8 Things I've Learned From Posting 300 Worship Guitar Lessons

Life goes too fast.  Seems like yesterday I was super-amped about posting our 50th song lesson and now a week ago I realized we had just surpassed 300.  It feels like a mile marker and when I hit mile markers I try to take a moment to reflect.  Here are 8 things I've learned from posting 300 worship guitar lessons.

8.  Worship Songs Have A Lot To Teach

I’ve always found teaching music within the context of a song to be most effective, but when I started Worship Artistry I was afraid that worship songs would be too limiting on technique and force me to look elsewhere for additional material. While not the most difficult tunes out there, worship songs still employ all the technique necessary to become a great player.  In fact, by keeping the parts accessible, they give you an opportunity to hone your technique to a fine point.  I would always rather play with someone who can play a simple part well than someone who plays more difficult parts with less mastery.  Become great at the simple things and you will have a much easier time with the difficult.

7.  Understanding Breeds Creativity

Okay, bear with me on this one.  I love to cook and I REALLY love the PBS show “Mind of A Chef”.  They follow these innovative cooks and examine how they mine their culinary roots for inspiration.  Even though they are doing something new and exciting, it all grows out of their mastery of the tradition.  Creativity in music is the same way.  Learning how a song was originally played gives you a foundation on which to build new ideas.  Don’t chain yourself to the original, but don’t despise it either.  You can always learn something from the pros.

Become great at the simple things and you will have a much easier time with the difficult.

6.  Nothing Is Impossible

It's not just a Planetshakers song.  As I waded into the online teaching waters, I kept waiting to find that song that was just too hard to teach, but it never came.  That doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges.  I've shot lessons that require 50 takes.  I’ve had to reshoot when I found a mistake.  I’ve even had to reshoot entire songs because I thought of a better way to teach them.  Still, with enough determination, desire, and practice you can learn anything.

5.  There Will Always Be A Naysayer

Someone will always tell you they can do it better, but few will ever show you.  That goes especially for commenters on the Internet.  It’s easy to get frustrated or defensive.  (I once made the mistake of calmly explaining myself to a YouTube troll once.  Never again.)  If I’m confident in what God has called me to do, it hardly matters when I fall short of another’s expectations.

Someone will always tell you they can do it better, but few will ever show you.

4.  Mistakes Are Inevitable

No matter how much you prepare, something will probably go wrong.  I make mistakes all the time.  Fortunately I get to edit them out, but professionals who spend their life on the road playing the same set every night do it too.  I’ve attended concerts where Thom Yorke of Radiohead had to stop in the middle of Faust Arp TWICE because he forgot the words and a U2 concert where the Edge hit so many wrong piano chords he stopped and started laughing into his microphone.  If these guys blow it on occasion, you need not get down on yourself when you biff it after a two hour practice on Sunday morning.

If I’m confident in what God has called me to do, it hardly matters when I fall short of another’s expectations.

3.  Listening To Truth Is Good For The Soul

Okay, I'm going to be a little vulnerable here (My wife will be so proud).  The thing I was most nervous about when beginning Worship Artistry was my ability to listen to worship songs all day.  I was coming from a place of burnout.  My longtime semi-pro worship band (if that’s a thing) had recently broken up and I was critical of worship music and the music industry in a way that wasn't altogether healthy.  As I started listening through the songs I was considering, I found my cynical side melting away as the lyrics worked their way into my soul.  I soon began letting go of my pride and hurt and finding life in the heart these songs expressed.  Spend time meditating on truth.  It's good for you.

2.  There Is No Finish Line

I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years, teaching privately for 15 and online for 4.  I’m still learning.  There will always be something new to add your playing.  You just have to keep looking.

1.  It's Worth It

Building Worship Artistry has been anything but easy.  Leading worship is a joy and a privilege, but it comes with its own challenges.  What keeps me passionate about my work is knowing the impact it’s having on others.  Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories with me and allowing me to be a part of your musical journey.  I’ll never get tired of it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got 300 more songs to teach and full band lessons to introduce.

Jason Houtsma serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, Husband to Alli, Father to Bjorn and Asher, and guitar instructor for WorshipArtistry.com

8 Things I've Learned From Posting 300 Worship Guitar Lessons

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lessons learned

I'm about three years into playing guitar. I struggled at first trying to teach myself through different avenues. Once my wife graciously purchased some lesson time with an instructor, it all started to fall into place. Not long after the lessons, I came across Worship Artistry. I was new to the worship team at my church and "Overcome" by Jeremy Camp was on the song set. I wanted so desperately to learn that cool electric line in the song. I searched YouTube and BAM! There you were with a free, mini-lesson, on the exact lesson I was needing. It didn't take me long to sign up for a membership after that.

By God's grace, I am a better guitar player today because of Worship Artistry. Thank you for all your efforts and using the gifts God gave you to help others. I don't know what my future holds for me, but currently I'm working on song writing. I wouldn't be at this level if it wasn't for the instructional 101 videos and the cool things I've learned from the song lessons on this site.

Keep up the great work!
-Bill

I appreciate

every one of your comments Bill. You are a valuable member of this community.

Congratulations! and Thank you!

Jason,

Congratulations on the 300th song marker!! That is awesome!

Thank you for letting us in a bit as to what the journey has been like for you and for the awesome life lessons you shared. Great stuff!

I enjoy and appreciate Worship Artistry very much. I lead from acoustic and your tutorials have been very helpful to me in finding the right grooves on certain songs, and learning how to get more creative when I don't have a lot of other instruments on a particular Sunday.

Such a great resource, and even more appreciated after hearing a bit of your story!

Blessings,
Bridget

Awesome!!

Maybe with these full band we can get you a few more musicians on Sunday :)

8 lesson

Jason

I never post comments to anything...but I am making the exception here. God has been pushing me to play worship music for about 10 years now. I say that because I do not have any natural talent. I have a Masters degree, 3 bachelors and an associate degree, I am a great speaker, I am fabulous with computers but I have never had even a slight opportunity of doing any of those things in any church ministry. The only ministry opportunity that keeps coming up is music. I love music but I really am not any good. However, I try to walk away from it and each time (this is like the 4th or 5th time) God keeps directing me back. My husband says that he thinks God does this because this is something I really have to count on God to help me do - I am not naturally good at music so without God I could not do it. Anyway...long story short your website has been a huge help to me. What I lack in natural ability I make up for with perseverance. I work harder than anyone at music. Thank you for what you do...it makes a huge difference...you are helping my ministry work in San Diego, California...Sara Johnson

Well,

Thank you for breaking your commenting rules. It means the world!

I'm with You

Thanks for continuing to evolve the site, the processes, and offerings. I've been playing 46 years now and still find new things to learn. I just started learning exotic scales - Japanese, Iranian, hybrid. As I practice them, I can hear the elements of that music with which I'm not terribly familiar and I get real excited that it is unfolding for me! Like you, I think the complexity level of most Christian music is not very high and I have to remind myself that is not the point....even in practice I can suddenly find myself genuinely worshiping, genuinely focusing on the passage(s) from which the song was taken. Then, I can add the complexity as we in the team work the song...or not.

Thank you!

300+...Wow! I'm blessed to have been a beneficiary of your efforts from early on. I stumbled on Worship Artistry in a frantic search for a lifeline to help me with the new responsibility of being on our church worship team. You have allowed God to work through you and your team to build my confidence and playing skill so far beyond where I started. Full band coming on and rehearsal too?! It's time to share the love :)

Share!

Share! Share! Share! Share! Share! Share! Share!

And I'm still dying to know, motorcycle or road/mountain bike?

Motorized Touring!

My wife and I ride a touring Harley and love to take long rides and camp along the way! When we're not in church we are sharing Jesus with the motorcycling community.

That is

Rad.

Thank You!

Great work Jason and team, here's to 300 more! Godspeed!

I tell everyone about worship artistry...

Your lessons are just so useful. They have truly been a blessing for me and a big help to my guitar playing. I can always trust that the parts you teach will sound good with our worship team at church. Thank you for all the time and effort you guys put into this.
I recommend you guys to everyone all the time.

Thank you!
Hector

Thanks and keep it up!

I totally relate to the "burnout phase." I have been playing worship guitar at my church with my wife, the worship leader, for 10 years. I became stuck in a rut and was content to just "muddle through" both old and new songs. I don't remember exactly what I was looking for when I found your site. It reignited the fire and passion in my soul for worshiping God and giving Him my best. I have learned so much stuff that I barely recognize myself playing. I thank you for that!

I am hoping the new band, keyboard sections reinvigorate my wife as well. We are excited to learn :)

Thank You

I started playing when I heard an outstanding young kid (13 yrs)move up and down the fret board like he was a magician. I had been wanting to start lessons for a few years at that time. I was 47 years old and determined to play. I was all but ready to give up a few years later. , Then I stumbled upon one of your lessons on YouTube. Now I'm very active on our Worship Team at church. And as Joyce Meyers often says "I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be" , I'm getting the hang of it.
I'm so glad God lead me to your site.
Thanks to you and your team, Jason!

Sincerely
Corey Stukey

13 year old kids...

They got tons of time to practice...

Lyrics

Thank you for this post, I was very encouraged. I have been at that burnout place before and it has always been the lyrics that has brought me back. No matter how many times my church needs to sing Our God or 10,000 Reasons - I have to be ready. Meditating on the lyrics has become the staple of my ministry. He is faithful to share something new about the lyrics or a new passage that connects the songs.

When he does provide the message in the songs and straightens up my heart with lyrics and scripture faithfully every time, I am reminded that he is the worship leader and I am just the instrument.

Thank you for sharing and your site encourages me to keep growing and that is a gift.

J.R.

Thank you

First off, I want to thank God for giving you a servants heart and the desire to help those of us who needs more than a chord chart to learn a song. I related to a lot of things you shared here but the one that stood out is the lesson learned after burn out. I used to lead worship in a small church deprived of musicians. I say that cuz I had to lead worship by myself and it seems nobody else stepped up to join me. At one point I had to leave the church and worship leading but God has a way of drawing us back to Him.
I've only been a member of Worship Artistry for a short time and most of the time I just trolled. Check to see whats new. Last Christmas you did a lesson on Miraculum by Lincoln Brewster. A difficult instrumental but thanks to your practical method of teaching made it less frustrating for me to study. It'll prolly take a couple more Christmas before I can play it confidently in public :-)
Thank you once again and may God continue to give you the strength and patience to teach.

Many thanks.

I've appreciated all you've done on this site. Since I'm (currently) the only guitarist on our worship team, I have found your solo acoustic sections incredibly helpful to get the feel of a particular song. Whether that's just an intro like "You Make Me Brave" or the transcription from piano to guitar for "Sinking Deep", your approach has helped me improve my overall guitar skills while bringing in creative ways to bring familiar riffs for worship songs into a solo guitar context. I'm a better musician because of you and your obedience to God's call in providing this website!

The solo acoustic

are totally my favorite chapters to shoot. Glad to know they're helpful!

Proverbs 22:29

Thank you Jason for your passion, not just for the Lord, but for the music, and for EXCELLENCE! This is by far the most professional website that teaches worship music to guitarist... and soon for the whole band :).

It reminds me of Proverbs 22:29

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.

God bless you and all that you do.

Josh

Thanks Josh

That means a ton.

Praise for Jason and Worship Artistry

Jason,

Thank you for your candor and perseverance with Worship Artistry. You have had a huge impact on my rhythm and lead guitar playing.

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with End Stage Liver Disease. For the next two years my health declined radically and in February 2009 I was very near death. My only hope was to receive a liver transplant. By the grace of God, and the generosity of a grieving family, that happened on March 5th, 2009.

In 2012 I was serving in a Celebrate Recovery program as a group leader and felt led to offer my services as a backup rhythm guitar player to the worship leader. This was to be just in case he couldn’t get anyone else. I was a bit shocked when he said to begin immediately. It had been actually twenty years since I had last picked up my guitar and played. Even then I was just a novice rhythm player at best.

I found Worship Artistry via YouTube and bought a membership right away. Over the past four years you have helped me to become not only a capable rhythm player but also a competent lead guitar player. I am currently playing with the same worship leader at another church for the Sunday morning service.

I love the selection of songs that you have available and the amount of work you put into the rhythm and lead parts of the lessons. I am also excited to see the recent expansion with the other instruments which are very helpful for the rest of the worship band.

The Green Room has been especially helpful by addressing not just musical issues but also the actual heart of worship!

Keep up the good work and may God continue to bless you and Worship Artistry!

Tim Coyle

That's incredible.

Thanks for using your talents to serve the kingdom of God and especially for letting us be a part.

hey jason got a question.

since your a worship leader i thought that you would know this.

what are naturally male voice keys and female?

It can really vary

But general rule for congregational singing is to keep the high note at a D but pushing it to an E is usually safe. Go above that, though and you are well out of range.

Awesomeness

I'm currently the electric guitar player at my church.

Without a doubt this website has been the best thing I've ever found. I've gone through private lessons, books tapes videos etc. etc. and your website has improved my playing 100 percent.

God Bless You

Vince

Yeah...

We might use that quote somewhere :) Thanks Vince!

Another thanks . . .

...for your considerable efforts. I "tried" playing in my late teens/early 20's, but never got beyond strumming G-C-D patterns. I kept an old beater in my closet, and would occasionally pull it out and strum a few chords, then put it away for another year or 3. I finally decided "now or never", and asked my wife to get me a "real" guitar for my 40th birthday. 16 years later, I play in 2 morning services every week. I still feel like the other acoustics are much better than I, but I practice nearly every evening, and it is a joy to serve on our WT. I still struggle sometimes (I have had great difficulty mastering Paul Baloche's "Above All" and "Praise Adonai"), but I have taken to heart a statement I once heard Paul say: "Get the words and music off the page and into your hearts. Focus on learning the simple parts, playing them well with confidence and authority." While you will never see me playing a lead break, I have worked hard to learn techniques beyond 1-4-5 strumming, and to develop rock solid timing. It is my hope that every time I step on the platform, that my participation is seen by God and others as an offering of worship.

ministry burnout

hey Jason I am so greatful I found your site I am 55 and just started playing guitar in 6-1-15 6 months now..i have been in the ministry since 1996 . started as a youth pastor then went to bible college . I have been pastoring full time since 2003 and have seen some messed up stuff in the church.break ups , splits , stuff that would make a person go HUH!. I steped back from pastoring for about a year once as I resigned from a denomination. I still pastor and want nothing more than to be able to worship God with my guitar.

I am really excited to learn and am greatful u are such a good teacher . even more soo, what an honor to teach the saints worship...there are gonna be haters and naysayers just ask Jesus and paul (saul) , they were in pearel of there own countrymen and those who called themselves believers were there worst opposition...so please be strenthened in your innerman and be vulnerable and let us pray for you. imagine the power of prayer by those who are excited to be here and support all that you are doing for the kingdom of God. you have started something that the devil hates...and you actually have a real ministry here and people who are following you..

Thanks so much!

Everyone on the team can use all the prayer they can get!

Thanks

Thank you, so very much. Please keep it up. This has been a huge blessing. Such a huge help.

Called Me Higher

I initially joined WorshipArtistry back in 2013 when I decided to learn acoustic guitar because I was having a hard time finding someone to play on our worship team. After about 3 months of lessons, I led my first worship set from the guitar. Your lesson on Called Me Higher is one of my all time favorites, and I still remember standing in my living room, blasting the song over and over, and singing and playing to an audience of One. When I got hired to play with a new church, my first request was a subscription to this site. I play keys with the new band and Ryan is opening up a new world to me in soundscaping (I just made that up I think). My acoustic player didn't even know what a strum pattern was two months ago, and now he is becoming a solid player by learning songs from WorshipArtistry. Jason, I am so grateful to God for what He put in you because it has blessed me so much.

Last night I was speaking to another worship leader friend who was expressing frustrations with her skill level. I pulled out my smartphone and 5 minutes later she went from frustrated to hopeful and excited. I can't wait to hear how she's doing three months from now!