The Friday Pickle: How Do You Deal With Someone Who Can't Play?

Posted by Alice Vincent on 17 April 2015

To my left were two kids on bass and drums who have yet to hit puberty or work out that when you play in a worship band it's probably a good idea to be able to hear something other than your own instrument. To might right was a guy almost three times their combined age, who may never work out that when he spends the entire worship set stumbling through scales on his electric guitar he is creating the sonic equivalent of highly explosive diarrhoea and vomiting.

So, really, it was just another normal evening in my worship team. In a world where a lot of big churches indulge the appetite for slick performance worship, we do the exact opposite. And we've got the musicians to prove it.

How do I feel about it? Mixed.

When I look left at the rhythm section I feel a tremendous sense of excitement and satisfaction. They're improving year on year, but they still retain some of that same creative flair that allows the drummer to play nothing but cymbals for an entire 13 bar section and leads the bassist to come in as hard as a hurricane whenever there's a lyric he particularly likes. They're imperfect, unpolished and I honestly believe that when they play good things happen. To my ears their mistakes don't sound like mistakes at all... just freedom.

But whenever I look and listen to the right, I feel different. Is it the lack of progress? Is it the fact that no matter how many times we talk about merging keys and guitars and how less is sooooo much more and remember all those youtube clips we've looked at where NOBODY IS WANDERING AROUND THE FRETBOARD PLAYING SCALES EVER he still plays those awful scales?

Why do I have grace for one side and not for the other?

Perhaps I'm a hypocrite. Perhaps I do want a bit of the performance worship after all.

Perhaps I'm a paradox. Perhaps there exists within me a desire to be free and make all the musical typos that I can as well as a desire to be polished and perfect.

Perhaps I'm blind to the truth. Perhaps the guy to the right has even more freedom and passion than the kids to my left. After all, there's no kudos waiting for him in the playground the next day, just another early morning after too little sleep after a too busy day. Perhaps his sacrifice - repetitive and clunky as it is - is every bit as precious as any other in the room.

Who am I to judge?

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