• Braxton Powell

Finding your role (lead)

Worship music is filled with so many parts. We all make up a different role, and together it forms one voice. As band members, we have to remember our role and stick to that role no matter what.

Lead guitar has no exception to this rule, it requires it the most out of every instrument. Because, unlike drums or bass which are the only instrument playing that sound, guitars mix with other instruments and vocals. So unless you're the only guitarists in your band. Then you can have more freedom. As a lead guitarist, you are, "leading" the song. The melody, the harmony, the flow, etc. You are pushing those parts. As opposed to the rhythm guitar part, which follows strictly to the rhythm of the song and the chords progressions. In some cases, the two guitarists can play licks and lines, but this has to be done in unity and in the good blend with each other. But, mostly you will see a guitar playing chords, and guitar-playing lead lines and parts in a higher register. Let's step back though and start at the first thing to do when going into a song.

1. (Know your role before you practice) If you practice a song, before already deciding which part you're going to do, you could and most likely will end up practicing the fun stuff. Unless you're just that guy that loves to play fat chords and sound super full. A rare commodity in contemporary music. Just kidding, I know a lot of guys who love fat chords. Moving on ... all you need to do is meet with the other guitarist before you start and breakdown together, what you guys want to do. Be mindful of your strong points, and your weak points. If you hear a line that you know you will have a hard time playing, but you know he could play it super easily? Then it is probably better to give it to him. Also be mindful of your fingerprint on guitar. Things like your tone, your sounds, the things that you do that make your playing, yours. And be mindful of the other guys, try to assign lead and rhythm accordingly that way you both are in a fairly comfortable zone.

2. (Practice, listen, practice) I like to do this sometimes in songs; while were practicing I will either stop and listen to the guy I play with and make sure we aren't clashing. Or ill play super lightly and turn him up in my in-ears so that I can hear how we sound together. Doing this in private practices will better prepare you as a team to sound tight and unified when you actually perform as well as exposing any problems.

3. (Support not smother) What do I mean by this? As a lead guitarist you support the song, but in no circumstance do you smother the song with lead lines and solos. It ruins the song, plain and simple. It draws attention to you, which in our case, as worship leaders are not the task. There are moments, more like seconds of time where the guitar can do cool things, but those times are sacred and not to be overused. Silence in leading can help you, it allows a breather. Think of a singer, they don't constantly do runs and vocal things because its tiring and would sound pretty unprofessional if done. Guitars fall in the same frequency range of voices, we are a vocal instrument. A good guitarist knows when to not play.

4. (The more, the less) The more musicians you have, the less range you have to fill in. Be evident of who you're playing with, whats being played, how they are playing, where they are playing. As a lead player, you have the ability to move around your register. Meaning, all the musicians should NOT be playing the same chord in the same octave. Then it's just a bunch of melodic mush. Spread out, change registers, move around. It adds a fullness when you spread out your musicians. So, as a guitar player, you can see what needs to be filled in, be mindful of what the song is looking for.