What Songs are We SINGING?

What Songs are We Singing?! Thank you Glenna Lasater for your wonderful perspective on this subject!

May I just say that I think that the whole debate between old and new gospel music is silly. We are worship leaders. Our job is to lead God’s people into worship—not just the young people—not just the old people—but the entire church.

Music is a thing that ticks in emotion with the experiences in your memory. Your experience may have happened decades ago, yet it feels like just yesterday when you hear a certain song. You start to sing those lyrics and it transports you back to that moment when you were at the altar of repentance. We want to stir up those memories. We need to remember where God brought us from!

The reason there are fewer songs about the Lord’s return is because there has been less preaching about the Lord’s return. The Word of God inspires musicians to write songs. The new songs are written about what they are hearing preached just as the older songs were written about what they were hearing preached.

It is important that our young people hear the powerful songs about Heaven and the rapture, but that does not mean that there is no value in the worship songs written today. It is not a competition—us against them. We are all God’s people!

I think the ideal worship service would be a blend of both the old and new so that we can reach everybody. So that we can take everybody back to that moment in their lives. We must get out of the way so that God can do a mighty work in HIS church.

The Bible tells us to sing a new song, but it does not tell us to quit singing the old, familiar songs. If you put this conversation into God’s timing, these are all new songs. What all musicians pray for is harmony. How can we have harmony if we are creating discord?

If you do not like the content of the current music, then pray for preaching that takes us to a new depth in our understanding, a deeper love, and an urgency that brings us to a place of repentance.

Forget about genres. We do not want to be segmented into being a worship leader for a certain age group. That divides the church. Instead, look at the lyrics without the music? Do the lyrics speak to you, or make you go “hmmm?” Then, when you sing those lyrics, sing them as though they mean something to you. This will help create new memories, and new experiences for those that hear you.

These songs are creating those memories right as you sing and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of that. Years later, your music will take them back to this very moment immediately.

Ministering in song goes beyond us singing each verse two times and the chorus three times. We have to be in tune with the Spirit of God so that we don’t interrupt the flow. We have to make those opportunities for God to move. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Go be a blessing!

Glenna Lasater, West Valley City, Utah

Hmmm…That Doesn’t RING RIGHT!

I have a wonderful friend named Carol and I can’t tell you how many times down through the years I’ve seen Carol get a real puzzled look on her face, become very thoughtful and say “Now something about that just don’t ring right!”   In other words, she was saying “That doesn’t make sense”, “doesn’t sound like the truth” or “doesn’t match up with Biblical truths.”

In this crazy age we are living in, the majority of things we hear, watch and read do not “ring right”.

This hit me in a musical way yesterday in church.  At the end of the service, our music team was playing a beautiful new song unfamiliar to me.  It was moving along quite nicely when all of a sudden, the chord movement went from the I to VI.  One member of the team played a vi7 (a minor seventh chord) and one played the VI7 (built on a Major triad).  So here I am sitting in the audience and I hear the guitar playing an Em7 and the piano playing E7—not ringing right!  

What was happening was that the guitar was playing the notes b, d, e and g and the piano was playing b, d, e and  g#.   Now g and g# sit side by side on the piano — 1/2 step apart as shown in this illustration.

A close up of a piano

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When the notes g and g# are played together (or any notes which are a half step interval) there is a “rubbing” sound and believe me it is not pretty or pleasant to listen to. 

After the service was finished, they continued to play so I walked up to the keyboard player and asked if the chord sheet had a G7(#5#9) chord in that particular spot.  He said, “no, it’s a G7.”  I was unfamiliar with the song, but because of its style, it just did not seem to be fitting to have a G7(#5#9) chord.  The keyboard player spoke into the talk-back mic to the guitar player and told him “we need to play a G dominant 7 there.”  He did and guess what?  It “rang” right.

Of course, if you are a musician who uses the G7(#5#9) (also illustrated) you probably know that chord is built with an augmented (1 – 3 – 5#) and minor (1 – 3b – 5).  It has a dissonant sound, but the voicing is so that the 3b is on top of the chord and the major 3 is on the bottom of the chord. But the chord IS NOT played with the 3b and 3 sitting side by side or “rubbing”.  In addition, it is most often used in upbeat or more jazzy songs. 

In this crazy world in which we live in today, we must become alert and listen to the “ring” of sights and sounds around us in order not to be deceived.  We must always allow the Holy Spirit within us to be on full alert. If you find yourself feeling like something you’ve seen or heard “rubs” adversely against your Holy Ghost, don’t just override it or ignore it—check it out—MOST LIKELY it’s not of God and is a deception the enemy is trying use against you.

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

1 Corinthians 14:8 KJV

We are preparing to hear sound of the trumpet my friends—make sure you are hearing a CERTAIN sound and it’s ringing right!  

Just Pennies!

Not too long ago, we presented our 4-year old great nephew, Huntley, with a gallon jug filled with pennies!  We learned that earlier this year he took all the silver coins from his piggy bank (about $30.00) and presented them to his Mom to give toward a special Mother’s Memorial offering.   Because he has such a giving heart, we decided to “bless” him with the jug of pennies which had just been sitting idly in our garage to replenish his “savings.” Banks don’t accept wrapped anymore and it was just too much “bother” to take them to a coin counting machine.

Huntley was surprised and puzzled but excited to get his jug of pennies!   We made sure his Mom explained to him that we were proud of his giving heart and wanted to bless him with some replacement coins—even if they were just pennies.

Later, I began to feel guilty for not giving Huntley silver coins—I was certain that even a jug of pennies wouldn’t amount to much.  But then I got the pictures and message!  Huntley had proudly taken his jug of pennies to the coin counting machine and had been awarded with $50.00 in cash in exchange!

So of course, I began to think of how this little story could be applied to the parable of the talents!  Instead of just allowing the pennies to continue to sit in the jug, Huntley went to work with what he had!

What abilities or knowledge do you have just sitting idly in a “jug”?  How many times has a music teacher or friend given you several nuggets (pennies) of information that you could use to build upon and grow your talent?

  • Tips to learn to read notes efficiently.
  • Tips to make it easier to learn simple chords.
  • Tips to memorize and use advanced chords
  • Inverting chords.
  • Basic chord progressions to make your playing smoother.
  • Tips on counting rhythm
  • Tips on learning to listen to progressions which can be applied to many songs.
  • And more .

Of course, “talents” not only apply to learning music but every aspect of our Christian life.  Sometimes nuggets may appear to be just “pennies” when you receive them, but if you will invest time and effort in the “pennies” you receive, they will soon mount up!

Go invest those pennies!

Learning to Play “By Ear” Using Chord Progressions!

Being a long-time music teacher, I have found out that my students tend to do better learning to play “by ear “in any key when they learn chords and then learn to use those chords in chord progressions!

Why?  Once the student learns a chord and its inversions, they need to immediately start learning to use that chord in a progression or they will just be learning a bunch of chords and not learning how to USE those chords to play a song.

Start with just the basic progression that every song has—the I, IV, V.

The I to IV

  • Start with the ROOT position of the I, then move UP to the closest or the most logical move to the IV.
  • Be aware of what notes move up or down and half or whole steps.
  • Be aware of HOW THIS MOVEMENT sounds so you can identify it later when listening to another song.
  • Usually the IV sound “lifts” or moves higher.
  • If the melody line notes move 1, 2, 3, 4 it is a clue that you are will probably be moving to the IV.
  • If you are starting with the ROOT position of the I, you will probably move to the 2nd inversion of the IV.
  • NEVER move from the ROOT position of the I to the ROOT position of the IV. That is CHUNKY and sounds NASTY!
  • Make your chord progressions move smoothly and logically. Don’t make big GAPPY moves!

The I to V

  • Start with the ROOT position of the I, now move down to the closest or the most logical move to the V.
  • Be aware of what notes move up or down and half or whole steps.
  • Be aware of WHAT HOW THIS MOVEMENT sounds so you can identify it later when listening to another song.
  • Usually the I to V has a “dropping” or “lowering” sound.
  • The melody line notes may move, 1, 3, 4, 5.
  • You will be able to “imagine the sound” of the left hand moving down 8, 7, 6, 5. At first you may need to make the left hand movement, but it can sound “dorky” so you don’t want to get into the habit of doing that movement whenever you move I to V.
  • NEVER move from the ROOT position of the I to the ROOT position of the V. Think CHUNKY and NASTY!
  • Make your chord progressions move smoothly and logically. Don’t make big GAPPY moves!

© 2018 Pamela Rentzel – www.pentecostalmusicians.com/PMblog/

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Relative Pitch

by Pamela Rentzel

Many people think it’s a GREAT mystery or a GIFT to play an instrument by EAR!  Not so!  You can learn to play or sing by ear but just learning to listen!

So, my CHALLENGE to you in 2018, is to start a plan that will help you HEAR intervals!  It’s one of the BEST things you can do when learning to play the keyboard, sing parts or play any other instrument for a Pentecostal church service!

Let’s talk about the INTERVALS!  An Interval is the distance between notes!

In the Key of C:                                  

  1. C to D – Major 2nd – up one whole step – sounds like “at the cross, at the cross.” or “to be like Jesus” (1, 2, 3, 4..)
  2. C to E – Major 3rd – “sweet hour of prayer
    ” or “just as I am”

    1. Sometimes the 1 (one) can be just an “understood” interval without using the 1 – starting on the 3rd – “in the name of Jesus, (we have the victory).
  3. C to F – Perfect 4th – “stand up, stand up for Jesus” or “Here comes the bride.”
  4. C to G – Perfect 5th – “there is a fountain.”
    1. Again the 1 (one) can be “understood” without being used; example is: “I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly
      ” or “He touched me”
  5. C to A – Major 6th – “my Bonnie lies over the ocean” or “I see a crimson stream of blood”
  6. C to B – Major 7th – half step below octave
  7. C to C – Perfect 8th – octave

C Scale 561X345

How to Practice!

  1. Sing each INTERVAL with your voice and play it on your instrument.
  2. Listen and memorize the relationship in the SOUND distance between the two tones.
  3. Feel the INTERVAL (distance) beneath your hand.
  4. Test yourself to see the progress you are making! (Remember to shuffle them up so you are not just memorizing them in order!)
  5. Continue to work on all the INTERVALS in other keys.

Identifying these intervals will not happen overnight!  It’s a PROCESS which requires being consistent in working on them.

Listen and become aware of melodies and INTERVALS in the music you hear on the radio, etc.

Next, work on the half-step intervals starting with the 1st to MINOR 3rd as this interval is vital in good musicianship.

I have found a very good app for helping you through the process. It’s called RelativePitch.  It’s a freebie with the option to upgrade.

Start NOW and see how much better your EAR becomes this year!

© 2018 Pamela Rentzel – Pentecostal Musicians