Memorizing a stack of worship songs may seem like a tedious task for sure, especially if your song-book is over 100 songs, but here are five reasons why you as a worship leader should memorize everything.
1. You will become a better musician
This may seem obvious, and it is probably the most important reason for you to memorize your music. If you’ve been leading worship (or playing in a worship band) for more than just a bit, no doubt you’ve hit a few wrong chords. Maybe you’ve forgotten the lyrics on a verse or something. As a leader, this is embarrassing, and I’ve certainly been there more times that I’d like to admit. Memorization won’t guarantee these kinds of things will never happen again, but it will go a long way to prevent it.
Furthermore, most people memorize something through repetition. The simple truth is this: the more you do something, the better you become at it. Having trouble hitting that high note in the bridge? If you practice a song enough times to memorize it, you’ll hit that note far more often. Eventually, you’ll hit it every time.
2. You will have more confidence
If you’re not thinking about what chords to play and what words are coming up next, your confidence will go up exponentially. If you don’t believe me, just give it a try – memorize the songs for your next worship set and come back and report how you felt playing them.
Another benefit that comes with more confidence is less fear. Getting up and doing anything in front of a group of people can be intimidating, and fear will go a long way to hold you back from doing your best. Memorizing your music will remove another barrier and help you overcome fear.
3. Get rid of the music stand
This might seem a bit superficial, but let’s face it – music stands are not rock and roll, at all. More importantly, you won’t be glued to a sheet of paper sitting on a stand. This will make you feel more free than you might think. Your mind will be less occupied with what note or lyric comes next, and you’ll be far more free to think about more important things, like: the atmosphere and mood of the congregation, the leading of the Holy Spirit, etc.
4. Let your mind concentrate on more than just the chord chart
This point is related to the last one. If you are glued to a chart or piece of music, you are less likely paying enough attention to lots of other things that you should be aware of. For example:
Say the congregation is really swept up in a moment during a chorus. Maybe you should repeat it a few times. How about if a very contemplative mood settles over the room – maybe an extended instrumental would be a good choice. If you’re doing a newer song, you might notice that people are struggling with the words and you need to coach them a bit more than usual.
If you have your stuff memorized, you’ll be in a far better position to make these kinds of decisions.
5. Impromptu worship
Have you ever had somebody ask you to lead worship out of the blue? I have. If you don’t have your music memorized and you don’t have your big binder of charts with you, you’ve lost an opportunity to lead. I can say that some of the most meaningful times of worship that I’ve experienced have come from an impromptu worship session. If you have a library of worship songs memorized, you’ll always be prepared to play some worship songs.
I’m writing this post because I didn’t memorize my music a few weeks ago. There was one song in particular that threw me. I got one of the lines wrong in a verse, and it just went downhill from there. Overall things went OK, but here are my gut reactions from the service:
- My confidence was far lower than usual.
- I sang a line or two out of place, singing the second verse during the first, I think.
- I was glued to my music stand for the entire song.
Do you make it a point to memorize your music? Why is it (or isn’t it) important to you? Please feel free to share and add your insight in the comments.