It’s fascinating how bassists (all musicians, really) are constantly making thousands of decisions per minute during any type of performance. The beauty comes when you get to the point where you aren’t consciously making any of those decisions and you’re just playing, flowing in the spirit. You’re hoping that the moment lasts forever, and then the breakpoint happens. This often occurs while you’re in that place and you are suddenly distracted by the musicians around you that have not yet reached that level. I am NOT looking down my nose here because what those moments create are opportunities to teach, mentor someone, or at least make a healthy suggestion. Quite often I have shared these experiences with you just for that reason. Hopefully as you hear them you can know what to look for, diagnose the problem(s), and then address however you feel led.

I am NOT looking down my nose here because what those moments create are opportunities to teach, mentor someone, or at least make a healthy suggestion.

Recently I was playing with a worship team and a new leader/guy was on the team. He had a very sweet spirit, pleasant, pop sounding voice, and a heartfelt delivery. Truly, he was there to worship. And now the dreaded “B” word…BUT, there were a couple of things he unknowingly did that disrupted the flow. First of all, his guitar was always out of tune. To my ears, this is an unfortunate phenomenon that is about as distracting as 50 tambourine players scattered amongst a crowd of 300. Anyway, when an appropriate time presented itself, I asked him to check his tuning (yes, he had a tuner) to which he graciously complied. As soon as he had tuned, he proceeded to apply a substandard capo in a very haphazard fashion and began the next tune that he was leading, causing the guitar to sound as if it hadn’t been tuned in this century.

The other area where he needed a bit of education in was, perhaps, the most important one. He never gave cues of any kind pertaining to the next section of the song that he was going to lead.  Bass players, please suggest to your worship leaders that they must “lead” the band as well as the congregation. This can easily be accomplished by singing or speaking out the first couple of words to the next section before it begins (this is usually a good method for those leading on a guitar). This lets everyone know what section is to be played next. Keyboardists can hold up their left hand and make one of three hand gestures that can avoid a disastrous beginning to a would-be triumphant chorus or bridge, as well as a quiet-moment verse section. It’s very simple. “C” for “chorus,” “V” for “verse”, and a flat hand (palm down) for “bridge”. To indicate going back to the beginning of the song, a simple double-pat on the top of the head will easily suffice for that instruction.

Bass players, please, ask your worship leaders to lead the band! They really need to. Many blessing on you and the work of your hands!


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Gary is a session player/producer/writer in Nashville, TN. He records sessions at home, plays for many recording session accounts, and attends Grace Church (gracechurchnashville.com) in Franklin, TN. Email him at garylunn@me.com for questions or scheduling.

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