There is an old joke that says ‘How many electric guitarists does it take to change a light bulb?’ The answer is 100. One to change the bulb and 99 to say ‘that was rubbish, I could do it much faster’…
Every so often I come across a teenage guitarist who has been playing for a couple of years and has now come for lessons. When I ask them to show me how they play, they pull off a vastly impressive fast metal riff that leaves me thinking… er..perhaps you could teach me instead?! If I then ask them to play it in another key or fit it into a song it becomes apparent that they can’t do much else apart from a few riffs at lightning speed. Essentially they are a technician – something quite different to the more rounded skill of an experienced musician.
Musicianship is much more than physically being able to play the song. Communication, team working and listening skills should balance technical excellence and if you are trying to integrate inexperienced musicians you’ll want to embed those skills early on.
So here are some practical ideas for getting young people involved in the worship band and developing their musical maturity.
1. Learn to play the simple stuff well.
Many musicians learn a few cool chops and try to fit them into every song, at every opportunity! Many worship songs are written quite simply and the temptation for the more able musician to overplay because they are bored is sometimes overwhelming. The song then becomes like a recipe with too many ingredients. It spoils the main flavour. As I mentioned last month the way to combat this is to start with a basic groove and discipline your rhythm section to keep with it. The other instruments fit around that groove one after another and listen to what everyone else is playing. This is a great lesson in dynamics and shows them that not everyone has to playALL the time.
2. Listen closely to a professional recording
Identify what each instrument is playing, unpack what is manageable, copy and play along. Like this they play with professional musicians whilst simultaneously developing timing, taste and listening skills.
The Worship Backing Band MultiTrack Player is perfect for this. You can isolate each individual instrument stem and easily hear exactly what is being played. Most musicians are surprised by how simple each part really is.
3. Record or film the band
Listen to the recording and get the musicians to review their playing. When I first heard one of my parts on a live album I realised it was far too busy in the context of the whole band and congregation. Self realisation amidst a culture of open constructive feedback is great learning. Read More