Woman of the Reformation

I came across an interesting post from CPH from last winter about Elisabeth Cruciger, the first female Lutheran hymnwriter, who lived a fascinating life in the early days of the Reformation. [Read more...]

What’s the best way to teach violin?

My brother Jimmy, in response to my post about the Winfield music festival that we went to, made this comment and raised an interesting question:

A great time was had by all. I enjoyed visiting and picking with Fred, and you can count me in on your suggestion to have a Cranach campfire and jam session next year.

One of the things I would like to talk about is the O’Connor
Method of teaching violin. I started playing violin about five year ago. For the first year I took private lessons from a violin teacher using the Suzuki method. It was probably a good idea to learn the basic techniques and principles with private lessons. However, in the process I did learn something about the Suzuki method and I too share in the criticisms of this method voiced by Mark O’Connor. [Read more...]

Winfield, Kansas, and the musical world

I have been gorging myself on western and midwestern small-town culture, since retiring.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been to a rodeo, a county fair, and Charlie Adams Day (a festival honoring a town legend and his horse).  Last week I attended a huge event that shows just how influential a small town can be.

Winfield is a little town in rural Kansas that was the home of the now defunct but much-beloved Lutheran school St. John’s College.  It was also the home of a man named S. L. Mossman.  He made guitars.  Really good guitars.  In the 1960s, more and more people wanted them, and his business grew, though he refused to mass produce the guitars and kept making them by hand.  After awhile, his company sponsored a competition there in Winfield for the best flat-pick guitar player.  Around that event grew a festival, with more championships (in finger-style guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and fiddle) and performances in bluegrass, folk, and other kinds of acoustic music.  Thus was born the Walnut Valley Festival, which has launched the careers of countless musicians and has become one of the premier events in American music.

My brother Jimmy, author of the most-read post ever on this blog, and I went to Winfield last week for the festival along with my friend the musician, novelist, and pastor, the right Rev. Fred Baue.  After the jump, I will tell you of our adventures, my musical discoveries with YouTube videos, and some of what I learned. [Read more...]

3 reasons for the decline of contemporary worship

Jonathan Aigner, a card-carrying millennial concerned for the growth of the church, says that the decline of contemporary worship–did you know it was in decline?–is due to three reasons.  I give those after the jump, but go to the whole post to see how churches can move on.

UPDATE:  Go here, a piece linked to in the whole article, for details about the “decline.”

[Read more...]

Who really played the music

If you grew up in the 1960′s or 1970′s, if you love the music of that time, and if you listen to the oldies stations to this very day, you have got to see the documentary  The Wrecking Crew.  (Shot back in 2008 but just released this year, the film is available for instant view on Netflix.)

It turns out that a single group of studio musicians known as “the Wrecking Crew” played on virtually all of the hit records that came out of California during that time period.  It didn’t matter whose name was on the record or what the style of music was–rock ‘n’ roll, surf, soul, pop, jazz, standards, ad jingles, movie scores, TV themes, or whatever–these musicians were playing it. [Read more...]

Bob Dylan opens up

Bob Dylan won the “person of the year” award from MusiCares, a charity that helps down and out musicians.  He gave a remarkable 30-minute acceptance speech that talked about his career, his influences, and his thoughts about music.  [Read more...]