I keep getting asked to play guitar for the 9am service that we have started to go to. I am not a great guitarist; in fact I am a barely competent one.

‘Contemporary worship’ is not really my bag (in fact I think ‘worship’ is one of those words that is best without an adjective preceding it), but I go, I take part because it is local and we know we have been loved much.

One of the great things about the type of music played is that it can be simplified for one such as me: open tuning and mainly 3 fingered chords. However, today I have no option but to use B Minor on several occasions and then leap back into non Barre chords; sometimes whilst fingerpicking.

I am immediately out of my comfort zone. It would have been easy to say ‘no’ but it was too late and I didn’t have time to simplify the changes.

On every other level, however, it is really helpful- in church you are supposed to be ready to go that bit further and go to the edge of your comfort zone, rather than sit there mired in familiar comfort.. Far easier to have that reminder in such a little thing as (for me) complex chords….


‘Let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten your labors. You should sing as wayfarers do—sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going’.

If that quote by St Augustine of Hippo from the 5th century does nothing else, it justifies me taking a guitar on holiday. Yes, I haven’t played a guitar properly for a while due to the vagaries of moving, shifting GCSE contracts and I want to get back to being poor/appalling from merely incompetent. But I also want to sing/feel music again.

It’s been too long…

Faithful Improvisation & bad guitar work

So, I may have a slot at an open mic (subject to someone hearing me, testing me through their equipment and offering me advice).

It is not something I have ever done before: I had set it as one of my goals for ’50 things at 50′ (which is due to begin on 1/3/15- the day after I am 49. Yes that was a hint- something 40% proof or cold,hard cash would be good) so I have to make sure I can play some simple songs and sing convincingly.

I am not a virtuoso. In fact, because I know I am not, it has taken me this long to get close. Some people said ‘you ought to have a go’, but I wouldn’t. It was only when someone collared me at a party, put me on the spot, that I got this far.

But how do you do them: the songs? Do you do a homage to what you know, or adapt them to your style? I am trying to modify them to suit my simplicity, after watching videos, asking advice, practicing and getting a ‘feel’. I have 3 songs nearly at this stage , but the one that involves an unbelievable 5-6 chords and a capo, less so.

This whole process is, I guess, ‘faithful improvisation’- reading what I have just written, I hope you can see how many people, how much learning and how much watching has got me to this point….. and how much more I will need, should I reach the mic and afterwards (if there is a next time…).

All that, and I struggle to call myself a ‘guitarist’- maybe I will one day.

If you are smart and read between the lines….apply the word ‘Christian’ to the same context: it isn’t an easily grabbed noun, but a loooooong verb….

Listen while I play my pink guitar

(well, I like it…)

I have an electric guitar. It is pink. That’s how I got a decent guitar cheap. It has led to some risque euphemisms from various quarters about playing my pink guitar that I am too naive to get….

Anyway… today I return from holiday (that’s why the last few weeks on here have been brief and any non working links haven’t been corrected). This year, for the first time, I should have managed to take a guitar with me….subject to luggage and a wife who is more concerned about basic safety in the car than music… An acoustic is too bulky and would be too loud.

Strumming an electic, unplugged; practicising and trying new stuff in the middle of France….bliss! I am hoping by the time of return to have increased by off by heart repertoire from 3 to maybe 5….or more…