Tag Archives: Guitar

Psalm 150 Musical Responsive Reading


Psalm 150 Musical Responsive Reading

M: Praise the Lord.
C: We are here today to offer our praises to our savior.

M: Praise God in his sanctuary;
C: We are the body of Christ. We have gathered in this sanctuary to lift our voice in praise.

M: praise him in his mighty heavens.
C: We look forward to being with our savior one day in heaven where we will be surrounded with beauty and perfect heart-felt praise.

M: Praise him for his acts of power;
C: For walking on water, for calming the storm, for raising the dead and for conquering sin we praise you.

M: Praise him for his surpassing greatness.
C: We praise the King of Kings, The Lord of Lords and the Prince of Peace.

M: Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
C: We will praise you with brass instruments. (if you have a trumpet player available; let them blast now*)

M: Praise him with the harp and lyre,
C: We will praise you with stringed instruments. (if you have any string instrument players available; let them strum, pick, thumb and stroke now*)

M: praise him with timbrel and dancing,
C: We will praise you with tambourines and dancing. (Tap the tambourine now*)

M: praise him with the strings and pipe,
C: We will praise you with the organ and the guitar. (Organ and guitar play here*)

M: praise him with the clash of cymbals,
C: we crash the cymbals together to celebrate because the today is the day you have made (cymbal crash now*)

M: praise him with resounding cymbals.
C: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Crash the cymbals again*)

* Instrumental breaks are 3 to 5 second riffs that have been prepared in advance

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Practice Time


Practice Time

How much time does your musical team get together to practice? Our band currently has four members (two guitars, one keyboard, and one who plays light percussion and adds harmony background vocals), we all like to sing, and we lead the music on a monthly basis (one Sunday per month). In preparation for this monthly service, we try to get together about three times a month (taking one week off) for about one hour each week. This equates to about three hours of group practice for one hour of leading musical worship. To me this seems just about right because you can hear the songs really coming together by the end of the second or the third practice depending on the complexity.

Our band is made up of all seasoned musicians with a combined 100+ years of musical experience at our respective instruments so one might think that we don’t need much practice. But the thing is, each month we have new songs to learn so it’s important to get together to divide up who will be singing which parts, who will be driving the arrangement, what key signatures to use, how we will introduce the song, who will take solos and where (if at all), and most importantly to get the feel of the overall groove of the music.

When a band practices together to hone their craft, the result is a coherent musical offering that invites congregational participation and helps in the overall flow of the worship service. Group practice allows time for the bass guitarist and drummer to work together to build the groove of the song and for the guitars and keyboards to provide the body and melody of the music.

In addition to this week night practice time, we each practice solo at home and we listen to our monthly songs performed by the original recording artists on our individual MP3 players and email youtube versions of each song to one another. Finally, we meet together about a half hour before the worship service to check our balances and to run through that difficult part once more.

In the end, we know each other very well. We can interpret looks from one another during worship. We know each others signals when something isn’t quite right; maybe the tempo needs to be adjusted based on the congregation’s singing, or maybe one of us is singing off-pitch (usually me). We are not only a band – we are friends who support one another and pray for each other.

The bottom line is that bands need to spend time together because the worship life of the church improves when this happens.

Magic with the SUS4 Chord


Magic with the SUS4 Chord

A suspended 4 chord (sus4) is formed by taking a major chord and replacing the third with a forth.  The formula is therefore 1,4,5.

There’s a really neat trick to play these.  We will use the F chord as an example but the pattern is easily moved up the neck to form all the other chords which will be shown later.

The trick involves using only a triad and adding just one finger to change the chord from the major to the sus4.

Here’s the example using the F major chord:

Play the major F triad as follows:

Your third finger should be on the root F note (forth string, third fret).
Your second finger should be on the A note (third string, second fret).
Your first finger should be on the C note (second string, first fret).

Just strike the three strings that are covered by your fingers.  It should sound like a nice crisp F chord.

Next use your pinky to cover the third string third fret.  This changes the A note to a Bb which changes the third into a forth.

Practice changing quickly from the F to the Fsus4 by just adding that pinky.  Keep the other fingers in place behind it.  Just play those three covered strings and keep practicing the change:
|| F / / / | Fsus4 / / / | F / / / | Fsus4 / / / | F / / / | Fsus4 / / / | F / / / ||

Play it as quickly and evenly as you can.

Now that you’ve got that down, move it up the neck to play all the other chords.  Here’s the fret patterns:

F to Fsus4:      xx321x   to  xx331x
F# to F#sus4:  xx432x   to  xx442x
G to Gsus4:     xx543x   to  xx553x
Ab to Absus4: xx654x   to  xx664x
A to Asus4:     xx765x   to  xx775x
Bb to Bbsus4: xx876x   to  xx886x
B to Bsus4:     xx987x   to  xx997x
C to Csus4:     xx10-9-8x   to  xx10-10-8x
Db to Dbsus4: xx11-10-9x   to  xx11-11-9x
D to Dsus4:     xx12-11-10x   to  xx12-12-10x
Eb to Ebsus4:  xx13-12-11x   to  xx13-13-11x
E to Esus4:      xx14-13-12x   to  xx14-14-12x

Image Source: http://www.musiclearning.com/lessoncentral

Silent Night – Guitar and Cello


Silent Night – Guitar and Cello

At our church we are having two children play Silent Night on their guitar and cello as pre-service music on Dec 18.  Both are first year beginning students.  I wrote a very simple arrangement for their use.   The guitar includes both tab and sheet music.  I am offering it for free to anyone interested.  You can download it from my file download area (lower left column) or send me an email at (sjbrown58 “at” yahoo “dot” com.)

Beginner’s Version – Silent Night for Guitar and Cello

Arpeggio Scale Pattern


Arpeggio Scale Pattern

Guitar Level: Intermediate

Most beginning guitarists start playing solos by memorizing a few pentatonic scale patterns and using them over a chord progression.  This is actually a really nice place to start but when playing solos over a chord progression; it is helpful to know which notes to dwell on; to resolve to, and to sustain with a little vibrato.  These “sweet notes” are usually found from the notes that are contained within the root chord that defines the song key.   

For example, if you are playing a song in the key of G, the arpeggio pattern will contain the three notes that make up the G chord, which are G, B and D.  These notes will almost always sound great when played against a song in the key of G.  So the next step is to find these notes within a pentatonic pattern.  A typical G pentatonic scale is shown in the following figure.  As you experiment with solos in this key, concentrate on the arpeggio chord tones.  Resolve to them, add vibrato on them and consider the other notes in the pentatonic scale as passing notes.  In other words, use these notes to get to the G, B and D notes.  This will improve your solo playing and enable your solo to be more melodic. 

For a little variety and further practice, I have also included arpeggio patterns for the G7 chord and the G add 9.  Dwelling on these notes will offer more sound possibilities and color to your playing. 

Here’s two tips to help you to remember the arpeggio notes: 

  1. Look at the arpeggio notes in the figure again.  Now visual two chord finger patterns on top of these notes.  First consider the open G chord (320033 or 320003); you will find these notes in the arpeggio pattern.  Next, consider the F chord moved up two frets; it’s now a G chord formed as follows: 355433 with a bar at the third fret.  These make up the rest of the arpeggio notes in the pattern.  This is how you can recall and remember the arpeggio notes.
  2. You can move this arpeggio pattern up one fret and play in the key of Ab, moving up two frets would be in the key of A, three frets is Bb, etc.  The pattern is movable so that you can play against any key signature.

Climbing the D Scale with Chords


Climbing the D Scale with Chords

Guitar Level: Intermediate 

Here’s some alternative ways to play some interesting sounding chords in the key of D (two sharps) that employ the use of triads and a D as the base note for each chord.  This is actually called a “pedal tone” in musical lingo and it can produce some really nice sound effects.  Try strumming these chords, finger picking them, or individual note arpeggios for different sounds. 

D Scale:
D E F# G A B C# D

Typical Chords used in the key of D:
D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim

Pedal Tones:
D                     xx0232
Em/D               xx0453
F#m/D             xx0675
G/D                 xx0787
A/D                 xx0-9-10-9
Bm/D              xx0-11-12-10
C#dim/D         xx0-12-14-12
D                     xx0-14-15-14

Try these chords the next time that you are accompanying a song in the key of D, even if the /D is not called for, and especially if you have two guitarists and the other player is covering the common chords.

Ten Tips for Beginning Guitarists


Well I Heard There Was A Secret Chord.... (4/3...

Ten Tips for Beginning Guitarists

  1. Look at the sheet music, not your hands or the fret board.
  2. Watch your tempo.  If you are playing a song at 60 bpm in 4/4 time, this means that each beat gets 1 second.  So don’t strum your chord four times real fast and then find yourself waiting for the measure to end.  At 60 bpm you need to either strum four times with 1 second between strums, or depending on the melody, you could strum in eighth time; eight strums with 1/2 second between strums.
  3. On a chord change, it’s better to miss the chord than to hit it too late.  Hitting it too late throws off the rhythm of the song but if you just hold back because you couldn’t get your fingers there in time, hopefully all will still end well as your other instrumentalists (or vocalists) will carry the beat.
  4. Simplify the real tough chords; even change them into a two-note chord if you have to.  For example, you can play a Bb chord as x13xxx and just strike the A and D strings – this will sound just fine.  As your playing improves, expand this into a three note chord (x133xx), and then finally try the full chord (113331).
  5. Drop the slash notes on chords.  For example G/B can be played as a simple G chord and the D/F# can be played as a D chord, etc.
  6. If your fretting hand gets sore after one song, then you are probably gripping the neck incorrectly.  The clamping pressure in your hand is provided by the thumb.  The thumb’s position will vary from being wrapped around the top of the neck to sitting on the underside of the neck (in a pinching position) depending on the chord shape being played.  Watch other guitarists and work on playing notes with the minimalist effort and force possible.  If you play standing up, then you might also have to try a different guitar position by adjusting your strap length.
  7. Don’t sight read; even if you know all the chords.  You need to play through any song before you attempt to play it in a worship setting.
  8. Keep your guitar in constant tune.  Keep your strings clean and have them changed regularly.
  9. Watch your tone.  When practicing chords, play each string individually (while holding down the chord) and make sure that each string sounds clear and that it’s not muted or buzzing due to a misplaced finger.   Every note, including the open strings need to sound bright and clear.
  10. Keep going if you make a mistake because the song will keep moving on.