Message Bearing Marching Bands

High school marching band shows reflect our priorities and our insanities. How can they help make us better?

Ours is a marching band family – three of our five children have been in marching bands at the high school and/our college level. Of the other two, one was in orchestra and one will be in marching band when she gets to high school. Our kids have been at Hayfield and Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High Schools in northern Virginia, Collierville High School in Tennessee, Shady Spring High School in West Virginia, and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. We have enjoyed parades, pep bands, and shows at football halftimes and band competitions. Dance teams, color guards, drum majors, and lines of marching and playing students entertain us every week in every autumn.   

High school marching band shows have themes, ranging from the musical (the Music of Queen), the cinematic (Illusion, including Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), and the historical (the Transcontinental Railway). Bands compete before judges, who score them on such measures as musicality, marching/dance, visuals, guard, pit, and drumline. At the end of every competition, the band with the highest score in their division wins a trophy. But what do judges find worthy of acclaim? Continue reading “Message Bearing Marching Bands”

Music and Emotion

We use music to influence ourselves, and ourselves, and create the emotions that we need to do what we want to do.

Our father could never understand our taste in music. It was the 1980s, and my younger brother and I were teens. Dad was a singer and loved music, but preferred the Bobby Vinton style to the Axl Rose style. More than once he asked, “why do you listen to that trash?”, a question that every generation asks their children and grandchildren.  We were both involved in the youth group at church, and my favorite artist at the time was Keith Green. He was a talented Christian singer who was sincere about his faith, but tragically died in 1982 from a plane crash, as so many other musicians have. My brother found Ozzy Osbourne more to his taste.

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Look What You Made Me Do

158px-Taylor_Swift_-_Look_What_You_Made_Me_Do_(music_video_screenshot) - small
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55092301

A Christian perspective on Taylor Swift’s song, on her career, and hoping she will replace her lost innocence with virtue.

I rarely comment on trends and events in the entertainment world, mostly because I don’t follow it.  I do follow my daughter’s life, however, and she asked me to comment on Taylor Swift’s latest music video, Look What You Made Me Do. So here I write, as a fool rushing in where wise men never go.

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The Misty Mountain String Band

For Bluegrass and Americana, you can’t do better than the Misty Mountain String Band (MMSB). I saw them for the first time on 12 May 2017 at an open-air concert in Louisville KY. Formed in Louisville in August of 2012, the MMSB has toured throughout the southcentral United States and released three CDs – Red Horizon, Brownsboro, and Went to the Well.

Paul Martin plays the mandolin and banjo for the band, although he is also an accomplished guitarist. He and his wife Moonbeam have three girls. Paul is the son of George Martin, a professor of World Religions Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). Derek Harris is the upright bass player for the MMSB and handles much of the business.  Brian Vickers, the guitarist, is a professor of New Testament at SBTS. Finally, Neal Green, a minister of worship at the Ballardsville Baptist Church in Louisville, plays fiddle.

Derek graciously gave me permission to add the MMSB’s music to the MD Harris Institute. Enjoy!

The Misty Mountain String Band

MMSB – YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

Music, Lyrics and Chords

Songs and chords to sing, play, and enjoy. 

Many people love to sing. Though individual and group singing seem to have declined in Western culture since professionally produced music is constantly available, making music, not just listening to it, is one of the healthiest and most fun things that people can do. Singing improves breath control and respiratory health, it improves our mental status, and it brings people together (even if you can’t sing very well).

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Basic Guitar Lessons

Since I lead music for children with voice and guitar at our church, I am sometimes asked to teach children how to play the guitar. The topics that we cover during each lesson are below. We use a variation of the Progressive Beginner Guitar book.

Lesson 1

  1. Parts of the guitar
  2. Types of guitar
  3. Styles of guitar
  4. How to hold the guitar
  5. How to strum (up and down)
  6. Strings – E-A-D-G-B-E
  7. Right hand techniques (playing one string, two strings together, three strings together and in sequence)
  8. How to tune the guitar

Lesson 2

  1. Review
  2. What is a chord? (Major, minor, seventh)
  3. The G major chord
  4. The D major chord
  5. Open strings and fretted notes
  6. The quarter note

Lesson 3

  1. Review
  2. The second string
  3. The half note
  4. The C major chord
  5. Song – Silent Night
  6. The quarter and half rests

Lesson 4

  1. Review
  2. The first string
  3. E, F and G notes
  4. The whole note and whole rest
  5. The eighth note

Lesson 5

  1. Review
  2. Eighth note rhythm pattern

Lesson 6

  1. Review
  2. The fourth string
  3. D, E and F notes
  4. Minor chords (Dm, Em, Am)