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:

 

Thoughts on NWLC KS 2013 – Pt. 1

Having just returned from the National Worship Leader Worship in Leawood, KS., I am going to collect some of my thoughts and share them with you here.  If you attended or plan to attend one of the other NWLC gatherings around the country this year, share your experiences in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

The folks at Worship Leader Magazine never fail to put on a first-rate conference.  Even though this was my 5th consecutive conference, I still find new and interesting workshops that help equip me for ministry.  I’m blown away at how many of the speakers and clinicians spoke directly into what’s happening in my life and ministry.  For example, my church is going through a lead pastor transition so the first workshop I put on my schedule focused on the relationship between the lead pastor and worship leader.  My take-aways from that workshop were many and I feel ready to put my best foot forward when I meet our new pastor.

I continually find the conference in touch with what’s happening in local church ministry.  For example, I’ve written a couple of posts here about a pressure that I believe exists to take things to the “next level.”  (Check out Down To The Next Level – Part 1 and Part 2)  People from your church attend a worship concert on Friday night, complete with all the lights, haze, projectors, and sound system and then want you to produce the same experience on Sunday morning!  Let me be clear – I am all for the worship concert.  It’s a good thing and I love to go them.  Yet, it’s clear they’ve affected the way we do modern church.  In fact, so much so, that this was addressed at NWLC 13 by several general session speakers and clinicians.  And just yesterday I came across a tweet from @weareworship sharing an article from Paul Baloche describing this very issue as a “challenge facing us all.”

Author Ian Morgan Cron offered a workshop called “You Are What You Eat” – How a modern, non-liturgical church can unleash the trans-formative power of the Lord’s Supper in weekly worship.  He used this video to get the conversation started:

I loved his definition of what a worship leader does.  Have you been tempted to (as Ian put it) grab God and bring Him down so everyone in this space can have a seismic experience?  (Me: busted!)  Do you resonate with his observation that we (the church) have gotten into a situation where we have to keep amping it up?  

Pastor Steve Berger spoke to us passionately at one of our general sessions about the “Spirit” part of worshiping in Spirit and truth from John 4. One main theme in his message was that worshiping in the Spirit is a supernatural thing.  In Rev. 1:10 John was in the Spirit and heard/saw/experienced supernatural things.  Pastor Berger cautioned us that when we try to create the supernatural on our own (through effects, lighting, etc.) we diminish the real supernatural in our midst.  He said, “Let’s not substitute natural things for our supernatural God.”  

I’ll stop here for now and share more at a later time.  I really would love to hear from you whether you attended NWLC 13 or not.  Please share your thoughts below.  Thanks! -Pat

Fingerpicking Without Thinking

One of my Skype students asked me this week about how to improve at fingerpicking while leading worship – without having to think too much.  Honestly the only way to play in any style without having to think too much is to practice, practice, practice, etc.  The goal is to get to that place where all the technical skills become second nature.  To that end, I offer this little fingerpicking exercise.  I’ve included the chord diagrams and TAB.  Just click on this:   Fingerstyle Exercise by Pat Shelby

Have fun!  Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Pat

Free “Fingerstyle” Guitar Lesson

Here’s a free guitar lesson on how to play a fingerpicking pattern that you can play over any chord.  I learned this pattern as a student while taking lessons from Preston Reed in the early 90’s.  This is a 2 measure pattern that I’ve broken down into 4 segments of 2 beats each.  Learn each segment, then connect them for the full pattern.  Practice slowly and in control, then speed things up later.  I’m using a standard D chord shape in this video, but you can apply this pattern over any chord using many different combinations of strings.  I included the TAB in the video.  Let me know if you found this helpful.

Double Trouble

Here’s a FREE online guitar lesson on how to avoid “double trouble” on the worship team.  “What kind of trouble?” you may ask… If you have 2 acoustic guitarists on your worship team it can be pretty tricky to figure out a distinct part for each guitarist to play.  Especially if you’ve never explored the guitar south of the 3rd fret.  Let’s suppose your worship leader leads with guitar and they have the 1st position chords all locked up – like G, C, D, Em.  As the No. 2 player, you’re not sure what to play.  Do you just double up on the same chords, pick some lame arpeggio or play the tonic note once in a while?  Wouldn’t it be a better team approach if you could add your own unique chord voicing that fit beautifully with the rest of the band?  What if I told you that you could make your guitar sound almost like a mandolin?  Interested???  Click here to go to the Free Video Page on my new website.  Or you can watch the video right from this post.  Be sure to download the companion PDF!  Please let me know what you think of the lesson and if you found it helpful.  Blessings to you and your worship teams!  I’m leaving in the morning for NWLC 2012 – maybe we’ll see some of you in KC!