Monday, March 29, 2010

In the Psalm of My Hand

Did you know that there are 150 Psalms in the Bible?

Did you know that the book of Psalms is often referred to as the songbook of Israel’s Second Temple, and that the literary genre known as Psalms began during the Babylonian Exile (1030 – 962 BCE)?

John Tesh would call that some very good Water Cooler material!

As a songbook, Psalms isn’t terribly long on melody, although there has been an attempt to work out some sort of melodic system; however, this book provides a composer with a potential 150 sets of lyrics!

Recently, I completed a set of 10 anthems based on the Psalms 20 – 29. My working title for it is “Psalms: The 20-Something Collection”. The challenge was to give each one its own musical “voice”.

One of these pieces was written over 30 years ago (not quite as ancient as the lyrics), and the last one was completed in March of this year. They are all for SAB voices and piano…no guitar. I’m hoping that a publisher will be interested in the idea, but I plan to make these available soon either way.

Do you have a favorite Psalm? Or a Psalm story? Why not share it here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect...Practicers!

Question: Hey buddy, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Answer: Practice!

Conventional wisdom says, "Practice makes perfect.” Usually, when you take music lessons, you are expected to spend a certain amount of time practicing. The truth is that sometimes the only thing practicing makes you perfect AT is practicing.

My idea has always been that, if you insist on using the word “practice”, use it in the same way as doctors and lawyers.

When doctors talk of practicing medicine, they do not mean that they are rehearsing in order to get better at it. The same goes for lawyers. It reminds me of what Yoda says in Star Wars, Episode V, “Do or do not; there is no try.” I tell my students to Play, even if it’s a simple exercise. Consider that every time you play, it’s a performance, even if you are the only one in the audience.

So, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? PLAY!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My First Composition

The first thing I ever wrote was a very (very) short piano piece called “The Robin’s Song”. Chances are that I was inspired by all that wonderful music in the Schaum piano method books; I think I only ever made it to Book B (I know the series went at least up to G). Anyway, I was 8 years old and riding in the back seat of the family car. I had a small notepad with me and I began by drawing music staff lines. Adding a g clef, I started to pen (or pencil) my master opus. The whole song lasts about 20 seconds. Frankly it isn’t very good, but it’s a first, and I still have that original sheet of paper.

Instead of laughing at it, my parents were quite excited that I had written musical notes of my own choosing. They always encouraged me, and I hope that I am passing that along to my students and friends.

Encouragement--pass it on.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Along with recording more music than even I can usually remember, I’ve written quite a lot of instructional material to make learning the guitar easier…and fun. Titles include:

  • The Chord Chart Guitar Method

  • A Complete Explanation of The Circle of Fifths

  • The Un-dreaded Barre Chord

  • Unlocking The Upper Neck

  • Stuck in a Rut

  • Writing for the Guitar

    The underlying purpose of all these books is Practical Theory. Too many guitar books either over-explain, or under-explain the operation of music theory in regards to the guitar. With concise text, plus a lot of musical examples and songs, these books can be a terrific help to the guitar hobbyist, or to the professional musician

    All these titles, along with a lot more information on each, can be found on my website at and can be ordered through Paypal. They’re all well worth the price (if I do say so myself!).

Monday, March 1, 2010


March's free download is called "Six Days" and is a fingerstyle piece with a bluesy feel. Enjoy it and share it with your friends.