A Time Saver Tip

Here’s a tip for saving time typing the repetitive content in your weekly order of service cards.

This can work for you whether you type out your worship set in Word, or an email – whatever you use to type the list of songs for the week.

It’s a free software called Phrase Express. (for Windows; there are similar text expansion programs for Mac.)

It’s simple.  Once you’ve downloaded, installed the program, and opened it, you enter a template.  Then you assign a set of keystrokes that will trigger that template.

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The Lead Sheet

If you are playing the piano in a church, chances are you’ve had someone ask you to play a song for them from a lead sheet.

If you’re not familiar with that term, a lead sheet is a piece of music that just has the melody line on the staff with the letter name of the chords written above (such as C, Em, etc.).  They are also called “chord charts.”

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Church Music Talks: Episode 2 – Leading Multiple Generations to Worship God

If you were to isolate the greatest challenges that face music ministries in the 21st century, at the top of the list would be the challenge of leading different generations to worship God together.

Some ministries split services.  Some adjust style to fit newer models.  Others want to hold to only older songs.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Zach Young, Pastor of Music and Worship at First Baptist Church in Jackson, TN.  We discussed his unique perspective on leading multi-generational worship.

We covered the place of musical style in congregational singing, tips for gauging singability, and song themes that connect with all generations.

So, I’m excited to share with you our second interview with effective music pastors!

Zach has been in Jackson for about six months, after several years in Lebanon, TN.  He’s an organ guy, and has a heart for leading his church in congregational worship. I enjoyed catching up with Zach, and I know you will get some valuable help here.

So, set aside the piles of music on your desk, grab your coffee, and join us for a talk with Zach Young.  It might not be what you expect.

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Why “Showing Up Every Day” Moves Your Priorities Forward

On Monday, I talked about Seth Godin’s concept of “Show up every day.”

Musicians can get stuck easily.  Whether through fatigue, high expectations of ourselves, or too many responsibilities, it’s easy to get paralyzed and start spinning our wheels.

Today, I’m going to share with you 6 reasons why “Show up every day” can move you forward in life.

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Productivity and Keeping the Focus Right

I write on this site mainly about church music and playing the piano.  But today and Wednesday, I’m going to talk a little about productivity.  And this will have application to your music.

We musicians can be overwhelmed with the amount of rehearsals we have, the gap between where our skill level is to where we want to be, and the multitude of administrative details we have to keep up with.

We all want to make sure we are productive.

Productivity is a buzz word on the internet, at least in the blogs and posts I read.  A lot of people are talking about it.  People want to be more productive.  Everyone has tips and tools, most of which are very useful in getting tasks accomplished or having the right mindset when approaching work.

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The New markjmartin.com

I relaunched markjmartin.com earlier this week with a new design.  The old design was too basic, and, especially on a computer, wasted a lot of real estate on your computer screen.

Take a look at the new design.  It’s a lot easier to navigate.  As I post more arrangements on the site, they will be easier to find with the new format.

The more the site grows, I believe the new design will help you find what you need more.

Let me know in the comments section what public domain hymns you would like me to arrange for piano.

And let me know if anything on the site doesn’t work right on your computer.  Your feedback is welcomed.

Comment here.

Playing for the Sake of Playing

When I taught piano, I encouraged the parents to give the kids an opportunity, after they had practiced their lesson material, to just play around on the piano.


  1. You learn by discovery.
  2. Playing by ear exercises the improvisation muscles.
  3. Discovering tunes on your own is enjoyable.

It benefited the children, and, I have a hunch, it would benefit adult pianists as much as kids.

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Finding the Wonder in the Tension

The Bible is full of both/and truths.

But we try to make them either/ or’s.

God is a Being who can have two seemingly contradictory truths exist together at the same time. For example, in our limited brains, our heads explode when we think of how Christ is both fully human and fully God.

Many debates in Christianity are attempts to make both/ and’s into either/ or’s.  We try to make God and His truth something we can wrap our minds around, and what results is an overemphasis on one side or the other.

But, if we allow the both/ and’s to stay in tension, instead of trying to get rid of the tension, we will be driven to wonder.

Because only an infinite Being who transcends our understanding deserves to be worshiped.

courtesy of stocksnap.io

courtesy of stocksnap.io

When we try to make everything an either/or, we rob God of His glory.  Because only a both/and God who transcends our understanding can be great.

In your worship this weekend, know that God is big enough to confound our thinking.  Don’t let that frustrate you.  Let that drive you to worship.

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