Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - What Worship Leaders Can Learn From Wedding DJs...

Last week, this article appeared in the Toronto Star.

The basic idea behind the article is that many new couples are choosing to program their own wedding playlist instead of hiring a professional DJ. The bride and groom load up their iPod with their favourite songs, and ask a willing guest to run the list throughout the night.

As someone who chose to have a friend make our wedding video, and as someone who will go through life with no wedding video, I'm a fan of hiring professionals to do professional jobs on your big day. But I digress...

The reasons for not hiring a DJ ran from budget to simplifying the wedding process, but the biggest reason was music choice.

"Outside of the budget-conscious, the couples most likely to program their own playlist tend to have — as (DJ Scott) Rideout puts it — 'specific tastes.'"

Couples want a particular kind of music, only their favourite songs, played throughout the evening. It makes sense on first glance, but this is the statement that really caught my eye:

“Generally, I find those people try to cater to a smaller number of people and don’t look at the big picture,” Rideout said. “You’ve got a room of 100 people — 
you want 100 people to know the songs you’re playing.”

Wow. My mind flashed to the many conversations I've had with worship leaders and music directors.

In most churches, the music director will have the job of choosing all the music for Sunday morning. There may be input and consultation with clergy, but the main direction for a congregation's song choice will often come from one person.

What happens when that one person allows their personal taste 
to dominate the musical voice of a congregation?

I've talked with music directors who only want hymns, from one specific hymnal. I've chatted with worship leaders who only choose songs from the CCLI Top 20 list. I've met others who insist that their congregation only likes Country, or refuses to listen to Jazz, or some other genre prejudice.

But here's the truth: 
You want your 100 (or 10 or 1000) people on Sunday to know the songs you're playing.

I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't introduce new music or stretch our musical boundaries - anyone familiar with our Infinitely More ministry knows that we're big fans of creating and sharing new music. And yes, the personal taste, knowledge, and skill set of any worship leader will always affect the music we play. But we need to think about all 100 people when we're planning our songs for worship. They may not 'know' every song, but wouldn't it be great if they could at least find one song that connects with them personally in worship?

Do you have folks in your congregation who love hymns? Include some. 
New worship songs? Teach some of those too. 
Do you have children in your worship? Make sure there's a song for them. 
Do you have songwriters? How could their music influence your worship?

Music style influences worship, but no one style dictates or defines worship. 
All music styles can be used for worship when directed towards God.

What I'm proposing definitely makes our jobs harder. Searching multiple sources, creating new music, finding fresh ways to play ancient songs, performing a variety of styles, and being cognizant of the full diversity of your congregation is a lot of work. But here's the payoff: at the end of Sunday worship, the Soccer Mom, the Overworked CEO, the Rebel Teen, the Kind Grandmother, the Struggling Doubter, the Tween, the Lifelong Faithful, the Visitor, the Flag Waver, and the Prayerbook Defender can all leave saying, "I felt connected in that worship. That song... That song was for me."

Let's rise to the challenge. We can't please all the people all the time, but perhaps, by expanding our own personal palette, we can create a musical voice that represents our full church family, draws us closer into worship, and brings joy to God.

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Infinitely More named Stonebridge Guitar Artists!

Yesterday, we shared the story of our recent Guitar Hunt. 
You can read all the details HERE.

Today, we're sharing the awesome conclusion!

As we searched and played, Gerald discovered a guitar he'd never heard of before: Stonebridge.

We hadn't seen them in any stores (and we visited a lot!) yet we saw them in videos, played by master finger-style guitarists.

A quick Google search uncovered the story behind these European gems. Only in North America for less than a decade, Stonebridge Guitars are distributed in a handful of select, boutique guitar stores. Some of the stores even feature an appointment-only policy. Fortunately, their North American distribution - Brickhouse Guitars - is only an hour from us.

It was a short trip from Discovery to Love. Gorgeous handcrafted instruments with stunning tone and playability. The search for our dream guitar had ended.

It wasn't long before we discovered the Artist Collaboration Program and filled out our application.

We're proud to announce that Infinitely More 
is the newest Stonebridge Artist!

Infinitely More, with our new band member! 

We're honoured to represent this wonderful guitar, and can't wait to add its beautiful sound to our live shows.

Elegant and beautiful! 

It's a stunning instrument - rich cedar top, master grade shimmering koa sides and back, paduak binding and appointments.

The light shimmers off the stunning koa!

The sound is incredible, but when we sang with it, and heard its tone blend with our voices, well, that was just magic. We brought it home on Tuesday and it's already inspired at least one new song!

Deep cutaway and simple inlays add the perfect finishing touches.

What an awesome end to our Guitar Hunt! 

We hope you'll come out to see our new guitar at an upcoming event.

In the meantime, we're off to make some great music with the newest member of our band...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - The Guitar Hunt!

"I want a new guitar."

Common words from a guitar player like Gerald, but when he said it this spring, I knew something was in the air.

Years ago, Gerald found a stunningly beautiful Martin Simpson Bourgeois guitar. This handmade instrument has a rich tone and moving sound. It's so special, it's actually featured in 1001 Guitars to Dream of Playing Before You Die.

The Bourgeois guitar as featured on Be Thou My Vision (How The Light Gets In)

But we're not playing the Bourgeois live. We just drove it 9767 KM throughout the East Coast, and it barely left its case.

"I want to sell the Bourgeois, and buy a new cornerstone acoustic guitar for us."

So, the hunt began.

We've bought a number of instruments and lots of gear since we first met, and nothing, nothing has been as intensive as this guitar search.

It started in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, where we met this charming limited edition Taylor. Only 75 were made, exclusively for Long & McQuade. Mahogany body with a burgundy finish and maple leaf inlays in the fretboard. Lovely.

Limited edition Taylor in Dartmouth

We visited stores in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. At each one we played Taylors, Martins, Breedloves, Collings, and all kinds of locally made treasures. (We actually played 3 of the 75 limited edition Taylors as we visited Long & McQuades across the country. The Dartmouth one is best.)

A few weeks in, we visited Musicfest at Cosmo Music. There, we attended the Taylor road show, getting an education on the various effects of body shape and tone woods on the sound of each guitar. We spent the better part of the day with the Taylor reps, playing instruments and hearing stories about how their guitars are made.

Taylor Guitars road show

Later in the day, we were introduced to Cole Clark guitars. These gorgeous instruments are made in Australia, primarily with indigenous woods. Interesting look and great sound.

Trying Cole Clark Guitars at Cosmo

Our search began to occupy all our waking thoughts. At home, Gerald was pouring over hours and hours of Youtube videos. He watched finger-style superstars like Don Ross and Calum Graham to see what they're playing. He studied guitar manufacturing, and the fascinating work of Andy Powers, who's using techniques used on violins and cellos to bring a new sound to Taylor guitars.

We began visiting guitar stores all around Southern Ontario. Every day we found a new one. No store was too big or too small to be excluded from our search. Along the way, we found fantastic stores, each one owned and staffed by people with a passion for guitars. As we played close to 100 guitars, we began to narrow down our requirements of size, shape, tone ...

At one point in the search, we realized that we weren't just looking for a guitar - it was like we were searching for a 3rd member for our band. Since our live concert is basically guitar and two voices, we needed an instrument that wasn't just beautiful sounding. It also needed to fit into our blend. It will shape and influence our sound, our vibe, and our creativity.

The hunt continued....

We discovered The Guitar Shop in Mississauga. The search was narrowing to the new line of maple Taylors. We sampled and played, and started to weigh our options.

Waves of guitars at The Guitar Shop

The Acoustic Room in Hamilton had only opened a few days earlier. We played Taylors and more Cole Clarks in this gorgeous, intimate store.

The Acoustic Room - worth the drive to Hamilton

We finally found ourselves in Brickhouse Guitars in Kitchener. Probably the smallest store we visited but one that held the biggest surprise...

Guitar dreaming at Brickhouse Guitars...

What did we find at Brickhouse Guitars? 
Will we ever find our dream guitar?
Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting conclusion, 
and our big news!!!

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Worships Wednesdays on Vacation!

Well, technically it's a STAYcation! 

We had an amazing time on our recent East Coast Tour, 
and now as the song goes, we're 'home for a rest.'

You can see photos from the tour on our SITE and FACEBOOK page.

We'll be back next week with a brand new post...

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - Our 5th East Coast Tour is Complete!

For the first time in over 2 months, I'm writing you from the comfort of my own home.

Our 5th annual East Coast Tour was an amazing experience, 
filled with music, stories, adventures, and yes, lots and lots of driving!

Here are the numbers:

Thanks to everyone who supported this tour in any way. 
We couldn't do any of this without you!

See you in 2016!

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!