with familiar G family chord shapes.  This keeps my players from getting that “deer in the headlights” look when I hand them a Bb chart.  (Ahhh… what would we do with out our friend, the capo?!)  One of them asked me recently, “Can you teach me some new chords?  I’m tired of playing in G!”  All right, kiddo, you asked for it!

Here’s a new guitar lesson called Bb Chord Scale – Guitar Lesson that teaches a concept called the “chord scale.”  If you take some time to get the chord shapes from this lesson under your fingers, soon you’ll be able to leave your capo inside your case the next time your worship leader hands you a chart in Bb.  They could end up being the one with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look!  I hope you find this helpful.  Let me know if you have any questions about it!

Here’s a video demo of me playing the chord scale from this lesson: