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.