david santistevan


The Top 10 Worship Songs I Led This Year

I thought it would be helpful to list my favorite songs from this past year. All of these are great and come highly recommended. There were a handful of other songs we did but these stand out in my mind (in no particular order).

1. Our God

2. Forever Reign

3. Christ is Risen

4. Healer

5. Holding Nothing Back

6. How He Loves

7. With Everything

8. No One Higher/The Stand

9. Yahweh

10. Glory to God Forever

What favorite songs did you do in 2010?


December 30, 2010 Posted by | Music, Worship | Leave a comment

15 Ways to Spend Your New iTunes Gift Card

I know all you Apple fanatics out there got one or twenty iTunes gift cards from Santa and are sitting at your Macbook or iPad right now wondering, “What should I get?” I don’t know about you, but I want to make my iTunes cards count. I don’t take it lightly 🙂

So here’s what I’d recommend from some music I’ve enjoyed in 2010.

  1. Hammock: Chasing After Shadows, Living with the Ghosts
  2. Hammock: The Longest Year EP
  3. All the Bright Lights
  4. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
  5. Broken Bells
  6. Casey Darnell: EP
  7. Elevation Worship: Kingdom Come
  8. Future of Forestry: Advent Christmas EP, Vol. 2
  9. Jesus Culture: Come Away
  10. Jonsi: Go
  11. Michael Olson: Sacred Invitation
  12. The National: High Violet
  13. One Sonic Society: Sonic EP
  14. Robbie Seay Band: Miracle
  15. Vampire Weekend: Contra

How would you recommend I spend my iTunes gift card (if I had one)?

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

What I Am Listening To

Chris Tomlin: And if Our God is For Us – I heard it said that these are the 11 songs your church will be singing for the next couple years. Probably true. I like Majesty of Heaven, The Name of Jesus, & I Lift My Hands.






Future of Forestry: Christmas EP – the best Christmas music. Period. Go and get their album from last year while you’re at it.






Phil Wickham: Songs for Christmas – Phil’s got a voice that stops you dead in your tracks. Demands respect.






Brooke Fraser: Flags – Brooke also has an incredible voice. This album is intricate, yet laid back. Love it.






Arcade Fire: The Suburbs – If there’s one indie rock record you buy this year, get this. Incredibly catchy and awesome. I learn new things every time I listen.






Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz – this is still growing on me, though I’m not sure I’ll ever love it. A bit too abstract for my tastes. I love the traditional Sufjan Stevens acoustic sound, but this is bizarre music at its finest.






Derek Webb: Feedback – Derek takes a huge risk with this and does something totally unconventional for him. That’s what I love about Derek. This is a fantastic instrumental record based on the Lord’s Prayer. Essential.





OK, music people. What else should I be listening to? What’s been inspiring to you?

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Music | 5 Comments

Thoughts from a Touring Bass Player on Practicing Well

* This post is a guest post from my friend Rob Morgan. Rob is a full time touring bass player. He has a fantastic website where you can chronicle what part of the world he’s sipping coffee and rocking out and also glean from his thoughts. Insightful stuff. What sets Rob apart from a lot of young musicians is that he works hard. Really hard. I’ve been writing a lot on how to practice better. Check out my posts here and here. I asked Rob to give some insight into what he does. Love this post. I know you will too. Btw, that picture there? Yea, that’s Rob. Get to know him.

I don’t know about you, but I started out with a pretty glamorous view of music. The stage, the lights, the ripping guitar solos; that’s what I saw. What I didn’t often hear was the amount of work it took to get to that point. I was always attracted to the finished product but never wanted to think about the time spent alone home practicing.

Well, now we recognize that if we want to be great, it’s going to take some practice.

Here are a few points that have helped me greatly in my journey to be deliberate about my practice time. Hopefully they’ll help you in yours.

[My main instrument is bass guitar but this can be used in context with ANY instrument you’re focusing on]

1. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

  • Be intentional about what you want to practice.
  • It’s easy to space off and only practice what we already know but push through and work on things your not good at in your practice times.

2. Schedule Your Practice Times.

  • Lets be real, nowadays if it’s not in our iPhone or calendar we don’t do it. Set aside a specific time to practice your instrument. AND STICK TO IT.

3. Embrace Your Inner ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

  • Recognize that the average person can’t sit down with their instrument and work [productively] for four hours non-stop. Break up your practice time into 15 or 10 min segments throwing in a 3-5 min break to get up and stretch your legs every 30-40min.
  • For example: 15min-Scales/Modes; 15min-Sight Reading; 15min-Playing Something Fun and pointless; 3min-Water Break; (etc.)
  • Don’t think you need it? You do. It’ll keep your practice times focused and stress-free.

4. Practice with a ‘click’ ALWAYS!

  • Enjoy playing with people? This will help guarantee that they enjoy playing with you.
  • ‘Click’ is a fancy name for metronome. If you don’t have one, buy one or pull up onlinemetronome.com and ALWAYS practice with it.

5. Learn New Songs

  • Want to get better? Learn the (bass/drums/piano/guitar) parts to new songs. Sound way too simple? Probably because it is, but learning songs that aren’t what you’re used to will help stretch you.
  • Just love playing Hillsong? Maybe try learning a Jazz tune. Love playing pop-rock? Maybe learn a *gasp* country tune! (but only in moderation) 😉

So there you have it, a few tips on making your practice time more intentional. And remember, the hardest part about practicing is actually sitting down and doing it. So make it a priority and it’ll be impossible to not see results in your playing.

December 3, 2010 Posted by | Music, Practice | 2 Comments

The Best Worship Songs…Ever

I always wonder who comes up with this stuff. The best worship songs ever? Who decides? Is this God’s top 50?

In all seriousness, what is your current favorite worship song? I’m always on the lookout for great songs that resonate with people’s hearts. Just for fun, if someone mentions my current favorite worship song, I’ll send you two of my CDs for free. One for you, one to give away.

Let me know. On your mark, get set, comment.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Music | 28 Comments

10 Tips For Great Arranging

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Ever been in a worship team situation where all you hear is a mess of noise? Each musician in the band seems to be the captain of their own planet, ignoring the rotation of all the others. This is all too common for musicians to show off what they can do instead of submitting to what a song really needs. Since I’ve already addressed the need for both preparation and spontaneity, I want to focus on one very important aspect of preparation; and that is the arranged song.

Here are some things that I think through as I arrange songs:

  1. Assess what instruments I have to work with
  2. Appoint deliberate entrances & exits for each instrument
  3. Allow the song to breathe – rarely should every instrument be ‘full-out’ at the same time
  4. Make sure BGV’s are BGV’s
  5. Experiment with the bass ‘dropping out’ occasionally (Btw, visit my friend Rob’s site for insight)
  6. Utilize piano for lead lines instead of electric guitar occasionally
  7. Familiarize yourself with loops & software instruments (I use the brilliant stuff from these guys)
  8. Set each instrument part in its proper frequency range
  9. Teach your musicians to gradually add as they go
  10. Experiment with fresh sounds – this could include loops, but also a detuned guitar, mandolin, harmonica, synths, percussion, etc. Anything you’re not used to.

Though not revolutionary, if you apply these tips your worship team will sound better, have more fun, and create more powerful music. The power of music is really all about what you don’t play.

Arrangers, what did I miss? What do you do to create great arrangements?

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Music, Worship | 4 Comments

How To Practice Better

I think we all know that what makes a person better at what they do is practice. In the book “Talent is Overrated”, Geoff Colvin talks about the massive amount of hours it takes to make someone an extraordinary performer; however, it’s not just practice that makes perfect, it’s what he calls “deliberate practice” that makes all the difference. It’s not just sheer hours; it’s utilizing those hours wisely.

For example, if I practiced worship songs on the piano 4 hours a day for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t make me an extraordinary pianist. It might assist in making me a good worship leader, but in order to be an extraordinary pianist, I need to deliberately practice scales, arpeggios, finger-strengthening exercies, repeat difficult passages till my hands hurt, study music, hire a piano doctor, etc. It’s not just practice; it’s deliberate practice.

Now, I understand your goal may not be to become the Tiger Woods of your field, but are you improving? We should all always be improving what we do in order to better serve God and increase our effectiveness.

Here’s some simple tips:

  1. Study the greats – whether your area is ministry, business, music performance, worship leading, etc, study those who are outstanding at what they do. Great performance starts with intense learning. Ask the question, “Why are they so successful?” I’ve tried to develop a lifestyle of learning. Wherever I am, whomever I’m with, I want to learn something new. Another key: listen more than you talk 🙂
  2. Cut out the non-essentials – I think part of what makes someone a great performer is concentration. They aren’t trying to live a ‘balanced’ life. While the rest of their friends were hanging out, they were practicing. I understand this may sound intense, but practically speaking, if you can let go of that 1 hour of TV (which won’t enrich your life in any way), use that time to practice. Great performers use their time wisely on what matters.
  3. Hire a coach – this may not apply to everyone, but great performers have coaches. Find someone who knows more than you do who can see your weakness and help you get better.
  4. Apply it – make sure you get in the game. Take what you’re learning behind the scenes and apply it to what you do. This is the gauge as to whether your practice is working or not.

What else would you add? What are some ways that you practice?

November 9, 2010 Posted by | Leadership, Music | 6 Comments

5 Worship Albums You Need to Hear (if you want to)

1. Elevation Worship “Kingdom Come” – A sick worship album from the boys down in North Carolina. Inspired by how this team works with their senior pastor Steven Furtick to reach their city and inspire faith. Great production, great songs.

2. All the Bright Lights – Though not a worship album per se, I recommend this album for your personal worship. Instrumental, gentle, epic, cool. Enjoy.

3. Casey Darnell “EP” – Absolutely love this. Of the 5 songs here I wish I could lead all of them. Truly heartfelt songs and a great voice.

4. One Sonic Society “EP” – Love the tunes on this record. A couple are also found on the new Hillsong record. Really strong lyrics and a cool vibe.

5. Always been a fan of Charlie Hall. While his songs are not easily singable, nor the most corporate, they are super challenging, cool, and prophetic. His lyrics are not typical and are always refreshing.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Music | 4 Comments

Future of Forestry – “Did You Lose Yourself”


June 18, 2010 Posted by | Music | 2 Comments

Rend Collective Experiment – “Faithful”

Really enjoying this band. Some worship leaders/bands just ‘get it’. Enjoy.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

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