Monday, March 26, 2012

Growing Through Lent - Help Those in Need

(This Lent, my Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, and I are co-blogging! You can find our posts every Monday at my Blog and Dad’s Blog. Visit, comment, share, and most importantly, feel free to join us in the journey.)

As we study the Gospels (as recommended last week),
we see countless examples of Jesus helping those around Him:

If they needed to speak, He stopped and listened.
If they were sick, He healed them.
If they needed knowledge, He taught them.

As we move into the book of Acts, we see how the newly formed ‘church’ used their time, talent, and treasures to help those in their communities who were without.

So as we start to grow in our faith, we are encouraged to follow the model of Christ and His followers in helping those around us.

We posted the question,
“How do you use your time, talents, or treasures
($$$ or resources) to help those around you?”
on several Facebook forums.

Here are some of our responses (edited for space):

My friends and I sing at three different senior homes once a month (volunteering). When there are needs, I pray for people whom I do not know ... I teach children from low income families free piano lessons. I drive widows to grocery shopping or doctor's appointments ... I donate money to support (music) ministries.

I work at a hospital, changing undergarments, checking vitals, making my patients happy.

I volunteer with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (Canada). We prepare (free) income tax returns for people with limited income. I expect to complete between 75-100 during March and April, 2012.

I'm part of a team of pastoral visitors at St. Christopher's Church, and I help with our senior's luncheons.

I write and create art daily for my blog that inspires others … I tithe to my church; I give to causes like the SPCA and the United Way. This evening, I spent a few hours to support and comfort friends who lost their mother.

I teach art to adults … I welcome people to the Library and help them find what they need ... I make great signage that informs, instructs, directs to support others in finding what they are looking for! I smile a lot and spread sunshine wherever I go! :)

One person finished their response with this:

I am just sharing God's blessings and
all glory goes to our Lord Jesus Christ.

We encourage you to take a few moments today to think about your time, treasure, and talents, and how you might use them to help those in your community or abroad.

This is the final post for our Growing Through Lent co-blog.
Thank you for joining us on our Lenten journey!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CD Tracking Done!

This Nashville trip has been amazing. We spent yesterday at the studio, doing final touches on a few guitar parts, getting rough mixes of all the tracks, and just sitting in awe of what the musicians did with our songs.

Today, we enjoyed the city - eating, shopping, and time with friends.

Tomorrow, we start the drive home.

In the meantime, I've posted more photos!
You can see them on our SITE or FACEBOOK PAGE.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Not-So-Live Studio Blogging - Band Day!

(Long, amazing day that has surpassed our expectations.
It's been a long day, so grab a latte and enjoy today's journey...)


Band day! Adding bass, keyboard, and percussion to all the guitar/vocal tracks we recorded last week. Starting with A Prayer Will Find You – the most rhythmically challenging song of the day.


Sounding so amazing!!! Gerald and I are giggling like kids at the circus. This is gonna be a good day!


First full take done. Doing another take with another kind of percussion.

These musicians are just amazing. They play it through so beautifully, and then they say, “Let’s do it again. I can do it better.” And it is better! How does that happen???


The guys are joking about “Nashville pattern baldness” – a strip of bald across the top of your head from wearing headphones all day.


First song done! Awesome! Donut break.


Next song: Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone). The players are hearing the charts and working out their parts.

Everyone will play through the entire song. That way, in the final mix, we can pick and choose if we want, for example, drums the whole way through, or if want to pull them out for a verse.


Just before we tracked my first CD, “Real Big Fan,” several people described a Nashville recording session this way:

A bunch of nondescript guys will enter the room. They’ll talk, crack jokes, drink coffee, eat donuts, and look totally unfocused. Then the downbeat will hit, and those nondescript guys will play your song better than you’ve ever imagined it.

So true…


Adding the tiniest tambourine I’ve ever seen. To quote the drummer, “It adds pizzazz, yet hurts no one.


Moving on to You Are. To keep the percussion light and earthy, the drummer is using djembe and congos on this.


Keyboardist adding string quartet patch to You Are.


Living Manna is next. Probably the lightest instrumentation on the album. Denny loves this song (*blush*). Just complimented my melody and prosody.


Musicians jamming as Denny sets levels. It’s always humbling to remember that after today, these guys will be back playing for all of Nashville’s top stars and songwriters.


One more to hit before lunch: Wondrous Journey. Trying different sounds – drum kit and Wurlitzer electric piano.


Wondrous Journey done. Lunch break!


Starting the afternoon with I Wanna Make Some Noise, the song I wrote while stuck in QEW traffic one day. I’m singing the scratch vocal with the band.


Vocal done! Two takes done! This totally rocks!!! Bluesy, Black Gospel, old school R&B – whoo!! We are having some church right about now!

Doing another take with electric guitar and Hammond B3 organ. They’ll play on the track, and also on the instrumental solo verse.


I Wanna Make Some Noise done, and sounding awesome!! Moving on to How Great Thou Art.

We’re so excited about everything! Denny is loving it too. It’s hard to put all this into words.


Electric guitar sounds so amazing, Gerald and I both just had the same idea – he’s going to play the melodic ("Then sings my soul") hook just before the rhythmic intro. Nice.


Adding a little guitar solo after the second chorus.


Next song: There is a Voice.


Just started intro - Gerald and I are giggling like school kids.


Espresso break! Making espressos for the band...


Moving on to You Take Me Higher.


Awesome! We’re calling that take the Espresso Remix!


You Take Me Higher is sounding incredible. A flock of birds just started singing outside – even nature likes our new CD!


Two more to go. Listening to Infinitely More with the players now.


Flashing back to Cape Breton where we started writing Infinitely More. Oh the things that can come out of a smoky hotel room in Cheticamp…


Last song! Real Big Fan. Save the fun for last!


Real Big Fan done! Sounds bluesy and amazing. What an incredible day. Just took a few photos with the band.

Keyboard player staying to record a few more overdubs.


Keyboard player has added tweaks to Real Big Fan and fantastic B3 organ to Wondrous Journey.

Now adding more string parts to You Are. I really appreciate the detailed approach these musicians take. The whole song can sound amazing, and they’ll say, “Hey, can we go back so I can replay the 3rd bar of the 2nd chorus? I can do something better there to lift that section.


Polishing the piano solo on Living Manna.


Done! What a day. This has gone beyond our expectations.

Returning tomorrow for a few tweaks and just to make sure we’ve got everything covered.

Growing Through Lent - Read the Bible

(This Lent, my Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, and I are co-blogging! You can find our posts every Monday at my Blog and Dad’s Blog. Visit, comment, share, and most importantly, feel free to join us in the journey.)

“Don’t get hung up on the actual words in the Bible;
get hung up on the messages conveyed
by the words of the Bible.”

“Treat the Bible like any other book,
and you will discover it’s not like any other book.”

The church encourages us to read the Bible daily, and extra during Lent.

The Book of Alternative Services (BAS) - the contemporary prayer book of the Anglican Church of Canada - invites us to have a holy Lent “by reading and meditating on the word of God.”
This means more than just speed reading the text. It entails thinking about the passage, searching for its message, and then applying it to our daily living. Some may recall having to memorize the Sunday prayer or collect (BAS page 391) which assured us that the Bible was “written for our learning,” and we need to “hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” Holy Scriptures.

For Christians, the four Gospels are the foundation of faith. It describes the life of Jesus Christ - his birth, youth and adult years, culminating in his death, resurrection and ascension. It also contains the teachings of Jesus – describing what God is like, and providing principles upon which people should model their lives mirroring the Master’s example.
The other New Testament writings, mostly letters, attempt to clarify the teachings of Jesus and answer practical questions posed by adherents of the newly found faith. The writers, recognizing the persecution being unleashed towards the Christians, encouraged them to remain faithful and stay the course. God has not abandoned them and in the final analysis, they will receive their eternal reward.

The Old Testament rounds out the triad or trinity of scriptures. It gives an account of our human development and illustrates how religion, culture, politics and history are often interwoven in the lives of people – sometimes too much. Yet to understand where we are now, we need to delve into the past to decipher how God acts and reacts with humans.

We are suggesting that you read John’s Gospel during Lent - maybe reading the last chapters first in order to better understand what Jesus did, and how his life and teaching reflected why he did what he did.
As always, we encourage your thoughts
in the comment space below.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recording Photos!!

I've posted photos from our Nashville recording sessions!

You can find them on our SITE or FACEBOOK PAGE.

We'll post more next week after the band sessions.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Not-So-Live Studio Blogging - Day 3!


Back for one more guitar track before Monday. Recording Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone.) Singing it live for Denny while he charts it.

This morning, a guy was playing bagpipes outside Tara and Kyle’s apartment for St. Paddy’s Day. Wishing we had him here right about now…


Denny is setting Gerald up in the booth to record the guitar track. Using the Bourgeois, but tuned down half a step. Going to sound really warm.


Choosing the exact tempo using the metronome. This is one of those things you do instinctively live, but you need to nail down precisely for recording.


Guitar track done and gorgeous! Going to record scratch vocal now.


Vocal done. Love singing this song together! I’m so glad we decided to include it on the CD.

Ready for the band on Monday morning!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

I found a 4 leaf clover on
St. Patrick's Day!!

Talk about luck o' the Irish!

(I'll post our next studio update tonight.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Not-So-Live Studio Blogging - Day 2!


The rain is still coming down! We’re back at the studio for another day of guitar tracks and scratch vocals. Charting all the songs for the day. Denny is loving Gerald’s chord choices on the originals and the covers.

All the band charts will be written in the Nashville Number System. I’ve written about that before, but the quick review: NNS uses numbers to signify the chord changes. It's used extensively in Nashville studios, and allows the band to learn songs quickly and change keys easily. Instead of pages of sheet music, each player has only one piece of paper covered in numbers, lines, and diamond shapes to signify the shape of the song. Their own creativity fills in all the musicality of the piece.


“Great songs are a combination of the surprising and the familiar.”


Starting with the guitar track for Infinitely More, recorded on the Bourgeois (steel stringed acoustic guitar). We’ve tweaked a few little things in the guitar arrangement – going to give it some great energy!

Using mics on this guitar, so Denny is in the futzing stage again, trying to glean the best possible sound for the guitar.


So, we did the guitar track, started to sing along and realized, “This is way too fast!” Just sat with the metronome for a bit, and we’ve taken it back 6 beats per minute. Much better! Feels like a groove song now. Gerald is back in the booth to record the guitar again. Better to find out now and redo it than get to the vocal recording sessions and find it’s too fast.


Track done and the groove is perfect! Time to record a scratch vocal. Gerald and I will do this in the booth together.


Vocal done! Love recording the parts in the same booth, sharing one mic. It feels more like singing live. Might do some of this when we're doing the final vocal tracks.


Lunch break!


Afternoon session! Starting with How Great Thou Art. Double checking notes and chords on the chart. We want to do our own arrangement while honouring the original.


Just laid down a guide vocal for Gerald as he does a few takes of the guitar for How Great Thou Art. We do this song a lot live, so it’s interesting making the small tweaks to make it sound great in a recording.


Gerald and I going in the booth to record scratch vocal for How Great Thou Art.


Moving on to Real Big Fan. Yes, that’s the title song of my first CD. When Gerald wrote it, I heard it as a jazz song, which is how we recorded it first. Now, we’ll record Gerald’s bluesy, old school R&B version.


Taking a while to work out the chart on Real Big Fan – no simple chord progressions in this one!


Ready to record Real Big Fan now. It’ll be as close as we can get to live-off-the-floor. Gerald will record the guitar without a click, and record the vocal at the same time. I’ll jump in the booth to do my harmonies at the same time. Just choosing the right guitar patch for the electric guitar. Getting wild in here!


Well after all that, we’ve decided to ditch the track and actually do it live off the floor on Monday! It’ll give it a real jam band feel.

Denny’s making the chart now for I Wanna Make Some Noise. This will also be done live off the floor with the band on Monday.


I Wanna Make Some Noise is gonna rock! Just reworked it Black Gospel style. So excited to hear the band work this up!


Two songs to go! Moving on to Wondrous Journey. Gerald is sharing the story behind the song while Denny works up the chart.


Chart ready to go. Locking down the guitar vibe. Ready to go in the booth to do the scratch vocal.


After working on Wondrous Journey, we're rethinking how we're going to record it. Originally, I was going to sing the verses. But we've changed the vibe, so maybe Gerald would be a better fit? How does this affect the vocal balance of the CD? We need to take a second look at things....

Heading off for dinner to discuss. Coming back to the studio tomorrow to finish up the final guitar tracks in prep for Monday.

A great day's work!

Really looking forward to hearing how this all sounds with the band.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Not-So-Live Studio Blogging!

I’m writing today from the studio of Denny Martin Music, for the first day of recording our Infinitely More CD! This is the studio we visited to record Gerald’s songwriting demos, so we know we’re in good hands.

My plan was to do some live blogging these days with lots of Facebook updates, but Denny’s wifi is being fussy.

Plan B: Not-So-Live Blogging!

I’ll be writing all day. You won’t be able to follow live, but if you keep reading, you’ll be able to enjoy a play-by-play of today’s recording experience!

So, here we go!


After catching up with Denny, we’re starting the day with A Prayer Will Find You. Denny is checking the chart he’s created from Gerald’s guitar/vocal demo. They’re running the song, confirming the chords and timing on the chart match what Gerald is playing.


Chart done – time to record the guitar track. Today, our goal is to record 6 guitar tracks and their corresponding scratch vocals. The ‘scratch vocal’ is a one-take vocal that will serve to guide the band when they come in to record their parts on Monday. We’ll ‘scratch’ that later and record the final vocals in Toronto.

Gerald is setting up in the booth. He’ll play this song on his new nylon stringed Taylor. Denny is using mics on the guitar.

Side note: Stunning day here in Nashville! Sunny, blue sky, green grass, daffodils blooming, and leaves starting to emerge. Spring seems like the perfect time to record a new project – creativity is in the air.


First take done. Gerald’s playing sounds great. Readjusting headphones and mic to get a better guitar sound overall. Getting set for a second take.

Micing a guitar is so tricky – you want to hear the live sound of the guitar, without hearing breathing, finger noise, the arm draped over the guitar, toes tapping, or the chair squeaking.


Still futzing with mics. This is fussy work, but once this is taken care of, the rest of the nylon string songs will be a breeze. This is the tortoise part of the day…


Sounding really good. Going to try one more take using the pick up. This means no mics – just plugging in and recording.


A Prayer Will Find You – done! Now that we’re set up, things will move much more quickly.

Moving on to Living Manna. Adding an instrumental solo verse between verses two and three – probably for the pianist on Monday. Also recording this on the nylon strings.


Going in the booth for my scratch vocal…


Scratch vocal done. Gerald is doing a second take, using my first vocal. This is sounding so pretty!


Lunch break!


Back at it! Setting up for There is a Voice. This is one of three super-new songs on the album. Using nylon string Taylor again, but going through a pedal to create a different sound than the first two songs.


Gerald is playing these songs to a ‘click track.’ This is a metrical beat that keeps the tempo steady throughout the song. The click is used in recording to make sure all the players are keeping the same pulse – very useful since players can rarely see each other in the studio. It gives the engineer a clean grid upon which to layer parts. It also makes it easier for musicians to add new parts later in the process. Instead of listening to the push and pull of the original musicians, they only need to follow the steady click of the track.

Not all recordings use a click (we didn’t for “Hymns in the Key of Grace” because we wanted a live, spontaneous feel), but since we’re adding more musicians next week, the click will be really helpful in making everyone sound like a cohesive band.


There is a Voice done! Moving on to You Are – the new song Gerald wrote for me to sing. Denny is building the chart based on Gerald’s demo.

Debating about whether or not to use the click on this one.

Denny is talking in numbers – nice 1 over 3… so you go to the 5 there… you’re playing 1-4-1 there, right?

Jumping back in the booth to record my scratch.


Trying a take now with the click. I was booted from the booth, so Gerald and I will record the duo part of our scratch together.


Trying another guitar take where Gerald will play along with himself. May use one, may use both – just experimenting.


Espresso and ping-pong break! Yes, we did bring our espresso maker with us – wanna make something of it?


Back at it with scratch vocals for You Are, A Prayer Will Find You, and There is a Voice.


We’ve made a decision to record I Wanna Make Some Noise with the band. Instead of recording the guitar part in advance, it’ll all be handled live on Monday. We may do the same with Real Big Fan. Takes a bit of pressure off today and tomorrow, but adds a bit of pressure for Monday.

Final song of the day: You Take Me Higher. Recording on the Taylor T5 (acoustic/electric blend guitar) with pedal.

Weather update: Instead of chirping birds, we’re hearing rain and thunder. Welcome to Nashville...


Debating the tempo of You Take Me Higher. Fine line between great energy and manic worship. Think we found it at 144 beats per minute.


Gerald and I going in the booth together to do the scratch for You Take Me Higher.


Good day’s work! Now to brave the rain, prep for tomorrow, and get a good night’s sleep.

Check back tomorrow evening for
Not-So-Live Blogging on Day 2 in the studio!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Nashville!!

Perfect drive through Ohio, Kentucky, and into Tennessee....

Arrived in sunny, spring-filled Nashville...

Hugged our friends...

Stuffed ourselves with BBQ...

Ran our songs for tomorrow...

11 hours til we're in the studio...

Prayers appreciated!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Our Way to Nashville!

I’m writing tonight from our cozy hotel room in Troy, Ohio - about halfway between Toronto and Nashville.

Today was a perfect day for driving - clear weather, little traffic, short wait at the border, and scenery that got greener by the mile. (You can tell I’m in the States cause I said ‘mile’!)

Tomorrow, the beautiful part of the drive - Kentucky into Tennessee, and straight into Nashville.

In 36 hours, we’ll be in the studio,
starting work on our new Infinitely More CD!


But first, a good night’s sleep awaits...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Through Lent - Pray

(This Lent, my Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, and I are co-blogging! You can find our posts every Monday at my Blog and Dad’s Blog. Visit, comment, share, and most importantly, feel free to join us in the journey.)

Rarely does a daily paper mention the word “prayer” or its effect in people’s lives. However, when praying gets mentioned twice on the same day, we must take notice.

The two stories were featured in the INSIGHT section of the Toronto Star on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

The first related to eco-warrior Wiebo Ludwig in Alberta, who was talking about his approaching death. He said, “I’m not a person who has had small prayers. I’ve asked for major things to change my life and the lives of those I’m with. I’m not disappointed.”

The other story - 10 Lessons From a Near-Death Experience – tells what happened to reporter Kathleen Kenna. She was covering the war in Afghanistan for the Toronto Star when a bomb was thrown at her car. She received extensive injuries, and has gone through “dozens of surgeries on three continents.” She said, being “near-death taught me a few things,” such as love heals all, faith transcends the darkness, hope is essential, and life should be celebrated.

She told God that she was not ready to die and maintains that her “strong faith in God has kept me optimistic.” Forcing herself to concentrate on “ONE. SMALL.THING.” that made life worth living was the simple daily prayer she offered as she was going through months of pain and disability.

Both stories speak of the power of prayer in living life on this Earth.

Since the Church calls us to improve our praying during Lent, here is a “Prayer Exercise” that may help you achieve that goal.


Firstly, don’t look for the ideal place or time to pray - do it anywhere safe.

Secondly, imagine you are alone with God – spend a short time enjoying the relationship.

Thirdly, pray the five aspects of prayer, naming situations and people from your own life:

  1. PRAISE – say wonderful things to God;
  2. THANKSGIVING – thank God for who you are and what you have;
  3. FORGIVENESS – recall when you have fallen short of God’s expectation for you, allow yourself to feel sorry for your actions, and ask for God’s forgiveness;
  4. PRAYING FOR OTHERS – name people and situations for whom you want God’s help;
  5. PRAYING FOR YOURSELF – ask God to help you as you travel through life.

Fourthly, pray at least once per day.

Fifthly, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New Taylor Guitar!!!

Gerald is in bliss!
We've just purchased a brand new guitar!

It's a gorgeous nylon stringed Taylor - the NS34ce.

Click HERE for a little iPhone video of Gerald and the new "baby"

Monday, March 05, 2012

Growing Through Lent - Examine Your Life

(This Lent, my Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, and I are co-blogging! You can find our posts every Monday at my Blog and Dad’s Blog. Visit, comment, share, and most importantly, feel free to join us in the journey.)

Part of what defines our humanity is
our desire to examine and understand our life.
It separates us from other forms of creation.

In the 3rd century BC, the philosopher Socrates stated
The unexamined life is not worth living.

In the Bible, the writer of Lamentations proposed
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.
(Lamentations 3:40 NIV)

After Jesus lived, died, and rose again, St. Paul advocated
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.
(2 Corinthians 13:5a NIV)

What better time than Lent - a season of fasting and spiritual exploration - to look at our lives and examine how we’re moving through this experience called Life.

One of the most important tools for examining your life is to find silence. In the Gospels, there are several stories of Jesus seeking silence when things got too busy. He would often rise early and find a quiet place to pray and think.

Spending time in silence can be intimidating for many of us. For others, it’s just hard to find any quiet in our loud, highly stimulating culture.

Here are a few ideas for finding silence in a busy world:

Rise earlier than usual and spend a few minutes alone in a quiet space in your house. If the weather cooperates, go for a walk or sit outside. Think on the challenges you may face today, and how you may best respond to them.

Most churches are open during the weekdays. Visit a sanctuary and soak in the silence.

Spending time by the water is always calming and inspiring to the mind and soul. There’s nothing like sitting beside the ocean to feel the unique tension between power and frailty. If your environment allows, find some quiet time to sit by a lake, pond, river, or other body of water. If not, sit and visualize a scene of yourself sitting by the water.

At the end of your day, turn off the TV thirty minutes earlier than usual. Sitting on the comfort of your couch, reflect on your day. Where did you experience God today?

Art galleries, museums, and even some libraries provide a glorious combination of silence and beauty. Allow yourself to breathe in this rich atmosphere and see what thoughts are inspired.

Labyrinths are an ancient practice of walking and meditation. Use an internet search to find one in your area, and explore this unique spiritual experience.

As you begin to find and create pockets of silence in your day, your thoughts will drift over your family, your occupation, your choices, your friends, your faith, your blessings, your passions, your losses, and every other part of your life. Be sure to carry a journal, notepad, cell phone, or tablet to capture your thoughts and prayers during this exploration. Review your notes every few weeks to reveal connections, changes, growths, and gratitude.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

New Photos!

I've just posted photos from our Fireside Concert!

You can find them on our site or our Facebook page.