When I was in bi-vocational ministry, I would often fill the hours of my normal 40-hour job with dreams of full-time ministry. It was fun to imagine all the time I’d have for writing songs and playing guitar and spending hours in Bible study. It was going to be a non-stop party!
Yeah. Not so much.
I quickly found myself in a place that many worship leaders (volunteer, part-time & full-time) find themselves in. It certainly wasn’t intentional, but I realized that I was coming to practice each week with no clear idea about the songs we were going to use.
I’m not saying I couldn’t play them from memory. I’m saying I hadn’t even listened to them. I had thought about them. I didn’t have clear idea of what the set was going to be or do.
There are lots of ways to get the songs into you, but one of the best might surprise you.
Yep. Good old physical exercise. Having an ipod loaded with the next song list is a great thing to have on your next trip to the gym or afternoon walk. Here’s why exercise is a great way to learn your stuff.
- Exercise is good for you. Say it with me. “Exercise is good for you.” Hopefully, I don’t have to crack open a science book to remind you that physical exercise does tremendous things for your body and mind. For worship leaders, a consistent exercise plan will help your breathing and stamina and will help to calm down all those ‘worship leader’ nerves we all have. I’m not suggesting you run marathons, but getting some focused physical activity a few times a week will clear your head and your lungs!
- Your mind remembers. There probably aren’t many times during the week where you can drive around for thirty minutes just so you can listen to the set list. It’s probably not very easy to sit at your desk and do that either (distractions! internet! phone calls! surprise visitors!). Find a thirty minute block where your mind can simply be open to the songs will do great things for your song memory. Maybe you find it boring to listen to the same 5 songs 3 times through on the treadmill, but after that hour of working out, those songs will be stuck in your head, specifically, the quieter parts that are mixed further back. You’ll have a much more clear picture of what the song is doing.
- You’ll get ideas. As your exercising, start to imagine your team playing these songs. Think about the room you’ll be in and how that drum part will sound. Think about how many beats the guitar intro is… and soon, you’ll start creating. Suddenly, a transition will come to mind or a scripture will land inside your head. Letting that music saturated your mind and heart will get you comfortable with the material and will free you up to make it your own.
Exercise is going to solve every challenge you have. But it will improve the quality of your memory, creativity and leading. Grab your phone or mp3 player and make a playlist RIGHT NOW. Walk the neighborhood, hit the treadmill, lift some weights, do something physical while that music pumps into those ears of yours. You’ll be stronger in every way!