Keeping your skills sharp

One of the challenges that we have as full-time, or even part time church musicians is finding the time to keep our skills up or better them. For me, I wear a bunch of hats. I’m the organist, adult choir director, handbell director, children’s choir director, preschool music instructor, work with the worship team, play with the worship team, put together the presentations for the screens for worship, and overall plan and facilitate pretty much anything relating to music and the musical aspects of worship in my church. I love all of it, but trying to keep up with all of those skills is really tough! I received a compliment last night from one of my handbell ringers. “I don’t know how you do it all.” Of course, I jokingly responded, “I fake it well”. Sometimes, I feel like I do, though!

So how do you get away from feeling like you’re faking it? How do you actually keep those skills you have nice and polished, and add to them? You know where I’m going to go next, don’t you? Of course you do. Practice. Work at it. Set aside the time to work on those skills. Yes, I know, you have to prepare music for this Sunday. Awesome. Me too. But if I don’t invest 10-15 minutes of my practice time in skills, then I’m doing myself a huge disservice.

But there’s more to it than just practice. There’s the bigger picture. That’s why to be a healthy church musician, having some organization, and more specifically, organization of your calendar and your time, is absolutely necessary. I block out time to practice. I block out time to work on my skills. If I don’t, I won’t do it. That’s the thing. If we’re not intentional about our skills and our abilities, who is going to be? It’s not like our parents are looking over our shoulders making us practice. And we probably don’t have an instructor giving us that look when we mess up on technique.

In anything in life, intentionality is the key. If we don’t plan our day, our schedules, our practice time, we’ll lose control of it very quickly. That’s why this is so important. When we get caught up in the “gotta get it done now”, we lose focus on what is most important and we get into bad habits. Trust me…..I’ve been there. And I’m still trying to recover from those bad habits of time management, bad habits of not practicing, or practicing incorrectly, or flat out bad technique. And when you get out of practice, or “out of shape” when it comes to those skills and techniques, you will find it so much harder to break out of them and rebuild the good habits that you previously had. It’s not impossible, but a lot more work.

So, keeping your skills sharp is beneficial. It’s giving God your best. Is it more work? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely. So sit down with your calendar and start laying out your schedule. When will you practice? When you work on skills and techniques? You can do it!

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