a couple of years in a row, I had the opportunity to minister
at the Worship Workshop at Only Believe Ministries Church in Botkins,
Ohio. What an awesome time we had, worshipping with a choir
and band consisting of about 150 people! The Anointing was
very strong and we truly had a great time in God's presence!
you may already know, I have come out with a SongBook
to go along with my praise and worship CDs. We had it available
at our product table at the conference. One person who was
browsing through it at our table made the comment, "Wow!
You even have sheet music for piano! I haven't seen sheet
music in ages!" He was basically referring to the fact
that many contemporary church musicians very often have to play
from lead sheets rather than sheet music. He was relieved
to see that I actually had some sheet music for him to read, evidently
something that does not happen often enough for him. A
couple of days later, there was a series of messages on my church
music internet newsgroup regarding whether it was better to read
or to play by ear.
whole philosophy is basically this...you need to be able to do
both. For those of you who read only, I believe that if
you really apply yourself, if you really try to put forth some
effort, and if you practice, you will not be bound to just being
able to play by reading. And for those of you who do not
know how to read music, I believe you are robbing yourself of
many blessings that being able to read can give you.
you can play by ear, it is so much easier to learn songs that
are hard to find sheet music for. It also allows much more
freedom during a service to be able to go to certain songs at
the leading of the Holy Spirit, without having to search through
your book for the right music. On the other hand, if you
only play by ear, you may find it hard to understand certain complex
rhythms, fills, and hits. If the worship leader says to
play a chord "on the 'and' of three" or "on the
'e' of four", many people who don't read wouldn't know what
you are a drummer and you can't read, your music director would
not be able to write out a certain rhythm for you to play.
But if you are a keyboard player who can't play by ear, and your
worship leader starts singing "Amazing Grace" in the
key of G, you may not be able to follow. Being able to read
and play by ear (or lead sheets) is a big asset in music
those of you who can play by ear (or lead sheets) I also want
to say this...you should know the music you are playing well enough
that you can play it without having your eyes glued to the page
the whole time. Even if you can't play by ear very well,
you can at least memorize the chords of the song so that you know
what chords are coming up next. Even if you are not necessarily
playing them by "hearing" them in your head, you can
memorize them to the point that your lead sheets are not a "crutch".
play by ear. I learn songs by ear. There's hardly
a song in my repertoire that I have ever seen the sheet music
or lead sheets for. I have simply heard them on a recording
and learned them by listening to them. This talent is not
something that happened overnight, but by years of practice and
study. It is one of my greatest assets as a music minister,
because I can simply listen to a song and play along with it almost
immediately. Even songs that I have never played before,
or songs that I haven't heard for months but still know how they
go, I can play with relative ease.
able to play by ear has also made me a better songwriter.
In fact there are songs that have been completely written without
me touching a single key on the keyboard, because I can "hear"
the chords and melody line in my head without having to try to
peck it out. Then, when the song is finished, I can go sit
down at my keyboard and actually play it.
I also know how to read. I played trumpet in band as my
main instrument for almost 10 years, so I can read quite well.
I know and understand rhythms. Therefore I can teach songs
with greater ease. I can write out rhythms or notes for
those who can read. I can write horn parts for a horn section
if needed. Knowing how to read has made me a more versatile
encourage all of you instrumentalists out there to apply yourself
towards the task of being competent both in reading and playing
by ear. You will find your talent growing exponentially
if you do. Make the most out of your talent. Be the
most versatile player you can be. No, it will not be easy,
but it will be very well worth it! Encourage everyone on
your team to do the same. God bless you in your efforts
to make the most out of your God-given talent! Matthew 25
says that God will bless you for it!