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Hello to everyone....I am looking for a little advice. Recently I feel God is leading me to minister to people more with music. However, I am a little overwhelmed. I know that God will guide me, but I also know that God puts the right people in our lives to encourage and build us up. So here is what I am looking for from this group....I am a rythm guitar player on our church worship team. I have a great desire to learn more, but I can't even think of where to start next. I look at different websites and feel like I am drinking from the firehose. Can someone give me some ideas to get me thinking in the right direction.


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That's really exciting to hear. I encourage you to think about your goals and then find a good teacher who can prioritize, explain and apply the concepts and skills that you'll need to learn to achieve your goals. I'd also encourage you to join the Acoustic Newb group here to see what is working for other players. There's a great discussion up there with lots of suggestions on finding good teachers.

Susan Palmer
Author of "The Guitar Lesson Companion"
This is good advice - having the right teacher makes a good difference. It is a bit of an investment, but it will help alleviate the confusion caused by using too many sources. Just pray for that laser-focus and it will come.
Star with what you have. Can you get more practice time with the worship leader. Is there music in his/her library that you have not yet learned. Work on making your part enhance the overall sound of the team. Those are my ideas. They are just suggestions.

Steve and Sarah both offer good advice. I think you'll also want to give some thought to WHERE you might minister, or to whom. This will affect your choice of music. If your church has a nursing home ministry, for instance, and you can participate in that, you'll want to learn some of the old standby hymns like Rock of Ages and In the Garden. If there are venues such as coffeehouses where you can 'perform', you'll want to incorporate something other than praise and worship. My wife and I sometimes give concerts and we do a mix of CCM, a few gospel songs, a couple of blues tunes and some hymn arrangements as well as a praise and worship set sometimes. Overall, the broader your repetoire and range of styles, the better you'll be able to communicate with your audience.

Bob M
George, It's great that you feel God's leading and want to respond in the best way possible! Others have offered some good thoughts here, and I'm not sure how I can help, but that's okay - you're in the exploratory stage right now.

I personally have learned a lot by watching some of the instructional videos available (for free) on YouTube by Paul Baloche even though I'm not on a worship team myself. Here's a link: that will get you to a few of them. In these, I learned about some of the common problems worship teams face, about the roles of each instrument and the vocalists, and so much more. The concepts and principles apply to all bands, I think. Paul provides other resources to worship leaders and teams on DVD and printed material that you might want to consider. His Web site is Click on the Link to Instructional Materials. (I'm not associated with him in any way, but I've just found his material to be excellent, plus I love his music.)

Hope that helps a little.

Hi George,

I have played in a church band for many years. I think the next step after rhythm would be fingerstyle with chords. Start to learn some basic picking techniques and also begin to strum with your fingers (instead of a pick). This will allow you to create variation in the song. Start out very simple: down with the back of the fingernails, up with the back of the thumbnail.

A good teacher is a great way to expand your playing. Susan is correct in that the newb group has some great advice on finding a good teacher. Susan has also written some really good articles about finding a good teacher - you can find them on her page.

If you cannot afford a teacher or it's not convenient right now, I have been really impressed with Steve Krenz's "Learn and Master the Guitar". It is a DVD set. It runs $300, but it goes on sale for $200 fairly often - especially around holidays. It sounds like a shocking price; but the general rate for a teacher is $50/hour (in California) -- and this series has a lot more than 4 lessons in it. It covers all the foundation for all styles of playing. In addition, there are practice DVDs in which he takes you through your practice.

Other sources that are helpful:

Fingerstyle Travis Picking: Mark Hansen's "Contemporary Travis Picking". Travis Picking will give you the sound of James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, John Denver, etc. Typical Travis Picked songs: Dust In the Wind, Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

Basic Fingerstyle playing - getting the movements down well: Anything by Scott Tenant. He is a classical player. If you can learn to move your fingers in a classical manner, your fingerpicking will sound very, very clean. He has a new classical series out called, "Basic Classical Guitar Method". I don't recommend "Pumping Nylon" -- it is not for the beginner.

Theory -- I have started using Susan Palmer's book, "The Guitar Lesson Companion" for teaching my students notereading. It is working really well. She has put out a very high quality book that allows note reading to come to you quickly and fun -- it comes with a CD of 67 backing tracks that are really fun and funky.

After you start playing fingerstyle with your basic chords, you will probably be wanting to move on again.

The next step would be fingerstyle solo playing -- in which you will play solo songs on the guitar. Mark Hansen's got you covered there. He has a series of books with beautiful compositions -- written and TAB. He is also a Gospel Player so he has books with Gospel music. His books are really well done. His website is: He's got DVDs too, and he goes on tour quite a bit -- don't be surprised if he comes to town for a concert and workshop. If that happens, you could also sign up for a private lesson with him.

Hope this helps,

You got some excellent advice from the members here. Certainly lessons from a good teacher to equip you better. After all, "Study to show thyself approved" was Paul's admonition to study Scripture but can be applied to any tool used for ministry. Another thought is one I heard from those in my jazz circles (of all places after all!). Joe Pass, one of the finest jazz guitarists to ever pick up the instrument, when asked "How do I get really good at playing guitar?", said simply, "Play more songs." Retirement home ministries , accessing the worship leader's song library, etc. are all excellent. Perhaps joining a small Bible study group, a cell group, if that is part your church's structure and provide a short, intimate worship time for the group is an excellent way to gain experience and bless the group. I will often suggest to students who are interested in learning to lead worship to speak to the children's minister at their church and offer their services to play for some of the little one's classes or groups. There is nothing quite a delightful as the response you get from the little one's and the music is often a great way to communicate God's truths to them.
Another resource you might look into is Ray Hughes' material at his Selah Ministries Website. Ray is a scholoar as well as a musician. His Minstrel CD series on the Biblical history and scriptural basis of music is really good. He has many other CDs, manuals, etc., as well.
Hi George,

I recently felt moved upon by God's Spirit to start a Bible study at the building where I live (a building for the elderly and disabled), and of course, music had to be a part of it because it's a part of me. I would say to pace yourself. As far as feeling overwhelmed... sometimes that happens if we jump in with too much all at once. I had to allow myself to take a break from providing the music at the Bible study, and use a CD. In a Bible study I go to during the week, two of us started to lead worship, and I started feeling overwhelmed. Again, I had to allow myself to not lead every week.

Learning more is a great way to infuse new life into your playing. Today there are so many resources out there that it can be hard to know which are best for you and your goals. I agree with setting goals, which narrows the materials you look at. I have a collection of books and DVD's. Most of them I've pulled a few things from, but this method can be frustrating.

Paul Baloche at and Musicademy at (not musicacademy) offer great materials and are geared toward worship. Musicademy goes more in depth with technique and adding color to your playing, though Paul does some of this too.

May God bless you and pace you.
George --

Doc's Joe Pass quote hits the mark. Seek out any venue you can find, even if it's jamming with secular artists sometimes. There's a little restaurant near our house that has local musicians in on Friday and Saturday nights. I love to go there and just sit in before or between sets and trade licks, learn a little bit of someone else's style. There never has to be any end to learning.
It also occurs to me that, if your church has a youth group, you might want to sit it with them once in a while. It's fun, you get exposed to some different tunes and the kids generally appreciate having live music.

To Doc and everyone else --
sorry to have been absent for a while. My browser (IE) was having serious problems loading the Acoustic Guitar pages. Firefox 3.5 seems to be working much better.
for me the best and easyest way to enhance my musical skills is playing and jamming with other great musicians. in this way you may find your next learning goal - then look out for an adequate teacher (doesn`t hayve to be a professional one necessarily)!
Hope, our Lord will send ya the right people!


Think and feel inside your -self In ( Jesus name) inspier from bible or talk to others like me?


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