3 ways to develop a “next level” mentality for your music ministry (or anything else you want)

For a great many of us, singing and/or playing an instrument in church is just something we’ve always done. Those of us like me, who gravitate to the front and take on positions like choir director and parts instructor end up doing so because we simply have a natural God-given talent for it. For that reason though, many of us spend most of our lives at pretty-much the same level as far as our music ministry goes. That’s just human nature, really. We all cling to the familiar, don’t we? We stick with what we know. What we’ve always done.

It’s only when we finally get to that point where God has given us a desire to take our ministry to another level that we realize it means doing or thinking about something we’ve always done in a whole new way. This is true for everyone, no matter what role you play in the music department. You could be the church musician seeking to simply improve your craft, or you could be a member of the choir who’s tired of always struggling to remember your part. Or a soloist who wants to stop being hoarse week after week. Chances are though, that whatever you do in the music department you were self-taught or just kinda born knowing how to do it. People go their entire lives that way, happy and content with their service to God and their own skill levels. That’s great, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. When it becomes an issue is when God places a desire in you to take your music ministry to another level, but you don’t really want to change anything about the way you do it now.

Here are some things you can do to start preparing yourself mentally to take your music ministry to another level.

1. Understand and admit to yourself that what you’re doing now won’t get you there.

If you feel like you’re stuck, stagnant or not growing in your craft, or that you simply need to get better, the first thing to understand is that you can never get a new result by continuing to do the same thing. The biggest obstacle to achieving success in any area of life for most people is simply the unwillingness to change. Change takes us out of our comfort zones. Learning something new- especially when it’s something you’ve always done without thinking about it- has a tendency to make us feel…well, kinda dumb in a way. Nobody really puts it quite that bluntly but when we think about it honestly that’s what that feeling is that we avoid so much. Just understanding that is half the battle. But then being willing to accept the fact that you have to change something to get where you want to go makes you much more willing to embrace doing so.

2. Be willing to see old things in entirely new ways.

As I said earlier, music is something most of us were just born into. Music is just in us. It’s just….music! We sing it, we play it, we just do it. Automatically. But to really take your craft to the next level you must be willing to delve deeper into how it works. To understand it more. I’m always encouraging my choir members and praise team members not to just memorize their parts, but seek to understand why their part is what it is. Understand how it relates and moves with the other parts.

I’m self-taught as a keyboard player. I’ve been able to teach myself what I do know simply because God blessed me with a great ear. But I’m not where I want to be at all, not even close. So I’ve had to realize that for me to get to the next level I’m going to have to learn some theory. I can hear 3 part harmony all day long. But there are beautiful, complex chords that I hear musicians play, and I could never construct them with my ear alone. To get to that point I have to understand that what I already know won’t get me there, then be willing to learn a whole different way of looking at playing. So it is with anything.

3. Ask why, ask how.

This works with every aspect of your life when you’re trying to go to a new level. Every time you find yourself challenged with a task, asking these two questions will immediately set you on a path to finding the answers. Look at a couple of examples here.

*Why is it so hard for me to hit that one note? *How can I learn to be comfortable right there?

*Why can’t I remember this part?! I know I’m smarter than this. *How can I learn to remember my keys better?

*I’ve been playing for years, why can’t I get past this level? *How can I learn to play better more interesting chords?

For obvious reasons of course, these are all music-related examples. But this works with almost anything. Watch this; “Why don’t I ever have enough time in my day to finish anything? I’m running from the time I get up till the time I go to bed. How can I manage my time better?” There are people who are experts at this and can absolutely teach you how to do it. Just asking the questions puts you on a direct path to finding them.

When you acknowledge your problem and then start seeking ways to fix it, God acknowledges that desire and starts placing people in your path to give you what you seek. After all, you have to believe on some level that it’s the very reason you’re sitting here reading a blog from “The Music Ministry Coach”, of all things. What are the odds of that?! How many vocal coaches have you ran across on line? Probably lots of them. How many “music ministry coaches?” Chances are, just one. So you have to believe that our paths crossed for a reason.

The thing is, music is really not that complex. When you start seeking to really understand how it works you begin to see that it’s very repetitive. It moves in circles. It keeps coming back to the same thing. When it comes to singing, almost all singers fall into only 4 categories. The issues and challenges we have fall into even fewer than that. So you can imagine then, that if you start asking questions about why you have trouble with one issue or another, it would be very easy to find the answers. And the solutions are incredibly easy.

I tell my students all the time that vocal technique really isn’t about learning some complicated new way to sing. It’s a lot more about unlearning old habits that make singing harder. That’s the case with all of it though, no matter what facet of music ministry you work in. Or what facet of life you’re trying to improve. The knowledge is there to be had, it’s easy to get, and in most cases, very simple stuff. The hardest thing you’ll ever do is push yourself out of your comfort zone to take that first step to learning it. Soon after you do though, you’ll look back and wonder how you ever did it the old way so long.

Take that step right now while it’s on your heart. Book private sessions and let me help you get to the next level of your music ministry.


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18 Responses to 3 ways to develop a “next level” mentality for your music ministry (or anything else you want)

  1. alyce says:

    Principals are so applicable! And your transparency is not just effective, but equally commendable. Ministry in action! Appreciated, Bro. Ron!

  2. Pingback: My top 10 must-read music ministry articles of 2012 - The Music Ministry Coach.com

  3. George says:

    Thanks Ron, Very useful information great.

  4. Pingback: 7 powerful scriptures for next level thinking | The Music Ministry Coach.com

  5. Pingback: Three Questions to Coach Yourself | Matthew Reed Coaching

  6. Sue Glashower says:

    Great points Ron! This can also be applied to many areas of life. We get into a comfort zone and it is easy to stay there – we feel safe. When we are willing to step out in faith we can reach new levels.

  7. Pat Moon says:

    Ron, you are blessed to be born with a musical ear. I have 2 sons who are that way and my dad was that way. I was born into music, that is with the desire to be musical but not with the natural ear. I taught myself to read music and through practice can play piano enough to enjoy playing for my own enjoyment and basic church pianist skills. I learned to sing harmony because I could read music. Over the years my ear has been trained to some degree but still rely on having that music in front of my eyes. That is the next level I desire… it be able to play piano and sing by ear. I’ve done some study toward that goal but am not consistent. Your article is very motivating to continue rising to the next level. Thx.

  8. Ron, great article! I can definitely relate to needing to UNLEARN before I can stretch to learn something new.

    I really appreciate what you wrote here: “When you acknowledge your problem and then start seeking ways to fix it, God acknowledges that desire and starts placing people in your path to give you what you seek.”

    This is so very true! I like how you integrate the challenge of learning something new, getting out of the comfort zone, and getting to the next level with not only music, but other disciplines as well.

    You have challenged me to upgrade my skill sets to the next level!

  9. Claudia Looi says:

    Great point Ron about unlearning old habits. It is also about taking actionable steps with a coach that could guide through the process.

  10. Penny says:

    Thank you for the much helpful article Ron. “When you acknowledge your problem and then start seeking ways to fix it, God acknowledges that desire and starts placing people in your path to give you what you seek.” I love this part, as God cant do anything until we acknowledge it. Thanks Ron.

  11. Olga Hermans says:

    Yes, we can keep doing things the same way for so long and I think one of the main reasons we do that is because we are afraid of the unknown. We were talking about this yesterday in my family; we keep saying that we love a change in our life, but it is better that we start saying that we want to go to the next level, which also brings change of course. Our pastor preached yesterday that action is always the cure for fear. I think that fits right in here. Thanks Ron!!

  12. Very well put, Ron. This is exactly where I am with my art. And, I have determined to move to the next level. I want to be selling, and that means learning more about oils. It is interesting that we go through this so many times and in so many areas of our lives.

  13. Matthew Reed says:

    Ron, Great thoughts. You’ve kind of summed up The essence of coaching in three questions.
    1.) What do you want to do/be/accomplish?
    2.) How would HONESTLY evaluate yourself now? What is your current condition?
    3.) What is the next, clear and specific step for you to take in order to fill in the gap between where you are and where you want to be?
    Repeat step 3 OVER AND OVER until you arrive at your destination
    (I like the way that little list turned out…I think I’ve just outlined a blog post for my site :))

  14. This post was so helpful. the advice doesn’t just relate to music ministry but to all sorts of situations. I have a situation that I’ve just allowed to continue out of habit, and recently God has been challenging me to take things to a new level. I wasn’t sure how I was going to even begin to make the changes necessary and then I read your post.
    ” Be willing to see old things in entirely new ways.” jumped out of the page! The situation is an old one and it isn’t going to change, but I suddenly realised God wants me to look at it in a new way!
    Thank you Ron!

    • Ron says:

      Well praise God Carloyn! You just never know how or when God will use something you said to bless someone. This blog is several months old, yet God brought it to you right when you needed it. Awesome!

  15. denny hagel says:

    I find this entire topic so interesting…understanding the concept of music being one’s ministry and all that goes into creating a successful ministry is admirable. These are obviously very helpful tips for those in that position!

  16. Marguerite says:

    This was extremely helpful. It was precise, down to earth and a very easy read. Though I’ve already taken the steps to take voice lessons, you’ve asked the very questions I’ve been asking myself. I love this blog. Thanks so much for posting.

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