"Practice, practice, practice" These were the 3 words Bruce Hornsby wrote on one of our pastor's business cards at the request of an autograph. It wasn't for him, though. It was for me. Finding himself behind Bruce at the Miami airport, he asked for an autograph, mentioning that I was a piano player and was greatly influenced by his work. So, having insight into who I am, Bruce wrote, probably without thinking, those 3 words. Needless to say, I don't have to go back and look at that business card to remember.
This wasn't a new idea for me, but rather, a reminder. A reminder of how an artist remains proficient at their craft. Because I play piano in front of a church congregation almost 50 times a year, I get asked alot, "How do you learn to do that?" My response is always the same: years of continual practice (key word - continual). I usually will liken it to learning a foreign language. Hopefully none of you were so unfortunate as I was to have taken a year of Latin in high school, but maybe you took Spanish. You remember that, in order to even have a chance at passing that class, you had to be continually practicing writing and speaking that language. The more you did it, the less foreign it became. The less you did it, the more it would begin to slip. You may also remember that it came very slowly. That's hard for us, because it requires mental sweat. Yet, the reward is great.
As a worship leader, I have to balance my time between a lot of things, and sometimes practicing can slip through the cracks (add a baby into the mix and it falls deeper). Because I've become proficient at my instrument, I'm able to spend time doing other things. However, it doesn't mean I'm free from practicing anymore. In the same way that a person will lose their Spanish if they stop using it, I will slowly begin to lose the brain/hand connection if I don't practice. Maybe you lead from a piano, or guitar, and maybe even another instrument. I challenge you to practice your instrument during the week so you can let your heart be set on the Lord when your congregation gathers for corporate worship.