Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat, Pray, Love" and found her to be a fascinating person who completed an amazing journey of self discovery. But after I put that novel down I really hadn't thought about her much until this TED talk surfaced a few weeks ago. It doesn't focus on music specifically but I wanted to post it for this week's video segment.

I believe everyone with a creative mind would benefit from her thought provoking ideas about creating and what it takes to create. As musicians we create something new every time we interpret a piece of music. Our jobs are to take what's on the page and make it come alive. We also are asked to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable while we do it. I hope you enjoy this week's video clip.

Music Art with Your Child

This activity is for children ages 2 - 6, but can be adapted to suit any child. All you need is a music player, music in any style, drawing paper, and crayons to express music through art.

Start playing your favorite song. Give your little musical artist the drawing paper and crayons and have him draw what he hears. How does the music make him feel? What would that look like? Is it slow and lazy loops and swirls or is it fast and frantic dots and zig zags? What color is it? Don't forget to do this along side your child and compare your creations. How are they same? How are they different?

I can't wait to do this with my daughter during her music class tomorrow. I will keep you updated on how we do. Happy creating!

Adapted from Savyysource.com


Quote of the Week "You give but little when..."

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

― Kahlil Gibran


Come Join in the Fun at Elliott Music Classes

At Elliott Music Classes, it's important to us that music class be fun, creative, imaginative and educational. Through our unique programs, children learn fundamental music skills and concepts. They learn to focus and expand their attention through exposure to many different kinds of music, rhymes and rhythms. Our classes for children include parent and child style music and movement classes that are specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of young children, infants and toddlers.

Come join in the fun as we explore music together!


Musical Offerings of Elliott Music Classes:


Tiny Tot's Music I & II

Exploring the World of Music With Your Baby and Toddler.

Ages: 16 - 30 months old or 2 1/2 - 4 years old

When: Tuesdays @ 6:00 pm beginning September 29th

Class Length: 30 Minutes per week

Class Size: 4 Student Minimum - 6 Student Maximum

Class Location: Elliott Music Studio

Explore with your child activities designed to build a strong foundation of musical skills. This will be done through singing, instrumental play and rhythmic movements with a variety of mu­sical styles. This is a parent/caregiver participation class. Enroll today!

Classroom Music for Little Mozarts

An Introduction to Music Making

Ages: 4, 5 & 6 year's old

When: Tuesdays @ 10:30 am or Thursdays @ 3:45 pm - beginning September 29

Class Length: 30 Minutes per week

Class Size: 4 Student Minimum - 6 Student Maximum

Class Location: Elliott Music Studio

This comprehensive approach to musical learning develops singing, movement, and listening skills simultaneously with an introduction to musical styles and concepts. No keyboard instruction is included, but rhythm instruments are used to support basic musical concepts. Parents are required to attend all Classes. Lesson 10 is a showcase for all parents and family to attend. No textbooks are required and children do not need a keyboard at home. Come join in the fun as we explore music together! Enroll today!

Family Music

Ages: All Ages Class

When: Mondays @ 5:30 pm - Beginning September 28

Class Length: 30 Minutes per week

Class Size: 3 Family Minimum - 5 Family Maximum

Class Location: Elliott Music Studio

Move your way through an exploration of the elements of music with your whole family. We will explore rhythm, pitch, dynamics and movement through developmentally appropriate activities that the whole family can enjoy together, including finger plays, songs, circle dances, story time and family instrument jam. Come join in the fun as we explore music together! Enroll today!


Friends and Family Referral Discount


I want to thank you for sharing the Elliott Music Studio & Elliott Music Classes with your friends and family with our Friends and Family Referral Discount. Let your friends and family know about the Elliott Music Studio and receive the Friends and Family Referral Discount. If they sign-up for their first month of lessons or music classes you get one lesson or class free ($15.00 - $30.00 value) your next month. It's our thank you to you for sharing us with the people in your life. We look forward to sharing music with your friends and family this fall!


Gift Certificates


Music classes and lessons are a great gift any time of the year for birthdays, graduations or special occasions. We have made it easy to give the gift of music any time of year with 1, 2 or 3 month gift certificates starting at $60.00 for one month of weekly half hour lessons. For more information about this great gift contact the Elliott Music Studio at 816.372.7169.


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Making Maracas for Worship

This is such a simple project that can enhance any music time. I especially like making projects like these and then teaching the children I'm working with a song or two that work well with percussion. Later in the week I will be posting about kids in worship. How might you use these and other children's percussion in worship?


The Future of the Choir in Worship

What is the choir's role in worship? That is the million dollar question these days when it comes to the traditional choir that many of us grew up with and are now seeing less and less of in our churches. What is the worship choir going to look like in the next five, ten, 20 years? I wish I had a crystal ball to see because right now I am worried about the future for choral music in worship. I tried to illustrate with the above picture collage that music leadership in worship takes one many faces and includes many different kinds of music. I am a true believer in doing what works for your congregation and worship style. So, I expect to see differences. I would hope though that our one similarity would be that we produce quality music and strong music leadership in whatever setting we are working with.

I ran across an article by Robert Eric Walker from the Robert Eric Walker - From the Heart Blog called "The Worship Leading Choir" that gave me some new ideas on how we can and should rethink the choir's role in worship and how we should think of ourselves as worship musicians. I have always thought of any church choir that I was a part of as an extension of our worship community and ambassadors to worship. Robert lists some thoughts for worship leading musicians. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Don't just rehearse the music, rehearse the worship!

4. As you sing and play, don't forget to engage your heart!

9. Worship without passion is a contradiction in terms.

12. What will it cost you to convey this song with total authenticity?

16. Our goal is to turn passive observers into active participants.

So, what would it cost us to convey music in worship with total authenticity? How can we, with music increase the passion for worship in our churches? These are the jobs of the church choir and it's our job as musicians called to serve to rethink our role and make music in worship even better and more engaging than ever before. How has being in church choir changed how you worship? How important is the church choir to you? I would love to hear about your favorite moments where music impacted your worship experience. Join the discussion in the comments.

Quote of the Week "If you knew what I know..."

“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”


Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Most days are like all of the others,
Go to work, come back home, watch TV,
But, brother, if I had me druthers,
I'd chuck it and head out to sea,

For I dream of the skull and the crossbones,
I dream of the great day to come,
When I dump the mundane for the Old Spanish Main
And trade me computer for rum! ARRR!

T' me,
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
When laptops are benches God gave us fer wenches,
And a sail ain't a low price ta pay!
When timbers are shivered and lillies are livered
And every last buckle is swashed,
We'll abandon our cars for a shipfull of ARRRs
And pound back the grog till we're sloshed! Yo ho....

Don't pick up yer phone and say "Hello,
Our ten-o-clock meeting's delayed",
Ye scrunch up yer face and ye bellow,
"AVAST! Ye've been bleedin' BELAYED!"

Ye can't keep this fun to yerself, I bet,
So sing "Aye!" "ARRR!" "Ayy!" every man!
We ain't got much grasp of the alphabet,
But a damn good retirement plan!

T' me,
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
Whatever's in fashion is in for a thrashin'
And bein' polite is passe!
When it's ev'ry man's duty to grab his proud beauty
And let out a hearty YO HO!
And if this offends you, hold y'r breath as we sends you
Ta Davy Jones' Locker ya go! Yo ho....

We'll tell every banker "Heave to and weigh anchor!"
Buy latte with pieces of eight
We'll fight to be chosen as cap'n or bosun
The loser, o' course, is worst mate!

When we hoist Jolly Roger, the landlubbers dodge 'er,
We fill 'em with loathing and fear,
We'll plunder and pillage each city and village,
Or at least clean out Wal-Mart of beer!

There ain't no computin' or morning commutin',
No "Parking Lot Full" signs for me,
No lawns ta be mowin' or bills to be owin',
I'm knowin' the pull of the sea.

The fresh salty brace of the wind on my face
Through hurricane, sunshine or squalls,
I'm keepin' my eyes on the distant horizon,
Verizon can hold all my calls!

To wear a red coat full o' buckles,
To earn a few duelling scars,
Well, at least we can get a few chuckles
By filling the office with ARRRs!

And maybe we'll never get closer,
Than watchin' 'em on the big screen,
So here's to old Errol and Depp as Jack Sparrow,
And every damn one in between!

T' me,
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
That time in September when sea dogs remember
That grown-ups still know how ta play!
When wenches are curvy and dogs are all scurvy
And a soft-wear patch covers your eye,
Ta hell with our jobs, for one day we're all swabs
And buccaneers all till we die!

So hoist up the mainsils and shut down your brain cells,
They only would get in the way,
Avast there, me hearty, we're havin' a party,
It's "Talk... Like... A Pirate" Day!


Words and Music: © 2003 by Tom Smith
Dedicated ta Cap'n Slappy an' Ol' Chumbucket,
fer creatin' National Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th)


Easy Hymn Solos Giveaway!

I am trying something new today. I have been reading the Composecreate.com blog for a little while now and came across Wendy Steven's new collection of books for sacred piano of elementary and intermediate hymn arrangements. I am excited to announce that she is going to give away a package of all 3 Easy Hymn Solos (total retail value of $23.97) at the end of this week to one individual chosen with a random number generator. So, I am trying to win and you can, too! To enter this giveaway, please do any or all of the following things by TODAY!! Friday, September 18th, 12:00 p.m. CST:

  1. Leave a comment on her blog post.
  2. Post about this giveaway on your blog, linking back to this blog. Be sure to leave a comment on this post to let her know you have done this. This will be your additional entry.
  3. Tweet about this giveaway, linking back to her blog post. Be sure to leave comment letting her know you tweeted.


Quartets in Worship

Have you gotten around to forming quartets out of your church choir or musician pool for worship? Quartet singing truly brings out the beauty and simplicity of a piece and can give you more flexibility when your choir attendance is low. It also gives your more accomplished singers a challenge and a chance to fine tune their skills. A good quartet listens to each other constantly working for balance and blend as well as proper timing. Thanks to Beth, Jane, Chris and Dave from Trinity English Lutheran Church of Fort Wayne Indiana for these brilliant examples.

God Be In My Head by John Rutter

Lead Me Lord


Sandi Patty Classic - "You Alone"

Sandi Patty is one of the quintessential voices of christian music. I have been singing her songs for as long as I can remember. My Mother found her Album "Artist of My Soul" after its release in 1997 and loved it so much she got the sheet music, too. We have been singing her title track ever since. Recently I have started working on a couple pieces from that collection for worship, "You Alone" and "Doxology". I love every track on this CD and they are all really quite singable. I found out on Amazon today that the sheet music is going out of print. So, get your copy while you still can. Check out Sandi Patty's website for her more recent projects. Here's Sandi Patty singing "You Alone". Enjoy!


Books for the Church Musician

I have been going through my library and reading quite a bit lately about what it means to be a church musician and what skills we need to be the best at what we love to do. So, here's my list of must reads for the church musician. Please share your go-to books in the comments. I love a good book and could always use some suggestions.

  • Alive Now - This is my go-to devotional guide each month. Our church has a subscription that I pick up every couple months. I was drawn to it because it seemed to have an artists touch about it. Each theme is shared with quotes, articles, poems and art work. A complete package. You can get additional free daily devotional readings, a widget for your desktop and more information online at http://alivenow.upperroom.org/
  • From Postlude to Prelude Music Ministries Other Six Days by C. Randall Bradley - I was thrilled to find this book several years ago when I first started out as a church musician. No one really talks about all the other stuff there is to do besides the music. It opened up a whole new world for me of possibilities and helped me to better realize my responsibilities. It also helped me better navigate church meetings during conversations related to the music ministry of the church and my position as director of music. A must read for all church musicians!
  • The Musician's Soul by James Jordan - I love everything by James Jordan. I got to work with him a few years ago while at Christian Music Summer School and I wanted to run away to Westminster Choir College to work with him forever. If only my Husband would live in New Jersey. His entire body of written work is an amazing collection 0f information and ideas for the director and musician. I love how he talks about making music with respect to your fellow musicians. In choral music that's a hard message for conductors to live by but truly necessary for making quality music. For more about James Jordan, check out his website.
  • Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller - It is so hard for church musicians to do our work on Sunday morning and also treat that time as a sabbath experience. We just can't. We aren't like other people in that way. This book helped me to realize that we aren't limited to Sunday Sabbath. We can create a personal Sabbath for ourselves whenever we need it. There are ideas and rituals that you can choose to help you on your way to finding the Sabbath experience that is right for you. Also a great book for group study.
  • The Complete Worship Service: Creating a Taste of Heaven on Earth by Kevin J. Navarro - After you read this pass it on to your worship planning staff right away. I loved all the ideas in the book. It seemed to address all the concerns that I had related to worship design, marketing, building issues, welcoming new church visitors to worship. Navarro also brings up the issue of quality and how we should have a quality worship experience every Sunday morning and what we bring to God should be nothing less than our best work. I devoured this book on an hour plan ride. Great read!
  • Grace Notes: Spirituality and the Choir by M. Anne Burnette Hook - This book will help you better understand your role as music director and spiritual adviser to your choir. Every time we come to church we are seeking an experience with God wither its through worship or our weekly music practice. This will help you nurture your faith as a musician and the faith of your fellow worship musicians.
  • The Church Musician by Paul Westermeyer - This is a must read for anyone in church music leadership or interested in getting a church music position either paid or volunteer. Nicely written.


Quote of the Week "Joy is..."

“Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

    -Mother Teresa


How Do You Choose Songs for Worship?

Dr. Jim Altizer teaches worship leadership at Azusa Pacific University, in California and has served as a Minister of Worship for 22 years. He also has created this website called Road Maps for Worship. My favorite section is Short Answers to Big Questions and this video is part of that collection. So, how do we pick songs for worship? Dr. Altizer reminds us of several different things to think about when choosing songs for worship.

  1. Is this song a corporate expression (the we) or an individual expression (the me)?
  2. What is the tone of the song?
  3. Who's the subject and object of this song? Who's story is it telling?
  4. Is the music relevant? Does it serve the text well?
  5. What is the best placement of this song? What is its purpose?
My favorite quote from the whole video is:

"To choose songs is to teach theology."
I don't think we as worship leaders always think about what we have our people saying and singing in worship and how it's going to impact them each week. We are the stewards of the sung Gospel. I remember more scripture than I ever realized all because it has been set to music in one way or another. Music moves people, it touches them. The songs we select for worship should be chosen mindfully and with the spirit's guidance so, "choose well."


Come, Now Is The Time To Worship

This has to be one of my favorite contemporary Christian worship songs. I love the message and the call for everyone to come and worship now, no matter who you are. The idea that all are welcome and are part of the body of Christ. I have chosen to share two versions of this song for this weeks video. Enjoy!

Instrumental Version

Vocal Version


Prescriptive Music

MSNBC shared this amazing article awhile ago about "prescriptive music". I was amazed by the idea of this work. You can get it here. How about being written a prescription to listen to music for your health? Music-thanatologists are trained to listen and observe their patient and match their music to them for comfort and relaxation. It sounds like an amazing zen like experience. Doctors are finding that there is only so much they can do to make patients comfortable and they are turning to this kind of music therapy for help. The musicians that take part in this program are truly called to this fascinating and important ministry. It is a gift not only to the patient but to the family of the patient as well. Music impacts all of us and can help us deal with difficult situations such as loosing a loved one and experiencing death.

I have used music to alter my mood when I needed it the most. I have certain songs that I listen to achieve different results depending on how I feel. I can only imagine in the future how we could use this knowledge to improve our overall health and well being. Definitely something to think about.


Quote of the Week "To have a chance to..."

"To have a chance to learn and grow
to be skillful in your profession or craft
practicing the precepts and loving speech - this is the greatest happiness."

- Mahamangala Sutra, Sutra Nipata 2.4


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