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Unread 10-27-2013, 10:35 PM   #1
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Frustrated inclined to quit

Hello,

I have been playing acoustic rhythm guitar in a local church for 2 1/2 years, I am in my 50s, played guitar in my teens into my 20s for about 10 years steadily, but life and business got in the way so I pretty much dropped out of playing. Three years ago I my children showed a strong interest in playing music; I felt compelled to start playing again. I started playing in the local church that we attend.

I underestimated how much I had forgotten and how much I had never learned, it was an awakening, my playing left a lot to be desired; as a result I was pretty much treated as if I was not there, I approached the leadership multiple times about whether I should step down, but was told multiple times that I was an asset to the band and that I should stick it out.

Fast forward 3 years, I have picked up the slack a lot, there is still a lot to learn, but I still feel like I don't matter much to the band; when "thank you for being here" are handed out I seem to be left out of them, when "who's going to be here Saturday" is being asked I am regularly left out. I am a reliable member, I show up Saturdays and Sunday reliably unless there is some family affair going on.

This weekend was tough, we were playing Amazing Grace for offertory, a song that I consider a "sleeper" easy to play and one that I enjoy playing a lot, however the piano player asked me if I minded letting someone else use my guitar to play the song. I obediently agreed and sat down.

However this did not make me feel too good. I am at a crossroad where I think I should back down. I have been praying hard for guidance, but have not come up with a clear resolution.

I wonder if anyone here has found themselves in a similar position and how you have handled it.

I will greatly appreciate any feedback you can share.

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Unread 10-27-2013, 10:49 PM   #2
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That's a tough spot. I definitely sympathize. I know you mentioned going to the leadership about it, but have you gone to them with these specific issues?
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Unread 10-27-2013, 11:38 PM   #3
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Thanks Steve,

I have not brought these issues to the leadership, but it is a good idea. We practice towards the end of the week. I'll try to bring this up to them.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 12:33 AM   #4
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I think it would be important to just let them know, "hey, I come and I practice. I don't appreciate feeling like I work hard only to be asked to hand my guitar off" or whatever else. Sometimes leadership can be blind to how their people are feeling because no news is good news.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 06:55 AM   #5
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First things first. You need to let you worship leader know it is grinding you down. Ask simply for prayer in the matter.

Worship ministry is not like playing in a band setting. Lots of times we forget that. Who knows why you were sent to serve with that team. But you were sent. And some times you need to persevere in the face of adversity.

And then on to someone asking you to hand your insturment over to another player. I simply do not do that. I have offered my instrument to others, but nobody makes that offer for me. For a keyboard player to suggest that you hand off to someone else who obviously didn't bother to bring the proper equipment for a set is just crazy. Don't let them put you in that position. Guitars are not inexpensive and them expecting you to provide one for someone else is really too much.

Now for my story. I was like you, called back to playing after many years of putting down all musical instruments. The praise team "invited" me to join them. Problem was they would set a rehearsal and then change it to another time and place without telling me. They did it consistently. They did it openly. They would brazenly lie about it after the fact. Nobody could or would hold them accountable. And then one day they were not there any more. It seemed there were issues within the team that boiled over to the point that they were all asked to step down. Guess who got the call on a Friday night to have a worship set ready for Sunday morning? God works in mysterious ways.

Keep playing. Keep praying. Look for opportunities to serve outside of that Sunday service. Perfect you skills as much as you can. Some of my best playing has happened in nursing homes, charity benefits, street fairs, church functions, places where the Team can't go but a couple of us with acoustic guitars can easily serve.

And as for your Team. They need to break out of comfort zones. Play together in new lineups and combinations. Switch roles and even instruments. When you get too set in your ways it gets boring. When it gets boring it gives Satan a chance to have some fun. I'm not saying that's happening to your Team but I always suggest that teams constantly work to break new and different ground.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 07:27 AM   #6
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Much wisdom already posted here. To some degree, most of us have been marginalized at one time or another. I was once removed from a team by a new leader for several weeks because he thought I was trying to usurp his authority. We actually met with a couple of elders to mediate the situation, and eventually we reached a working relationship.

Feedback is a great tool used by corporate management. It focuses on behavior rather than what we think they're thinking, and allows you to express an observation. "When you asked me to give my guitar to another player [action], I felt like my participation was not needed [observation]. Can we talk about that?"

Asking honest questions in an atmosphere that isn't overly charged can lead to productive solutions.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for all your thoughtful responses.

The person who was going to use the guitar is the bass player and he's one of our un-official leaders (we don't have a music director) a very talented multi-instrumentalist.

The piano player who suggested the bass player play on the song is also very experienced, a close friend (our kids play together) but has been playing for so long that he shows signs of boredom. He's done that before and I have jokingly told him that he does not give me a vote of confidence, but I think this time I am going to have a serious talk with him.

It's frustrating, I know I am the less skilled "musician" in the band, but in 2.5 years I have made a lot of progress and I am always there for 2 services a week, unless I am away. My children go to the school affiliated to the church and I love giving my time and serving the Lord in that capacity.

Thanks again. I will let you know how I make out. Yesterday I was so frustrated I wanted to resign the band; I'll see where prayer leads me.
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Unread 10-28-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Is the leadership known for avoiding conflict and being passive aggressive?
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Unread 10-28-2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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Thanks for your reply Sean.

The leadership does not display a passive/aggressive behavior; except for one member who seems to be there more for personal benefit than to serve, but this member is not very involved with decision making.

We actually have very little conflict and what little I have seen has boiled over quickly ... hopefully!
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Unread 10-28-2013, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acmeseed View Post
Thanks for your reply Sean.

The leadership does not display a passive/aggressive behavior; except for one member who seems to be there more for personal benefit than to serve, but this member is not very involved with decision making.

We actually have very little conflict and what little I have seen has boiled over quickly ... hopefully!
I ask because it seems like they're being socially very awkward with you or they're passively trying to avoid having a hard conversation with you.

I know our worship director is a 25 year old who's working with a team of people who are almost all 15 to 30 years older than him (including his dad). At times there have been hurt feelings because he chose passive methods of excluding someone for a specific service/song when he thought they would hold the band back INSTEAD of having an honest, direct conversation with them. He's a great guy and good friend of mine, but he struggles at times to address hard conversations directly.

This approach has two negative effects: (1) Hurt feelings and confusion...which causes people want to pull away, (2) The person doesn't know what they need to do to improve...which perpetuates the system where they keep not meeting unstated expectations.





All this to say, I would affirm what others have said, you initiate the conversation. The more teachable and open you are to instruction, the more him/her/they will feel comfortable offering suggestions in the future. You want to be firm (on wanting directness and understand whats going on) but teachable when it comes to contributing to the band..
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Unread 10-28-2013, 07:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acmeseed View Post
.....I am in my 50s.....
Is there any chance this has anything to do with it? Are there other similarly aged people on the team or are you the "old guy". The reason I ask is that I am in the same demographic. In my previous church the mindset had evolved to one in which if a person didn't look natural in skinny jeans and a faux hawk, they were too old and needed to move aside and make room for the young guns.

I gave up and moved on. It turned out God wanted me to build a contemporary music ministry from scratch elsewhere. It was the best thing that ever happened to me with regards to ministry!

Keep praying and seeking God's will for you in this situation.
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Unread 10-29-2013, 02:36 AM   #12
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Joe,

In this case I don't think age is a factor, we have a mix from 27 to 70 with the average leaning towards the 50s - 60s. I am almost i the middle.

If anything age is a factor in my playing and coming up to speed after almost 30 years of not playing. For all intents and purposes I started learning 2 1/2 years ago.

I had never played following a music sheet, that took a bit of learning, but now I got it down. Probably agility with my strumming hand is hindered by age as well, although I don't feel it, I am sure it is there.

Thanks for your response. I keep praying for guidance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean View Post
I ask because it seems like they're being socially very awkward with you or they're passively trying to avoid having a hard conversation with you
Sean, I think you have an excellent point and have nailed it on the head. For the 2 1/2 years I have been in the band I have often come home and complained to my wife that 1.- I feel like I am transparent in the band 2.- does not matter whether I show up to play, etc.

An example would be "Joe, are you playing Saturday? how you about Mark? etc" and I would be next to the group but i would not be asked, as if it did not make a difference whether I show up or not.

Or "thanks for playing with us Robert, and Mary, and ....." I would be there but no thanks said to me. Not that I am there looking for recognition, but it would be nice.

There have been many frustrating times such as those. On the other hand as time has passed I guess as I have gotten better those seem to come less and less.

I am at fault there as well as I am a fairly quiet person, I am usually listening rather than speaking.

As for being teachable, I think I am very open minded, a close friend that plays guitar in another church and teaches has been helping me and he has praised me for being teacheable, but there is almost no teaching or nurturing going on in the band, we basically rehearse once a week, run through the songs and go home. At one point we had planned to have workshops, but that only lasted 2 weeks.

I thank you for your response, it hit a spot which I could not put my finger on. I will keep praying, I do not want to quit, but I need to feel like the rest of the band thinks I am offering a positive contribution to the church.

Last edited by thesteve; 10-29-2013 at 09:01 AM.
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Unread 10-29-2013, 09:56 PM   #13
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How would you rate you're playing? How many mistakes do you average per set...Do you think you add to, or take away from the group...Perhaps you should record yourself, and make an honest evaluation. Maybe you might need to invest more time practicing for the list. Or the people could just be ______s who don't show their appreciation, because they take you for granted. Sometimes when you're dedication shines through people just lean on you like a rock.
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Unread 10-29-2013, 11:33 PM   #14
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JW,

Good questions. It's hard for me to self-access my playing, but I'll give it a shot.

The areas where I am struggling most are strumming consistently clean and fast strumming are those are my main Achilles tendons right now. I am lefty playing right handed, I learned that was as a teenager and I stayed that way, it is not horrible, but it needs improvement. The lefty-right handed thing may not be a big factor as there are many good professional players that are the same.

Songs like Marvelous Light by Charlie Hall give me a run for my money. I definitely cannot do the fast strumming he does in the live version on Youtube,

There are other areas such as cleaner chord changes and timing that can use help, but those have gotten progressively better, specially timing and I no longer see them as that bad. There was a time I could not start a song on my own to save my life, I would wait at least a measure to start, nowadays I jump in right away. 3/4 and 6/8 still give me some headaches if I am not alert.

One problem we have is we often don't have a drummer or even a bass player, that leaves us with 2 guitars and piano, it is tough keeping time without a solid beat.

One big factor that I have been working on overcoming is fear of making huge mistakes; that I realized would lead to playing worse, lately I have become more confident and I see that reflected in my playing.

Making mistakes and getting lost are very minimal, rarely on a set of 7 songs per service do I get lost any more and mistakes are very few and usually not huge, when I get lost I know know the music well enough to get back on track quickly.

Am I contributing to the band? I think today I can confidently say I am, 1.5 years ago and back I was barely contributing to the point that I approached 2 of the leaders about whether I as a detriment to the band and if I should back down, both told me in 2 separate occasions no, that I fit well in the mix and was not affecting the music.

Practicing I am pretty diligent about doing as much as I can given the constraints of a busy work and home life. I get the list of songs by Tuesday, since I have mp3s of almost all the songs I try to practice before rehearsal towards the end of the week. Then Saturday morning I religiously run through the songs at least 2 times, more if they are difficult. I also put the songs in my phone and listen to them at work, and other places to get them into my head. I think in that department I am being pretty good about it. I also try to pickup the guitar at least 15 minutes every night or longer depending on how tired I am by the time homework, etc. is done. I try to make good use of the time to practice strumming and other things that are bothering me.

I hope I painted a good picture, I am sorry for the long winded response, in a nutshell, Eric Clapton has nothing to worry yet!
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Unread 10-30-2013, 04:00 PM   #15
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I think you're probably just being taken for granted then...it's not a bad thing, but you have to be strong enough to concentrate on what God wants you to do...Praise him, and be a light...Sometimes we have to suffer through some trials...even at church...
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