My neighbor across the street plays guitar. A couple years ago, he was telling me about his church’s process for selecting new electric guitar gear and how the question of digital vs. analog came up in their discussion. The guitarists were adamant that they had to have amps, and the amps had to have tubes in them.
I’ve long suspected guitarists of being somewhat eccentric about their tone. I wanted to tell my neighbor that by the time you put a microphone in front of that amp, run it through all the cables and processors to get it to the speakers and put the speakers in a room, there is no way to re-create the experience of standing in front of a guitar amp for more than one person at a time.
I later realized, though, that even if that guitarist is the only one hearing that perfectly overdriven, creamy, tube-distorted, analog tone, there is still value in that. And the value is that guitarist is inspired.
As leaders, we have to be inspired if we are to inspire others. If you aren’t inspiring others to do or be something different, you aren’t leading. In worship, every musician and singer is in his/her position to help inspire worship. It is imperative that we as worship leaders don’t wait for inspiration. We have to acquire it.
Inspiration literally means the act of drawing in; specifically, the drawing of air into the lungs.1 To acquire inspiration, we have to breathe in the right kind of “air.” Here are some ways worship leaders and musicians can intentionally seek inspiration.
1. Listen to new music.
Too often, we listen to the same songs, artists, or genres. Get some recommendations for a new and different artist. Buy the whole album, not just the singles that appeal to you after listening to the samples. Listen to the whole album, all the way through. No skipping, no repeating. You may be surprised by what you begin to enjoy.
2. Get your gear together.
Good-sounding gear inspires musicians. Do your best to have good-sounding, working instruments (vocals, too). Also, we typically access a only small percentage of our gear’s potential. Take some time to dig into the possibilities.
3. Practice a different style
If you play by chords, learn something using music notation, or vice versa. If you typically play one style of music, learn something in a different style. Gungor fans appreciate “the brilliance” of keyboardist John Arndt2 in no small part for how he integrates his classical piano training. Try something new and see how you can incorporate it into your regular playing.
4. Collaborate with others.
Have a jam session. Write a song with someone else. Experiment with vocal harmonies. Push the boundaries of what you normally play together.
5. Spend time with your Creator.
Whether through worship, study, prayer, or silent meditation, allow God, the ultimate creator and inspirer, to breathe into your spirit.
How do you seek inspiration? What is something that has inspired you recently?
1. “inspiration.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2014. http://www.merriam-webster.com (11 April 2014).
2. John also plays for a band called “The Brilliance.” See what I did there?