This is post #3 from a short series on practicing which was originally inspired by this post.
For this series I’ve asked 4 members from our worship teams to write about their own personal practice strategies they use to help them prepare for Sundays. This is going to be some helpful stuff for worship leaders and musicians alike.
Chris Boudreau - Electric Guitar
Occupation: Network Analyst, Musician
Years on Worship Team: 15 years
Favourite Band: David Gilmour
Hi everyone !
My name is Chris and I am blessed to be involved with the worship ministry at SBC over the last 5 years; my musical background started about 20 years ago, first with trombone then guitar and other instruments.
Well, my routine is quite similar to Troy’s but also a little different too..
As soon as I have the set list, I create a playlist of the songs in iTunes and sync it to my iPhone. Then, I sit down and listen to all the songs in order and just listen to what each song is about, and figure out the basic song structure and progression. After the initial listen, I will follow along with the chord charts while listening and figure out where my parts will come in for each song. When that’s done, my next step is to figure out what I don’t need to play in order to set aside space for the other instruments in the mix.
Once I know what I don’t need to play, I focus in on my parts and learn them as recorded. I will also figure out an alternate part that compliments what was played on the recording. I like to do this for several reasons, but mostly to prepare for the “what if we try this” scenario at practice. For instance, if we decide to start the song off with a short instrumental, or if Caleb asks me to add lib a short instrumental part later in the song; this lets me build on the original melody if needed or just add some different colour to the existing parts.
Going with the format that Troy used on his fantastic post, here are my top 5 tips or observations I’ve learned:
1.) 15-20 minutes a day everyday is the best approach to become comfortable with the material. You are spending 15-20 minutes everyday practicing something on your instrument right ???
2.) Don’t just learn the song, learn the style, the keys, scales and musical influences the song is crafted upon; jam along with the recordings and improvise to find out what works and more importantly what doesn’t work. Spend some time playing each song in different positions on the fingerboard, different pickups, different effects to find what would work best. Experimentation can really help get the creative juices flowing.
3.) Practice your playing and the techniques you are learning with the guitar “unplugged” from your effects and amp; working on your fingering and picking techniques with your guitar all by itself, will help you get a better and more consistent tone down the road.
4.) Keep your instrument well maintained and setup to sound it’s best – you can learn to do the majority of guitar setup work yourself with just a few basic everyday tools and pretty easy to follow instructions; there are dozens of really great tutorials up on Youtube that walk you through the basic stuff.
5.) Most importantly, spend time in the word and in prayer, prepare your heart for service and worship, and remember that we have been blessed with these gifts to be used by God for His glory.
How about you? What are some of the things you do in your practice time? Share your ideas.