What I Learned In Buffalo...
By Jon Nicol
This weekend, I attened Christian Musician Summit at the Chapel near Buffalo, NY. While I learned a ton, here five things I want to highlight:
I don’t practice enough.
And I’m not talking about just Sunday prep (although I could do more for that, too). At CMS, the teachers/presenters/performers have put in their 10,000 hours—or are clearly well on their way. Their practice and preparation that got them to this level has gone far beyond the “here comes Sunday-driven" practice that most worship musicians are prone towards.
I don’t play enough.
Besides woodshedding and “nose to the music stand” practicing, I realized I just don’t play enough.
And I mean “play” in the same way my 6-year-old son creates elaborate fight scenes (including witty banter) with his Power Ranger “guys.” He isn’t trying to improve his ability to make action figures interact or hoping to write a new script to submit to the whack-jobs who produce Power Rangers.
He’s just playing. And he’s completely in the moment.
The problem with play and practice is that they get pushed down the priority list. Family, job, ministry, household stuff, etc. all seem more urgent than shaking the dust off my scales and arpeggios. And while the thought of getting lost in DADGAD for a few hours is so enticing, it feels a little sinful with everything else going on.
I want to say a lot more on the subject of play and practice. Maybe another time. But for now, I recognize that at this stage in my life (young family, full-time worship pastor, the side teaching/blogging/writing gig), this is a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved.
I don't care for my voice enough.
I’ve been going to worship conferences for over 10 years. Guess when I attended my first vocal training session? Yep. This last weekend.
I’ve got the kind of voice people listen to only because I’m playing guitar. I don’t have the raw talent to be a powerhouse. So I’ve never really invested much in it.
And frankly, ignorance is bliss. I haven't really wanted to know what I was doing wrong. But I decided this was the year.
I attended three of Sheri Gould’s breakout sessions and was thoroughly convicted of my vocal sin. But I think God rewarded my obedience by allowing me to win a new microphone during one of the drawings. (Or it could’ve been the $20 I slipped to Sheri’s son to draw my name…)
Beauty is reason enough.
The lead pastor of The Chapel, Jerry Gillis, delivered the keynote each morning of CMS. The first morning he began with Philippians 4:8 and focused in on beauty. I can’t do his message justice, but much of it can be summed in this quotation from CS Lewis:
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty came from."
from Till We Have Faces
I’ve used a number of reasons to persuade my team to a higher level of musicianship. But I failed to recognize probably the most compelling one. If we create something beautiful – something lovely, something excellent, praiseworthy, pure, noble – that beauty points back to God.
I don't wear skinny jeans enough.
Just kidding. What I did learn was refreshing - skinny jeans and drastic v-necks are NOT the official uniform of male worship leaders.
Despite what we see from the professional “worship artists,” the average male worship leader over the age of 25 doesn’t wear skinny jeans, man-scarves or v-necks that reveal his entire sternum.
Outside of the hired talent, there were very few guys outside their 20s rocking the hipster dress code. Most are as Kohl’s-boring as me.
But then, maybe this refreshing lack of style is because we were in Buffalo. I suspect the CMS Nashville and Northwest participants may look a little different.
Part of my work in the office this week will be spent processing through my notes of this event—writing down the takeaways and dreaming about how I can use this stuff to move my team forward. I already know one of my to-dos in this project will be to order the “streaming license" for this conference.
For $160, CMS is making a majority of the content available online for a year. Even if my team only gathers once a month to use it, I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Check it out for yourself and your group. And this isn’t a paid endorsement. It’s just good stuff I'm passing on to you.
May 7, 2012Tweet