No normal person is able to play an instrument well the first time they pick it up, I know some who can, and believe me they are very much the exception!
We get better by practicing. You wouldn’t expect a preacher to rely on what they preached previously to enable them to give a new sermon on an entirely different topic. So you can’t rely on just what you play at each meeting being enough for the next meeting, assuming you don’t just use exactly the same worship set each time!
For many musicians, playing music is where they feel closest to God, so by not practicing, you are denying yourself the opportunity to commune with God. Yes, I know that shouldn’t be the only way a musician relates to God but that’s a whole other discussion.
Getting practical, musicians should always make sure their instruments are in tune not only with themselves but also with everyone else that is playing. There’s really very little excuse to be out of tune at the start of a worship set with digital tuners, etc.
If the worship is recorded, make sure you listen back to yourself as a matter of routine. What we hear ourselves may differ from what is heard out front. There may be certain notes or chords you routinely get wrong or phrases you tend to go flat on. It’s not unspiritual to be practical!
Speaking of singing flat, there are some practical reasons where that may happen which could be easily remedied. Most have to do with how clearly you can hear yourself singing. In the smaller setting, there’s not a lot you can do except listen as closely to yourself as possible and be careful how you are using your voice.
If you are in an amplified setting, you need foldback which enables you to hear your voice. It is important that your voice is not too loud otherwise you will compensate by dropping the volume which may give you less control over pitch. Likewise, if the volume is too low, you may end up pushing your voice and again go flat.
Without getting too technical, your voice control should come from your diaphragm, not your throat. You will lose a lot of vocal range by relying on your throat, particularly at the top end. A voice coach can help with this, whether a real live one or a virtual one, just take what is taught on YouTube with caution, although they may be somewhat more affordable. If you are fortunate, there may be someone in your group who could advise you, you can only ask.
A word here on behalf of the congregation. Please pick the key of the songs you are singing carefully. You may be able to hit stratospheric notes but by the time you come down again, you will have lost them. There is also a regrettable fashion in modern worship songs to start the song but then at some point, go up an octave. This can lead to a song starting quite low and finishing too high for the average non-singer.
My feeling is that you don’t have to make the song sound exactly like the original artist but you do have to make sure it is singable. Choose a key that normal people can sing and don’t do the going up an octave bit. You are supposed to be leading people in worship, not trying to authentically reproduce a professionally produced track
© Paul Wood