I’ve only recently started memorizing all the songs before I play on Sunday mornings. I’m blessed that memorizing songs has come naturally to me over the years. For me it is liberating to play a song without having to look down at a chord chart, and I don’t feel like I’m hiding behind a music stand. Plus, memorizing songs is really not that difficult once you identify the patterns that exist in music — that’s another post for another day. Here are some reasons why you really should memorize the worship music before each service.
When you play from memory your stage presence will be livelier. Stage presence is not something reserved for performances on stage, but also in a worship setting. Your job as an acoustic player (and thus a member of the worship band) is to lead the congregation, and this is one of those times when appearance actually matters.
Now, it’s not your job to entertain an audience in a worship service. Your heart still needs to be right, but you have to at least look like you’re excited to be in God’s House. Having some enthusiasm and looking comfortable will help everyone else in the room feel the same way. When you depend on your chord chart, it distracts you and closes you off the the congregation.
Another good reason to memorize your music is so you can focus more on your own worship to God during the service. Leaders have to be out in front, no matter what context that leadership is in — worship, business, family, etc… Leaders also have to be aware of their surroundings. If you’re staring down at a chord chart the whole time, you won’t be able to tell how the congregation is participating during a song.
As an acoustic player this may not seem like a big deal to you, but knowing what’s going on around you helps you know what dynamics to play with. You’ll also be more available to watch and follow the worship leader — or if you are the leader, you really shouldn’t be staring at a chord sheet anyway.
Sometimes things happen, and you just have to roll with it. If your leader deviates from the original structure of the song (for whatever reason), you’ll be able to keep up if you have memorized the different parts of the song. Some of you play in bands that do this regularly, and some not as often. Either way, transitioning to random parts of the song is only possible if you have memorized all the parts. A chord sheet will do more harm than good in this situation.
Also, at the end of the worship set when the speaker is coming up on stage, it is good to usually have some type of background music still playing. Depending on your band structure, that job may fall on the keyboard player, but a solid acoustic guitar player should be able to fill this need, too. Part of being a “solid” acoustic player is being ready.
There really is no downside to memorizing the songs before the worship service. It can only benefit you. As with anything you do in life, you have to step back and ask yourself why you’re doing it. The purpose of playing acoustic guitar in a worship service is to contribute not only to the music, but also to the worship experience. Memorizing your music and being ready to play it is just another notch in the belt of becoming the best acoustic player you can be. God deserves our best in every area of our Lives, so why should playing in the worship band be any different?
Do you memorize the worship songs before you play each service? Do you find it easy or difficult? Leave a comment or share a story below, and join the conversation!