What an honour and a joy to be used by God, as an instrument of heartfelt praise and worship to His name!
However, being a cell group guitarist can be challenging for both the guitarist as well as the those singing along. This blog post serves to identify the common struggles that a cell group guitarist faces whilst serving the cell group. Good news is all these issues can be overcomed.
#1 Have you tuned your guitar?
Ever wondered why you could be pressing the chords accurately, holding it with adequate strength yet the sound from the guitar still sounds weird?
I find it amazing how some guitarist could pick up the guitar and play thru the whole set without even attempting to tune the guitar. Guitar is one of the instruments that could easily go out of tune. Always make it a habit to start by tuning the guitar. These days there are even Apps on our phones that could aid in the tuning process.
#2 Fundamentals - “Why can’t I press my chords properly?”
“Why does the guitar sound muffled”, “I just can’t get the last string to ring”. Does this sound familiar? It is really important for guitarist (in fact ALL musicians) to get their fundamentals right. How to prevent your fingers from touching the other strings, how to get a clean sound from your playing, how to move your fingers in between chords.
“The best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it - J.C Penney”.
#3 Choice of Chords
The choice of chords that a guitarist uses could also dictate the “mood”, “feel” of a song. It is essential for the guitarist to make his /her guitar voicings sound different from the usual pure major and minor chords. Explore the usage of open chords.
#4 The “One-styled” Strumming
Have you ever sat in a cell group praise and worship and even though the worship leader sang 4-5 songs, yet at the end of the session you feel that they only played one song? There are many strumming patterns and grooves that one can pick up.
Do expand your strumming vocabulary so you would be able to change the rhythmic patterns to match the groove of the songs and you won’t sound too boring after awhile.
It is also important to note the intensity of your strumming. Do not strum the guitar too hard (resulting in the strings breaking), do not strum it too soft (tickling the guitar). Keep your strumming balanced, not too hard, not too soft, just right!
#5 Choice of Keys
Once I was sitting thru a cell group rehearsal and I could hear the worship leader and singers screeching and almost losing the voices. Was checking with them about their choices of Keys for the song and I realised they chose Keys that was beyond their vocal range just because the guitarist can only play in the Key.
Fellow guitarist, do your due diligence and learn to play chords in different keys. Knowing too little variation of chords in different keys will result in the worship leader / singer singing awkwardly.
Male and female keys are pretty different and every guitarist should make it a point to know enough chords in different keys so we can offer better support to the worship leader / singers.
We do not wish for our dear worship leaders and singers to have a damaged vocal cords as well due to our inability or rather our laziness to improve and expand our knowledge.
Our goal at Kingdom Music is to help guitarist understand and overcome the struggles they might face, equipping them to be the best guitarist they can be, serving our Almighty.