Fender Rhodes setup

 A lot of people were asking me about last Sunday’s Fender Rhodes setup and how I was getting those tones. Here is a picture. You’ll notice there are some guitar pedals in the Send/Return section of the instrument. The pedals were in this order:

  1. Electo Harmonics Hog2 guitar synthesizer
  2. TC Electronics Flashback Delay on the 2290 setting
  3. MXR Custom Electronic Booster/Line Driver set at various gain levels

Star Wars, At the Movies, At NPHX

One of my distinct privileges working at NPHX is I get to work with amazingly talented orchestra players. When our pastoral leadership team asked us to launch the “At the Movies” series, there really was no doubt in my mind we would kick off the morning with the theme from “20th Century Fox” and “Star Wars,” all synced to video with our branding. Here is a video, as taken on the platform by one of our band members.

 

Looking for a church? Check out North Phoenix Baptist Church!

 

No Longer Slaves – Cover

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I believe Fear is one of the biggest issues we face as Christians. I know its my biggest issue. Fear comes down to not trusting in God. God has given us promises for our best future, but just as the Israelites had trouble trusting in the Exodus desert, we often struggle trusting during our own desert. The truth is, we must rely on God’s provision in our desert. Isaiah reminds us to “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:4. So, church leaders, remind your congregation about this truth regularly. At North Phoenix, our lead paster recently dealt with this subject, and in the middle of this message, we sang this song to remind our people we are no longer slaves to fear, we have already left that bondage.

Weekly Worship Planning Timeline

One of the great parts of being a blogger are the questions I have received from worship guitarist all over the world. For a while now, I’ve been collecting the questions and turning them into blog post. I hope you might also find these useful.

 

Question:

What is your weekly worship planning timeline?

 

Answer:
Sunday: Worship Services!

Monday: Worship Meeting with music and technical staff hammering out any last details of the flow for worship for the following Sunday. This is also a time for a brief review of the past Sunday.

Monday Afternoon: I will communicate any last minute changes to the volunteers, i.e. song changes, new directions, etc. Also, there is a team meeting to hammer out communication details in the worship services.

Tuesday: This day is set aside for production. Any media production, editing, recording, music charting or arranging happens on this day.. This is the day planning center is updated, this is the day charts are printed, this is the day orchestra music is organized. Also, any filming for the week is shot this week.

Wednesday: Other that a weekly staff meeting, this day is reserved for a monthly planning meeting for the upcoming series, Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas, etc. This often is a more loose/less-detail oriented meeting where we cast the general vision of the service and how worship elements and sermon topics will reflect this. This day the worship staff runs through the material together in preparation for the evening.

Wednesday Night: Rehearsal with band and technical crew.

Thursday: Sermon run through. Pastor Scott will go through his sermon in front of a small audience for feedback. Also, this day is a for wrapping any production of the day prior and then getting this live program ready for Sunday. This is a day to also look ahead at the Sundays coming in the weeks ahead.

How to sing and play guitar at the same time

One of the great parts of being a blogger are the questions I receive from worship guitarist all over the world. For a while now, I’ve been collecting the questions and turning them into blog posts.  I hope you might also find these useful.
Question:
I also cannot sing and play at the same time which is the part that REALLY makes me nervous.  Anything that would help with that or am I just kinda stuck where I am?
Answer: 
Yes, first familiarize yourself with the tempo exercise. Next, find a song that you know very well, like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Instead of trying to do a strumming pattern, get out your metronome app and strum the chords on beats 1, 2, 3, 4 only. Hum the melody as you go and play it slow enough that when you get to the chord change perfectly. You’ll be playing the song intentionally slow. Then increase the BPM incrementally faster until you get to the normal speed of the song. Now try the same technique with a worship song.

How to improve your guitar strumming, FAST

One of the great parts of being a blogger are the questions I have received from worship guitarist all over the world. For a while now, I’ve been collecting the questions and turning them into blog post.  I hope you might also find these useful.
Question:
I have TERRIBLE rhythm, any suggestions for rapidly improving on timing/rhythm?
Answer: 
This one is pretty easy to do fast if your willing to put up with an annoying little invention called the metronome. Follow these steps:
1) Download Steinway and Sons (free) or Tempo Adv. ($4.99) metronome app for your smartphone or tablet.
2) set the metronome to 4/4 and 60BPM (Beats Per Minute)
3) Count 1, 2, 3, 4 with the beeps.
4) now, count 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and. Placing the “ands” in between the beeps. We call this “and” beat, the subdivision.
5) now strum a chord down on each beat. Count aloud. You should have a strum on every beat with “ands” in the middle. Then change chords
6) once you have that down, move the BPM to 70, 80, 90 etc.
7) Now sing and play with the metronome

The best guitar for worship

And now, the Concert!

One of the great parts of being a blogger are the questions I have received from worship guitarist all over the world. For a while now, I’ve been collecting the questions and turning them into blog post. I hope you might also find these useful.

The Question:

I have both an acoustic and an electric, I lean much more towards rhythm than fingerpicking, but is either one easier to focus on to lead worship? Aside from a beat box, I’ll be the only musician.

My Answer:
Work on acoustic only. It works in any situation and lends itself well to most worship songs. Also, just concentrate on strumming chords with a pick.

The Why:

When you are first starting out, a worship leader usually finds themselves needing to provide support and foundation musically and the acoustic guitar does just that. There are less technical variables with an acoustic guitar as well. No amp to worry about, no cables to go out and you don’t need a mic or sound system to make it happen. Just show up and play.

The Sunlight Devotional now on iBooks

For those iBooks lovers, The Sunlight Devotional is now available!

 

The_Sunlight_Devotional_-_Book Cover iBooks

The Sunlight Devotional is based on my first album Sunlight. Each chapter is based on a song from the album that has its own devotional thought, song back stories, key album development insights, Biblical song references, song lyrics and photos. This book is a must have companion for the album.

The Sunlight Devotional now on Amazon Kindle

The Sunlight Devotional is now available on Kindle! The Sunlight Devotional is based on my first album Sunlight. Each chapter is based on a song from the album that has its own devotional thought, song back stories stories, key album development insights, Biblical song references, song lyrics and photos. This book is a must have companion for the album.

 

The_Sunlight_Devotional_-_Book Cover 1000

 

Read the chapter on the song “Drive”: The Sunlight Devotional: Drive

Drive: The Sunlight Devotional

Merry Christmas everyone! For the next 12 weeks you will be receiving 12 very special Christmas gifts! Every week you will receive a devotional based on the Album Sunlight. Every one you will read insights into the songs, lyrics and music that you have never known before.

What most people don’t realize about the album, Sunlight, is that I intentionally deal with one theme for the entire record. This record is about Death. Death in one form or another. God’s answer to death is Sunlight. Hope in Death. All 12 songs speak to this theme in some capacity. You will find every song references Death and Sunlight in some way. What better time than Christmas for us to remember this hope we have in Christ?

Amidst the rock, country and blues fun, I wanted there to be a deeper purpose behind every song. I wanted a sense that when you are listening to the record, not only are you listening to a complete musical work, but that the single thread of this theme would bring you to a deeper understanding of God, your faith, and the way you view the world around you. In the next posts, I’m going to dive deeper into the stories and scriptures that are the inspiration behind the songs of the album.

Each week you’ll be prompted to listen to a song from the album. Afterwards, you can read the insights and corresponding scriptures. Please note, I often just use phrases of song lyrics through out the posts in order to emphasize a point, but you can always find the lyrics to the songs in full at the end of each post.

-All the Best,

Robert

Drive

Theme: Dying to Self

The first song on the record, Drive, is a pretty straightforward analogy for the Jesus’ Parable typically referred to as The Prodigal Son. I wanted to begin the record with an Americana music style feel. In the past as an artist, I was always associated with heavy Christian rock music. I wanted to shatter that expectation right off the bat. I came up with the main riff at Crash in 2011. This was the young adult service at NPHX I helped lead sometime ago. This is a main filter for many of the themes of the album. A good majority of my Kickstarter backers came out of this service too.

When I began compiling all the songs for the album, I had about 17 songs that we’re all possibilities, and three additional in the “maybe pile.” Producer Rocky Searan and I were so entrenched in the in the writing process, that we needed a third person to help give us a new perspective on this song. We decided to bring in Rocky’s brother, Adam Searan to help with some of the rewrites. This was one of two songs on the album we collaborated on.

The parable of the prodigal son is a poignant story Jesus told about the lengths God will go to be reconciled with a man that chose to leave Him. This story I think is one of the greatest pictures of God’s love and something I feel people who’s been out of faith or have had no faith whatsoever, can be introduced/reintroduced to God. Writing a song about this was very intentional.

I love the picture of this parable as it mirrors my own journey to faith.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons.12And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.” And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out toone of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17“But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned againstheaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”22But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, andshoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate.  25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.” 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” 31And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”

Drive Lyrics

I’ve spent a long time driving in all directions
Chasin’ after dreams that never came true

I was just spinning my wheels,
and now I’m stuck , in the middle of nowhere covered in dust,
Wishing I had the strength to come home to you,

If I could drive all night just to get back home,    
Would you be waiting there for me on that ol’ dirt road,
I can see you now,
Oh I can see you now,

I would run to meet you and kiss your face,
and we could relive all our glory days,
I know it’s time, to fire it up and drive

I was promised the world and all my hearts desires,
At the time it seemed like I didn’t have much to lose,

It was pedal to the metal then I broke down,
in the middle of nowhere in some strange town,
It was then I realized all I needed was you!

If I could drive all night just to get back home,
Would you be waiting there for me on that ol’ dirt road,
I can see you now,
Oh I can see you now,

I would run to meet you and kiss your face,
and we could relive all our glory days,
I know it’s time, I know it’s time

I’m leaving lonely truck stops and worn out dives behind,
I’m burning up the road,
Oh Lord I’m coming home
Alive !

If I could drive all night just to get back home,
Would you be waiting there for me on that ol’ dirt road,
I can see you now,
Oh I can see you now,

I would run to meet you and kiss your face,
and we could relive all our glory days,
I know it’s time, to fire it up and drive