IN DEFENSE OF OLD [AND] YOUNG PLAYERS

DISCLAIMER: I wrote a post about this years ago on another blog and couldn't find it for a repost. So, I'm rewriting it. Should you find the old blog and it's better, please let me know.

I have a running joke with my team at Bethel Bible.

"Every praise band in America is made up of 50yr old dudes who wanted to be in Led Zeppelin."

Yes, I know every all the famous worship teams have young people only, but here in the real world, local church teams are a diverse group of ages. And lots of churches even trend older when it comes to the band. Consider the list below - I hope it will help you appreciate both the gifts and challenges of players.

YOUNG PLAYERS - PROS/CONS

  • PRO - Young players take more risks. Wanna call an audible at last minute and launch into a song you didn't rehearse? Young singers and players are good to go. They'll follow you into the abyss.
  • PRO - Young players can combine references. Due to the algorithm-based listening experiences of Pandora and Spotify, young people "get" mashups. You can easily say, "it's like a blend between Coldplay and Jay-Z" and they can mentally get there. It's scary.
  • PRO - More free time. It's easier to meet them during the day for a run-through or stretch a rehearsal past 9pm.
  • CON - Unreliable. Young musicians don't have any qualms about calling you an hour before rehearsal because they got a better gig. It happens musically, too. Young players may be perfection during rehearsal but then try something completely different in the service that doesn't work.
  • CON - They're awkward. Whereas older players can more easily meet new musicians and make conversation, younger musicians sometimes don't know what to say. They can end up being the solitary soul tuning his guitar all morning without ever meeting anybody else.

OLD PLAYERS - PROS/CONS

  • PRO - Experienced players are ready. They don't need a lot of explanation. They've done enough sets and developed their musical ears to know where an arrangement is gonna' go.
  • PRO - They're more fun. Older players have a lot of responsibilities, which means music-making is something they look forward to. For many of us old guys, playing music is a break and we make the most of it!
  • PRO - Better gear. Sorry, kids, but old players have more reliable equipment. Heck, they even own their equipment. (Can't tell you how many young players have shown up to our rehearsals with a borrowed amp they've never used before...)
  • CON - Older players are cynical. They're suspicious of taking too many musical risks. They're (understandably) wary of gimmicks and that can sometimes color their willingness to try something new.
  • CON - Predictability. When not prepared, older players will quickly revert back to styles and flourishes from their youth (that they've noodled for years.) An unprepared older player will lean toward a more dated playing style.

At Bethel Bible, we've got a mix of both old and young players, and I'm grateful for that. I think it's really the best way to build a team. The variety of a broad age span makes for sets that are unique and skillful.

NEXT UP: In the next couple of posts, we'll talk about how you can lead a team that's less diverse. In other words, what do you do when your team is all older players? Or younger?