If you actually care about what you do, you want to get it right. I get that. “There is only one chance to make a good first impression.” That is constantly drilled into our heads, quadruply-so if you have ever been a music student for a considerable length of time. We want everything we do to represent our best efforts and to have the maximum impact. How many blog entries have I posted about the importance of lead time and preparation? So, I understand that. I’ve also emphasized the importance of getting the layout of the land and preemptively deciding your actions rather than just reacting to whatever happens.

And yet…

You can’t let yourself get stuck in the planning stages forever obsessed with trying to get absolutely everything right down to the finest detail. At some point, you have to act. You have to put it out there. And you have to move on.

In a rehearsal, I would rather run a song exactly one time than I would seven times. If everyone has done their due preparation, one run is fine. Twice maybe if the leading singer arrived late and missed the first run-through. Anything more than that is a waste of everyone’s time and energy. The team’s energy is what you have to protect above all. It’s better to play something for worship completely cold than it is to rehearse all the life out of the song. If you want to be effective, you give your team whatever notes they need and move on, trusting that they will be dialed in when you cue them.

And if it doesn’t go right in worship? Guess what. Shit happens. That’s an unavoidable part of it and there are too many factors that you – specifically you – have no control over. Here’s the thing: even if you are the only musician on that stage, you don’t make it happen by your lonesome. The congregation is there. The Holy Spirit is there. The worst experiences I’ve ever had were because I let everything get dumped on me. Draw the line. Protect your space. Accept perfection is not part of the deal.

Don’t get me wrong. Take your notes. Tweak things as you go. You have to move forward, even if it is only two inches. Even if it isn’t perfect. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” And don’t let “good” be the enemy of “progress.”

Do you know what isn’t progress? Staying in the comfort zone where everything falls completely into place all the time. That’s just laziness.

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