6 Tips To Make Learning Worship Guitar Easier
It seems overwhelming when you start to learn rock guitar. You need to learn about chords, effects, amps, techniques.
Where do you start?
Whether you go on to play in a worship team, or just more generally, here are my six tips to make learning worship guitar easier:
1. Just Start!
You’ll find plenty of reasons to put off getting started. You’re tired. You don’t have time. Or the classic ‘I’ll never be as good as <insert-guitarist-here>’.
It boils down to fear of failure: ‘lizard brain‘ thinking.
So just start.
Your first few attempts will be really bad – of course they will. Everybody’s were.
But you will get better.
Every hour you learn and practice is one hour closer to your dream becoming reality.
2. Work Towards A Song
The best way to learn guitar is to work towards playing a simple song.
My first mistake was picking up one of those chord books, the sort that list every chord there is. Useful – but where do you start? Which chords sound good together? Which chords make a song?
Simple songs use only three or four chords. If you learn just those chords, you can make real music. Learn the rest later.
The most rewarding thing you can do is just get playing something recognisable.
The first time you play something, and think ‘hey! that’s me playing!’, you’ll feel amazing. And it is this that will keep you wanting to go deeper.
As a bonus, you’ll start learning which chords go together musically. Good stuff.
3. Set Small, Achievable Goals
You’ll stay motivated by getting results.
The way to keep getting results is by setting small, achievable goals.
Big goals are very tempting: “I’ll learn to play the most technical solo by my favourite world class player”. But making the jump from “I can’t fret a C chord’ to here is something that none of us have ever done in one step.
Let me say that again:
None of us have ever done in one step
But little steps, steady progress – ideally following lessons that build step by step – this is how the real gains are made.
For example, if you are new to guitar, set a goal to learn just one chord that you can play to a backing track. This won’t take forever to do. Straight away, you’ve got the pleasure of making real music.
4. Practice Little And Often
Long practice sessions are physically and mentally tiring.
Make them shorter.
When I started guitar, I had a lot more spare time than I do today. So I was able to fit in a four-hour practice session a few nights a week.
Sounds like I should have progressed really fast, right?
You guessed it – Wrong.
I found that after a four hour session, I would quite often play loads better. But the improvement didn’t last.
Practicing 15 minutes every day gets better results.
There’s a more gradual build up of finger muscle memory. It seems to stick longer. It’s less mentally tiring, as you focus on fewer things per day.
It’s also much easier to find 15 minutes a day!
5. Use Backing Tracks
Backing tracks are pre-recorded songs that feature everything except the guitar. You play along with them.
The effect is just like you being part of a larger band.
Here’s an example from one of our lessons:
(It’s worth watching the video to see what electric part I play over this)
Using a Backing Track is great in three ways.
- There’s that simple thrill of sounding part of a band.
- You learn to make your playing blend in with the parts on other instruments
- You get to learn to play in time with other musicians – a key skill.
You also start developing your ‘arrangers ear’. You develop a sense of what kind of guitar parts fit songs.
I had to re-learn guitar after joining my first band. After years of learning alone, I simply played too much. I didn’t leave space for the other musicians.
(they were quite quick to point this out :-) )
Playing to backing tracks would have helped that much earlier.
6. Play With Other Musicians
The last tip is simply to play alongside other musicians.
Playing to backing tracks is great. But there’s a whole human dimension to playing in a room with other instruments.
You could try asking your worship team lead if you could hang out at a few rehearsals. I mean, without playing anything at first – just as an observer.
Just notice what happens. Who does what. How each instrument contributes. You’ll learn loads.
This is also a hugely valuable chance to work out the culture of the team and if you will fit. Also to ‘buy some favours’ by simply being helpful – help others set up gear, unload vans, tidy up, make tea. Your goal is to be fully part of a team – and that means fully taking part in everything that team does. Prima Donnas who waltz in to play, then go home are rarely welcome in the Worship Team.
Once you’ve learned your first song, ask about playing it with the whole band. You could suggest doing this at the end of one rehearsal – just to get experience.
After that – ask them what they liked – and what you could do to fit better? The real blessing happens as you interact with each other, crafting an experience that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Some useful bite-sized HD video lessons designed with the principles above:
First Time Guitarists: If you want to play your first chord to a backing track
Beginner/Intermediate: If you want to learn the Six contemporary worship chords in the key of E
- FREE Course Worship Chords in E – with backing tracks for 1-4, 1-4-5, and 6m-4-1-5 Chord patterns
Intermediate/Advanced: Creating Worship Song Dynamics course – how to add light and shade to your playing (PAID)