Hi,

I'm trying to put together a teaching plan for someone who is just starting out leading worship on acoustic guitar.  They are literally just starting to play and I was wondering what you guys would have like to have learned when you first started out?

What would your main lessons have included and how would you have preferred to learn?

What was the most important thing that you learned?

That sort of thing.

I really want to get this right for my student, so any advice, tips or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help!

I look forward to reading your replies.

Alex

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Okay, so I will fall on the "practical" side here, but the "heart" side of this isn't something you cannecessarily teach...

#1 - learn how to figure out the right congregational singing key for a song - C-to-shining-C - how to transpose it and how to prepare chord charts that are useable (i.e., no 10-pt-type stuff you got off the web, no 6-page sheet music) for when others start to join the band.  Songs in the right key for the congregation, even if that's difficult for the leader...

#2 - if they don't have some sort of tuner, take them to Banjo Center to get something, and help them understand that when they put a capo on the guitar, they have to check the tuning.  Again, especially when it's more than just this one person.

#3 - sit down with the pastor and understand what the pastor expects - but also, how much influence is the WL going to have?  Who picks the songs?  How open is the pastor to changing the order of service for the contemporary service?  Make sure the pastor understands they can't just bring a song to the G&G/band 30 minutes before service on Sunday and expect them to be able to sing it like they do with the choir.  Who picks the songs on Sunday.  Make sure they understand what the "job description" is, even if it's not in writing.

#4 - will you have printed songbooks or projections?  If it's projections, who is going to be responsible for RUNNING the projection on Sunday, even if your friend ends up having to prepare them.  How much sound system will be needed, and who is responsible for somebody to run it.  Suggestion: do not get talked into having the sound tech also run the projector, but make sure the sound tech knows HOW to run the projector when that person doesn't show up.

#5 - think through how they're going to handle original music (songs they write, songs somebody in the congregation asks for, songs they find on WtR).  In general, give them a little guided tour of how you find new songs so they have a clue.

Other people will probably have other approaches, but for me it's pretty much about understanding "how is this going to work," and "what happens when we want to change something." 

Thanks Charles, that is very helpful. :-)

What would have been the most practical musical things you could have been taught when you first started out?

Thanks,

Alex


Charles Wolff said:

Okay, so I will fall on the "practical" side here, but the "heart" side of this isn't something you cannecessarily teach...

#1 - learn how to figure out the right congregational singing key for a song - C-to-shining-C - how to transpose it and how to prepare chord charts that are useable (i.e., no 10-pt-type stuff you got off the web, no 6-page sheet music) for when others start to join the band.  Songs in the right key for the congregation, even if that's difficult for the leader...

#2 - if they don't have some sort of tuner, take them to Banjo Center to get something, and help them understand that when they put a capo on the guitar, they have to check the tuning.  Again, especially when it's more than just this one person.

#3 - sit down with the pastor and understand what the pastor expects - but also, how much influence is the WL going to have?  Who picks the songs?  How open is the pastor to changing the order of service for the contemporary service?  Make sure the pastor understands they can't just bring a song to the G&G/band 30 minutes before service on Sunday and expect them to be able to sing it like they do with the choir.  Who picks the songs on Sunday.  Make sure they understand what the "job description" is, even if it's not in writing.

#4 - will you have printed songbooks or projections?  If it's projections, who is going to be responsible for RUNNING the projection on Sunday, even if your friend ends up having to prepare them.  How much sound system will be needed, and who is responsible for somebody to run it.  Suggestion: do not get talked into having the sound tech also run the projector, but make sure the sound tech knows HOW to run the projector when that person doesn't show up.

#5 - think through how they're going to handle original music (songs they write, songs somebody in the congregation asks for, songs they find on WtR).  In general, give them a little guided tour of how you find new songs so they have a clue.

Other people will probably have other approaches, but for me it's pretty much about understanding "how is this going to work," and "what happens when we want to change something." 

Hi Alex,

Can you share a bit about this person's background and experience? i.e. Do they already play the guitar proficiently or are they literally in their first few weeks of learning the guitar as well as leading worship? Are they leading worship in a church or in a house group setting? Are they a new Christian? Have they already started to lead worship or is their a deadline looming?

Thanks!

Phil

Alex - well, I think what I shared was about as "practical" as I can think of - as opposed to say, "pray before every rehearsal, be faithful in your daily Bible readings, be very careful about letting someone in the worship band just because they play guitar well..." some of the more "spiritual" things new leaders are often told.  By the time I started doing worship music, I'd been playing guitar and writing songs for 30+ years -in one of the other threads, I wrote a long post about how I got into worship leading.  So I may be missing a few of the really, really basic things that someone learning guitar might face...

Maybe the one other "practical" thing I can think of is - figure out what things you're good at (what your spiritual gifts are?) and bring in people to cover the rest.  When we first started, I wasn't comfortable being a "songleader," so we brought in a guy who was, like, the director of camping ministries for our district, very comfortable with campfire singalongs and the like.  By the time he moved on to other things, I had seen how he did it and, although I still didn't bring the level of enthusiasm he did to the job, I could at least get up in front of the congregation and lead them through a song.  But that tends to be more of a "band situation" thing, and you said this was (for now) a G&G solo songleader situation.

When I started (1992), being able to read music was more important than it is now, because I had to learn songs from purchased songbooks as opposed to having a youtube video of just about any popular worship song.  Now, being able to figure out the chords by just listening to a song is important.  I use numbers to notate the melody of a song to help me remember the melody of a song when I'm trying to learn it, so that if I wrote the chord chart out in the wrong key, I can change keys and I'm not totally lost (like, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, I'd write in 3 5 1 7 6 5 5 over the first few words if I was trying to learn it). 

If they are literally just starting to play then I'd suggest they held back using the instrument in public until they could reliably finger enough chords to play the songs they'd chosen, and enough right hand technique to hold a steady rhythm appropriate to the songs. Initially choose a song with a simple 3-4 chord pattern to work through (my first worship song was 'Can it be true' G Em C D in a loop) to develop fluid changes and independent movement in each arm.

Moving on, once they'd built up strength & toughened fingertips I'd encourage them to learn bar chords instead of adopting a capo, because it will unlock the neck and give them freedom to select a key on the fly. Capos have their place, but are better used for positive reasons than because the guitarist never learned beyond the cowboy stage.

Third stage, I'd encourage them to listen to music to see if they could hear the chord changes and follow along - to train their ear. That will enable them to play along to songs without needing to learn the music, or even without music at all.

At the same time as pretty much all the above beyond the most basic I'd want them to learn to play with other people, to hear what's happening, interact and respond to the musical cues, to learn respect & discipline when working with others and the appropriate forms of stagecraft that are required in a worship team.

Seeing the 3 replies here makes me realise how different we all are, and how we have different approaches to playing in worship.

Hi guys, this is all very helpful.  Thank you.  

In response to Phil's question, they can already sing and has been doing so for some time, leading worship without an instrument, but wants to learn the guitar.  I've not taught any adults before, only eight to ten year old children so I was hoping to be able to teach without resorting to children's songs etc.

I was just wanting to make sure I don't miss anything crucial that people would have liked to have been taught early on...

Thanks again for all your replies.

Alex

So they're already a WL, they just haven't been playing guitar and now want to add that?

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