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Confident Musicianship

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Do you remember the first time you heard a song and realized that it was more than a song to you? Something hidden in the music had suddenly become so obvious to you. You discovered that music, real music, isn’t always about the skill level of the musicians, but the execution of the message behind the music. For me, that moment came when I discovered The Ramones. The reality is, as far as musicianship goes, there are tons of bands far more skilled at their instruments than The Ramones, but that was never the point. What I love about The Ramones is that they know who they are and what they want to do with their music and they did it with confidence. Wait, I thought this was a blog about leading worship! Don’t worry, I’m getting there. One of the most important things I have learned as a musician, especially in the context of leading worship is confident musicianship. I’ll be the first guy to tell you that I’m not the most talented guitar player in the world, but I am confident in who I am as a guitar player. Not having confidence in who you are as a musician can not only hold you back from accomplishing your goals in music and ministry, but it can also affect the team around you. So, here are a few thing I have learned over the course of my career (feels weird calling it that, but I guess that’s what it is).

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Ironically, most of the cool things I have learned in music, guitar specifically, has come from this philosophy, “just try it”. Whether it’s rearranging pedals on my pedal board, or trying a riff I’m hearing in my head in practice and seeing how it goes over, a lot of the elements that shape my guitar playing have come from “Just trying it”. Some pretty embarrassing moments have occurred in this process, trust me, but as they say, “the road to awesomeness is paved by overcoming failure”…I totally just made that up, but I believe it to be true.

You are not The Edge

Believe me, I fully feel the pressure to emulate awesome guitar players. I have the incredible opportunity to play in the band Kutless and play with some of the best musicians I have ever met. I am constantly fighting the battle to not compare myself with other guitar players. The reality is that we all bring something different to the table only when we are confident in and embrace the things that make us different.

Remain teachable

This is a toughy. There’s probably nothing more challenging for a creative person to handle than criticism. When I worked retail and my manager critiqued me on my folding of tee shirts, although quite annoying, it didn’t crush my soul. Why? Folding a tee shirt is not a direct reflection of who I am, it’s not my creation, it’s not the product of me baring my soul and inner passion, playing guitar however, is. When the product of our passion is critiqued, we feel it, and if we are not careful, it can close us off from some potentially great insights. We are all in the process of learning, and this process should continue regardless of what we have accomplished.
When you pick up an instrument this Sunday or whenever it’s time to worship our creator, do so with the confidence that He made you and He is worthy of the worship only you can bring.

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One Response to “Confident Musicianship”

  1. This is something I still struggle with after 20 years of playing. It doesn’t come easy, but trusting that you are where God wants helps. As musicians we tend to get caught up in how we sound or how well we can play when we should be focusing on God. Those are areas that we should be constantly working to improve, but having confidence with where you’re at can make you play and sound better. Thanks for the great article Nate…it’s great to see all the awesome things you’ve been doing.

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