Make Your Worship Song Slides More Appealing

The First NoelIf you are a visual/tech person for an a cappella church, you may be interested in this post. Otherwise, this is a fun exercise in graphic editing.

Many churches are using worship song slides that include music notation. Quite often, there is somewhat of a debate between the people who like the notes and people who want pictures and words. Some need the intellectual stimulus of singing parts from a prepared arrangement while other prefer the visual stimulation of nature, colors, backgrounds, etc. It’s very hard to find common ground. This is a tutorial on how to create song slides that appeal to both tastes.

This will not be an all-inclusive tutorial. I will proceed on the basis that you are aware of some fundamental aspects of editing graphics, and I will be using Photoshop CC 2014 as my graphical interface.

To begin, you’ll need a song. Some churches create their own notation. If so, more power to you. That’s not what I’m covering in this tutorial. If you don’t have the ability to create notation from scratch, take a look at Paperless Hymnal or A View of Worship. Both offer excellent arrangements in pre-formatted slides. For this illustration, I will be using Paperless Hymnal’s version of In Christ Alone.

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Stay away from GuitarTapp Pro

GuitarTapp PROGuitarTapp Pro nuked me.

It’s not often I write inflammatory posts, but this one deserves it. I’ve even reached out to 8:45 Tools, the creator of GuitarTapp Pro, for help.


Some background… for quite a while I was in possession of a very nice iPad. It belonged to a company I no longer work with, so I lost it when that employment ended. One of my most used apps on the iPad was OnSong (on which I’ve done a previous review that you can see here). OnSong is a great song chart viewer for live situations… sort of like a teleprompter with all the bells and whistles.

When I moved over to the android platform, OnSong was not available. Shame. Anyway, I had to find an alternative. I thought I had found it in GuitarTapp Pro.

For the past year or more, I have used that app heavily… at least once a week, if not more often. I have over 150 songs programmed into it, all of them tweaked to the way I like and prefer. I even have some alternate arrangements to songs that I liked to use.

It was going swimmingly until a couple of weeks ago. Either android did an update or GuitarTapp Pro updated. Either way, my entire song catalog is now gone. Over a year’s worth of work, disappeared. Talk about frustrating…

Consequently, I would encourage you not to use GuitarTapp Pro. It is most definitely NOT a safe platform. I am even considering getting back into an iPad because of this failure.

Make Your Work More Productive in 2013

Results - Productivity

Today’s guest post is from Ray Edwards. This is the kind of thing I really need to hear, since my focus and productivity levels seem to be roughly equivalent to the level of H20 in my town of Shallowater. The original post can be found here, but I have included it in it’s entirety for you.

I took the last few days to contemplate what worked for me, in terms of productivity, over the past year – and what did not work. The result: a new plan for improved productivity in 2013. While you may not wish to duplicate my plan point-for-point, I thought you might find it useful to see my “working blueprint”. Maybe it will serve as a springboard for your own fresh new productivity tweaks.

Productivity Philosophy

I looked at a number of productivity programs and approaches, many of which I have used in the past. After careful consideration, I still can’t find another system that works as well as Getting Things Done. While I find great ideas in the Franklin Covey approach, among others, GTD makes the most sense for me. If you are not familiar with the GTD philosophy, I encourage you to read David Allen’s seminal work on stress-free productivity. A great augmentation to the GTD material is one of my favorite new podcasts and websites, Erik Fisher’s “Beyond the To-Do List”.


In keeping with my adherence to GTD, my planning is fairly simple. I have a weekly review session on Fridays, during which I collect all the inputs that have accumulated over the past week, and one by one clear them from my inbox. For each item I decide whether to do it, delegate it, or delete it. Simple, but not always easy. In 2012, I reached the mythical “inbox zero” only about 50% of the time. My goal for the new year is to reach inbox zero 80% of the weeks in the year.

Disciplined Tracking

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have never been great at tracking my activities. I am resolved to change that in 2013. In the realm of fitness, I have hired a personal trainer, and invested in a FitBit (this little device tracks my physical activity throughout the day). For business activities, I am developing a dashboard for my company in Excel to keep track of key metrics. For productivity purposes, I have reinstalled RescueTime, to help me evaluate how I’m spending my time on the computer. I am resolved to reduce my computer time in the new year significantly.

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The Secret Weapon Most Small Businesses Don’t Know and Should

Google Places

I am constantly amazed at the number of small business people I run across who do not know about one of the greatest online tools available for marketing. When I mention the words “Google Places,” I usually get a blank stare in return. For all of you reading who just mentally shrugged, let me share a bit.

Google Place is a free service of the search giant. It is, in essence, your business listing for Google. As of mid-2011, Google owned over 65% of all searches, more than double of Bing (14%) and Yahoo (16%) combined. When someone does a Google Maps search for a business, the results that come up are populated by Google Places. Click on one of those little pins on the map and the page that comes up, hopefully chocked full of info, is a micro-version of their Google Places page.

What makes Google Places so important?

Here’s a few good reasons:

  • Search engine results pages (SERP’s) give priority to Places results. Google Places will come in at the top of any given search, thus raising the possibility of being found by targeted customers.
  • If someone is searching for a product along with a location name, the chances of conversion are much greater. You’ve probably got a buyer on your hands.
  • Even if your website is well optimized, it will always appear lower in the results. Organic search results appear further down than Google Places results.
  • It’s likely you will see an increase in customers, as Google Places brings in targeted business.
  • And last but certainly not least, it’s free!

Mobile Friendly

According to a recent study, 95% of smart phone users are searching for information about local businesses from their phone. This demographic of users tends to act quickly with over 80% taking action on their search results within one day. 77% of these people call or visit the local business they discovered in their search.

Google Places is designed to automatically format for mobile phones. If you have a Google Places page, this gives you the greatest mobile impact with the easiest interface and greatly increases the chances of customer conversion.

It’s Already There, so Claim it!

Here’s the thing. Google Places automatically generates Place pages. There are over 5 million out there now. Only 2.3 million have been claimed by actual businesses. That’s leaves over 2.7 million Place pages that are unclaimed and basically devoid of information. If you have not claimed your business Place page, you are leaving potential customers out in the cold. Not only will they have a harder time finding you, there will be no helpful information when they do.

If you claim your page, you have the ability to add location information, pictures, contact info, special deals… just about any kind of marketing you care to do.

Google has even integrated Google Places into Google+. Anything you add to your Place page will be reflected within their social media site. That’s nothing to sneeze at, either.

How Do I Claim It?

Simple. Go to and they will walk you through the process. It involves Google sending you a verification postcard, so it doesn’t happen overnight. Overall, it’s a painless and fairly quick procedure and VERY much worth the effort. If you still don’t think you have time, I can do it for you. In the words of Stargate, “Hey, it’s what I do.”

Does your business have a Google Places page yet? Have you seen any results?

Top 15 Posts for 2012

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. It’s a good time to look back and see what has worked and what hasn’t. I read a post from Michael Hyatt this morning that offered a good suggestion. Pull up the year’s stats and see what you top, most-viewed posts were. This kind of thing can be very helpful in determining the direction of posts for the next year.

He was right. It was rather intriguing. My stats are nowhere near as large as his (he ranges from 60,000 to 200,00 per post), but they still tell me something. Here are my top 15.

  1. Is Chinese a Language of the Tower of Babel? (306)
  2. Photoshop Tutorial: Adding Grass to an Image (192)
  3. Here’s a Good iGoogle Alternative (179)
  4. Acappella Memories: Kathisophobia or I’ll Stand, Thank You (173)
  5. Acappella Memories: The Seat of Questioning (170)
  6. Acappella Memories: Entertaining Angels Unaware (149)
  7. Acafest 2012 Review (143)
  8. Acappella Memories: Alvin! (142)
  9. Lose 10 Pounds Without Really Trying (142)
  10. Acappella Memories: Duane Adams at Acafest 2012 Pt. 2 (132)
  11. Acappella Memories: Grounded in Texas (130)
  12. Arranging (129) – this one is actually a page, not a post, for those of you who know the difference.
  13. The Power of Introverts (129)
  14. Acappella Memories: The Original Well on my Way (109)
  15. Acappella Memories: Duane Adams at Acafest 2012 Pt. 1 (107)

I removed the “About Gary” page, which actually fell at #2 on the list.

So what does this tell me? First, it seems there’s a great interest in the mysteries of history as they pertain to the Bible. Who would’ve thought that the Chinese/Babel connection would’ve come in first? I will need to explore more topics along this line.

Next, 2 of the top 3 posts were about productivity. Looking at the top 50, I could see that it placed very strongly as a topic. I should do more productivity.

But obviously, the thing that easily stands out the most is the number of top 15 posts that were Acappella-related. 9 of the top 15 were about my time with Acappella. I guess I need to brush off the cobwebs and revive more memories.

If you have a blog, have you checked your top posts for the year? It’s rather revealing.