If you are just getting started with accompanying, do not be intimidated by the music! Be encouraged and motivated to learn a new skill – a much-desired skill in churches!
I have tried to list a few practical steps for those of you just getting your feet wet.
1. Know the song. You might get music for a song you have never heard – see if you can find a recording of the song to help you become familiar with it.
2. Practice on your own. Go through the song on your own practice time before you schedule a practice time with the individual. You will play more comfortably and your singer will feel more confident, too.
3. Make notes on the music. Mark up the music if you are able. I have learned that relying on my memory does not always work. If an interlude is needed between verses, I will make a notation of that on the music. Use pencil, though, especially if the music is not yours.
4. Rehearse as you will perform. Practice with the sound equipment on in the auditorium. Pretend as if you are in the service. Play with the same intensity and emotion that you would in the moment. Watch the performer and follow his lead.
5. Learn from mistakes. Use mistakes in practice as a learning tool. Often, someone will come in at the wrong time (in practice). I might point it out and rehearse that part again. In my mind, though, I know that they might come in wrong during the service. So, I’ll watch them even closer during that section and follow them, even if it means skipping a measure to keep up with them.
Accompanying is a challenge, but it is also very rewarding! Do not be discouraged if not every song goes as planned. Remember that we are ultimately playing for the Lord and giving our best is what He desires. Practice, prepare, and then leave the outcome up to Him!