A Great Time Saver TextExpander

23 09 2014

I use an online Bible program.  Many times I will copy a passage of Scripture hoping to paste it

TextExpander snippet

TextExpander snippet

into Microsoft Word and the standard “cmd v” will not work. That means going to the edit menu, selecting “Edit” then scrolling to “Paste Special,” that brings up a menu box that gives you the option to “paste plain text.”  Do that 20 or thirty times as you prepare a sermon outline, then the PowerPoint slides and that adds up to hundreds of mouse clicks, and typing.

Well to the rescue is a TextExpander snippet that bypasses all those pesky mouse travels, clicks and typing.  I can instead type ptp and TextExpander will paste the clipboard contents in the style the document is currently using. This is so simple to set up and use that I wish I had known about this 30 years ago when I was in Preacher Training School and college.

The snippet uses TextExpander’s %clipboard command.  You can assign the hotkey abbreviation to whatever you choose.  I will be using this snippet hundreds of times this month alone.  Here is a screen shot of the TextExpander window with the assigned snippet and the abbreviation.

What great timesaving tips can you share?  Do you have an app that you couldn’t make it through the day without using? Tell me about it.


Encourage Other’s To Participate

17 03 2010

One of the greatest things we do as worship leaders is to invite and encourage people to participate in the worship. Our actions and any words we speak should be aimed to this goal.

One of the greatest tools you have to do this is to compliment individuals regularly. When you can tell people you appreciate their participation, their spirit, their smiles, their pretty voice, a fitting prayer or anything you can find that is honest to commend.  A word of encouragement in the church newsletter or bulletin is always a good idea.  There is nothing wrong with commending the entire congregation either.  Preachers and teachers seem to have no problem correcting an assembly. Why not edify with carefully chosen words of praise?

Song leaders can encourage people with facial expressions and body movements. A welcoming smile will brighten any worship assembly. Be careful about singing entire songs with your eyes closed people will think they are disturbing your personal worship.

Invite other leaders to participate throughout the worship time. There is nothing wrong with having several different song leaders, prayer leaders, readers or even preachers all focused on one assembly. Sharing the “stage” lets people know that worship should engage all of us.

An App for Song Writers

3 01 2010

There are plenty of times when we are away from the computer or our favorite instrument we use to compose music.  Sometimes we are looking for just the right progression of chords to make a song sound just right.  Even though all worship songs that I write will end up for a Capella voices it helps to hear the chords as I build the song.

Enter a really nice app from Hopefully Simple Software.  It is not set up like a piano keyboard.  Instead it is set up to play chords.  The chords on each page are complementary to each other.  There are chord modifiers that allow you to change the inversions and add 7th to the family.  There is also a button that will allow you to show the Chord Numbers for those of us who play by standard Nashville chord chart tab.

There is a recording feature with a metronome to record your song.  It also writes the chords for you into a file that you can review as it plays the song.  Sadly, you can’t export them to print or create a midi file so you could import it into your music notation program.  That is not their goal anyway.

Capturing your chord progressions and experimenting with chord spellings is.  To this end the app is wonderful.  This little app lets you change keys so you can build your song in any key.  The program includes major, minor and 7th chords for each key.  This feature also makes it possible to listen to a song on your stereo and discover the key and chord progressions.

The app downloads with sound files that are in low resolution format.  However they let you upgrade them to high quality wav files.  It sounds great on the headphones or your The app downloads with sound files that are in low resolution format.  However they let you upgrade them to high quality wav files.  It sounds great on the headphones or your iPhone speakers.  For $1.99 you can feed that inner creativity and capture your song ideas on the fly in place you have your iPhone or iTouch.


Review of SongSuggest 1.0

29 12 2009

Every song leader has a need to access a list of songs on many themes.  Building your own database is a great idea and will serve you well.  Technology has moved us a long way down the road for being able to cross reference, recall and store song lists, and themes.

WorshipApps.com has a product that brings a great tool to our iPhone.  Imagine needing a song list on consecration.  SongSuggest gives you the ability to search songs from its 600 song database by that theme or many others.  They can be searched by theme, key and tempo.  If you can’t remember what the song sounds like they added a way to search YouTube for a video of the song.  There is a link out to iTunes for you to purchase the songs and a link to google.com so you can search for lyrics within the app.  Handy for you when you don’t have easy access to SongSelect or the ccli database online.

Sadly, there is no way to save lyrics in the program.  This would give you more ability to search for songs by topic, theme and phrase.

It would be great if they would add a way to email song lists to your worship team.  It would also be nice if you could add your own songs to the list.  There are many songs in our songbooks and newly written songs that are not on the list.  Another feature that could be an advantage would be to link to SSPlus or Media Shout.  If you could export your list to either of these programs it would save several steps in your set planning.  This in no way means this isn’t a useful app.  It is in its first generation.  I hope the developer will improve on a great idea.






Song Selection Guest Article

30 11 2009

As we think about methods and purpose for song selection we will feature various worship leaders who are willing to share their thoughts.

Brother James Tackett produces the Paperless Hymnal which has truly changed the way most congregations of the Churches of Christ present printed music.  Here is Brother Tackett’s method.

I like to get the sermon topic from the preacher. You have to start somewhere, so I start there. If I don’t have his topic, I make up one.

With a topic in mind, I try to find the best song on that topic and use it right before the sermon. That song should also be lively. I want the audience to be awake and ready to listen with I give them over to the preacher.

I usually pick the first few songs for praise and or call to worship content, the first one easy, the second lively, the third not as lively. That set of songs should be a short time of worship within it’s self, not just a bunch of favorite songs stuck together. I never sing all the stanzas of a song because they are there but choose what I need for the thought of the set.

If the topic allows,I’ll use a song or two before the Lord’s Supper  that will point to the cross and also involve the topic. Otherwise, I choose a separate set of songs to emphasize our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. I might even insert a scripture reading in the mix.

I like to have a flow in thought and energy. Sets of songs are better than songs interrupted by the other “acts of worship”. If I can, sets of songs are in the same key, flowing from one into the next. Even though I have been using The Paperless Hymnal longer than anyone else, I usually don’t use it for the invitation or closing songs. I want to be flexible with the invitation song and I am always changing my mind on the closing song after hearing the sermon. I don’t want technology to get in my way of doing what is better at that time.

I use an index file with scripture and topical information to help me find songs. You can download that file at:


James Tackett

The Paperless Hymnal



Tweeting, Facebooking and YouTubing III

8 11 2009


YouTubing is Not Safe On The River

News is worthless unless you can share it.  Visual information will remain firmly in the brain mo’ betta’ than audio information.  Bring on the video revolution for announcing your announcements.  Every ministry of the church should have a YouTube account.  I promise you your bulletin isn’t being read by most of your congregants.  I promise you most people are unaware that you posted an announcement on the PowerPoint scroll that plays before the worship starts.  Sadly, not everyone is reading your Facebook or Twitter status updates.

YouTube brings a power punch to push your points to the peeps.  It is not painless and it will take a lot of preparation to produce a palatable poiniant piece that people will paruse. Okay, I’ll stop with the alliteration.  People love YouTube to the tune of watching 100,000,000 every day, if you wanted  to watch every video online right now you would be watching for the next 600 years if you took no breaks.

Equipment You Need. Good News Not Much!

YouTube is free.  Which is good because you are going to need to save your pennies to purchase a video camera.  Good news video cameras are getting less expensive all the time.  Most digital still cameras will shoot pretty good video too.  So you might not have to lay out a heap o’ cash to get started.  Most YouTube videos are recorded with a very cheap webcam and 300,000,000 people are flocking to watch them.  Young people are far less interested in the aesthetics of film than the previous generation.  After all they are watching movies on their psp or iPhone.  So big layout for production gear isn’t the important part of YouTube.

I use a flip camera that cost about $90 bucks.  It is adequate for what we need. The cool thing about flip is the files are pre-formatted in YouTube format. If I have one complaint about it is there is no input for an external microphone.  Do some research online to help you find just the right camera for shooting video. Check your digital still camera and see if it will record video you may already have what you need.

Software is not a big problem if you bought a computer in the last five or so years you will probably own Windows Movie Maker which will be enough to make a YouTube video.  Apple has software included with their computers too.  A lot of my friends recommend Magix Movie Editor Pro.  Can’t tell you how to use it but it sure makes nice videos.

tubeSo you see the equipment and software are really not the important part of YouTube Video Production. Your content and personality are the key to making videos people will surf to watch.

Talking heads died out with Max Headroom. People get enough of that on Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly.  Creativity will be the fuel for building audience on YouTube.  Notice that I didn’t say talent.  In fact having no talent can be a great publicity magnet, remember William Hung.

Brevity is King!  Short pithy video announcements are always better than long, boring ones.  If your announcement is longer than 3 minutes consider cutting it in half and then cut it in half again.

Solicit volunteers.  Kids love to monkey around with video stuff and people like to watch them do it.  If you can get a 3 year old to read your copy while giving their pet hamster a mud-bath, you will have an Oscar worthy YouTube Announcement Video.  People also like to see their friends doing stupid things too.  If you can get the preacher to wear a cowboy suit and yodel your announcement you’ve got yourself the perfect YouTube announcement. Invest in a few props like wigs, glasses and silly hats.  Record your video in an unusual place that people will recognize.

These are the types of things that make your YouTube efforts worthwhile. Its not Dan Rather and the Evening News that people are looking for. youtube-logo

Just because your video is creative does not mean that you can be sloppy.  Be sure to script everything.  Layout a plan for your shots.  Give your announcement script to your actor/reader far enough ahead that they are familiar enough to sound natural as they read the copy.  Cue cards or a laptop teleprompter are great tools.  Make sure you have good audio.  If people can’t understand your voice track you’ve wasted your time and theirs.  Sometimes voice over is a great addition to your video for clarity.  Most editing software has voice over and titling capability.




I Love Drop.io It Makes Life Easier.

30 10 2009


In the last post we talked a little bit about recording practice tracks for people to learn new music.  I am fortunate in that I have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).  I can record practice tracks with ease.  Usually a practice packet for a new song will include the following.

  • PDF of the sheet music
  • mp3 of the entire song mixed with all parts
  • mp3 with each voice part emphasized
  • midi file of each voice part
  • PowerPoint of the song with the practice track attached to it plays while the slides scroll (pseudo karaoke machine)

I can distribute these files very easily by using drop.io. Drop.io is a free service that allows you to make a pickup point on the cloud (Internet).  The process is simple.

  1. Go to http://drop.io
  2. At the website you will see a menu box that allows you to create a name for your “drop” if you don’t name it you will be assigned a random name that no one will remember.  A good practice is to name it with the name of the song.  Drop.io does not allow spaces so use underscores between each word or just mash it up together.  Ex. http://drop.io/Alive_Forever  or http://drop.io/AliveForever
  3. The next line has a radio button that reads”Select Files”
  4. A new menu window will appear.  Select the files from your computer that you want to include. I usually make a folder in my documents on my computer and save all the files into it as I create them so I can find them easily. After you select the files hit the upload button and off to the cloud go your files.
  5. This is where the cool part come in.  You send an email to all your peeps that need these files.  You include the drop name you created http://drop.io/anynameyouchose.  Now the folks who receive the email click on the link.  They are cyberported to the drop and can download all the files they need.

For all our “green” friends there is nothing more eco friendly than paperless.  Drop.io lets this happen for you.  Everyone can download the file they need, view it or play it on their computer and learn the new song. As Granny Chase would say “That is as handy as pockets on a shirt.”

Looking at Dropbox to see if it is a good tool.