Sunday, September 18, 2011

Church Artists: The 2nd Service

What seems like most of my 19 year tenure at our church, we've had two or more services. In recent years we've been at one service--and gotten used to it. Two weeks ago we're gladly back at two services.

My observation of the band last week, and dialoguing with guys I was playing with this week, reminded me that as a musician (or vocalist), the second service is harder.

This might not make sense, since intuitively you have one under your belt. You have the confidence that you and the rest of the crew can pull it off. This is deceptive.

It's harder for a number of reasons:

1. You're talking and hanging out with friends in between services. Your mind is elsewhere.
2. Your adrenaline is down--you don't have that natural edge you had in the first service.
3. Emotionally, you've done it before; it's not fresh; doesn't feel spontaneous. 

Playing well in the second service requires something we didn't have to conjure up for the first service that we don't talk about in music rehearsals: discipline.

The second performance requires us to be more disciplined mentally. It's tougher in the space between our ears. And as musicians can be an emotional lot, this feels odd. We're having to think and focus more on something we'd rather feel more spontaneously.

You might say that the uncertainty of never having performed this set, fuels us in the 1st service. But it's our mental focus that fuels the 2nd service.

Musicians want to feel music similarly to the way we all want to feel love. And it actually works very much the same.

When we start dating someone (with whom we're compatible), just being with them fuels our feelings of attraction. The situation of newly dating seems to provide its own fuel. That's the first service.

But after enough time passes, emotional love doesn't exist without the discipline of loving actions. We're no longer new to each other--the situation no longer fuels us quite like it used to. So we choose loving actions that result in loving emotions--that's how post-courtship love works. That's the second service.

What music teams are doing in churches is art. And art requires discipline. Art without discipline isn't very good art, really. So I encourage us as church arts teams to grow in the discipline of playing second services even better than the first.

And please don't get me wrong--I am not mentally robotically playing the second service. That would be hideous. That wouldn't be art.

I am trying to be at least as emotionally vested in the second service as I was the first--and perhaps more. I'm trying to nail it technically and authentically exude it emotionally. This is difficult. I didn't learn to do it overnight. And that my friends is what makes it art...