What does it take to be a better guitarist on a Worship team? Have you heard the saying “less is more”, less of me and more about God? As a guitarist, many of us strive for the best guitar sounds on our instrument, and with our amps and effects pedals in Worship. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t get caught up in performance mode rather than singing praise and ushering in the presence of God with the congregation. Finding the balance between our gift as a guitarist and the meaning of why we are there on the Worship team in the first place is one of the keys to becoming a better Worship Musician. Sometimes, we may have to step away from the pedalboard.
Did he just say step away from the pedalboard? Yes, I did, and I have done it myself at times, recently as a matter of fact. Here’s a short testimony as to why: A few years ago, my wife and I felt the call to move to Nashville, where there are lots of artists and musicians and what seems to be a church on almost every corner. It soon felt like home, but before pursuing a spot on a worship team I decided to “wait upon the Lord” for direction. Within the last year, I started playing at “City on a Hill” church in Nashville, not as the electric lead guitar player, but rather as the acoustic rhythm player. Most of the time I plug into my tuner, and that’s it! Yes, it was hard to give up my pedalboard, however this has led to have a Heart of Worship and has even Opened the eyes of my Heart as I concentrate on the words and their meaning that I am singing instead of dancing on my effects pedals. Now, when I do get the call to play electric and bring my board, it makes it that much more enjoyable and Worshipful. So, that’s part of my story. Whether you play electric guitar on the main team or in the youth band, getting on a rotation to simply play the acoustic guitar even once a quarter may be beneficial so your Worship life doesn’t become spiritually flat.
Since we also don’t want to become flat in our musical worship, here are some tips for playing songs in flat keys, with or without a capo. Here is a chord progression in the key of Ab, like that in the song “Start a Fire” by Unspoken. The main chords are [Ab / D / Fm7/ Ebsus] or using the Nashville number system it is [1 / 4 / 6m / 5] in the key of Ab. Example 1 shows the chord shapes you can play in what would be the chorus of the song. When you use a capo on the first fret, the chord shapes are: [G / C / Em / Dsus]. Remember that these are the chord shapes, not the actual chords. Example 2 shows the chord progression in what would be the verse in the first position using upper chord voicings on the D-G-B & A strings only. Use your index finger to bar at the first fret, almost as if it was a capo, leaving out the bass notes of the chord, which can be covered by the keyboard, bass or the guitar player using the capo. You will see that you can use minimal hand movement to play all 4 chords.
Keep developing your gifts while getting back to the Heart of Worship.
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