Guitar for Church Pt 2 (Identifying Context)

25 May

Yesterday I posted some very basic Biblical principles for playing guitar (or any instrument) in church. It’s vital that we start there.

Having decided that:

We are looking at using our gifts (guitaring) for the benefit of the body, specifically by helping them sing to, from and about God…together.

We must move on to identify the specific context or situation we are playing in. As I see it there are 2 either/or situations we should distinguish between and then adapt our playing to suit.

You are either leading or accompanying:

If you’re leading, you’ll need to remember to lead in setting the pace and feel of a song. Others in your band/congregation will look to you to signal musically what’s happening. They’ll also look to you to signal musically when there’s a shift in the song, be it between verses, between verse/chorus/bridge or a change in theme/subject matter in the song which requires a shift in the music. In all of this it’s vital to invite feedback when you’re practising. You don’t want to establish a democracy where everyone gets an equal vote, but neither do you want to establish a dictatorship in which only you can have a say. Inviting feedback require humility.

If you’re accompanying, you’ll need to remember that you’r not in charge! Graciously look to who ever is leading to set direction, which you can then follow. Invite direction from who ever is leading, don’t just wait for instruction, show willing by actively seeking their leadership.

You are either in a band or playing alone:

If you’re part of a band then you need to leave space for others. Don’t play everything, all the time. The reason that you are part of a band is so that others can contribute. And don’t duplicate what others are doing. If the music needs more volume, ask the PA people to turn up the slider.

If you’re playing alone then you need to do more than when you’re part of a band. There is still a danger of over playing though and there’s no way of really duplicating that ‘whole band’ feel. So don’t try. Sometimes you’ll have to lead more with your voice than with our instrument. You’ll also have to play drums with your guitar. That is, through your strumming make it obvious what time signature you’re in and when the first beat of ever bar is.

*Really all my thoughts are an amalgamation of things I’ve picked up from either Bob Kauflin or Jamie Brown. I am much indebted to them both*


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