I am very excited about our latest guitar lesson that we’ve added to the intermediate series of thegospelworkshop.com! In this new video, I set the pick aside and teach a beautiful fingerstyle arrangement of “Just as I Am.” I focus on the right hand and on anchor positions with the left hand as I introduce you to fingerstyle guitar. To our members, I hope that you enjoy learning this lesson. If you haven’t joined, you just don’t know what you’re missing! Come on and join with us as we help you unlock your musical abilities! Check out the video to see a performance clip preview of the lesson.
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“Softly and Tenderly” is one of the best known and most used invitational hymns. It was written in 1880 by Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909). Thompson was born to successful businessman and politician, Josiah Thompson, and his wife, Sarah, on Nov. 7, 1847, in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Will showed a talent for music and songwriting at an early age and had written several secular songs by the time he graduated from high school. He graduated from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1873, with a degree in business. He then studied music at the New England Conservatory of Music and further studied music abroad in Leipzig, Germany. He went on to start his own very successful business, Will L. Thompson & Company, which started as a music publishing company and eventually expanded to be a source for musical instruments and supplies. Mr. Thompson was a devout Christian, and while attending one of D. L. Moody’s evangelistic meetings, he dedicated himself more to composing and promoting Christian music. One of these compositions was a beautiful song with a great message that would become D. L. Moody’s invitation song at his meetings. The song is entitled “Softly and Tenderly.”
Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, “O sinner, come home!”
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, the deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon
Pardon for you and for me.
Mr. Thompson visited D. L. Moody on his deathbed at his home in Northfield, Massachusetts, in 1899. After Thompson was at first refused admittance by the doctor, Mr. Moody overheard them and asked for Mr. Thompson to be let in. Moody then took him by the hand and said, “Will, I would rather have written Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.” What powerful praise from a great man of God about a powerful song that invites people to come home to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“I Need Thee Every Hour” stands out among the thousands of hymns as one of the most intimate and worshipful songs in our hymnals. It reflects our absolute need for and dependance on our Saviour. It so beautifully states that Christ is everything.
“I Need Thee Every Hour” was written in 1872 by Mrs. Annie Hawks. Annie Sherwood Hawks was born on May 28, 1835 in Hoosick, New York. She displayed a remarkable talent for poetry at an early age with her writings already being published in various newspapers at the tender age of 14. After her marriage to Charles Hawks in 1859, Annie’s life was centered around the noble tasks of being a housewife and a mother to their three children. The Hawks were members of Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklin, New York. Their pastor, Dr. Robert Lowry, was a well known hymn writer, and he encouraged Annie to use her talents as a poet to write hymns and offered to compose music for her lyrics.
Here are Mrs. Hawks’ own words describing how “I Need Thee Every Hour” came to be:
“I remember well the circumstances under which I wrote the hymn. One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind the thought at once taking full possession of me.
Seating myself by the open windows, I caught up my pencil and committed the words to paper — almost as they are today. A few months later, Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune needed for my hymn and also added the refrain.
For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow, with which it has often been associated.
At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later [after her husbands death in 1888], however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”
Mrs. Hawks presented her new hymn to her pastor the following Sunday after writing it, and Dr. Lowry would go on to write the refrain(chorus) and compose the tune to the song on his organ at his home.
Just a few months later in November, 1872, Ira Sankey, the beloved revival musician and song leader for Dwight Moody, used this hymn at the National Baptist Sunday School Association Convention. It then appeared in its first hymnbook the next year which was called Royal Diadem for the Sunday School.
Annie Hawks passed away on January 3, 1918. In her eighty-two plus years, Mrs. Hawks wrote about 400 hymns. “I Need Thee Every Hour” is the most famous and is the only widely used hymn of her writings today.
The subject matter of this blog edition has been weighing heavily on my mind of late. I have been playing guitar for nineteen years (I began at age 6). I also have 14 years of experience as a private music instructor. In those many years, I have taught quite a large number of students, many of whom were children. I have also had many discussions over the years with fellow music instructors about teaching children. Those conversations, combined with my personal experiences growing up as a young musician, plus my observations from a music instructor’s perspective, along with the application of some simple Biblical principles to this subject, have led me to point out seven recommendations about raising a young musician that are extremely important for your child’s success in music and beyond. (This blog post is part 2 of a 2 part series and gives my final four recommendations. To read my first three recommendations, check out: “How to Raise a Musician Part 1.”)
This is a most neglected function, I’m afraid, in most homes, but it is absolutely essential to your child’s success as a musician. In fact, if I as a musician were to look back and point to the one reason that influenced me the most to learn to play guitar, it would be that my parents allowed me to choose the instrument I wanted to play and then held me accountable to practice and improve on the instrument after they bought it for me. They had the wisdom to nurture my desire to play guitar by not only providing me with the instrument, but by also requiring that I be responsible both for taking care of my instrument and making sure I got in my practice times even at the age of six. Children will try your parental resolve on this issue, but you must stay strong in requiring them to be responsible. Remember, you are helping them more at this critical stage of their music development than in any other. They will thank you one day. Requiring responsibility in their music learning will actually carry over into other areas of their life. They learn not to quit, to persevere, to have determination, and in the end to reap the rewards–and you will get to reap those rewards with them!
A great tool for helping your child’s drive to improve as a musician is to reward them–in other words, give your child something to shoot for, musically speaking. My father used a simple but effective incentive that was very successful with me. He always told me growing up that if I kept striving to better myself as a player, he would buy me better instruments. I worked hard, and he kept his promise by buying me three different guitars between the ages of 11 and 18. Keeping the proverbial carrot of nicer and better instruments in front of your child can do wonders for boosting their musical drive. I discovered during this time as a child that as I improved and got better instruments, it fueled my desire to a whole new level. I began to develop a love for music that has only continued to grow. I began practicing for hours a day because I just couldn’t get enough.
If you want your child to achieve his/her highest potential of musicianship, then you must give constructive criticism when needed. The worst thing you can do is swell their ego by telling them how perfect they are. Be balanced. If they play something very well, congratulate them on doing a good job and then encourage them to strive for the next level. Remind them periodically that you never “arrive” as a musician. We can always improve. If they struggle some, encourage them to keep working. Assure them that you are confident that they can and will get it right with a lot of hard work and practice. If they don’t do a good job because they have been tardy with their practice, let them know that you expect them to do better and hold them accountable.
Point them to serving the Lord with their talents. Children are very impressionable. They are easily influenced by what they see and hear. Have you ever noticed that you don’t have to teach a child to do wrong? They just naturally do wrong things. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” You do have to teach them to do right, however, and part of that instruction is to give them good direction throughout their musical journey. People often bemoan the fact that when their child progressed to an advanced or even professional skill level, they went out and used their talent for the world and not for God. But when a person uses their musical talents in this way, they are really just doing what is natural from a worldly standpoint–that is, to do the wrong thing. You must teach them the importance of rightly using their talents. Protect your children from music and lyrics that aren’t wholesome. Instill in them the desire to serve the Lord with their musical ability. Use their musical journey as just another way to bring them closer to Jesus Christ.
The subject matter of this blog edition has been weighing heavily on my mind of late. I have been playing guitar for nineteen years (I began at age 6). I also have 14 years of experience as a private music instructor. In those many years, I have taught quite a large number of students, many of whom were children. I have also had many discussions over the years with fellow music instructors about teaching children. Those conversations, combined with my personal experiences growing up as a young musician, plus my observations from a music instructor’s perspective, along with the application of some simple Biblical principles to this subject, have led me to point out seven recommendations about raising a young musician that are extremely important for your child’s success in music and beyond.
Create a musical presence in your home. Play music throughout the day. Take them to hear good music. It is especially good to let them see young people playing instruments and serving the Lord. Observing music in action will motivate them. Let them see, hear, and hold instruments at a young age. Allow them to only hold an instrument under your watchful eye at first, which will help create the mindset that holding an instrument and owning an instrument is a privilege to be earned. Doing so will nurture a respect for the instrument and will cause them to want one for themselves all the more. Be aware of your child’s interest in music. Watch their body language and listen to their comments to find out what instrument they gravitate to the most (they will likely like more than one, but they will probably prefer one a little more than the others). Once you get to this point, you’re ready to buy them their first instrument.
One very important piece of advice is offered here from a musician’s point of view: DON’T buy the cheapest piece of an instrument you can find. Many folks say, “Well, I want to start them off with something inexpensive and gauge their interest before going further.” While that is a fine and good thing to do, you need to consider the following points before you buy, so that you will make a good, inexpensive purchase and not just a cheap one.
a) Set a budget of $125 or higher. This applies especially if you don’t know much about musical instruments. Many cheap guitars, for example, have serious structural issues like tuning gears that are faulty and bridges that begin to peel up off of the guitar. Not only do these problems make the guitar pretty much useless to play, it will also be next to worthless as far as resale value. It’s better to save for an extra few months in order to purchase a reliable instrument that sounds good than to buy one that will fall apart or one that your child will struggle to play.
b) Buy an easy-to-play instrument. An instrument that is hard to play is most discouraging. Make sure to have a music store set up the instrument in good playing condition before you give it to your child. For more instrument-purchasing tips, check out http://blog.thegospelworkshop.com/what-kind-of-acoustic-guitar-should-i-buy/
c) Buy some simple accessories. I have also written a blog that will advise you on guitar accessories. Here is the link: http://blog.thegospelworkshop.com/guitar-accessories-buy/
d) Get them access to music instruction. No one is born a musician. Every one has to learn, and the best way to help your child be musically successful is to provide them with quality music instruction. Thegospelworkshop.com is a great and affordable choice.
Learning to play an instrument requires dedication, determination, and lots of practice! Discovering that playing an instrument is more difficult than first thought can temper a child’s enthusiasm and even cause them to become discouraged. Two things happen when a child gets to this point: they get a little discouraged, and they don’t want to put in the necessary effort to improve. This is quite possibly when you, as the parent, will play your most important role in the process. You must do two things: first, encourage them and tell them that they can do it, and secondly, hold them accountable for their improvement which we will talk more about later in Part II of this blog. Encouragement to keep going will be important throughout their years of learning. Also, encourage them to start using their music for the Lord. Set some goals like playing a song at a church function or service, and then build on that. Nothing is more satisfying than accomplishing a goal.
This blog is part I of a 2-part series
Ever since the first time I heard this song, I wanted to know about the author and her life. Jennie Evelyn Hussey wrote the lyrics with a desire for us to know Christ and His love for us. I believe that she wanted us to dwell on what Christ has done for us and not on our own circumstances.
Jennie was born on February 8, 1874, in Henniker, New Hampshire. She was known for her sweet and cheerful spirit, and spent much of her life taking care of her invalid sister. Whenever weary, she would turn in the Scriptures to the story of Calvary. Jennie would eventually become disabled herself with crippling arthritis. She lived by these words that she penned:
“May I be willing, Lord, to bear
Daily my cross for Thee;
Even Thy cup of grief to share,
Thou hast borne all for me.”
Jennie spent her later years in the Home for the Aged in Concord, New Hamphire, where she passed away in 1958. She once stated that before she died, she wanted to have told everyone: “I love Jesus.” This hymn along with an estimated one hundred fifty others have certainly fulfilled her desire and stand as a everlasting testimony of her love for Jesus.
“Lead Me to Calvary”
King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary.
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.
Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid,
Tenderly mourned and wept;
Angels in robes of light arrayed
Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept.
Let me like Mary, through the gloom,
Come with a gift to Thee;
Show to me now the empty tomb,
Lead me to Calvary.
May I be willing, Lord, to bear
Daily my cross for Thee;
Even Thy cup of grief to share,
Thou hast borne all for me.