Although I haven’t been leading worship as many years as some others I know and haven’t played many large venues like some others I know, I do believe I can share some insight on simple things to keep in mind as a musician regardless of the venue and musical position (instrument). Whether you are the leader or backup guitar player, I think this series of thoughts will help you be more of a desirable musician.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional musician and don’t claim to know it all. What I am sharing is through experience and being thrown into the fire. It may or may not help you in your endeavors, but God Bless anyway!
Thought #1 – Memorize the songs
One of the greatest ways to communicate your desire to play is showing you know the song prior to rehearsal and not just say you heard of it. Once you have received the song list, you jump on Youtube, search for the chord charts, practice away, and learn all of the various nuances in the song. When I mean ‘knowing the song’ , I am implying you have practiced it, memorized it, and can play it in various keys on your own; depending on your instrument. I believe that the type of musician that isn’t eager to learn the music prior to rehearsal, doesn’t listen to the songs, or the musician that waits for rehearsal to learn the song is the musician who will have a difficult time adjusting to what the band is doing or desiring to do and may ultimately hinder the band from having a successful rehearsal and potentially a successful event. I also believe the type of musician I described is very prideful and can hurt the band by this.
Memorization is one skill that will help you stand out among others and allows you to have the freedom to play the song using various tonal colors on your instrument. In the majority of the venues I have played, my instrument has been the acoustic or electric guitar, which can sometimes be overbearing with effects pedals, if you don’t know the song and how it flows dynamically. You may say, man there are so many songs out there, and I have to memorize all of them? Don’t worry, in relation to praise and worship music, which is what I play, there is a standard structure to them all. Learn the pattern and you will be able to learn a lot of songs played at church.