Music Lessons?

I have had a lifelong love affair with piano lessons. 

I didn't have my first lesson until I was 13. There hadn't been a piano in my house, and no one else in my family played (although my dad and my two brothers were all musical in one way or another). But when I was 12, I fell suddenly and violently in love with the piano. 

I was inexplicably drawn to pianos. A couple of my friends had them in their houses, and when I was there I would look for an opportunity to creep up to the piano when no one was looking, just so I could sit down on the bench and lovingly stroke the keys. If there was really no one around I might even press one or two of them, but I was very much too shy to make a sound on it if anyone could hear me. 

After a few months had passed and this strange new compulsion in me wasn't showing any signs of fading away, I began to ask my parents for a piano and lessons. This was a big ask and I knew it, but I wanted it bad enough to ask, and to keep on asking, until after a full year of asking they finally bought a piano and set me up with a teacher. 

That was a big investment to make in what could have been a passing whim from a preteen girl, and I bless my parents for doing that for me. It changed the trajectory of my whole life. 

I was not the kind of music student who comes into lessons knowing how to pick out a tune on her own - I had no knowledge, no understanding, just a deep desire to learn. I started at the beginning and learned what a treble clef is for, how to count in four four time, and all the names of all the notes, starting with middle C and moving outwards from there. 

Later on I learned how to play with both hands at the same time, and on the black keys as well as the white ones. Scales and arpeggios became a part of my everyday world, and I started memorizing longer and harder pieces. I became familiar with names like Beethoven and Bach; Bartok, Shostakovitch and Gershwin. 

Every year my name was printed farther and farther down the piano recital program until I landed in the closing spot. 

I went on to major in piano at university. Later, I ended up in the chair next to the piano bench, learning a whole new skill set as I became the teacher instead of the student. 

So here's an interesting question - what does any of that have to do with my simultaneous career as a worship leader? 

The answer is that it enriched and expanded me as a worship leader in wonderful ways. Because of all those lessons I came into worship leading knowing how to count, how chords and keys relate to one another, how to write down the songs that I create and how to communicate musically with my fellow team members. Because my early teachers made me count out loud over and over and over again there is never a moment that I don't instinctively know what beat I am on. Because my college teacher taught me how to make a melody line sing with my fingers, I can express a melodic hook on a keyboard in a way that lands right where it should in the overall sound a band is making. Because of all my years on the teaching side, I know how to find a way to make a difficult musical idea accessible to a team member. 

So what could music lessons do for you, if you are part of a worship team? I encourage you to find out. A good teacher can inspire you and elevate your playing or singing in ways you might not anticipate. 

I know lessons are expensive and time is precious, so I don't make this suggestion lightly. I'm just telling you that they can make you a better, more confident and more joyful worship leader, and that is an amazing return on your investment of time and money. 

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