I’ve been teaching music for over 15 years and one of the biggest mistakes I see in all levels of musician is laser focus on playing a song right. It might sound like an odd thing for a guitar teacher to say, but hear me out.
How do you play a song right?
There are parts of songs that are essential and there are those that are not. If you get caught up in the parts that are not you miss the entire point. I mean, how deep down this rabbit hole do you want to go? Is the right way simply following the chord chart correctly? Is it playing the correct notes or do the notes have to be in the exact same place on the guitar neck? Do you need to include every little mute and ghost note? Is it having the exact tone on the album? What about that background riff that was clearly overdubbed? Do we need to have a third guitarist to hold that down? I’m all for holding a high standard, but every good musician puts their own stamp on a song. It’s not supposed to be identical to the record.
Focusing on playing a song right can quickly get in the way of playing it well.
ALL live music is interpretation.
Worship music is inherently a live experience. Professional bands have to interpret their own music to play live all the time. Sure they can lean on tracks to cover the studio parts, but the great ones know how to strip the song to its essential pieces. At Worship Artistry, most of the effort that goes into a lesson is arranging 40 track worship songs so a 5 piece church band can play them and sound like the album. That involves making a lot of choices. Sometimes it means the lead guitar gives up on a riff to fill in some chords. Sometimes the keyboard covers the background pad so the guitarist is freed up to play the hook. Sometimes the drummer has to cover a kit groove and loop at the same time. It’s all about recreating the song, not just the part.
It's how this 15 person band arrangement:
Can become this:
Maybe you have a 15 person worship team that plays as tight as a professional band, but I certainly don't. Is this a perfect, note-for-note reproduction of the original recording? Of course not, but it does capture its spirit and that's what we aspire to. (Side note: Full band lessons are almost here!)
This is awesome!
Bring Your Best
When Worship Artistry was just an idea, we were discussing what our tag line was going to be. “Play It Right” was on the table but we chose “Bring Your Best”. Why? Because focusing on playing a song right can quickly get in the way of playing it well. As worship musicians, we don’t’ play to satisfy our ego. We play to usher our congregation into worship. Stay focused on the right thing and don’t get caught up in the details. Your best will just keep getting better.
I Want To Be Awesome!