Musicians – 3 Moments on Sunday, When You’re NOT playing

  • Written By 
  • Shalon Palmer
Musicians not playing

We always talk about what to do when we’re playing in a band, but what about those moments when we’re not? And why are these so important?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening to someone speak at church and just over that person’s shoulder, I see some guitar player in their own little world just shredding away on their guitar. For this reason, today I’ve decided to talk to musicians about every moment on Sunday, when you’re NOT playing.

I’m going to mention a few key moments that us musicians wouldn’t be playing, but before I do, keep in mind these 3 big reasons why getting these right is so important.

  • Excellence – Everything that we do on stage deserves excellence. EVERYTHING. Including when we aren’t playing.
  • Limiting distraction – If the attention is not supposed to be on you, do everything you can to keep it AWAY from you. This is especially important for those of us in churches where it seems that everyone in the congregation has ADD and is just begging for you to make a wrong move so they watch you instead of the speaker. Do them a favor and stay distraction free.
  • Leadership – Whether you realize it or not, you are a leader. And everything that you do should portray that. This could also align with excellence as well.

Ok, so now that we have our bases covered, let’s look at some of those specific moments where we as musicians, wouldn’t be playing our instrument.

1. Entering and Exiting the Stage.

So as I mentioned, everything that we do on stage deserves excellence. EVERYTHING. Even things as small as walking on and off the stage. Because believe me, this CAN be done badly. If your set ends and your band looks like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off (excuse this horrible metaphor. I’ve been saying that since I was young and I’m just realizing how horrible that actually is.) Anyways, and you guys just scatter.

What I mean is that some place their instruments on stage, some carry them off the stage, some cross the entire stage to exit, some exit to backstage while some walk directly down the stairs to the congregation…the list goes on. It’s important to work this out beforehand, so it looks organized and distraction free.

2. When a Speaker Comes Up While You Are On Stage.

This is the dreaded example I mentioned in the first sentence of this post. Guitar players are the worst with this. We seem to think that this is our moment to practice our scales. And it’s almost as if our hands just need something to do and we do this without even noticing we’re doing it. We have to make a conscious effort to STOP. This can be extremely distracting for some.

Because we want the congregation to be paying attention to the speaker, the entire band’s focus should be on the speaker as well. We lead by example. Furthermore, if anyone in the congregation looks at us, our attention is pointing them right back at the speaker. You never know in that moment when someone is going to hear something that will change their life.

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3.  Sitting During the Message

After your set, you have to go somewhere. And I don’t know what you churches policy on this is, or how many services you have, but I encourage you to sit as part of the congregation for at least 1 or your services. And I won’t get into the details of that. I just want to talk about what we do once we are there.

Watching a band sit in the congregation can sometimes be one of the saddest/laughable things. Talking, laughing, PDA with their boyfriend or girlfriend (yea, I said it), SLEEPING, social media, games on our phones, you name it!

The same principles apply here. We are leaders. Others are looking to us to see what we are doing. If we aren’t paying attention, they feel like they don’t have to either. Furthermore, if we are spotted not paying attention or doing one of the things I mentioned before, it can ruin all credibility that we have. We have to pay attention. And at the very least, at least act like you are!

Worship Moments

I would like to add 1 more bonus moment. This doesn’t exactly fall in like with the others, because the band is technically playing during this.

What I mean by “worship moments”, are those moments where your band is playing, but you are not. This may be a soft part of the song you’re not playing in, or just a part of the song that you don’t have any parts in. And I really hope that you aren’t just playing the entire time. If so, read this post I wrote about it.

What do you typically find yourself doing in these moments? Staring blank faced, bored, checking your phone, or worshiping?

Believe it or not, as a leader, the audience is looking to us to LEAD them. Do you want to lead them to stare blank faced and bored? Of course not! You want to lead them into worship. With an outward expression of worship, you are leading your congregation to do the same.

Something as simple as just singing along can be the nudge that someone needs to feel comfortable to do the same. Not to mention that nobody likes a “boring” band.

There’s no way that I can cover every moment that we aren’t playing, but I hope you’re starting to get the idea here. We are leaders and we have to start acting like it. I firmly believe that how we do anything is how we do everything. So we can’t let the “little” things slide or else the big things will soon follow suit.

Ok, so what did I miss? Share below in the comments!

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