I am asking this question not beacuse I myself dont know, but because I think there is a lot of varying opinions on what over playing is.
What I think it is may not be what you think it is.
Do we really know what it is, (or) is it that we "know it when we hear it"?
Is it a volume issue?
is it a rytham issue?
Is it a skill issue?
Is it a too busy issue?
Is it a theory issue?
What is your definition?
I would love too hear your thoughts. Lets try and keep responces to two paragraphs or less.
I want this to be an easy read not a treatise on the subject. :-)
Aside from the chords (I assume you mean voicing) also watch for the rhythmic element. As I keyboardist (who forcibly puts his left hand behind his back to make sure he isn't putting any low end in sometimes) it is very easy to get caught up trying to match what others are doing.
Sometimes a simple pad, string patch etc playing a tied whole note for 16 measures is perfect. It depends on how many band members there are.
As band members and instruments increase, there must be a decrease in part complexity.The bible does say to make a 'joyful noise', but it also says 'play skillfully and shout for joy" and do all things decently in order.
I tell my musicians and singers parodies of Ecc Chap 3. There's a time to sing 5 part harmony and a time to refrain from harmonizing :)
My take on the rhythm side (since Smitty has addressed the harmony side so well) is that at all times the congregation should hear where the counts (crotchets, quarter notes, whatever you call them) are. This can come from the piano, guitar or even the singing, as some songs just mark out rhythm through the melody (Here I Am to Worship and most of the older hymns are good examples). So between the piano and the acoustic guitar, one should be giving the counts and the other holding a chord.
My preference is for guitar strumming to mark out the counts, because the guitar sound is thinner and allows the singing of the congregation to come out better. :)
For sure buck the instruments off the melody. I assign specific instruments to any "fancy schmancy" parts. It's important to respect the musicians playing riffs etc, and I often have tell the horns not to play over a synth part. Dang horns.
Keeping the number of people on your worship team also helps. No need for four guitars when two will do. No need for 12 singers when there are no more than 4 harmonies (that includes the melody) in any given song.
I like Hillsong stuff Mostly. BUT I HAVE A REAL ISSUE WITH THE NEWER SONGS!!!
Have you noticed that in the arangements of late the songs are a little disconected?
It is almost like they have four good thoughts, taglines, or choreses and they just string them together in one song.
So you have a song that has 3 or 4 good parts individualy and would sound good if developed into 3 or 4 songs, but they string them together in one song it sounds kinda scitsofrenic.
Just a thought.
The first answer to the question(s) I had was not following the lead of the Lord and playing to try to stir up worship on ones own. The word and music blended the way it is meant too I guess I would analyze as over my head to understand how you can over play in regards to multiple notes at a time. I am not sure this is what you were looking for.
I think Rick Wright summed it up when talking about David Gilmour. He said that David always plays with a sense of the song. In other words, what he plays always fits and helps contribute to the feel of the song. It's a very subjective thing that we seem to all know.
If you have a sense of what the song calls for and what its trying to express, then you'll have a feeling for what is too much. I liked that comment that said "1) a keyboard player that acted like a one man show and played everybody else's parts along with his own and 2) an electric guitar player that felt the need to solo through every song from start to finish." That's a great example of the extreme. But if there's ever a question, less is best.
While we are trying to lead the congregation into a singing experience and that's the main goal, God doesn't prohibit instrumentalists from playing their hearts out at appropriate times. Shred on dude!