Guitar Lessons

Although some fundy churches only use instruments approved by the Apostle Paul (namely the piano, organ, and occasional brass solo), some do concede that a fundamentalist may in good conscience play the guitar…as long as he takes care not to play it as the world playeth. Here “pastor” Steven Anderson demonstrates the approved strum, strum, strum method otherwise known as the “hammering out hymns technique.”

57 thoughts on “Guitar Lessons”

  1. One woman in my ex-church quit after only one quitar lesson. Her hands were small and she was told she would need a ladies’ guitar. When she went to a shop to purchase one, the store owner told her she would need a child’s guitar. So she quit, because she only wanted to play a “REAL” instrument.

    I offered this same woman FREE music theory lessons because she wanted to sing the Alto parts. I told her it would be easier for her to harmonize if she understood the chords, but when I dared to disagree with Frank Gothard she completely blew me off.

    This dude is wrong about C being the easiest key. C and F chords are hard to play on the guitar. It would be easier if he taught the songs in the keys of E or A and then showed them how to Capo the guitar so they singers wouldn’t have to transpose.
    (But I guess that would be too much akin to Evil Rock Stars who use capos too).

    Most people can’t transpose hymns. They lock into their ears what the “Notes” are when they can’t read music and getting them to change the starting pitch is difficult. At my ex-church we had two different hymnals. “It is Well With My Soul” was in two different keys a half-step apart and the songs never sounded right because people would be singing in both keys.

    Stuff Fundies Like: Music Leaders who don’t know they’re doing.

    (I have a B.A. in Music, hence the pickiness)

  2. E isn’t where I’d start because of the difficulty of playing B7. I usually started teaching with D-A-G or A-E-D depending on the length of the person’s fingers.

    (I’ve played guitar for about 17 years now. and was a song leader too fwiw)

  3. And that totally made me cringe–I’m pretty sure there are more than the “basic three” in “To God Be the Glory.” But whatever.

  4. @PW There’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a 3/4 size or “student size” guitar. I’ve played both and they sound just fine.

    I’ve found that most people’s hands aren’t as small as they think they are. Everybody feels like they’re really stretching at first until the fingers learn what they’re doing.

    Also, the necks on a folk-style acoustic guitar are quite a bit skinnier than those on a classical (which is what I have). The trade off there is that the metal strings are rougher on your fingers at first than the nylon of the classical. If you already play piano, though, you’re likely to have some decent starter callouses anyway.

  5. I’m pretty sure there are more than the “basic three” in “To God Be the Glory.”

    Not in the Authorized Version. 😀

  6. Even the simplest version of “To God Be the Glory” has a V/V (major ii) chord in it, in addition to I, IV, and V.

    Oh, and my primary instrument is the keyboard, but I also play around on an electric guitar. Yeah, the kind with the horns on it. So I guess I’m pretty much in league with the devil. Oh well…

  7. Ok, I admit I have a tin ear, but that sounded horrible. Did the chords have any relation to the tune? Or was it just random chord changes?

  8. Hey plays the wrong chords to harmonize…it is almost painful. Sure this would work in a pinch, but if you learned a few more chords you might be better off.

    At BJU the thing was no “Power Chords.” Somehow power chords transmorphed from neutral guitar playing to worldly den of satan. Of course no one really knew what a power chord was, exactly, cause to even think of it was a sin.

  9. @Lizzy F

    I have a BS in Music Education. I hated the “music pastor who didn’t know what he was doing” syndrome in Fundy land. It tore me up to watch my home church go from qualified musician to a Bible grad with a minor in music. At the time I was still in college, but it was painful to come home and watch. The guys didn’t have the foggiest idea of what he was doing, but there they were thinking they had brought in a musical genius. Oh well.

    When I was in college we always made fun of the music minors. They thought they knew what they were doing, but they knew only enough to be *dangerous* and I mean that in the literal sense. They do more harm to music than good.

  10. @Mark R

    Because playing power chords leads to an interest in Megadeth, which leads to suicide, and finally, to becoming a Southern Baptist.

  11. “This could be used maybe on a camping trip or somewhere like that where a guitar would be a little more appropriate.”

    Stuff Fundies Like: the word “appropriate.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had that flung at me like a batarang.

  12. “appropriate” – strong moral connotations. completely vague, definable only by current circumstances and point of view. Gosh, maybe the fundies actually invented that word.

  13. “Appropriate” is a lighter version of “God-honoring,” which is a phrase that almost makes me sick when I hear it. I would be surprised if Darrel hasn’t already written about that one.

  14. The fundy disclaimer is at 0:06-0:11. Steve had to stick the disclaimer in, God forbid that anyone would think that his church would actually use the acoustic guitar in church. That would be a certain slipper slope.

  15. Holy bad chords Batman, he stinketh! I’ve been playing guitar since I was 14 and that amounts to over 30 years of playing. I play some rock, prog rock, classical, hymns, and a little jazz. I’ve never heard of the “3-chord” rule. You can’t play just the same three chords for every hymn. It doesn’t work in theory or in practice. That’s why there’s a key signature to tell you what key you should be in. Yes, you can always transpose but not to the same three major chords – it will sound like $*** every time. I’m no professional but you don’t need to be when your ears “tell” you the chords you need. There are literally hundreds of chords on a guitar. To reduce it down to the same three chords for every hymn is just asking for bad sound. To each their own but I see the guitar as a canvass to mix your colors (chords) with. Find the root of a chord and make a triad out of it then add a few other notes to suit your taste. I played for well over a year at our church when we lost our piano player. I had fun and the brethren were very longsuffering with my playing. Now electric guitar and amps that’s a whole different topic!

  16. Stretch strings across a frame and strike them with a hammer (i.e., piano), and it’s holy. Stretch strings across a frame and strike them with a piece of plastic and it’s not God-honoring. Sigh…

  17. Conversation I once had with my senior pastor after I sang “You Are My Hiding Place” and played classical guitar in a morning service.
    Pastor: “It would be best if you only used your guitar in the evening. Some folks were offended.”
    Me: “Which was the offensive part–the Scripture words I sang, the instrument I played that’s descended from the lyre, or the worship I was doing in my heart?”
    Pastor: “……….okay nevermind.”

  18. @Jordan M.

    “Stuff Fundies Like: the word “appropriate.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had that flung at me like a batarang.”

    I’ve heard that word sooooo many times growing up, I cringe every time I hear it. It’s so associated with fundyism for me that I refuse to even use the word at all. *brrrr* like nails on a chalkboard..

  19. I love that he wanted to specify that during service they use the “traditional piano and organ”. I think the only reason badly played guitar is “appropriate” around the campfire is because no one can fit the church piano on their backs.

    1. Man, I would pay good money to see someone get up on a fundy platform and play one of these!!! Grooovy… Unfortunately he or she would be tackled and escorted out of the building immediately.

  20. I knew someone who played accordian for the same reasons as he gave for playing guitar, plus the accordian is louder, you can accompany more people on it! The fact that it would make a campfire sing seem more like a Lawrence Welk show, without the bubbles or the dancing, was neither here nor there.

    Seriously, only the BAD hymns have 3 chords.

    One of the things that started me out of Fundyland was when my church hired a music guy who didn’t know how to sing. He had the choir breathing between syllables of a word. Not kidding. Ick.

  21. I didn’t think about his use of “traditional instruments” and lumping the piano in there. The piano hasn’t been a traditional instrument for very long indeed. This was a huge reason why I eventually embraced all instruments in my form of worship.

    Long ago not even the organ was permitted, but even as that became a main staple in churches around the world the piano was extremely uncommon. It was the palor instrument. You used it in bars and its “association” was anathema to churches. Thus it was so all the way even through the beginning of the 20th century. If you stepped into a church in 1920 with a piano that was a *liberal* church. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that it started to become more common, and by the time I was a kid suddenly it was “traditional” and “sacred.” In fact now more Fundy churches use piano than organ…if they have an organ it is often just a piece of “old” junk sitting in the corner. Of course since the piano was no longer an evil instrument of Satan they had to pick something else. And the guitar was the natural choice. Except eventually they started to give in…indeed now many Fundy churches will allow *acoustic* guitar played in a stylistically bland way. At this point it might even be acceptable to have a special guest play an entire worship set on an *acoustic* guitar playing in a sufficiently stylistically bland way.

    After learning about all that history I came to a realization…history is only repeating itself. First it was instruments period…then it was the organ…eventually it moved to the piano…and finally moved on to the guitar. I’d say it is a safe bet that eventually even Fundy land will forget why they ever thought the guitar was evil and someday a pastor just like this one will give a horrible lesson on a new instrument and lump guitar in with the other “traditional” instruments it is now acceptable to use.

    It has been said wisely and all of church history proves this. Yesterday’s heresy is tomorrow’s dogma.

  22. @Mark My husband and I talked about the term “traditional” in reference to the piano and organ, which are relatively new instruments, and why people try to act like they are the only appropriate instruments in church when the 1st century church had nothing like them. Maybe the church had to sing a cappella while waiting for these instruments to be created?

    @Darrell- while your keytar solution, with accompanying picture that made me laugh so hard at the thought of that around an IFB campfire, is the best of both worlds but we all know those are wicked because all of the enormously out of date videos from the 80s on the evils of rap and rock music we had to watch in our schools and youth groups in the late 90s and early 2000s. All those 80s hairbands in the videos had keytars so every fundy knows they are instruments of the devil.

  23. Now obviously he can’t play the guitar and has no real concept of Western music theory, but let’s think about this- One part that sounds “wrong” is during “So loved he the world that he gave us his son.” It sounds wrong (or I would use the word out of place) because he continues to use the IV chord during “world that he”, which (according to the hymn book I stole years ago, anyways) should move back to the I chord. The next measure (“gave us his”) is supposed to be V7/V; however, he skips right to the V chord which appears in the next measure (“Son, who”). One could argue, that if Anderson had a knowledge of non-chord tones (which he probably doesn’t) he was simply being creative and using the extended IV chord as a suspension and the extended V chord as an anticipation. However, generally suspensions are resolved and anticipations only occur after the original chord has been established, Anderson does neither, so at best, he’s an idiot savant-ish. Emphasis on the idiot.

  24. @alm517 “Maybe the church had to sing a cappella while waiting for these instruments to be created?”

    Well not only did the church have to wait until the instruments were created, but western music theory had to evolve as well. Even though instruments are mentioned in the psalms they’d bear little to no resemblance to instruments we have to day, and even if they did they would have been played completely differently. Little or much can be made for how the early church worshiped in song or even how the Psalms are meant to be “performed.” But more to the point. What I was referencing was the fact that at one time people fought rigorously against the use of *any* instruments in worship. There was also a point in time when people fought hard for Psalmody only as well. Eventually perceptions changed, but as things were allowed something had to take its place. And so the circle of history keeps repeating itself. What is interesting is that this pastor off-handedly remarks that he is using “traditional” instruments and lumps the organ with the piano. I find it a bit absurd considering that the piano hasn’t been in common use for much more than 70-maybe100 years, and there were major battles staged against its use in the beginning (sound familiar?).

    I think the main point is that he doesn’t realize his history. On the one hand he seems to indicate that, “Of course I don’t use the guitar in church, that wouldn’t be traditional.” While on the other hand saying, “Of course I use the piano it’s been the traditional instrument since the time of Jesus.” My how short our memories have become.

  25. Speaking waiting for instruments, does anybody else cringe when they hear, “If we could only worship the way Jesus worshiped?” When I hear that, I want to tell them to get rid of the instruments in the church, learn to sing the church modes, learn Hebrew and hope chanting doesn’t go out of style.

  26. I don’t know if any of the other guitarists here have mentioned it, but I’ve known “the key of worship” (as it has been called) to be the Key of G. If you know any of Passion’s music, it’s in the majority of G.
    Heck, I just started playing the F like that recently, and I’ve been playing for what, 5 years now?

    @Mark Rosedale. I’ve heard that before. The whole “degenerate instruments” if you wanna call it that. And I agree with you.
    @Ken. Dude. Clever response. New hero of the day. 🙂

    I personally love this discussion. I’m also wondering how many people sat there reading the comments and were wondering what “I, IV, V” had to do with the topic.

  27. @mark rosedale: the Psalms-only people are still around, even if they are in the minority. It just goes to show that even the most conservative hymns-only fundy would be considered a downright liberal by others! (FWIW I enjoy singing hymns and also see the value in singing the Psalms, and not just the portions that normally make it into worship songs. How many times have you heard Psalm 88 sung?)

  28. Saw a demonstration last summer on medieval music/instruments at the cathedral here in Ripon, UK. Very interesting. At some point way back when, the pope had declared that a 7th chord was evil and it was banned from use in the church.

  29. Skipping over the music part of this video (yeah, pretty awful) but isn’t this the preacher who became (in)famous when he prayed for Obama’s death?

  30. He’s also famous for preaching a sermon on how men should piss (castigate me for my language if you must, but it’s in the KJV, so it must be ok) standing up, based on 1 Kings 14:10, etc.

  31. Regarding “p**seth”, I remember asking my mom if I Kings 14 REALLY meant what I thought it meant (we were very sheltered in our home; I never, ever heard or read questionable language), and she told me not to say it; it was a bad word. I was REALLY annoyed that my KJVO mom was telling me not to read a Bible verse because it was “bad”. (I also in my 16 year old ignorance was very offended at Song of Solomon. I couldn’t imagine WHY God allowed something so graphic in the Bible. I guess I was well on my way to being “holier” than God, until I learned better!) OK, thread hijack over! 🙂

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