God made you to be you. Not someone else.
He wants us to live in our own lane, creating a unique story, and a unique sound.
We express ourselves in many different ways through the choices we make throughout life. When it comes to our creativity and worship it’s especially important that we don’t fall into the trap of feeling like we have to emulate in order succeed.
How do we find our sound? How do we learn from others to express ourselves the way God intended? Keep reading for 5 key things I’ve learned since becoming a professional musician.
“Anyone who knows who God made them to be will never try to be someone else.” – Bill Johnson
The people who really impact the world don’t usually strive to emulate others. Of course they grew up being inspired by other’s leading, but in order to inspire others they had to take a new path. They had their own dreams, ideas and expressions that drove them. Many guitarists love The Edge and Jonny Buckland, but those guys didn’t become known for what they do by being clones of others.
We owe it to the world as Christians to be inspiring. People are looking at the way we do everything, asking themselves if they really want the life we live. They’re not going to want what we have unless we inspire them with more.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe no one is 100% original, but rather a unique cumulation of many influential factors. We pick and choose our preferences and influences then make our own mold of creative identity.
We are also all supposed to emulate Christ, but I’m not talking about that unique relationship. I’m just saying that God’s army is going to be pretty weak if it’s full of a bunch of people trying to only arm themselves with the same weapon as the person next to them.
Your sound is your unique weapon for the Kingdom.
Below are some tips I have gathered to help you develop your creative weapon against the enemy:
1. Listen to Lots of Music and Reflect
As I just mentioned, the way we express ourselves really comes from a cumulation of what we choose to influence us. If you really only listen to 3 artists on repeat your sound is going to be pretty limited to their expressions. If you check out other genres, artists, songs and hunger for inspiration you will become more like yourself.
As you search out new influences, learn the art of musical dissection. Pay attention to the details in the song and why something sounds pleasing. It could be the timing of the notes that make the melody shine. It could be that the groove is landing more on the upbeat than the downbeat. It could be that a number of the instruments decided to play nothing at all to dynamically build the song. When you recognize these things, you will be more prepared to apply them to your playing.
2. Learn How Other People Do Things
If there’s anything I’ve learned from playing with many different guitarists, it’s that everyone looks at their guitar’s fretboard differently. We all see patterns and notes, but the way we organize it in our head is all different.
The easiest way to discover how someone does something is by learning new songs. Worship Online is a great resource to learn parts from hundreds of different musician’s playing styles. Maybe there are chord shapes that one guitarist gravitates more towards than the other. You will find more what you prefer by exploring.
3. Expand Your Theory
Theory may be boring at times, but it really gives you more room and options to express yourself. Spend time developing your ear and understanding of music and you will have countless tools to help you express yourself.
*If you haven’t already, check out our Music Theory 101 videos to get started.
4. Try New Gear
Yeah, we all love this one don’t we? But the key that I want to emphasize the “new”.
We live in a media-focused world where posts everywhere are telling you that you need this pedal, amp, cymbal, capo, whatever, to sound like so and so and make good worship music. The truth is that you can just do whatever you feel like. You don’t have to have a certain compressor just because you see it on a bunch of “worship” pedalboards.
Rather than relying on what you see on Instagram to influence your buying decisions, try out your friend’s gear, go to a shop, rent pedals, learn to buy and sell, all to expand your palette. Try something that someone else doesn’t have and find a way to make it work for you.
5. Spend Time With God
This is just as important, if not more, than anything else. If you learn how to listen to God’s voice more clearly, He will better be able to guide you down a path that is more fulfilling and creative. Ask God to unlock the vision, dreams, melodies, grooves, and tones He has placed inside of you. Give Him your time and let Him be the biggest influence in your life.
Who are the people that you know that have gone down their own path? What makes them inspiring to you? Let us know in the comments below.
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- Our Favorite Easter Worship Songs!
- Activating Your Relationship with God: Practical Steps to Hearing His Voice
- Building a Guitar Rig for Under $2000
- Walking With The Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues on Stage [PODCAST]
- The Power of Imagination: Finding Revival in Worship