Playing and teaching “Up”

We have a new worship pastor at our church.  This past week, he took time out of his crazy week of learning the ropes at a new church and planning out services, etc. to go over some upcoming songs one-on-one with me.  It was quickly apparent that his abilities on electric guitar far outpace my somewhat pedestrian licks and tricks.  I’m thankful for the relative simplicity of electric guitar parts on a host of today’s modern worship music.  I’ve not had terrible difficulty covering the gamut of Hillsongs, Bethel, Jesus Culture, etc.  But our new pastor likes to throw in some Israel Houghton and New Breed like funk.

Example

I can play that stuff on keys, but he wants me to cover some of the funk on guitar.  It’s not like he was asking me to do something that he couldn’t do, in fact – BAM  – he was showing me the various parts right there – and not in a sloppy fashion; straight up funk right off the song.  Several things passed through my mind from “Whoa, I can’t play that!”, to “I hope he isn’t disappointed when I tell him that I can’t play that” to “I’m not sure I can learn how to play that.”  The fact of the matter is, that I’ve faced this situation several times before, and only when I’m challenged to do something I currently am not able to do, have been the only times when I’ve had to do more than just typical practice and get some new skills under my belt.

When those changes have happened, they have involved someone willing to take the time to show me the way.  To honor their time, I’ve put in the time to try to learn what they’ve shown.

This playing ‘up’ to the challenge has another challenge – to teach ‘up’ to someone that is maybe not currently schooled on some tricks and helps and methods that you might now have as muscle memory and brain stem activity.  You didn’t get to that point of ease without someone or some lessons helping you along the way.  Be willing to play up to the occasion as well as teach others to do the same.  I’m writing this almost as a self-pep-talk, but I look forward to the other side.

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