On the night the 2016 World Series kicked off, another sport began its season. I've always been a big Spurs fan. Even when they were terrible. Like before the David Robinson era terrible. In the 80's, my small Christian school basketball team played against another school on the Spurs' court and then got to stay to watch Spurs play. I was hooked.
The Spurs have had a good streak, winning 5 NBA Championships since 1999. And at the end of last season, one of its premier players retired: Tim Duncan. They call him "The Big Fundamental." He got that name because he wasn't a flashy player, but he always executed the fundamentals of basketball.
And that got me thinking. Every time we get to play music or run sound in church, we either ignore or follow the fundamentals of making great music - music that creates spaces where we can meet God. Fundamentals are like that - they may not be flashy, but they will help your team accomplish their purpose.
See, when we do something 52 times a year, it’s easy to get dulled to sleep. And that wasn’t a typo. We forget the essence of what makes great music, and music is our primary tool to help people express love for God. What if our teams reviewed these each month? Would it increase our musical depth, artistry, and effectiveness? I think so!
Here are 7 Fundamentals of Great Worship Music.
Always look for places to lay out. Where can I add space? Does this part absolutely need me to play?
Always play quieter and louder than I think I can/should. Be tiny. Be overwhelmingly large. Make the difference between the two wider.
Know what is causing the song to work and let that be the track that everything rides on. Know what the root rhythm pattern for the song is. Tap your feet or bob your head in sync with each other.
Know what everyone else is playing. You must fit what you are playing into what they are playing. If you don’t know what they’re playing, you’re stepping on what they’re playing.
Think like a Drummer
Imagine if a drummer played every hand and foot at the same time with the same rhythm…clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk! Every player should have a unique, yet interlocking line.
Make the Switch
Rehearse everything (music, transitions, prophetic playing, improvisation, etc.) during rehearsal. Work hard at it! Then during the service, just worship your heart out…don’t get hung up on mechanics.
Create a Space
Make every musical choice through the grid of your role: creating a space where people can meet God. Is what I’m doing musically helping that?
Thanks for following me through all my basketball history. Since you made it to the end, you get a bonus: a teaching session from our Audio Coach Tony Guyer on musicality - something to help the church sound tech and musician be more musical.