Tag Archives: Ian

Reach for the Sky

This song was written in the first year that we came to New Zealand but took longer to finally get recorded! It captured some of my feelings around leaving ‘old familiar places, faces’ and the fact that ‘now we’re worlds apart, learning to trust our hearts’.  However, we all have life to live, dreams to follow and new roads to head down. After all, today’s the day to reach for the sky!

It is our usual crowd playing along: Ian and Simon on guitar and Simon playing bass.


Hymn Songs – When I survey & Be Thou My Vision

My son was working on a song that required this really cool tuning, CGCGCE. I was doodling around and ended up working on a theme around a few hymns. I kept working on it and eventually played through a mixing desk with some creative reverb. What you hear is one of the many versions that I played.

I recorded with my Guild acoustic plugged in and also miked with our lovely matched pair of Rode NT55’s. Clearly I added some heavy reverb (Logic Pro’s Space Designer) and voila. I did try to get it perfect, but twas not to be, but I like the version in any case.

The two hymns are When I survey and Be Thou My Vision, which both have great meaning to me. The former reminds me of the cost paid by another to help me form better relationship, both vertically and horizontally and the latter is a fond boarding school favourite and my one chosen contribution to my funeral plans (I know; it’s a bit morose of me). To me they are both a celebration of life and what I see as important. I added a few “festive” sections in between, for light relief.

Caught in-between

A couple of years ago a friend of mine wrote a stunning play called ‘The Manhattan Taproom’, for the school where we both teach. It was a play about young women who make a journey to New York to make it in the artistic world in some form or another, be it as a musician, poet, artist, actor, dancer, writer. Most of the songs used were popular songs the girls at our school know and love and fitted the context of what was happening in the play. There is a moment in the play when one of the characters is involved in a life changing event that crushes all her dreams but there wasn’t really a song that fit that moment. I offered to write one. This is it. I hope this song expresses some of what it is to be caught in between what if and reality.


This song was written in response to a friend who lost both her parents in quick succession. I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion for her which was not so much from me but how I felt God felt for her and about her. This was one of those plop-on-the-page songs. I feel it is a song that is for so many of us on the journey of life. Some of us have parents that have encouraged us and others (for whatever reason) have not. This song expresses my feeling that my Father in heaven knows, understands and sees our ‘child’ hearts – those deepest longings, fears, desires, questions – and loves us!! Just loves us!! If you ever wondered if anyone cared, despite the circumstances of life – a resounding ‘yes’ is what I hope you feel through this song!

Journey of the Heart (Gill’s Song)

This song was written for a friend of ours who worked at the same school as us in Taupo. She had had quite  a few complications getting into New Zealand with regards lots of red tape. She is a delightful person with an open heart and beautiful eyes. This was written for her for her farewell with the Science department of which her and Ian were part of, when she had to make a journey back to Ireland for family reasons.

Ian is on guitar, Simon on bass and I am on piano and flute.

Breathe (Julie’s Song)

This song was written a few years ago but is dedicated to a beautiful friend of mine. Her and I talk a lot about ‘breathing’. I love our deep and meaningful conversations that we manage to have in the business and demands of our teaching jobs. In the mish-mash of our lives we sometimes crowd out the very things that give us life and hope and give our lives a sense of well-being. As a result, we end up living our lives in a smaller manner than that for which we were designed. “Breathing” can take many forms: it can be in quiet moments, celebratory happenings, family gatherings, artistic expressions, being truly who you are.

Life is too short to live small. Besides that, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the most expressive, creative, free, extravagant, generous beings that I know. As I relate more and more to them I want to live like they do. I hope this song encourages you to breathe.

There are two versions of this song – a studio version and a live version with Embers.

Two in One

Background: When I heard that my lovely sister was soon to be married I wanted to contribute something to the wedding. I had been messing around on my nylon string guitar. I figured out a little kind of light jazz piece and thought it had something going for it. I realised it needed a bit more and so I played versions of the piece into my son’s looper and improvised to my piece in our lounge. This went on for several weeks and I figured my piece should be dedicated to my sister and her husband. I ended up playing it at the wedding while the newly-marrieds signed the register. (On the day I needed some extra music to fill in, so I did a version of  “Ian’s instrumental” which happens to also be in the key of “E”. You can also hear this piece on this website – although I had to play all by myself without the great Simon’s guitar work).

Why the name “Two in One”?  This song is really about the challenge of one life joining with another. In fact the two parts should be in “conversation” with each other, but I had to “chat” with myself. The parts are complimentary, the first part by itself would be boring, the second by itself perhaps frivolous and nonsensical. Together, I think they produce a meaningful whole. Of course, ideally marriage carries these elements of give and take, mutual deference, reciprocity and so on; the Two becoming One. It has been my experience that marriage needs lots of help these days, not only from the two hearts that choose each other, but also from those around who help to encourage the couple. My own marriage would not have made it without real friends and The friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Some recording/tech details: The guitar I used is a Yamaha Silent guitar – SLG110N. It is an odd hollow shape made for practicing really. I saw a video of my guitar heroes (Lee Ritenour) playing one and I remembered it when I saw this one on sale, special price …. what could I do? I added a guitar to the collection and we have just passed on my wife’s original Yamaha nylon string to our guitaring son (so I am still not hoarding!). I recorded this version at home without a looper. For those who know how these things work, you will realise that I start the second guitar piece just before the original “loop” is done. In fact I didn’t use a looper at all for this recording, I figured the quality would be better this way. I recorded direct in and used Logic Pro effects. I realise there are small errors. I worked really hard to get it perfect, but the wedding was in December and I haven’t put in enough practice time really… and I figured it’s the way marriage is, wonderful and a little out of time with each other and sometimes not quite in tune…… Hopefully the errors won’t distract too much. BTW thank you, Tanya, for helping to name the song and for listening to it soooooo many times while I worked on it.

Travelling Light

I got up yesterday morning and thought of all the things I could do. I had one little phrase in my head. I thought, “I could write from that phrase. I haven’t written for a long time. Perhaps I have a story in me.” I sat down for about 5 hours and wrote. I abandoned the initial phrase, but it helped me to get started, so I am grateful for the one line.
Generally I have no idea where a story is going or where it will end up. About halfway through I thought, “This is for Mel”. Mel is our “Hamilton daughter” and this story is dedicated to her for her birthday. We are really proud of her walking towards Living Light.
BTW in case you are worried about it being a long story (seeing as it took me 5 hours to write) … have no fear, it’s way shorter than the time it took to write. In the middle of that time I did have to have tea, a few times, and also had a lovely visit from our son and his entourage which helped to refill my creative tank.

Creator God Meditation

This song is part of the 3 songs that we recorded almost by accident a couple of weeks ago. We had just worshipped to Hope is Rising. Simon reminded us that we do really need to take time to “breathe”. We hung around on the Am7 theme. I played a bit and added in a bit. Then another section came to us an Fmaj7 G Am7 part and variations of that. Tanya took over the lead. You will hear Simon and I “conversing” and echoing each other’s cry for those who have gone before (Anzac Day was just before this) not only in life, but also in the passing down of knowledge about life and how God moves.

We find this kind of music is lovely for those who like to take a moment either in the day, or often for us, it seems to be in the middle of the night. One of the great moments in this song was when both Cheryl and Tanya both “breathed” during the song – just one of those moments…

For tech details see “Hope is Rising”

Be My Place of Safety

Simon here: This is the final song that we recorded almost by accident a couple of weeks ago. I wrote it some time back in 1999. Once we got the music out everyone joined in.  The song is about God being our refuge, our strength, our rest, our hope… our everything. The song was revived after I was prayed for around “safety”. Safety is a place I call home

For tech details see “Hope is Rising”. I think you may hear Ian singing here too. Tanya didn’t have music so she sang and played shaker.