I have a love/hate relationship with worship chord charts. I love them because they make it possible for volunteer worship musicians with full-time job and family commitments to hang with the band on Sundays. Awesome. I hate them because they steal the joy of playing freely and confidently because once you’re stuck to one you can’t escape it. Not awesome.
I’m not going to be one of those worship leaders that tells you you can’t have charts on stage, but I am going to give you some tips on memorizing worship songs so you don’t need them as often. I’m a guitarist but this works for anyone.
Step 1: Listen
The other day Third Eye Blind’s "Jumper" came on the radio and I knew every single word. I never tried to learn it. I just listened to it so much in high school it came right back. Same thing applies to any worship song you need to learn. Put that sucker on repeat and listen away. Don’t try and learn it. Just listen until it’s in your soul.
Step 2: Break it up
Once you know how the whole song is supposed to sound you can break it into parts. Start with the intro. Learn it. Practice it. Repeat the practice until you can play it without thinking. Got it? Move onto the verse, then the chorus and so on.
Don’t try and learn it. Just listen until it’s in your soul.
Step 3: Make the Transition
The hardest part of learning parts separately is gluing them all together so work on the musical transitions. Take note of where each section ends and the next one starts and just jump between the two. I find that if I have the individual parts under my fingers, I can be looking at the fret my next section starts on before I’m done playing the current one so I naturally make that leap.
Step 4: Practice
Now that you know the song so it’s time to know the song. Play it straight through with the recording. Give it a rest and come back to it later. Do this as often as you can, always with the song so you really get the feel. Our tutorials' play along mixes are there for a reason. Your brain will continue working on the song even without the instrument in your hands and you’ll feel it when you make the jump from kind of knowing it to truly knowing it.
Always play along with the song to truly get the feel.
If you’ve never memorized your music for Sunday, you are truly missing out. It can be overwhelming so I always suggest starting with one song of the set and building it week to week. Once you get a taste of that freedom, you’ll never want to use a chart again. Our lessons are here with music videos, chaptered lessons and practice loops to help you get there. If you’re not a Worship Artistry member, you can start your free trial here.