Necessary Roughness Rotating Header Image


What “Little Word” Can Fell Him?

On Facebook, Lutheran Witness editor Adriane Dorr Heins asked:

In “A Mighty Fortress,” what is the “one little word” than can fell Satan?

Rev. Jon Vieker, Senior Assistant to the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and all-around awesome sacred music talent, answered:



Time Out Reaches 200th Episode, Takes “Time Out”

The December 27, 2012, episode of Time Out also happens to be the 200th episode. A brief history can be found in this NR post from March.

200 episodes is a bit of work to take in stride. Each episode lasts about 12 minutes on average and takes about two hours to record. I prefer to practice until I get it right, and sometimes that takes me a while. What is lacking in talent can be made up to some degree with effort.

The hardest aspect of making the podcast is the misalignment with my primary vocation. Most of the other shows on Pirate Christian Radio are performed by pastors, getting their material from the lectionary, daily life, and interactions with their parishioners and fellow pastors. I imagine the podcast would be easier if I were a working Cantor with the expertise, training, and choir to perform some of these hymns.



Workout Music Fun

Prior to this morning’s workout, I reorganized the playlist.  I suspect I may have some songs you don’t have:

  • “Percussion Gun,” by White Rabbits
  • “Imagine the Fire,” by Hans Zimmer, from The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack
  • “Tikal,” by E.S. Posthumus
  • “Celtic Storm,” by The Mighty Regis
  • “Through the Fire and the Flames,” by Dragonforce
  • “Gangnam Style” by PSY

The more mainstream stuff:

  • “Dancing with Myself,” by Billy Idol
  • “Breaking the Habit,” “One Step Closer,” and “The Catalyst,” by Linkin Park
  • “YYZ,” by Rush
  • “Outta Your Head,” by Aerosmith

Comments, or suggestions?  :)


Vibrato and Singing for the Podcast

One of the more eclectic blogs I read is that of New York City vocal coach Claudia Friedlander. Recently she has been posting on the topic of vibrato and building it naturally.

She has hit on something that I have heard and disliked from so many singers. Fake vibrato has annoyed me so much that I actually work to avoid it altogether. Now, it seems avoiding isn’t good, either. I wish I had time with a coach.

I sing differently from the balcony of Zion than I do for the podcast. If the song’s range is right, I will open the voice up at Zion and project from a slightly lower register, and it can be heard throughout the whole sanctuary and sound good.

When I try to do that with the podcast and check the pitch with an auto-tuning plug-in, one of two things will happen.  Often, the auto-tuner will bend my singing down a half-step from where I intended, which basically means I’m singing flat.  The other thing is that if I am singing a pitch or two above middle C, the auto-tuner makes a screeching noise, which I interpret as that I’m stressing.

So the voice you get on Time Out is of a little higher register and softer, one that the auto-tuner doesn’t mark as stressed or flat. I’m also singing into a microphone, so I don’t need to be loud. Your comments on that philosophy are welcome.


Happy New Year!

2011 was a pretty cool year. If I recall correctly, I was in Houston; Alice, TX; and Calgary. Houston is great; it’s my home away from home, and the church knows my name there. Calgary was definitely the most fun and unique, despite spending most of it in negative degrees Celsius. :) Unlike some past years, I got to spend a lot of time at home as well, and that was good.

So far this year the company looks to send me back to Alberta. Halliburton has camps in Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and Grande Prairie. Grande Prairie is out there; we may wander over into British Columbia.

Last year I dropped 40 lbs. through a food diary and 45 mins. of exercise a day; I won’t be dropping another 40 this year. It sounds kind of cool to say I dropped almost three stones. I switched from the Lose It! app on iOS to LiveStrong on the BlackBerry, primarily because the kids now monopolize the iPods.

The podcast has been doing well. After our second pass through the Popular Commentary of Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann, I’m thinking about discussing the background of the hymns we sing: the scripture they reference and the conditions they were written in. Wouldn’t it be sweet if I could get an interview with the likes of LSB composers Pr. Stephen P. Starke or Stephen R. Johnson?

We made two hymn videos. I wish I could have synchronized the video of me singing with the audio a bit better on “What Child is This,” but CyberLink’s PowerDirector was very erratic with that. Video shooting and editing is a process where experience is a slow and demanding teacher, and I would really like to work with someone more experienced on any future projects.

I am quite excited that we are getting new accompaniment from Sam Mussman of Champaign, IL, and the notorious organist of Higher Things, Chris Loemker. Sam will kick off the new year of Time Out on Thursday with CL taking the next three. Jake Weber should also be with us in February. Our frequent guest vocalist Anna Baseley will be more involved when I work out the schedule for the next three months. We are still looking for more; we have no max on our guest list.

The house is now pretty much gluten-free. The market is starting to produce better gluten-free substitutes for normal bread goods, and while they continue to be more expensive, the prices are coming down. Udi’s loaves regularly can be found for under $5. Celebrate Local at the Easton Towne Center has had some good GF cookies that would be hard to discern from typical.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous 2012; keep working hard and forgiving others, as in Christ you are forgiven. Peace.


Time Out Hymn Video: What Child is This

Merry Christmas!

I humbly submit to you Time Out’s second hymn video, “What Child is This.” Available in HD.