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For the teenager who is trying to advance from beginner to intermediate or the first-timer who wants to give it a go, it can be tough to learn how to play an instrument. You might even want to make a career out of playing music. So how can a Christian musician improve his or her playing to a point where they can take the show on the road? No matter what kind of career or hobby you want to make of your music, here are some of our tips on how to become a better Christian musician.
We know. It’s the most basic advice that anyone could ever give you for mastering a skill. As much as we’d like to tell you that simply wanting it bad enough will make you a rock star, you’re gonna have to put in the hours if you want to be truly great. If you’re a guitar player you need to be learning new chords, practicing the transition between them, playing to a certain rhythm, and so much more. Even if you are a vocalist and you think you have a great voice, practice will make you better. Forcing yourself to practice will also let you know how important this really is for you. Any hobby or career takes time to grasp, so we think you need to prioritize practice if you want to be a better Christian musician.
Make Your Own Music
Once you know a few things on your instrument, the first thing you’re going to want to do is cover your favorite song. Whether that’s an old Led Zeppelin classic or something a little newer, being able to play a great piece of music is empowering. Then of course you want to continue picking up popular song covers until you have a few songs to rotate around and perfect when you practice. That’s great, but for many young musicians there comes a point when you should consider making music of your own. It’s one thing to paint by numbers, it’s quite another to step up to a blank canvas. When you do come to that point, remember to give yourself some grace. Literally no musician ever knocks it out of the park with the first song they write. Celebrate the small victories and continue to grow.
Perform Wherever You Can
Practice is insanely important to the process of becoming a better Christian musician. Being able to perform means that you can take what you learned in those practice sessions and apply it in real time on a stage in front of a crowd. The idea of performing may sound terrifying for more novice players. Relax. We’re not telling you to go play in front of an arena. Also, if you’re purely a beginner, you may want to work out a few kinks before performing in front of a sizable group. Once you are ready, though, be willing to play wherever you can and feel comfortable. That means church services, open mic nights, and so on. We want you to realize now that you will absolutely bomb at least once in the very beginning, maybe even a few times. This is all part of the process of being a Christian musician. You can control the venue where you play. Start with your family or a few handpicked friends and see how it goes.
Find a Mentor
Having a spiritual mentor is important whether you are a Christian musician or not. Someone who can guide you through life and answer your questions is a great resource to have. If you can find someone who can lead you through spiritual matters as well as music, that relationship is golden. If you’re ever hoping to turn your musical hobby into a source of income, having someone who knows the ropes is an invaluable resource. Both music and Christianity have a place for mentorship because the path is arduous and we need accountability. A mentor can help you to push further than you would have under your own strength and they can also spot flaws or weaknesses in yourself that need to be addressed.
When you start to turn the corner from hobbyist to artist, you need to think about what it is that you want your music to reflect. Obviously if you are hoping to be a Christian musician your faith will play a factor, but what do you want your music to say? Once you have established yourself as a quality musician you also get the exciting opportunity of picking your projects. Within reason, you can decide the kinds of crowds you want to play for, the direction of your sound, and the kinds of people you want to associate with on and off the stage. People commonly say “Be true to who you are.” We would encourage you to tweak that just a little to say “Be true to who God has called you to be.” Let your music and actions be authentic.
Pursue Excellence as a Christian Musician
Not only should you be honest with yourself, but you also need to make the most of your time. Earlier we mentioned the importance of practicing, but there’s a difference between just goofing around and practicing with purpose. Every aspect of our lives is meant to be lived with purpose. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy some rest, but only giving your music half of your attention is a loss of progress. Be sure to balance your time spent messing around with good, solid practice and take as few shortcuts as possible.
Play with Other Musicians
You can sit in your room all day playing drums or belting solos, but until you pair your skills up with others you’re not reaching your full potential. Playing with other musicians is good practice even if you plan on being a solo act. Aside from the more fundamental stuff you’ll learn, like playing in time, collaboration with other musicians will boost your creativity and help you to understand chemistry. If you’re a beginner, the idea of playing in front of other, perhaps more experienced, musicians may sound terrifying. Try to find a friend who is a little more advanced than you and has the patience to use you into collaboration. Just like we said with performing, you can take baby steps. This might also be a good time for your mentor to help out. Of course we think one of the best ways for a teenager to learn to play music in a group is by attending Camp Electric, a summer destination which has everything a Christian musician would need.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
This is one of the most important lessons to learn as an artist. The longer you spend worrying about failing, the less you will be innovating. Swallow that lump in your throat and get moving! You don’t have to travel at the speed of light, just put one foot in front of the other and continue to challenge yourself in new ways. Maybe that means forming your own band, booking a gig, or just showing your best friend the new song you can play. Don’t be scared to try new things.
If you want to be a Christian musician, we think one of the smartest moves you can make is to attend the one summer camp meant to help you succeed in this area: Camp Electric. Our instructors are some of the biggest musicians in the Christian genre and they want to help you become the next big thing. To learn more about this amazing experience, click on the link below.