Self, 2011

Artist to Photographer

Self, 2011

Almost a year ago, I made the conscious decision to stop painting, and stop calling myself an artist. A very small part of the decision was due to the lack of time I had; teaching full time, newly married, as well as various other commitments.

But the main reason I have stopped has been brewing inside for a while, since I began studying Art History at Victoria University.
Through my studies, I was introduced to people who called themselves artists through their artworks, who had a very different interpretation of the word art than I did. It is almost insulting. Back in 2006, I made a piece called Would Rembrandt Approve, which asks the question of these posers, whether the great masters of years gone by would approve these concoctions as works of art.
Such an artwork was a wire mesh fence set up in a square, with some boxes, pinths, with flyers and rubbish scattered around inside. Art. Artist. Joke.
For me, these so called artists, who were claiming to push the boundaries of art, were not only pushing over walls, but destroying the very foundation they were claiming to be standing upon.

It disgusts me.
It makes me ashamed to be called an artist.

Furthermore, studying post-modernism, it was evident that there was no changing this depressing future.

So I turned my focus to photography. I have always been interested in it, but saw it as a technical process rather than a creative output. As an artist, I found it just as annoying to see photographers calling themselves artists, rather than being an entity on their own.
But since adjusting my focus into the world of photography, I have found new challenges, creative problem solving, and most importantly, fun, in my pursuits. I have found that most photographers in my circle of friends to call themselves photographers rather than artists. And I have found a new lease of life in creating images for people to enjoy.

End note: This may come to a shock to many of you who value my work, and to you I apologise. But I thank you for all your support over the years, and for your continuing encouragement in my pursuits.

Why It Will be Hard for the All Blacks to Win the World Cup

I’m not going to say that the All Blacks will “never” win another world cup, but I’ll outline a very simple reason why it will be extremely difficult for them to win it ever again.

In 1987, the inaugural Rugby World Cup kicked off with a bang. The All Blacks won, and whilst the home ground advantage was there, it is more in the mind set of the players that enable them to win. Don’t worry, I tend to scoff at those who place high importance on the psychological area of player mentality and it’s affect on their performance. But it is clear, that in 1987, the expectation had a positive outlook upon it.

You see, in 1987, at the very first Rugby World Cup, the players thought patterns would have been; “We are the best team, therefore we will win this world cup”. We came up with the idea, we pushed for it to happen, and we hosted it. [pullquote]Everyone knew that the All Blacks are the best side in the world, and so it was expected of them to win[/pullquote], without any pressure, as there was no doubting that they would win.

But the time 1991 rolled around, the mentality had shifted. You see, as they were still undoubtedly the best rugby team, there was pressure for the All Blacks to repeat the results of ’87 – to win the cup again. This made the mindset slightly different: “We are the best team, we need to win this world cup”. The key difference is a negative connotation around the word “need” in this mindset. You see, in ’87, it was “We will win”, providing a positive base. In ’91, it was “We can’t afford to lose, we need to win”, which automatically put the pressure onto the players, by the public, and also by the players themselves.

In 1995, we came close. [pullquote]If food poisoning hadn’t invaded the team, it might have been a different result.[/pullquote] But at the same time, local support for the South Africans, and the whole rallying behind Nelson Mandella, meant that the South Africans had positive pressure behind them to win. Had we won, it would have relieved the built up pressure from the last 8 years.

In all the following Rugby World Cup’s, the pressure has continued, and in fact, will continue to grow each time we come to a World Cup. We have become (even if we can’t see it ourselves) the chokers of the Rugby World when it comes to the big time matches. George Gregan put it aptly to Byron Kellehar in the 2003 World Cup Semi Final verse Australia – his “Four More Years” rings in our ears constantly. We lost that match 10 – 22. This year will be no exception. [pullquote]The pressure has built over the last 24 years. That’s 24 years of broken expectations, burst hopes and crushed dreams, all weighing in on the All Blacks.[/pullquote] Should they find themselves down by 15 points in the second half of the semi finals again, one can’t help but think that they’ll be focussing on “We can’t afford to lose this again”, rather than thinking “We’re world beaters, and we’ll win this match”.

Additional to this, is the fact that because every team knows that the All Blacks are the best team in the world, they opposing players tend to play like men possessed, putting every ounce of energy and effort in order to beat the best team in the world. For the All Blacks, once again, they have to look negatively at the match, with the expectation that they should win considering they are the better team. This creates an imbalance, and the advantage goes to the team who are playing with all their hearts to win.

Needless to say I will be jumping for joy should we win the Final this year. And be writing a humble explanation as to why I was wrong in this post!

Found Your WP Site

I found your WP site and is it so beautiful, did you code it all yourself or is there basic structure i can use to have the layout?

Haven Grove Studio

Haven Grove Studio

Welcome to Haven Grove Studio.

Haven Grove Studio

The studio was set up by Al Ingham, in the spare room of his house. It is a place where the music can be played, the worship lifted up, and begin to be captured to share with others.

The hunt has been on for a name for my music room – for the most part because I am sick of calling it “The Music Room”. So now, it is the “Studio” when I am at home, but for the rest of you, it is “Haven Grove Studio”.

You can now visit the Haven Grove Studio website at http://havengrovestudio.alingham.com

Avalanche City: Our New Life Above the Ground – Review

Avalanche City – not a place that has a very welcoming name, nor would you want to spend the night. There is no wonder that the population of Avalanche City is one. Just one guy. Dave Baxter. But when you listen to the layers of music and the fullness of each sound, and you read the album cover to see that there is just one guy doing all of this, you begin to realise just what a talent this man is. It also puts hope in my own musical career, which is somewhat solo, because organising practises with others to meet on a regular basis has been the bane of my life since trying to form a band.

After popping in the CD, you’re immediately hit with the tune which became known in New Zealand households as the TV2 ad, advertising, well… TV2. TV One had Brooke Fraser’s ‘Something In the Water’, and so TV2 took Avalanche City’s ‘Love Love Love’. The style of music is in the same vein as Mumford and Son’s, hitting into genres of folk and country. But it has a little bit more cheer and happiness within the lyrics and feel in the album than Sigh No More. There is a rich balance between guitar, banjo, mandolin, and percussion. The finished product is a beautiful mix of bliss to the eardrums.

It’s certainly one I will be putting on the iPod, and listening to in my Mini as a cruise around town this summer.

★★★★☆  – 4 Stars

 

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Hymns Today, Gone Tomorrow

Before I start, I want to make it clear that what I am writing is an opinion, and it happens to be mine. I am sure that many of you (some of whom I consider as close friends) will disagree with me profusely. And you’re entitled to your opinion, but then, so am I.

I have read in many different discussions on the relevance of hymns in worship today. All seem to be in favour of hymns as an integral part of modern worship.
The opinion I am expressing is merely to balance up the debate, by offering a polar opposite to those already expressed.

I am in no way saying that hymns have no place in today’s worship scene and that they should never see the light of day. [pullquote]There is no doubting that some hymns are lyrically better and more theologically correct than some modern worship songs.[/pullquote] Yet the same can be said for modern worship songs, that some of them are better than some hymns. I do not wish to make argument as to hymns vs. modern songs, but more an exploration of the relevance of hymns today.

Take the following for example.
Today, we very rarely write letters, posted by mail, to anyone. With the advent of email, letter writing has become somewhat redundant.
The same comparison can be said for the progress in worship music.
In Email’s, we still write in English, we still follow some letter writing format and still send it to an address, just as we would when we write a letter. But it gets delivered quicker, we receive  a response quicker and the whole communication between the two parties is completed. The same applies when looking at the place of hymns in modern worship. The new songs are still in our language, they are written to worship the same God, but they are modernized to reflect the new musical tastes. They become more relevant for the people as music continues its journey through time.

Now, that is not to say that there is no place for written letters. Condolences, invitations, thank you’s,  or personal letters, often carry much more meaning if they are delivered in an envelope with handwritten ink across parchment, rather than popping up in our inbox. But the regularity in which we write such letters is much less than email.
[pullquote]Hymns still have a place in worship today, but not every week.[/pullquote]

If you take someone who is technologically minded, and tell them, that instead of writing an email, you must send the letters by post, that could become incredibly frustrating, and I’d suggest, that eventually they might in fact stop writing letters all together. By the same token, someone who is immersed in the music of today, and who might even be looking at pushing forward, both into God, and into worship music, might become increasingly frustrating if they are locked into having to play hymns. Some might say – “Get over yourself; play the hymn, or ship out” – and to some degree that is correct (and certainly the position I am in) but in the same way, that can be quite hurtful and damaging, not only to the musician worshipper, but also to their growth as a Christian who is trying to lead a multitude of people to worship God. It might in fact cause them to feel that enough is enough, the Church isn’t moving with me, I’m going. I’m not sure if that is the best outcome.

 

A little history. Hymns were written (and there’s no denying here that they were written well) for one instrument in mind, and one instrument only… The organ. Church organs around the world have been belting out these tunes for centuries. But, enter the regular contemporary church, you will struggle to find an organ. The closest thing you’ll get it a keyboard or piano. Quite often you’ll see a drum kit, as well as a couple of guitars.
Now, when you add more instruments, but try and play the songs the same way, it becomes increasingly difficult to find hymns that are transferable to incorporate these instruments. The result often being that they fall to the pianist to carry through. There are very few hymns that are able to fit a team of instruments.

An argument that comes up time and time again is “What about the old people? Shouldn’t we be including them by singing songs of their youth?”. The answer is yes.
But, in the same breath, are we serving the hymns justice by trying to do them without an organ. And in the very next breath, there have been witnesses of the elderly, clapping for christ, foot stamping and raising hallelujah’s from the dead in the front rows of pentecostal churches. I don’t see how modern worship songs are “not” for the elderly as well. Are we not all worshipping the same God.
It also pays to think about the next generation. We incorporate songs of the childhood of the past generation, [pullquote]but what songs are we going to sing that will take the next generation back to their childhood when they’re in their later years.[/pullquote] I suggest that hearing a hymn will turn them off then, as it so often does now.

 

Obviously, I know there are holes all through this argument. You can counter every point I have made with your own opposite one. But my opinion is expressed, a metaphorical weight off my shoulders. I just think it’s so backwards thinking. Who’s going to go out and buy a horse and cart next week, instead of using their car? Who uses an encyclopaedia when Google is at your fingertips?
[pullquote]Yes, we should be worshipping God with all our heart, no matter the song,[/pullquote] but for me personally, when a hymn comes on, my heart drops in my chest. And with a dropped heart, it’s very hard to bring it back up to worship Him with all that He deserves. I do it, but it shouldn’t have to be such a struggle.

God bless each and every one of you who are in favour of hymns. All I know is that on my iPod, the only hymns on there are ones that have been re-written musically to get with the times.

 

 

15 Activities for Interactive Whiteboards

Ever since getting an Interactive Whiteboard in my classroom, I have been building a database of bookmarks in my browser. Keeping these organised into folders makes it very easy for students to find and access, without having to type anything, so that they can get to the links by a series of clicks on the board. I have found that these 30 activities work very well in my classroom of Year 5 and 6 students (9 and 10 year olds).

General

  • 1. Promethean Planet – Definitely one of the most well populated resource banks of slides and lessons for a wide range of subject areas.
  • 2. TeacherLED – A good, solid selection of easy to use activities and lessons.
  • 3. eChalk – More suited for Secondary schools, it does have some primary resources too.
  • 4. pbKids – A small selection of games and activities.
  • 5. WordGames – A collection of literacy based activities and puzzles.

Reading

  • 6. Word Games – This site has hundreds of fun games about words etc. It also has board games as well. Some of the better ones I have listed below as individual activities in this list as well.
  • 7. Boggle – The Hasbro game where you create words from letters linked together. Good for one student, or a group of students working together.
  • 8. SpiderMan Web of Words – A great game to enthuse the kids – especially boys!
  • 9. Roy the Zebra – some junior school reading activities through a series of stories.

Writing

  • 9. Story Starter – A great little activity for giving students a quirky and funny topic to write on. Has the ability to randomise different parts of the sentence. And it’s from Scholastic, so you can’t go wrong!

Maths

  • 10. Two Player Chess – The best version I’ve found online that allows for human vs. human game.
  • 11. One Player Chess – Quite a good 3D version with different levels of difficulty.
  • 12. Connect 4 – This version is the best I’ve found online for Human vs Human, or Human vs Computer.
  • 13. Othello – Also called Reversi. Great simple game with Human vs Human, or Human vs Computer.

Other

Obviously there are many, many more resources out there, if you want to find them!
song-list

How to Create a Worship Set

So you’re a new worship leader. You’ve been in the wings, and you’ve seen others do it. You’ve stepped up to the mark, but maybe didn’t realise just how much preparation is required. I myself, only have limited experience, but there are a couple of tips I have picked up along the way.

1. Pray

The best thing you can do before doing anything else is pray. Before you choose songs; pray. Before you practise; pray. Before you play; pray. Without prayer, you’re not including God in the decision making of how the service flows. And without God, you’re just playing songs, not entering into worship.

2. Watch Other Leaders

Firstly have a look at Paul Baloche’s DVD, ‘Leading Worship: Creating Flow‘. In it, he goes through the basics of what you’re trying to create in a worship set, as well as some tools to help with this. One of the things he suggests, is to [pullquote]put together a song chart master, which categorises all the songs your worship team plays into keys and tempo[/pullquote]. I have done this, with all our up tempo songs in the different keys together , and all our slower songs in the different keys together. What this allows you to do is quickly see the songs that might fit around a song that is placed on your heart.
Secondly, have a look at some other church’s DVD’s or service footage, such as Hillsong, Planetshakers, or Jesus Culture. I’m not going to go into whether these guys are good or not, because what they do reaches a lot of people and they’re obviously doing something right somewhere along the line. Watch the worship leader and the different things they do, the connections they make with the other musicians, and how they engage with the people they are leading in worship.

3. Choose what is placed on your heart first, not your favourite song

The temptation is to choose songs that you like. This might because you like it, you are familiar with it, it brings some awesome worship, or many other things. In the first few weeks of worship leading, it is good to have these songs in there, to help you get though. But the first song you should write down is the song that has been placed on your heart. This song (or songs) may have come to you through prayer, or may have been going around in your head for the first part of the week. Once you have this song, you will want to refer to the list mentioned in step 2, to build some songs around it.

4. Begin with Energy

Just like athletes before a race, before they start running, they need to warm up. [pullquote]People, when coming in from their busy weeks, from their thoughts and feelings about life, need to make a transition.[/pullquote] This transition is best made with some more energetic songs at the top, to get the heart pumping, the feet tapping, leaving the worries of the week behind. These praise songs set their heart on God, so that when you hit the slower, more reflective, more worshipful songs, their hearts and minds would have made the switch to be in that better place that they would be able to truly worship.

5. Create More, Talk Less

The temptation can be to over talk through a worship set. Whilst this can sometimes give additional insight into songs which might be valuable, I have found that worship times can be a lot more powerful when space is created, allowing people to connect with their God in their own way, rather than having to listen to the worship leader talking about this and that. [pullquote]God can talk so much more in the still, quiet space[/pullquote] created by the worship team than he can by the few humble words you might be tempted to share.

6. Make it Flow

In Paul Baloche’s DVD, as mentioned, it talks about creating flow. Creating flow is to eliminate distractions that pull people out of the atmosphere of worship. Sudden changes in key, or stoppages between songs can do this with relative ease. By choosing songs in the same key, or at the very least, in the same family of keys (D,C,G and A,E,B), it allows the music to flow between songs easily, and create space between the songs. I firmly believe that this can make or break a worship set. It is the difference between a worship set that works, or songs that you struggle through. Often songs that are all in different keys have been chosen based on their popularity, or because you’ve tried to make them all fit into a theme.

7. Be Flexible

By far the hardest thing to do is to be flexible. Often songs are done in a certain way; the way they’ve always been done. But if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Let your musicians know that you want to keep options open in a song or two, to either pull the song right back, add in some space, or head back into a verse or bridge. [pullquote]When you practise, rather than just running through the song, you should practise going to and from different parts of the song[/pullquote] (making sure you let the musicians where you’re going of course) and see how it goes. It can be daunting at first, especially if you don’t play an instrument yourself, but with practise, this can be invaluable in a worship set where God wants just a little bit more.
The other part of being flexible is that sometimes the songs just don’t work in the order you thought, or in fact, a song doesn’t work at all in the set and needs to be replaced. Don’t take it personally. And don’t be stubborn and try and hold onto it. Let it go and either find a replacement, or re-arrange the other songs. Even if it’s the song that was placed on your heart at the start of the week (See Step 3), don’t be afraid to cull it, because if it’s not working, maybe it was meant for another service – or maybe it was meant just for you.

 

Hopefully this article gives you a bit of a head start in your first few sets as a worship leader. At the end of the day, if God is involved, His hand will be on the service, and all will go well. Deep breaths. Quick Prayer. Amen.

You may also like to read this article by David Santistevan

Interactive Projector: New

This week our senior classrooms were fitted with Sanyo PLC-WL2503’s. This projector essentially works like an Interactive Whiteboard, but without the whiteboard. Instead, it projects onto a normal whiteboard, and a Infra-red pen connects to a camera mounted on the projector, connects to the laptop and operates the cursor. It is relatively new technology, and is serving the classroom well.

To be honest, I set up a primitive version of this using a Johnny Lee Wiimote project, and it worked swell for a period of time. Essentially the same technology has been exploited in this Sanyo Projector.

Calibration is a simple 13 steps, the pen is touch sensitive (it only omits once it touches a hard surface, which turns it on), rather than having to click a button. It also seems to hold it’s calibration well.

The software we got with it is outstanding (although it has crashed on me at inopportune times in a lesson). RM EasiTeach software is really intuitive, easy to use, and they have really thought about the user. Simple things like a switch button, which switches the tools on the left hand side with the tools on the right hand side of the screen, meaning the user doesn’t have to keep walking backwards and forwards. Other things like shape recognition, handwriting recognition, and easy to use plugins, all make for a very good user experience.

I am slowly building a list of websites which utilise projectors in the classroom, with things like class games in reading, writing and maths, as well as other resources that teachers can use on their Interactive Whiteboards. I have found that there are many people out there with great ideas, but no one collated list of the many different applications and games that are available to enrich student learning.

Fly My Pretties: A Story – Review

Last week I got myself a copy of Fly My Pretty’s “A Story”. After playing ‘Old Friends’ with a couple of mates at a talent quest, and loving the mix of country, folk, and blues sound, I was quite looking forward to the prospects of the rest of the album.

The presentation is beautiful. I’ve always enjoyed CD packaging, and this is one of the more simple, yet stunning. The CD and DVD both come as single fold sleeves in a cardboard box. The gorgeous designs are embossed into the cardboard, and their logo on the sleeves is a gloss layer that catches the light as you turn it. Inside the box is also a manual for the CD, including the musicians, the songs and the premise behind the album.

Their first track, ‘Old Friends’, as mentioned, is one of my favourites. After listening to it, it reminded me why I bought the album. However, by the end of track two, I realised that my favourite track might have been a one off. The other tracks fit more into a reggae feel, following the likes of Fat Freddy’s Drop, or Salmonella Dub. The songs are well formed, with a big sound due to the amount of musicians, but they are not over powering of the vocals, which are high in the mix. Some of the harmonies worked wonders, others left a lot to be desired.

The DVD is spectacular, with the story being read and performed by Dick Weir beautifully. The graphics are good, but the songs do become a bit monotonous and lack lustre. Eventually it all just fades into the background as your focus shifts to other things around the room.

All in all, a bit disappointing. The story and graphics on the DVD are the best part, if you don’t get bored and fly away.

★★★☆☆  – 3 Stars

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