Have you ever heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”? Well, there is some truth to this. While we will never play our instruments absolutely perfect, practice will help us to refine our talent to our highest potential. If you play on a worship team, you should be practicing your parts at home in preparation to lead that week, not at the rehearsal itself. When you are practicing, it is good to have a goal of what you want to accomplish before you begin practicing, so make sure you have a plan. Here are some tips to help you practice at-home:

Listen, listen, listen

The first thing you should do when you sit down to practice is listen to the songs you are going to be playing. Each time you listen to the song, try to listen for something specific. Here are some things to listen for:

  • Your part
  • Others’ parts
  • Dynamics
  • Rhythm
  • Beat/tempo

Listening to the song is probably the most important thing you can do in practicing for the songs you are going to play. So make sure you listen!

Break it down

When you start playing, don’t just run through the entire song without stopping to work on anything. Divide the song into sections (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) and look at each one individually. There will be easier sections of the song as well as harder sections. Prioritize practicing the harder sections more than you practice the easier sections. Doing this will not only save time, but also make your practice much more meaningful and efficient.

Slow it down

If you have an especially difficult part of the song, slow it way down. Don’t try to play your part up to speed all of the time. When you slow it down, you want to make sure you have the correct rhythm, notes, dynamics, etc. Once you get it right at a slower tempo, speed it up little by little until it is at the recording tempo.

Play like you’re on stage

Play through the song as if you were playing at the service that weekend. If you make a mistake, just keep going as if nothing happened (but go back and break it down later). If we are playing on a Sunday and we make a mistake, are we going to stop and get frustrated with ourselves? Of course not! We are going to keep going as if nothing had happened. It is for this reason that we need to practice like we are playing at the service, so we can plan for everything. Even if we stop, the rest of the band will most likely keep going.

Play for an audience

After you feel like you have gotten your part down solid, pull out your phone and have someone take a video of you playing. After you are done, ask the person what they thought about your playing and then watch the video to see what you did well and see what needs more work. This is a great way to emulate the feeling of being on stage and also help you get rid of the nerves that come from playing in front of people. The more people you can play in front of, the better.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Practice is all about repetition. The more you do something right, the easier it will be. When you finally get a part right, don’t let yourself move on to something else until you have played that part the correct way five times in a row. Repeat all of the things we have talked about until you feel as though you have achieved your goals.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Recall a time when you practiced to get better at something. What did your practice time look like? How often did you practice?
  4. Why is it important to set goals before you practice? What should be our motivation(s) for practicing at home?
  5. Out of the six practice tips, how many of them do you currently execute in your at-home practice? Which one stands out to you and why?
  6. Can you name some other practice tips that you or others follow?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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