It happens a lot: your church has been functioning with few or no musicians, and suddenly… you’re blessed with a guitar player. What do you need to equip him or her so that they can accompany your worship from Sunday to Sunday?
- Do you have an acoustic guitar, or an electric guitar? (or both?) – There are a couple of reasons to ask this question. First, you may have a preference for which one he would use to begin with, especially if it’s the first appearance of a guitar in your church. The second reason to ask is so that you can inform the person who’s running sound in your church (which, of course, might be you…) so that they can make the correct connection between the guitar and the sound system. While an “electric guitar” may conjure up thoughts of musical destruction, worship or otherwise, there are tasteful, unique ways to use it to play songs for worship.
- Have you ever played in a band, or just alone? – Usually, when someone’s played in a band, they understand the difference between “performing” and “accompanying.” A guitar player needs to be sensitive when playing in worship to the purpose of the playing: most of the time, it’s an accompaniment to worship. From time to time, there may be opportunities to play the melody line or a unique improvised line (“solo,”) but the majority of the time, it’s to support and accompany.
- What kind of music do you like to use? – Depending on the guitarist, this answer could range from “whatever you have” to “none at all.” The latter usually isn’t preferred, especially when they’re playing with other musicians. At LifeWayWorship.com, there are three main charts that we have for guitarists:
- The QuickChart:
This is the minimum amount of information that we can put on a page and have a playable piece of music. It consists of all of the lyrics to the hymn or worship song, and chord symbols that tell the guitarist which chord to play. The advantage to the guitarist is there is a lot of room to make notes on the page, and usually, a whole song fits onto two pages, so there are no page turns… something kind of difficult when you’re playing with both hands. In addition on hymns and songs where harmonies move quickly, the QuickChart leaves out “passing” chords so that the guitar player isn’t having to change on every beat of the song. They were created by guitarists, for guitarists.
- The Lead Sheet:
This is the next level of musical information added to the chart. It includes lyrics, chord symbols and the written out melody on a treble clef. This isn’t Guitar Tablature, which tells the guitar player which string to play, it’s just the melody line. Especially if your guitar player wants to sing along, or you want him to play the melody on a verse or chorus, this might be the chart to get.
- The SuperChart:
A SuperChart is something that we came up with at LifeWayWorship.com. It includes everything you get on a Lead Sheet, plus additional harmony parts for vocalists, plus instructions for band members (including the guitarist) that helps everyone by having them be able to see the exact same page when they’re leading worship with a song. It also has the advantage of coming in 12 keys, so that if your guitar player wants to play with a capo for a different sound, you can just print the key that he needs the song in. If a player’s advanced enough to be using a capo, they should be able to tell you which key they need.
- The QuickChart:
This just scratches the surface of adding guitar to your service. Post your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them in upcoming posts!
Pastor’s Worship Questions is a series of blog posts designed to help the small church pastor, non-musician or anyone else who’s been asked to lead worship in their congregation. If you’ve got a question for us, post it in the comments, and we’ll answer it in an upcoming blog post!