Today's electric guitar practice session, unplugged on the Strat, leaning against the kitchen counter:
- 24/7 - long scales in all twelve keys and relative minors using patterns and right hand finger combinations from the Segovia "Purple Book",
- Single note tremolo picking exercise (16th notes with gradual increase in speed using a metronome,
- Strumming chord progression "From the Day" with metronome as above,
- ii-V-I progressions in all keys using drop 2 and drop 3 7th chords and inversions,
- Sight reading practice using Ricci Adams' online music theory exercises,
- Preparing from the written guitar score for an upcoming performance of "Bye Bye Birdie" at my daughter's high school,

And almost nothing having to do with memorizing worship music.
Or practicing tapping in a delay tempo. Or fiddling with overdrive settings. Has my electric guitar skill set become irrelevant to modern worship?

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Irrelevant? If you're ever in Oxford, UK, come and look me up. We can use that, even if the average worship musician is more I IV V vi and wouldn't spot a ii V I if it was lit up in neon colours!

Keep practising,


Good man Greg, for doing what works for you. I don't mind the I IV V, but sometimes it's all I IV V IV V IV V IIm and I lose track of where the piece is going. If you ever do come to Oxford I'd love to meet up too.

Conversely I've had a busy week and no time for any kind of practice (total playing time probably 90min in the last 4 weeks) so my usual play by ear approach let me down this morning (couple of new songs) and just couldn't find my way into the music. :p


Greg Newhouse said:

We're doing "Build Your Kingdom Here" again. The acoustic will be strumming. I'll be doing thin power chord fills with just a touch of OD and some room reverb. I probably won't wear out any picks that way. Having two acoustics AND the electric strumming away is just muddy and noisy. My daughter will be joining us on electric bass for the first time. She sight reads bass clef better than I do.

I played that for the first time a few weeks ago - picked away at the bar chords to sort-of sound like there was someone picking for real - let the acoustic do that rhythm part. It might be fun to attempt a reggae version.

Hope it went well for you. :-)

Greg Newhouse said:

Reggae? Like the version of "Awesome God" we did all in German?

You have a link? :-)

This all has to do with gaining and maintaining vitality in the way you do music.  You have not become a machine for merely cranking out songs and doing them "right", but instead you revel in the joy of music, and it its elements.  I am not a chemist or a physicist, but I love the periodic table, not a dull typewritten one, but something with colored rows and gorgeous type fonts that display the wonder of the relationships of the elements to each other. 

And I am impressed, though, that you take the pains to memorize your worship music.  I know of no one that does that intentionally, even myself - but committing it to memory is bound to help it communicate powerfully.

It sounds like you've taken the trouble to do a study of the way Hillsong does their parts.  Whenever I've duplicated parts for band members, the result has been uniform - they are afraid of trying to actually do them, and quickly find their own way to do things.  The time wasn't wasted, though - doing such things keeps my ear sharp and improves my abilities in relating to the various instruments of the guitar-and-drum orchestra.  As long as they don't make me sing Nashville style, I'm sittin' pretty.

In the world of "extended gigs" (for free or honoraria such as an annual gift card to the Lobster), there are plenty of opportunities for singer-players at the Senior centers, who love people to come over for an hour a week; local pubs - my friend Harvey goes every month to Porky's with a band.  Here we have a Northwest Jazz Orchestra and a new jazz fusion group started by a friend who meet whenever, but when they do it's great.  There's a hospital that lets people come in to their lobby and play for an hour or so - you can actually play Christian songs there.  Perhaps there are places waiting in your area. A local school might like a guy to come over and lend a guitar to help their programs (as a pianist, that led to an actual job, about 30 hours a week counting driving 45 minutes each way, but you get to help young people make music, and that's worth it in spades).

Interesting about the playing time etc. There was a time when if worship only went on for an hour I'd be up the same again, and loving it, but all that has gone a long time ago. Now I'm happy to play between 30 and 50 min most of the time, and that's comfy (the exception - played bass for the first time in years last Sunday - had to REALLY concentrate, and 50min left me tired and sweaty).

I've just started playing with a bunch of guys that play old acoustic gospel blues stuff (Rosetta Tharpe etc, yes, I should use an SG for that) in a couple of local pubs, and they played on and off for >2 hours. I was completely bushed that first time, and my fingers are now stronger and calloused like they've not been in years. Maybe there's a non-church place to play for you too, Greg?

Worship forms are so hard to detach from culture, or to move freely between without being firmly attached to one particular way of doing things.

That style of Gospel Blues is a novelty, just like Gregorian chants are a novelty, albeit a lot more fun. I find some worship songs written between 1960 and about 2005 touch me more than songs written before or after that narrow period. All these things shall pass away, sooner or later, but it makes it difficult when your skillset became superceded and YOU haven't passed away. I'm almost 55, and have a feeling that Greg Moore is a good bit senior to us. ;-)

Ayup.  70th birthday in six days!

So, if the chord chart calls for a m7b5b9 chord and I actually play it, am I irrelevant or irreverent? As clearly I'm showing off by playing to the jazz snobs in the congregation.
I'm baack!


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