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Younger musicians on the worship team?

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  • Younger musicians on the worship team?

    God has been working some changes in our church worship team lately. In the last 12 months or so we've gone through some major changes. Thankfully no one left in anger or over personality conflicts (that stuff is no fun). I don't know all the reasons but I believe part of it was God nudging me out of the mindset of building a church band and into the business of growing people.

    So right now I'm down to three. Myself (singer/guitar), my wife (trapped as a singer forever muahahaha) and the guy who used to play bass who is now learning drums (and doing great). There are plenty of positions to fill and not enough talent available to fill it.

    Last week a younger guy that I've known (of) for a while came up to talk to me. We talked briefly and he told me that he's in Jazz at school. I really don't know much about it but he told me he plays Electric guitar there and has been practicing regularly. We really do need more musicians on the team and here's a young man saying "use me!". But I have a few things running through my head. I'll touch on them briefly.

    He's young.
    He's somewhere between 12 and 14. At first that seems a little young to me but I guess that's about the same age I was when our then worship leader brought me in to play drums. It's also inline with where I feel God is pushing me in regards to training and raising up new leaders.

    Ya but electric?
    I'm really specific in who I like to have play electric. I prefer someone who's been playing since they were 3, plays in their spare time, was in a garage band through high school, took classical guitar in college and spent 3 years in a metal band. But those guys are kinda hard to find. *aghem* on a more serious note, right now we really need someone to play bass. I've found it's usually a good place to start for newer musicians and can really help them grow. Uh, any thoughts along those lines?

    Is he any good?
    This is the tough part. I really believe that some God given talent is a must. If he doesn't have a natural aptitude then it probably isn't the right direction for him. How do I go about hearing him play without building up his hopes to much incase it doesn't work out?

    Where is his heart?
    This last one is the most important to me. I've been the kid that just wanted to show off for his friends and that's a bad place to be. With him being younger and this being a new experience for him I'm sure pride is going to be something he has to learn to deal with. As a team we have opportunity for discussions for 10 or 15 minutes before practice. That, combined with him being younger and more moldable, will hopefully be a serious help in developing the right attitude of worship.

    I could use some advice. Thanks!

  • #2
    You lucky, lucky, lucky man. Run, do not walk, and get this kid involved with ministry. I'm not even kidding. Here's why:

    He's young.
    Um...you caught him before he got saturated with the wrong way to do things. Honestly, this is more of a help than a hinderance, and here are three reasons why:

    1.) You get to practice discipleship. You are older, married, and play guitar and sing in front of a bunch of people. You are a GOD! Aside from the fact that this kid'll probably end up thinking you hung the moon, you'll get a great opportunity to sow into the kingdom by developing a young worshipper who will be a mainstay for YEARS.

    2.) You get to feed off of his passion. Students are passionate in worship. Who doesn't want more passionate worshippers on their team?

    3.) You get the benefit of developing your leadership abilities. This kid's not gonna care if you get all 21 of the Irrefutable Laws of leadership down when hanging out with him. With this kid, you get the freedom to make mistakes and it still be okay.

    Ya but electric?
    If he really wants to be involved, he'll play whatever you throw at him, be it bass or kazoo. If you need a bass more than anything, tell him that. I'm sure he'll understand. Darlene (I don't know how to spell her last name) Zchesch started out wanting to be a youth worker at Hillsong Church back in the early nineties when it was Hills Life Centre. Brian Houston told her he needed musicians more than youth workers. Look at where she is now.

    Is he any good?
    At this point, the question you need to be asking yourself is "does he have a pulse." Forget if he's good or not. Does he have passion? I can teach someone to be good, but I can't teach passion.

    Where is his heart?
    It seems like you're wanting a couple of musicians tailor-made to be great worship leaders, and that's just not going to happen. If his heart isn't in the right place, recognize that he's a kid, and offer him a little discipleship to keep his heart in the right place. I realize that you're a little skittish about taking on this kid and whatever crap might come with him, but I'm telling you, this is a blessing waiting to happen.

    I've got a girl right now singing backup on our worship team who is pretty decent right now, but by the time she's eighteen, she's going to be mind-blowingly good. Problem is, she sings a little lazy, and she's not always flexible. Those are tiny problems compared to who she'll become.


    Here's the question you really need to be asking yourself about this kid:

    "Is what this kid could become worth all that I would invest in him to help him get there?"

    I'm willing to be that's going to end up being an unequivocal yes, if it's not then it's not and that's fine, but it should probably end up being a yes.


    Fred's got a story that could probably help you out with this one. Fred, you wanna tell him how you got Weeble started on drums, then David, ect?

    Comment


    • #3
      I'll echo the comments above and add that my rule-of-thumb is that I treat anyone interested in joining the band differently if they are under the age of 18 or still in high school. Meaning, I pay special attention to the qualifications I've set up when they're that young, and I make sure I spend a little extra time helping to mentor them concerning ministry and musicianship. The only major issue I've ever had with youth is the responsibility factor, but that's only been in a few instances. I've been pleased with my involvment in working with youth on both youth bands and on our regular band.

      Nate
      Practical Worship

      Please Pray For My Wife

      Comment


      • #4
        I tend to agree with El Ben. I have a young guy (15, I think he was 14 when he started) on the team now and it has been a great experience. This young man also wanted to play guitar, but we needed a bass, and he was more than willing to help. He was a little hesitant at first, but just because he'd never played bass. He picked it up pretty quickly, though. My only caution is that with anyone on the team you want to give yourself a way out if necessary. If he's just really bad to the point of being a distraction you need to have him step down. I know this from experience. I like the idea that worshiptrench mentioned on another post about having a trial period. If he's terrible or there are any behavior issues beyond the normal teenage silliness, sit him down and talk to him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Here's a basic outline for how we intro new band members.

          Nate
          Practical Worship

          Please Pray For My Wife

          Comment


          • #6
            I would say just tell him like it is. When I have prospective/interested people approach me, I say something like, "Sure, we'd love to give you a listen, just so you know, not everyone is meant to serve in this capacity, so I may tell you that right now is not the right time for you to join the team, BUT I may tell you that it's the right time and you're the right fit, so let's give it a shot!!"

            It works well.

            And as far as a person's heart, I would just have a big sit down with them over lunch or snacks or whatever, and just tell them what is expected out of team members, and just ask them straight up if they think they can handle it.
            Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't think I'd add anything else other than the fact that these people want to be part of the worship band, not the secret police. Having a list of requirements and expectations a mile long is only gonna scare people off. I'm not saying it's not important to have expectations and requirements because it is, but I think it's important to give your team members room to breathe. One thing I'm swiftly learning is something that my pastor always says:

              "Simplicity is genius."

              I find that the more simple and concise my expecations are, the more people will exceed my expectations.

              Comment


              • #8
                Jeremiah,

                Great responses here. Keep several things in mind:

                1 - he's asking to play .. not lead ... yeah, there's always the discussion about "who" should be on the team, whether they are in the "leader" role or not .. I've had that discussion, and with each passing day of my life, that discussion changes, haha.

                2 - if he's not driving yet... getting to church and rehearsals is a pain - his parents HAVE to be on board.

                3 - I'd diss on my buddy Ben's comment about "forget if he's any good or not" .. you can't forget that. A certain level of skill is required to prevent his playing being a distraction in worship, rather than an enhancement.

                4 - just because you say "yes" doesn't mean he's ready for prime time- he may rehearse for weeks, or months before "taking the stage" .. this is GOOD.

                The instance El-Ben refers to is my needing a drummer and teaching a young, 7-year old. By the time he was 8, he was drumming in our Sunday services. His Dad sang on the worship team, so getting little Lawton to rehearsal was no issue.

                The great story, though - is the mentoring - I was able to pour into this young man until he left for college. I think there was a deep bond of respect and appreciation there and I hope/pray that I had a great impact on his life.

                Keep us updated!
                Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                Comment


                • #9
                  3 - I'd diss on my buddy Ben's comment about "forget if he's any good or not" .. you can't forget that. A certain level of skill is required to prevent his playing being a distraction in worship, rather than an enhancement.
                  Yeah, chalk me up to being over-zealous on that one. His current level of skill is necessary to take into account when deciding whether or not he's going to be playing in the main worship gathering.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by El Ben View Post
                    Yeah, chalk me up to being over-zealous on that one. His current level of skill is necessary to take into account when deciding whether or not he's going to be playing in the main worship gathering.
                    Yeah, I wasn't so much worried about his current skill level as much as his ability to improve. We've all known people that think they're musicians but lack rythm and pitch perception.

                    Thanks for all the feedback. I've been praying and talking with the wife about it and I'm going to invite him to practice with us for the next month or so and see how it goes. I'll keep ya'll updated.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Jeremiah -

                      Awesome - hey, don't forget us here on this thread - keep us updated - give us the play-by-play on his first rehearsal, etc .... (and oh yeah, invite him to join TWC) ...!
                      Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                      blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                      Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                      www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                      www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well I talked to him on Sunday after church about practicing with us for a few months. I could tell he was really excited. (You know the look people get when they're trying not to smile but they just can't help it). He's really shy and quiet but I'm hoping we'll be able to get him to open up during our first practice. I also talked to our lead sound tech about showing him the ropes on Sunday mornings until he starts playing with us. I always find that musicians have a better appreciation for the overall sound of things when they've spent a little time trying to blend it.

                        I imagine these next few practices will be a little longer than usual. Let me know if I'm forgetting anything but I think our main agenda is:
                        1. Go over the basics of worship
                        2. Get him started playing the bass
                        3. Still have time for regular practice

                        I can tell he's really excited because he came to Youth Group last night (which he doesn't usually do). And one of the guys that used to play bass for us went over some stuff with him. (yay other people helping!)

                        I'll post on Monday and let you know how practice goes on Saturday.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Okay, it's Tuesday.
                          On Saturday we had our first practice with the young bass-player-to-be. He seems to be picking it up at a steady pace. There was a very noticable improvement from when he started and two hours later when we wrapped up. I used this site (FretBoard Diagrams) to print a diagram to help him figure out where everything is on the guitar. I also went through each song with him before we started it to show him each note on the bass, what rythm to play and the general flow. We then played through the song twice stopping as needed to give him minor corrections. And finally played through without stopping so me and the drummer could focus on getting practiced up for Sunday.

                          You guys were right about the young being open to suggestions. I didn't feel like I had to walk on eggshells when showing him something new. And when I did tell him something new he picked it up right away. For example: He was jumping in right away and playing as soon as the song started. I went over how it's not just about playing the notes but that we try to compose a song as a whole. The very next song without me having to tell him where to come in or where to exit (going into the chorus softly to end A Greater Song) he landed both PERFECTLY. Which was also the last song of the night.

                          He still needs to work on some of the basics like when exactly to begin his attack on each note and hitting the right notes but I'm really really glad I took ya'lls advice and invited him to join us.

                          One thing he'll need a little more of is patience though. After worship on Sunday he told me he thought he was ready to play with us (which he isn't). I told him I didn't want to start him before he was ready and that we should stick to the 2-month plan. He was cool with it.

                          More updates to follow as he comes along.

                          Thanks, all and thank you God!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sweet - thanks so much for sharing the updates with TWC .. I feel like we're right there with ya!
                            Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                            blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                            Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                            www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                            www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              that's great. remember, since you're one of the first in helping to shape his music/ministry future, you've got a huge responsibility to help mentor his heart and attitude as well. Spend just as much time telling him how much you appreciate his attitude right now and how important it will be for him to keep that attitude throughout his life. I've seen too many young kids come in green and humble and wanting to learn, and getting a big head too fast and turning into divas...

                              Nate
                              Practical Worship

                              Please Pray For My Wife

                              Comment

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