Monday, August 27, 2007

Most Difficult Musician Job

What is one of the most difficult jobs a musician is ever asked to do?

Leading worship with music.

Why? Because of...

1. Volunteer/unpaid musicians
2. Only one rehearsal
3. Rotating personnel
4. Changing set lists
5. Unfair comparisons to recordings
6. Differences in music reading ability

Allow me to explain...

UNPAID MUSICIANS - Most musicians aren't paid to play the right notes. They are volunteering because they love to worship using music and have a passion to lead others in worship. (By the way, I'll take an unpaid musician's passion to lead in worship over a musician who's paid for the gig who doesn't have the same passion anyday. That's why I consider volunteer musicians as 'unpaid staff.' They are that important!)

ONLY ONE REHEARSAL - Unpaid/volunteer musicians have one rehearsal to pull things together. Most professional artists have many many rehearsals prior to a tour. Most symphony orchestras rehearse until they know the music like the back of their hand.

ROTATING PERSONNEL - The rotation of musicians often changes from week to week. Most professional artists stay with the same musicians. When they do call a sub in, they already have the music down cold (otherwise they wouldn't be a good sub).

CHANGING SET LISTS - The music set list changes once a week. Most professional artists stay with one set list that they can tour with and repeat over and over again.

UNFAIR COMPARISONS TO RECORDINGS - Other worshipers are comparing the music to a recording they've heard. Often times the unpaid musicians are expected to reproduce musically what has already been done on a CD. And the front of house audio engineer is expected to reproduce a CD-like mix for worshipers. (Remember, a FOH audio engineer can do one of three things; make you sound like you really do, make you sound better than you really are, make you sound worse than you really are.)

DIFFERENCES IN MUSIC READING ABILITIES - Some musicians read music and others do not, makes communication more interesting. Most professional artists work with the highest caliber of musicians who both read and improvise at the highest of levels.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Intimidating Worship

I've been asked, "So how do you feel when you know 'so-and-so' is in the audience." When we learn who the other worshippers are, sometimes our mind plays tricks on us. How differently would I prepare for dinner if I knew Mr. President were coming for dinner, as opposed to my best friend? Why do I bring out the best china, silver, and make sure all the kids' toys are picked up just when Mr. Significant is about to arrive?

When it comes to gathering for worship, does it really matter who the other worshippers are? Sure, I need to be mindful of who else is worshipping with me so that we can craft an opportunity for those who've gathered to worship. Remember, worshippers have come for the same reason I give the worth due to our God Almighty.

I shouldn't be intimidated by a famous person who came when they really aren't my audience anyway? The One who created me is my only audience. Famous people aren't my audience, they are fellow-worshippers. After all, I only have breath because God Himself allows it. Approaching Him should be the most intimidating of all. Famous people tend to not have the ability to give me life or death. My audience on the weekend does - He's the One who created me.

God, we worship You regardless of who our fellow-worshippers are - no matter how significant or insignificant we may be in each other's eyes. You hold us significant in Your eyes. Help me worship You instead of being worried about the other worshippers who've come to do the same.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How to Select Musicians

What are the things I look for in musicians and other volunteers who I consider unpaid staff? Assuming they are believers, I tend to boil it down to three major things: Availability, Attitude/Heart, and Ability. The order they are in is important as well.

AVAILABILITY (the most important)
What season of life does God have you in right now?
Are you available for rehearsals and worship gatherings?
Are you able to be at rehearsal for its entirety?
Is your family OK with the sacrifice to volunteer?
Is this something God wants you to do (or something YOU want to do)?
Do you have the time to prepare for ministry in advance and sharpen your skills if necessary?
Do you attend church to worship off-stage when you aren't scheduled?

ATTITUDE/HEART (very important)
How big is your heart for pointing others to God?
What are your passions?
Do you really want to do this?
Do you care about where/how you serve or simply that God uses you?
Is your heart attitude the same on-stage as it is off-stage?
Are you willing to serve in any capacity, or just the position you'd like (servanthood over stardom)?
Are you a team player and encourage those around you when leadership isn't around?
Are you teachable and willing to try to learn new things?

ABILITY (least important)
What talent/skills has God given you?
What have you done to hone the skills God has given you?
What is your vocal (range, tone, color, blend, vibrato, etc.)?
What is your instrumental skills (technical, endurance, tone/color, rhythm, steady beat, etc.)?
What are your music reading skills (none, chords, written, limited, advanced)?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Stage Fright

Last Sunday was "youth Sunday" and Stephanie (youth intern drummer) asked if I got nervous. I replied, "Yes, just about every time."

Here are some things I get nervous about:
1. What if the projection screen fails?
2. What if I forget the chords or roadmap?
3. What if I lose it emotionally?
4. What if what I planned doesn't really lead people in worship?
5. What if I say something inappropriate?
6. What if I start in the wrong key?
7. What if I sing off-key?
8. What if I forget where I am in a song?
9. What if I give the wrong cue?
10. What if my life isn't what I am on stage?
11. ...what if...

There's something missing from the list though. Where's the, "What if I try to do this without God?"

It's those times that I should be most concerned. I think I can do it on my own strength and without God's help. Just maybe if I have all the lyrics memorized, chords down, techs in the loop, roadmaps setup, perfect audio mix, etc. - just maybe things will go "perfect." Yes, be prepared. Yes, lead with confidence. But I need to be fearful of taking the stage on my own. I'll screw it up without God.

Next time I'm asked if I get nervous, maybe I should reply, "Yes I am. I'm worried because I DO feel like I have everything under control." That's what I should be nervous MOST about. Not the secondary stuff.

God, You are my ONLY audience when I lead worship. I don't want to worry about getting things right for the other worshippers. I'm not there for them. We are here for You. I want to worry about getting my life right for You alone. The music doesn't matter - my life does. Help me be worried about what matters MOST - pleasing You, honoring You, and not getting in Your way.