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Healthy Habits of Well Prepared Musicians

January 28, 2020

By: Rob Fenley

As a worship leader, I have the opportunity to step into different worship contexts and play with different musicians with varying levels of skill and experience on a frequent basis. Throughout the years, I’ve seen the full range of players from the guy who looked at the songs on the way to rehearsal to the guy who plays exactly like the recording. As I poll the players who showed the highest level of preparation, some trends started emerging. What I was most excited to see was these trends transcended context and skill level; these players were everywhere, and ranged tremendously in skill. What became clear is that good preparation is a learned trait, not a genetic trait. This article outlines three habits of well-prepared people that you can implement immediately in any context to take your preparation to the next level.

The first habit is to ask questions.

Seems simple right? Most worship leaders will agree that the more you can work out during the week, the smoother your Sunday will go.  If you can identify questions you have for the set, and reach out to your worship leader during the week, you’ll increase the amount of time you have to devote to nailing that part. This will also help in decreasing the stress and uncertainty of your morning.

The second habit is to take and study notes.

We are not robots and cannot remember every piece of information with which we are presented. The more information jumbling around in your head and the more time that passes, the more things you will inevitably forget. Let’s think of this academically. Who performs better: the student who takes and studies notes or the guy who sits in class absorbing the material? If we consider Sunday morning a “test” of the material you’ve been given by your Worship Leader during the week, how do you usually do? Are there parts that you forget? Does this cause moments of noticeable disunity or worse–complete chaos? Taking notes during the week and during rehearsal, will dramatically increase your ability to execute the vision of the set, and decrease frustrating moments caused by forgetfulness.

The third habit is to Get Ahead and Revisit Material.

There is a time to cram. Sometimes you can’t help but wait until the last minute. As you form your weekly rhythm, however, do your best to engage with the material early. This will go such a long way toward you finding success in executing the vision of your set. Some research suggests that without reinforcement or connection to prior knowledge, 56% of the material we engage with is forgotten in the first hour of learning. When, however, you repeatedly access information, you rekindle the neural network that contains the memory and encodes it more deeply. Simply put: revisiting material dramatically increases the odds of you recalling it on Sunday morning.