Bleh (2011 Feb 8)

So, at 34 weeks pregnant I could well decide in the future to excuse this whole post under the banner of hormones.  It has been an awful day.  Got up on the wrong side of the bed, barked up wrong trees, and spent the rest of the afternoon sobbing :(

 

The outcome was that I decided I needed to practice guitar because tomorrow I am leading at the lunch time prayer meeting and bombing there is not going to help my sense of well being in any way, shape or form.  I finished preparing my set list and then decided to indulge in the recording of a sad-ish song.  Just needed to.  One thing led to another and I ended up doing three tracks – one with guitar and main vocal, one with a lower harmony, sung by my imaginary friend Big Bertha, and one sung by my invisible friend Hilda Higher.  I have never been very good at making up names.  This is part of the reason I am in the Nonfiction stream at Uni – my fictional characters end up being called Sally, Shelley, Polly and Molly.  So anyway, that is what you will be listening to today.

 

This morning I re-tweeted two of Rick Warren’s tweets – one said something about no one is allowed to control my emotions unless I give them permission, and the second was telling me to use my head when managing myself, and use my heart when managing others.  I don’t know an awful lot about Rick Warren, but he does provoke thought in me, so I keep following him.  Today’s blues actually came as a result of using my heart to deal with someone, which, if you ask me, is hard to do unless you also then give them permission to mess with your emotions.  I don’t know.  What evs is all I’ve got right now.

 

Tomorrow I believe I will be joined by Michele the percussionist/sound-chick and Kayi, a guitar-playing friend and wife of Mark, the worship pastor.  The set list is:

-Mighty To Save

-Lord Reign in Me

-Everything

-Surrender

-Amazed

-Once Again

 

Okay, Bye.

Sunday Swim (2011 Feb 2)

So it is now Wednesday and I have just about recovered from an epic weekend.  On Thursday we had Worship Practice – where I was officially BVing but granted the grace to strum along, this time plugged in, but only into my own in-ears.  Before and during practice the Converse team was setting up for our Creative Prayer night the following night.  Tom and I were also a part of that team, so we were doing a bit of both.

 

At the same time, the production team was running a Live Video Course, to prepare a team for when we move into VC2 and might need Live Video during sessions.  This was a little bit scary because they were practicing on us, the band as we practiced our songs.  So all of a sudden I would hear “Camera two close up on Jacinta”, which, if we are honest, is always going to cause us to wonder what we look like on the big screen, and if we are pulling ugly singing faces or whatever – I had to try very hard to ignore them.

 

Friday was spent setting up VC1 for Converse – it was a fantastically creative, yet low-key and chilled out evening.  I will have to write a separate post about that one.

 

I must admit that after spending the whole day setting up, when we actually opened I found myself gravitating at the worship station simply for the reason that I could snuggle into a chair.  I don’t think I even sang much.

 

Tom & Mark, our staff Worship leaders have set up a new initiative that Tom and I are referring to as Operation Female Worship Leader.  Our church previously had two very strong female worship leaders but they both happened to leave Hong Kong last summer, so that left us with zero female leaders.  We do have a few BVers who are experienced and have been deemed ready to be trained up not just to lead a song vocally, but to direct the band and connect with the congregation.  Three have been selected at this point, and each will be paired with an experienced male worship leader sansei.

 

I have been blessed to be chosen as a candidate, but cannot be paired with Tom, because he is my husband and we are unlikely to come out the other end of the experience unscathed.  I can’t really be paired with Mark because I am Mark’s boss’s wife, and that could possibly be awkward, so I have been paired with Glen – a wonderful worship leader with an awesome voice and a big-brotherly aura that I feel very comfortable with the idea of working with.  I believe we will be rotating mentors later on down the line, but for now this seems to be a really good start!

 

Jackie Pullinger was our guest speaker at church on Sunday – it was a real honour to share the stage with her, as well as intimidating, if you have been in a room with Jackie and her team you will know why.  We ran through our set as practiced for the first service:

Happy Day (Hughes)

Everlasting God (Brown)

Our God (Hillsong)

This is Love (Reads!)

 

But during the second service (and I believe this was an on-the-spot decision) Tom threw Holy Holy Holy in between the last two songs, and motioned to me to lead it.  What?!  Thanks Tom! Are you sure?  Was that just a nervous twitch?

 

These are the things one wants to clarify at a moment like that, but because of the moment one is completely unable to.  I had no choice but to go for it and keep half an eye on Tom to see if I was getting the ‘shut up!’ signal.  I wasn’t.  He really had chucked me in the deep end.

 

By the grace of God I managed to swim.  It is really quite crazy how all of a sudden you can find yourself completely doubting your knowledge of the lyrics.  I have always considered myself a lyrics girl, and I often tease Tom at the his ability to forget lyrics to the songs he has written.

 

Anyway, it all went well, and Tom did shoot me the ‘shut up!’ glance when we got to the chorus because he wanted the church to hear themselves, but he later assured me that I had followed his instructions well and he was pleased with my effort.  Phewf!

 

Okay, this post is getting long so I will stop now and go and do some Uni work.

 

Bye!

PS – the arbitrary pic theme continues.

Tired but Happy (2011 Jan 21)

It’s been a busy day but all good and I will spare you the details because I feel a medium-long post coming on.

 

First the technical stuff:  I’ve done two rounds of my finger flexing exercise.  The whole of my left arm hurts and I am believing this to be a good thing.  The MP3s for today consist of Blues Rhythm & a Pentatonic Pattern from the teach yourself book.  I haven’t done anything for notation today other than purchase a manuscript paper notebook from the plaza.

 

I had a coffee (and by coffee I mean Appletiser) with two of my lovely girlfriends this afternoon.  One of these lovely ladies is also a BV singer, and wife of a worship leader.  She took a moment to encourage me on my efforts regarding Project Sweet Sound.  This led me to realise that other than stating the general premise for this project, I haven’t really shared much of the heart behind it yet.

 

Fundamentally the heart of the issue really is a desire to worship God, and more specifically, to improve on my own personal ability to worship God musically, in confidence and eventually (I hope) with excellence.  I am doing it here because I need something tangible to work with, and a place to (again hopefully) record my progress.

 

I believe I have had the desire to worship God through music for as long as I have been a Christian (about 16 yrs now).  Music has always been a huge part of my life, and since understanding the concept of worship, it has become something somewhat bitter-sweet.

 

It is totally sweet because of the almost unexplainable element that music can add to one’s God-journey, and sometimes bitter because of the inadequacy, insecurity and seemingly hopeless desire for more that I experienced along the way.  I remember after being at my first Christian camp, hearing the band play and thinking if only one day I could aspire to being a backup vocalist in a church band… if only if only, then I would have found my place.  That took about a year to happen, and in all honesty, it took another year after that for me to actually stop just mouthing the words, and sing out loud.  I’m not entirely sure how I got onto the team in the first place…maybe the young worship leader who recommended me had ulterior motives….

 

So I have been singing BVs all along, about 15 years now… and somewhere along the way I thought it would be cool to be able to worship at home with a guitar.  That soon evolved into a desire to be able to lead a small group… and finally, not so long ago I had to just admit that although BVing is fantastic, I had set my sights on another progression.

 

You have to understand that I am married to a worship leader who is gifted to the Nth degree.  I attend a church that is brimming with talent enough to send any less-naturally-talented hopeful running for cover.  None of it is done in a spirit of competition, but if you consider the fragile human condition, it is easy to see how difficult it can be sometimes to allow the tiniest seed of a dream the space and time to germinate.

 

I appear to be waffling along here, and now that I think about it I don’t actually know what I am getting at exactly.  I think all this is to simply say that getting even to this point has not been a rash decision.  I have tried numerous times to deny the desire to worship through music, but that has never worked.  I have also tried to settle for leaving things as they were for the sake of saving potential embarrassment and avoid rocking any boats, but that also has been peaceless.  So, here I am, just trying something else.

 

If this resonates with anyone else, I would encourage you to give moving forward a go.  So far it has been incredibly rewarding.

Ah, what the heck? (2011 Jan 19)

Tom the Husband took my iPad to work with him today, so that means no OnSong for me and that means less than eager desire to play guitar for very long at all.  I have become an OnSong snob and there is nothing I am willing to do about it.

 

I had The World’s Most Productive day today though – sorted out family budget, did semester planning, wrote double digit number of pages of Creative for Uni, quality time with Layla the Girl, and opened a couple weeks worth of mail.

 

All of that productivity makes me think I need to be more purposeful with Project Sweet Sound.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to just amble along like this for much longer before some careful planning began a wanting.

 

I would like to get my hands on the Worship Central Worship book asap, and see if I can be a guinea pig for that, but until then, I will need something else to guide my quest.

 

I have two books that I will follow for now, as well as practicing lots of worship songs.  The first is a teach-yourself-acoustic guitar type of number.  I actually find I can learn from books… well, maybe I should wait to see what you out there on the Interwebs think of that statement.

 

The second book is on the craft of Songwriting.  I purchased this book in the middle of the night from a 24hr Barnes& Nobel on Broadway, NYC.  Gosh, that sounds SO flippin cool!  I was super jetlagged and Tom and Layla were asleep so off I went, and came back with this book.  I love it to bits, and want very much to digest and apply every single thing written in it.  I have just hit the chapter on learning to WRITE music, as in, notation.  This is a scary thought for a dyslexic girl like Jacinta the Dyslexic, but you know what?  I figure I’m already taking on the near impossible in life as it is (toddler, baby, masters, work, art, guitar) so what does it really matter in the grand scheme of things if I throw learning to read and write music into the mix?  We shall see.

 

So what I’m saying is, every day I will:

  • Do that annoyingly painful hand-stretching exercise (will upload a recording asap) TWICE DAILY
  • Do at least one page of the teach yourself book
  • Play through three worship songs
  • Practice some reading/writing of the musical language

 

Nice things of the day:  Tom requested my lyrical assistance on a song he was recording a demo of.  This was nice because I like Tom, I like lyrics, and I like being needed :)

 

The pic for today is a self-photographed shot of me wearing an oxygen mask after dog induced allergic attack during third trimester of Layla the Girl.  For no reason.

 

Oh crumbs, it appears that my website has now gone online!  Eek!  Be nice everyone.  Be nice.

Relaxing into the flow of the year (2011 Jan 17)

Guitar-wise things are going much better this week.  I was rostered on to BV at church last night, so I got a guitar and strummed along while singing during practice – couldn’t plug in for some technical reason I can’t remember, but at least I felt like I was playing with the band, although since I couldn’t hear myself I looked down at one point and found my fingers on completely the wrong strings (!), but at the very least at least my calluses are thickening.  Yes, I am an optimist.  One problem was that I was finding it very tiring to stand up for the whole of practice, so had to have a chair on stage next to me.  I’m in the third trimester now, so that’s normal I suppose.  I didn’t actually play the guitar for church, just practice only.  Tom is wonderful at humouring my desire to pretend :)

 

On Friday night I had to bail on a good friend’s leaving party due to morning sickness + a cold.  I came home and rested, and then found myself alone with creative space and motivated to finish off a couple of half-written songs.  As a notorious non-finisher I am very happy about this, and have my little garageband demos to listen to and refine.  I am not at the point of confidence/insanity to upload those yet, but maybe one day.

 

One of the songs I worked on was not a worship song, the other one is.  The latter is a chorus-less hymn sort of thing that actually fits quite nicely with the oldie-but-goodie “In my life Lord, be glorified, be glorified”… so I have been using those chords to practice some finger picking.  Will upload some of that later.

 

Currently fighting the temptation to pick at my calluses.  They are nice and crusty and really trying my self-control.

 

At this point in history my website is password locked out of fear of man.  I think it’s going to be time to take the plunge and actually make this thing readable soon….but not quite yet…

Okay Seriously (2011 Jan 14)

The truth of the matter is I haven’t actually kicked off very successfully.  I have been fighting a couple of issues…

  • I am really quite nervous about launching this thing onto the big line we call the Internet.  Seriously, what if this goes viral for all the wrong reasons?!
  • The weird cold/dry weather caused my freshly callused finger tip to literally split open, making it almost impossible to play for the last week.

 

Anyway, I’m back now, and about to sit down to have a good go of it.  Check ya laterz.

 

PS – I find it quite difficult to ignore the placeholder pic that iWeb gives me, so I will be filling it with arbitrary pics.  This one is of me in 2008, pregnant and sleepy, before my allergies caused us to have to re-home our pug.

PPS – This song was recorded about 2 weeks ago.

PPPS – what does PS stand for?

Off We Go! (2011 Jan 6)

Today I practiced for 30 minutes.  The songs I focused on were:

 

Holy is the Lord (Tomlin)

Beautiful (Wickham)

Hosanna (Fraser)

None But Jesus (Fraser)

 

I didn’t feel like singing at all because I had to concentrate too hard on my hands.  I am now playing on my brother’s Gibson, which has an incredibly wide fret board, so my annoyingly little hands have a lot of work to do.  My theory is that if I practice on this guitar, which is really hard work, then perhaps when it comes time to playing on the church Taylor, then it will be easier and my hands will be more than strong enough.  No idea if there is any truth to this theory, maybe I’m just going to stuff up my hands on a poorly matched instrument, but we shall see.  There is something nice about playing on one’s big brother’s guitar :)

Small Beginnings (2010 Dec 31)

Here is the premise for this blog: I will endeavor to learn how to lead Christian worship on the acoustic guitar. I am going to set myself the goal of faithfully blogging the process for one year, mostly because that’s what everyone else seems to do, but also because I do not want to fizzle out before I get anywhere.

Now to Introduce Myself:

– 31 yr old female

– 27 weeks pregnant with second child. First child is a gorgeous 20-month old girl.

– Married to a ridiculously good looking and hugely gifted worship leader.

– No assumptions should be made on the above mentioned husband’s ability to teach his wife/his wife’s ability to learn from her husband.  (Up until now, hopefully things can change!)

– Currently one semester into my Masters degree in Creative Writing.

– Brought up in a musical family but did not manage to stick with any one instrument for very long at all.

– Been part of my church worship team for over 15 years, singing as a BV.

– Small amount of experience with Piano, Cello, Saxophone, Harmonica, Guitar.

– First played bass guitar at the age of 13. Quit within one year.

– Blame dyslexia for my inability to read music.

– Had one acoustic guitar lesson 10 yrs ago. Little progress has been made since.

– Out of pure lack of options I have been allowed the chance to lead worship a couple of times at small prayer meetings, women’s groups and bible studies.

– Not really aspiring to be a big-time worship leader necessarily, hope to be able to play and sing at home alone without ending every session in frustration. Really want to be competent and ready if ever called upon.

– Would also find it very nice to be able to play children’s songs for Layla, or maybe even Kid’s ministry at church.

– Written many incomplete songs, both for Christian and general audiences.

– Last year even managed to complete one and got it onto our church album – but was not at a level of ability to perform it on the recording. Have lead it vocally a couple of times on tour with the church band since, but still not hugely confident.

– Sick of not being at the level I want to be at.

– This is my attempt to commit to changing that.

 

The Rules:
– Practice guitar daily.
– Spend at least 50% of that time NOT singing along.
– Use a metronome as much as possible.
– Study the bible.
– Record and post a song once a week, not labouring over the recording – just click record and get through the song so it’s as real/raw as possible.
– Grasp as many opportunities to play/sing/co-lead/lead by the horns as possible.

Okay, I think that is enough for now. My first task to complete before the end of the day will be my first recording. Wish me luck!

j

Amazed (2010)

This recording was made a couple days after conceiving Project Sweet Sound.  Remember the rule – just click record and get through the song.  No editing or effects or whatnot.

 

To upload a shaky recording of oneself singing for all the world to hear is potentially a suicidal act.  I am very much aware of this.  Hoping that that will be enough to trigger some level of sensitivity or at least deter anyone from making me the next FAIL BLOG viral….

Gulp.  Here goes.

 

Amazed, by Jared Anderson

PS – this post is meant to be the second one, but I’m struggs.

Golly Gosh (2011 Aug 11)

Yup, just a quick update because I’m not through the tunnel of stupid-lack-of-boundaries-crazy-busyness YET.

March:

Had a baby

April:

+Had no sleep because baby had colic.

+Turned 32, but feel 62 :(

May:

Worship Central

June:

+Still not sleeping more than a 3 hr stretch

+Complete artwork for VC2 creche wallpaper

July:

+Church moved from Central to Wanchai!

+Foolhardy decision to accept job of writing VC2 book

+Scramble to interview relevant people before leaving for:

+Holiday in Phuket with Cooks, husband and my two little munchkins

+8-day intensive Uni residency that required the appearance of coherent thought, boy baby with ear infection, girl baby with tonsillitis, me with food poisoning thus missing last day.

+writing of 38 pages for VC2 Book in 3 days

+writing of makeup assignments for missed day at Uni

+Sick again with two days of sweaty-chilly fever

+I think we just sold our flat

+oh, it seems to be August now. Does it really matter?  Who even cares?  Life isn’t much fun right now.  Wah.  I need a violinist and a medal.

Today:

+vow to reevaluate priorities and learn to say no sometimes.

+too much of a good life is still too much.  Apparently I have limits.

#newstome