Brian Turner

Brian offers Private Guitar Lessons to guitarists of all abilities at very reasonable prices. Whether you are a beginning, intermediate or advanced guitar player, let Brian Turner coach you in his private studio located inside Humble Music Center, Humble, Texas. He has students from all over the area: Atascocita, Kingwood, Huffman, Porter, Houston, Spring and beyond. Brian can take you to the next level in your playing with a lesson plan that is made just for you according to your needs. Contact Brian Turner at 281-354-4456 or e-mail Skype and Face Time Guitar Lessons Online So, you do not live close enough for private guitar lessons? No problem, private lessons are now available using Face Time or Skype. Face Time is available for mac users while Skype is available to everyone. Skype is a free download at Learn one on one as if you were in the same room taking private guitar lessons. The worksheets and assignments are furnished via the website and emails.

John Ryan’s Polka Backing Track

The ii, V, I Chord Progression in C

The I, IV, V Chord Progression in C

Barre Chords: Key C, Root 4 String

Barre Chords: Key C, Root 5 String

Barre Chords: Key C, Root 6 String

Guitar Method Reviews

I have been teaching guitar professionally since 1977. In that span of time, I have used virtually every method on the market. Many of my students ask my opinion when shopping for guitar instruction materials. The purpose of this list is to give you a review to help you make the right choice when selecting instruction materials. This list is a few of my favorites.

Acoustic Blues Guitar
I like this book because it teaches you to play the blues as a soloist. Unlike countless books on the market that just show you riffs. The tunes sound really good. Anyone interested in roots delta blues should have this in their collection. If you are acquainted with pentatonic scales and moveable chords, you should pick up on these tunes reasonably quick. Many of my students have worked through this one and they all have been pleased.
By Kenny Sultan, Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, stock # HL00000157, ISBN 0-931759-73-0
Notation? yes,

Is Christmas Necessary?

Is Christmas Necessary?
By Jerry Solomon

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Frantic shopping? Family traditions? A commemoration of the birth of Jesus? Or a combination of all these responses and more? If you’ve been living in the United States long, you probably find it difficult to focus on just one without the others. And if you’re a Christian you probably want to focus on the birth of Jesus, but you spend a great deal of your December on shopping and traditions. Then you may finish “The Season,” as it has come to be known, feeling guilty because you didn’t focus on Jesus as the “Reason for the Season.” You may even want to ask if the season is really necessary, because you’re exhausted, broke, and relieved when it’s over for another year. So we want to ask, “Is Christmas necessary?”
In order to address this question we will focus first on a history of the celebration and its accompanying customs. Then we will concentrate on whether economics, traditions, or theology make it necessary.

A Brief History of Christmas
The very early church has not left us with any indication that Christmas was a part of their yearly calendar. Certainly the New Testament doesn’t include such an emphasis. Philip Schaff, a church historian, offers three reasons for this. In the first place, no corresponding festival was presented by the Old Testament, as in the case of Easter and Pentecost. In the second place, the day and month of the birth of Christ are nowhere stated in the gospel history, and cannot be certainly determined. Again: the church lingered first of all about the death and resurrection of Christ, the completed fact of redemption, and made this the center of the weekly worship and the church year. Finally: the earlier feast of Epiphany…afforded a substitute. The artistic religious impulse, however, which produced the whole church year, must sooner or later have called into existence a festival which forms the groundwork of all other annual festivals in honor of Christ. {1} So the Christmas celebration appeared comparatively late in church history. And it appeared as the result of a change in the ways Christians dealt with their surrounding culture. In order to see the progression of this change, it will be helpful if we consider early pagan festivals that were eventually transformed by the church. Some scholars assert that the earliest precursor of the Christmas celebration can be found within a Persian religion that influenced Roman life.One of the great festivals of ancient Rome was related to the winter solstice, celebrated on December 25 as the Natal Day of the Unconquerable Sun and tied to the Persian religion of Mithraism, one of Christianity’s early rivals. The church took over this day to turn the attention of Christians from the old heathen festival to the celebration of the “sun of righteousness.” {2}It is especially interesting to note that the mythological god Mithra, for whom Mithraism was named, “is described as being born from a rock, the birth being witnessed by shepherds on a day (December 25) that was later claimed by Christians as the nativity of Christ.” {3} Actually “the Christmas festival was probably the Christian transformation or regeneration of a series of kindred heathen festivals…which were kept in Rome in the month of December, in commemoration of the golden age of universal freedom and equality, and in honor of the unconquered sun, and which were great holidays, especially for slaves and children.” {4} Our contemporary struggle with how to react to Halloween may be similar to the struggle the early church had with Christmas. In particular, they had to decide if they should and would celebrate the birth of Christ. Then the question was, when would this celebration take place? Their answers are instructive for us today.Schaff describes this regeneration of heathen festivals in light of the cultural changes that began to affect the church: Had the Christmas festival arisen in the period of the persecution, its derivation from these pagan festivals would be refuted by the then reigning abhorrence of everything heathen; but in the Nicene age this rigidness of opposition between the church and the world was in a great measure softened by the general conversion of the heathen. Besides, there lurked in those pagan festivals themselves, in spite of all their sensual abuses, a deep meaning and an adaptation to a real want; they might be called unconscious prophecies of the Christmas feast. {5} Frank Gaebelein informs us that before Christmas was recognized in the West another festival was prominent among Christians in the East. The earliest reference to December 25 as the date for the Nativity occurs in the Philocalian calendar, which refers to its Roman observance in A.D. 336. But recognition of December 25 [in the West] had been preceded by that of another date–January 6 [in the East], when Epiphany was celebrated first in relation to the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan and later in relation to the coming of the wise men, or Magi, to worship the infant Jesus. {6} When the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity he sanctioned the “Christianizing” of various pagan emphases. So he was probably influential “in the institution of a Christian feast of the birthday of the Sun of Righteousness’ (Malachi 4:2) as a rival to the popular pagan festival of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) at the winter solstice.” {7} But it is helpful to know that his understanding of Christian doctrine was such that he “was not aware of any mutual exclusiveness between Christianity and his faith in the Unconquered Sun.” {8}So from the era of Constantine (306-337) onward, Christmas (from the Old English Cristes Maesse, “Christ’s Mass”) was gradually included in Western culture. By the time of the Reformation most leaders, including Martin Luther, “were for the abolition of all feast days, except Sunday; but the…long habits of the people were against such a radical reform.” {9} “During Cromwell’s time in seventeenth-century England [Christmas] was banned by Parliament, and in old New England the celebration of Christmas was officially forbidden.” {10} Now, of course, almost a quarter of each year is devoted to the celebration of Christmas in American culture. And as we will see, a variety of customs emphasize many facets of the season. Should this history make us uneasy? Should we consider disbanding the Christmas season? Obviously some have answered, “Yes!” to these questions in the past and present. But perhaps the wiser response is to give heed to the long traditions of the church and decide if those traditions have a legitimate end. Then we are challenged to decide if we are to isolate ourselves from our culture, become like our culture, or transform our culture. At the present time it appears that we should reevaluate what it may mean to transform the Christmas season for the glory of God.

The Christmas season includes many customs we take for granted. Where, when, and how did these customs come to have a place in the Christmas celebration? Their origination probably will surprise you.

Merriment and Gifts
“The merriment and giving of gifts, especially to children, may reflect the Roman Saturnalia.” {11} During this festival the Romans honored “the god of agriculture by engaging in much eating, drinking, visiting, masked reveling and notorious celebrations on the streets. Courts closed, and no one was convicted of a crime. Gambling was legal. Slaves dressed as their masters and were served by them. A mock king was chosen. Gifts were exchanged, at first simple wax candles or clay dolls.” {12}

Greenery and Lights
“As for the use of greenery and lights, this goes back to the celebration of the Kalends of January in ancient Rome.” {13} Kalends was a celebration of the Roman new year. People gave each other gifts of green boughs, “honeyed things,” lamps for light and warmth, and silver and gold objects. “Christians used candles symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World, seemingly a combination of Roman and Hebrew customs.” {14} Druids set lighted candles on tree branches. People in the Middle Ages put lighted candles in their windows on Christmas Eve to guide the Christ child on His way. No stranger was turned away, because it could have been Christ in disguise.

Christmas Trees
“Romans trimmed trees with trinkets and toys during the Saturnalia, and put candles on them to indicate the sun’s return to earth.” {15} “Druids honored Odin by tying golden apples and other offerings to tree branches.” {16} In the eighth century, St. Boniface purportedly dedicated the fir tree to the Holy Child as a counter to the sacred oak of Odin. However, Martin Luther gets credit for the tree we are more familiar with.” {17} The Germans placed fruit, gilded nuts, gingerbread, paper roses, and glass balls on their trees. The Poles placed stars and angels. The Czechs made ornaments of painted egg shells.

Manger Scene
During the Middle Ages the manger scene was used to tell the story of Christ’s birth. St. Francis of Assisi set up a nativity outside a cave with live animals and people. In France children gather moss, stones, and greens for a nativity scene which is called a creche.

Christmas Carols
“The first Christmas hymns were written in the fifth century. Originally composed in Latin, they contained primarily theological topics. Carols (noels), songs with more human personal subjects, appeared in the 1200s. During the Middle Ages people incorporated drama and plays into the celebration of Christmas. Carols became an integral part of these reenactments. After the plays, carolers strolled down the street singing thus the birth of street caroling.” {18} [See The Theology of Christmas Carols]

The Yule Log
The word yule refers to the feast of the nativity. Yule log refers to a large log formerly put on the hearth on Christmas eve as the foundation of the fire. Sometimes the Druids burned a Yule log to symbolically represent the removal of evil spirits and dissension in the family at Christmas.

For the Norsemen mistletoe was sacred to Frigga, goddess of love and mother of the sun god. Balder, her son, was killed by an arrow tip dipped in mistletoe. Frigga shed tears which became the mistletoe berries. Frigga would kiss everyone who passed beneath the tree. The Druids’ high priest used a golden sickle to cut sacred mistletoe.

The holly plant was sacred to the Roman god Saturn. Romans gave one another holly wreaths and decked images of Saturn with it. Christians decked their homes with it. Druids believed that holly remained green so the world would be beautiful when the sacred grove lost its leaves.

The poinsettia was brought to this country over one hundred years ago by Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. minister to Mexico.

Christmas Cards
The first painted Christmas card was designed by John C. Horseley in 1846. The giving of cards became a tradition in Victorian England due to the queen and Charles Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol.”

Santa Claus
“A popular medieval feast was that of St. Nicholas of Myra (c. 340) on December 6, when the saint was believed to visit children with admonitions and gifts, in preparation for the gift of the Christ child at Christmas. Through the Dutch, the tradition of St. Nicholas (Sinter Klass, hence ‘Santa Claus’) was brought to America in their colony of New Amsterdam, now New York.” {19} “Over the years the American Santa developed many of the secular characteristics of the British Santa, ‘Father Christmas,’ including entering a house through the chimney and stuffing stockings hung near the chimney. This idea came from an old Norse (Scandinavian) legend. But the American Santa became better defined in the 1800s. Clement Moore in 1822 first described Santa in a fur- trimmed suit leading a sleigh pulled by reindeer in his poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas.'”{20} Note There is a great deal more to

The Puerto Rican Cuatro

The Puerto Rican cuatro is great for old-time and bluegrass music. In this video I explain why.