In a recent episode of the podcast (8/5/16) we discussed this question, from a listener:
"Why does it seem that worship led by professional players is better?"
I encourage you to listen to the episode to find out just exactly what I mean by "better," but I will say this - musicians and singers who are professionals (skilled, experienced, paid to play) very often make worship "better" by eliminating distractions and operating with efficiency. But the beauty is that even the most humble of musicians can attain many pro-level skills.
So, what do pro musicians do?
1. PROS KNOW THEIR STUFF
They've listened to the music. They've learned their parts. They've rehearsed it ahead of time or, if extremely talented, they've listened through songs and made notes BEFORE coming to practice. Pros understand the truth that rehearsal is not the time to learn the music. In fact, every time you show up to a rehearsal not knowing your stuff, you're making it harder for everybody. Ever been to a rehearsal where have the team knew the material and half didn't? Kinda' disastrous, right? Pro players know their stuff.
If you love your worship leader and you want to be a blessing to him or her, you'll know your stuff. When the band can't get it together, guess who catches the blame? Not the band, usually. Most of the time, people think the worship leader can't lead the team. If you want worship to be God-honoring and inspiring and you want to honor your leader, you'll show up knowing your stuff. Most worship sets are 25-30 minutes in length. If you don't have a spare 30 minutes in the week to at least listen through the songs, maybe playing/singing isn't what you're supposed to be doing in this season of your life?
2. PROS ARE SKILLED
They've not only learned the part - they've put time into their craft. Their musicianship isn't in question because they've trained their ears and hands and voices to show up with consistency. Pro bands are musically fit - they've put the work in so they won't be caught off guard when it's time for worship.
Yes, some people are born with amazing musical skill from the very start. Some people. A tiny few. The rest of us have to work at it. Sew into your God-given ability to grow it and make it stronger. And just for kicks, go Google what the Bible says about "skillful playing." And you know what's awesome about skilled players? They can go anywhere. A worship leader can take the songs anywhere he or she wants and skilled players can go there. Even if they don't know the song, their skill takes over. Their understanding of song structure and tasteful music making allow them to never miss a step.
3. PROS AREN'T SCARED
A pro band won't be thrown by changes. If they know their parts and can play and sing skillfully, they're free to worship. Imagine that. Imagine what it would be like to have musicians who aren't glued to their charts the whole time or who aren't able to think on God as they play? Pros aren't scared - they're free in worship. And your congregation will respond to this.
You know that old performance thing where someone says, "At least one person out in that crowd is watching YOU!" It's true. Somebody in that congregation is locked onto you during the worship set. You think they want to participate if you look scared to death? Your confidence not only allows you to serve with joy but it's an encouragement to your people.
So let's talk about what you can do to improve your PRO STATUS. Here are some simple tips.
- Listen to worship music. I don't just mean the songs for the upcoming Sunday. I mean listen to all kinds of worship music. You'll find lots of fresh ideas in these songs and you'll become more versatile with song structure. Knowing how songs actually work will immediately make you a better player.
- Practice every week. If you don't have time to run the whole set right now, start off small. Try to run at least one song during the week. (Ideally the song you're the least familiar with.) You'll find that practicing makes you better. And that's pretty fun to hear.
- Be honest. If you didn't have time to work on the songs during the week, let your worship leader know before you get to practice so he or she can know what they're facing during the runthrough. It'll help your WL out a ton!