Have you ever tried to sing a song that was out of your range? You know, a song that is super high and makes you strain and feel like you are screaming at the top of your lungs? Or maybe it's just at the top of your range and a bit uncomfortable. Well, whenever I do that my dog runs for cover, small children start crying and Michelle gives me that look like, “Really?” Let's face it, there are not may people out there that have the vocal range of Mariah Carey, Steve Perry or Chris Tomlin. If our goal as worship leaders is to engage the congregation and give them a way to connect with our Savior through music, why do we do songs in keys that no one can sing? Most of the people that come to our worship services probably have a very middle of the road, two octave vocal range. Our job is to help create an experience that is meaningful and not frustrating for the congregation. Just because a song in our set is written in a certain key, that doesn't mean you have to do it in that key. You are the leader, you know what fits with your voice and the people on your team and more importantly the people you are leading.

    If changing the key of a song is something that is foreign to you or frightens you, have no fear I'm here to help! Here are a few simple tips:
      1- If you are not familiar with the website www.Ultimate-Guitar.com go there, after you finish reading this of course, and check it out. It has almost every song you can think of, including Praise and Worship! In the upper left corner of each page it gives you a “Transpose” option. You can just click the up or down arrow a few times to change the key of the song and figure out where it fits your voice the best.
     2- Another way to change the key is to use a capo. Yep, that's right! You can put your capo on a few frets up (or down if you are already using one) from the original key and still play the same chord shapes, and BAM! now you are in a new key. Super easy!

     Some people may say, “The song was written in that key, so I must sing it in that key.” Well, here is a hint, it was written in that key to make it comfortable for the person who writing it or singing it on the recording. There is no law that says we have to sing songs in the key they are written or recorded in. There is no Key Change Police that will come get you! So, go ahead, change the key, make it singable for you and your congregation!  When you do, the people you are leading and your vocal cords will thank you! 

     If you need help with changing keys or have any other questions about leading worship, please shoot me a message, I would love to help! Thanks for hanging out with me today! If you enjoyed this please share it with your friends! 

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AuthorJustin Graves

So, I have really been struggling with my songwriting lately. Thankfully, there is another amazing song writer that lives in my house! Let me tell you a little story about one of our latest songwriting experiences. 

A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege of leading the worship for First Baptist Frisco's Kids on a Mission Camp. Everyday during their rotation groups the kids had "Band Time". At first we thought we would just hang out with them and play some songs and we would get to know them and they would get to know us and it would just be a fun hang out time. But then Michelle had a great idea. "Let's write a song with the kids this week and we can perform it with them on the last day!" she said.  Oh man, the pressure! Can we actually do that? Write a song finish it and perform it with the kids in 4 days? Ok, let's give it a shot! 

So we started the writing process. Michelle, Timothy (our drummer for the week) and I all sat down in the auditorium to write a theme song for the week. Knowing my recent struggles, I sat there blank and frustrated. So Michelle said "Ok, what about this..." and ripped of the lyrics to a chorus. WOW! That was amazing! We taught it to the kids and they helped us make up the motions and it ROCKED! We then took what the kids were learning each day and Michelle, again, made it fit into a verse that was simple but made each lesson point memorable.

This isn't the first time Michelle has written a song or been involved in the songwriting process. She is a great songwriter herself and a sounding board for songs I am writing. I love writing songs with her and I look forward to sharing many more songs that she has written and we have written together. I am so glad that God has placed Michelle in my life. She is an amazing wife, partner, songwriter and friend. 

The song turned out great so we wanted to share it with you! Here we are at Kids on a Mission Camp 2013 with the kids from FBC Frisco in the debut of "Fear Not!"  

 

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AuthorJustin Graves

You have probably seen them. Those big, nasty, black birds sitting on the highway. As we were driving to camp last week we came across about six or seven of them having lunch. Yes, there was a large dead animal on the side of the road that they were feasting on. As we approached, Gabi mentioned that she did not like these birds because they are ugly and gross. As we talked about what they are and what purpose they serve we realized that there are some things in this world that we don't understand, but that we should be thankful for. Like the buzzards. Can you imagine if they didn't exist how much stinky road kill there would be just rotting on the side of the road! YUCK! 
Well, after that conversation I kept thinking about the buzzards and the other strange things in God's creation. I decided to write a song about it and this is what came out. Hope you enjoy!

 

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AuthorJustin Graves

The Bible tells us that when God created the world and all that is in it, after every step, "He saw that it was good." He didn't see that it was "just alright." or say "I guess that will do."  He saw that it was GOOD! He made sure that what He created was whole and sound and good. He didn't just phone it in or create the universe while in the middle of doing 30 other things, He was focused on the task at hand and created something beautiful. 
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the ECHO conference in Dallas, TX. It is a conference for "Artists, Geeks and Storytellers." (echohub.com) Me and a thousand of my closest artist friends got to experience great speakers, hear motivational talks, learn some great tips and network with other people who do what we do. It was amazing to listen to people like Jon Acuff, Gary Molander, Carlos Whittaker and Matt Chandler and hear what their creative process is and how they get inspired. It was an amazing few days and I highly recommend it to anyone who is involved in creative ministry in their church. 
I loved seeing how every detail of the conference was thought through and every aspect very well done. From the breakout sessions to the notebooks you received when you checked in, everything had a purpose and was spot on.

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This makes me think of how as a Christ Follower I often do just enough to get by. I think that I can just "phone it in" and God will bless it. That is not the case! 1st Corinthians 10:31 tells us "Whether you eat or you drink or WHATEVER you do, do it all for the glory of God." So it doesn't matter if you are a worship leader, banker, teacher, athlete, or parent, God tells us that in everything we do we should do it all for God's glory!  

God doesn't ask for "just OK" or "good enough" He wants me to do all that I can for Him in EVERYTHING I do so at the end of the day I can look back at it with Him and say "It's all GOOD!"

Just  a few of my thoughts. I would love to hear yours!  

This week I just wanted to share something I think is pretty amazing. This is a band called "Walk Off the Earth." You may have seen this before, but I watched it again recently and I love the creativity and energy these guys put into their music. So, I just had to share it with you! 
They not only write songs and make cool videos, they also cover other artists songs and put their twist on it. This is a cover of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You were Trouble" off of her latest CD RED. The first time I heard this song was when I saw this video. I didn't know it was a Taylor Swift song, and when I heard it I was amazed! Since then we have purchased RED  (love it by the way!) and when you compare the two versions of this song, it is amazing to me how Walk Off the Earth can take something that is already great and take it to a whole new level! If you have a few minutes watch this video and let me know what you think! 

Be sure to post your thoughts on our Facebook page facebook.com/justingravesband

See you soon!

So you may or may not know that we have been away from home for a while lately. Ok not just away from home, but on the complete other side of the world! Yeah, we have spent the last 5 weeks in Perth, Australia! We have had the privilege of working with Warnbro Community Church. We were hired by the church to come lead worship and work with their amazing worship team. It has been very rewarding and the chance of a lifetime to get to spend so much time in such a beautiful part of God's creation!

Well, when we first planed our trip we knew that we would have a busy schedule. That is what we wanted! We told Ryan, the pastor, and the team that we wanted to be used as much as possible, that is why we were coming! However, I did think that we would have a bit of time to ourselves. I had grand plans of writing songs, working on videos and really digging in to some books I have been wanting to read. I even told Michelle on the plane while crossing the ocean that I had a goal of writing 5 new songs while we are here. Wow did I miscalculate! We have been so busy (in a good way) that I have had no time to accomplish any of the personal goals I had set for myself!

Ok...let me correct myself...I didn't MAKE the time. I know that I am the one in control of my schedule and in charge of how I spend my time, but it has felt like we have been on the go since we hit the ground! It has been absolutely amazing! I wouldn't change a thing, but wow have we been B-U-S-Y!  

Michelle found this video about writing worship songs last week and I thought maybe I could learn a thing or two and really stream-line my song writing process. Take a look...

Let me know if you think I should follow these simple steps when writing our next song! Feel free to leave your comments here or on our FB page www.facebook.com/justingravesband. Be sure to check out the pics from our trip on FB  as well as in our photo gallery www.justingravesband.com/gallery 

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AuthorJustin Graves