I just finished watching the Newsboys YouTube video God’s Not Dead and I noticed, like in most other music videos I watch, they don’t show much of the keyboard player. You might get a glimpse now and then, but mostly you can just see them in the background somewhere.
While it can be irritating when I’m watching to try to learn a song and I want to see what the keyboard is doing, I can understand why they don’t show them much. The drummer gets to wail away with his sticks, the guitarists get to strum and swing their guitars around, the singers can dance around and raise their hands, even the bass guitarist gets to move a little if he wants to. But what can the keyboard player do? More often than not, he is standing there (or sitting, in my case) holding a chord down. If things are really jumping, he might be moving his fingers a little. Oooooo.
For those who don’t know, I’ve played piano or keyboard at church for probably 27 years (with a couple of years off when my firstborn came along). How I got into that with little or no musical training is another story. For a while I played standing up – by the end of the service I would have cramps from standing on one foot while using the foot pedal with the other. Even then, other than bopping up and down a little, there’s not much you can do when you’re attached to a stationary object at three points.
On our church’s worship team, I am the old lady. The trumpet player is four or five years younger than me (we went to the same high school, not that it matters). Everybody else is in their twenties or early thirties. I have friends younger than me who are grandparents. I’m pretty sure nobody wants to see a fat old(er) woman jumping around on stage. And it would probably be dangerous since I’m kind of a klutz.
I’ll be the first to admit that my musical skills are limited, but even I can do a little better than to hold a chord now and then. Granted, sometimes what’s called for is to just hold a single note, or even not to play at all. We all need to be sensitive to what’s going on in the service.
I also have to admit that it can be a blast to play with these talented young guys. Still, why do the guitarists and percussionists get to have all the fun? Maybe that’s why accordions were invented. No, not going there.
In “modern” churches we seem to have this need to put the musicians up front, then claim that it’s not a performance. In the churches where I grew up, the organist and choir were in a loft in the back of the sanctuary. I like that. After all, it’s not the worshippers we’re supposed to be focusing on, it’s the worshipee.
I guess having the worship leaders in front of the crowd does have some Biblical basis – after all, God often put the singers, players, and dancers in the front of the parade. People like having someone to follow. And if that makes it easier for someone to enter in to worship the living God, I’ll continue to sit up front, and remember to smile, and lift my hands up now and then, while the others do their part.