In my first article for Bass Musician Magazine, there was a sentence that bears repeating:
“Have I mentioned that in our relationship,
my wife is the smart one?”
This truth was once again proven to me during a recent conversation. While my wife and I were cooking dinner, I vented my concern over a rehearsal I had experienced. I complained about the lack of preparation that plagued the session. I griped and groaned about issues that were keeping the group from reaching our full potential. I smugly concluded my rant just as I handed the onions I had been chopping (which were now finely chopped) to my wife, who was waiting for them.
Without glancing up from the pan on the stove, she simply said, “It doesn’t matter”.
I was flabbergasted. What did she mean, “It doesn’t matter”? She couldn’t be serious? Did she not listen to a single word I had said? Had I not explained the situation in enough detail, or with enough passion? Or perhaps she was saying that the state of affairs was irreparable and that acceptance was the only answer?
My wife, in an unflappable manner, continued: “What are you doing to be excellent?”
She was absolutely right. I had allowed dissatisfaction to whittle away at my efforts. I wasn’t putting my normal amount of time into preparation. I wasn’t practicing with the same drive and energy. I wasn’t pushing the situation to be better. I wasn’t leading from the bass chair. I wasn’t overflowing with a passion that was infectious.
I was not bringing personal excellence to the table.
In worship music, there is often talk of “bringing our best”. I have heard this phrase countless times, but more often than not, the phrase is offered as a blanket statement to a group in an effort to instill a sense of responsibility. I am not suggesting that these words have been said with insincerity; rather, I think that it is critical that we as worship bassists examine and understand what it truly means to “bring our best”. What does it mean to be excellent?
Blogger and leadership consultant Scott Williams wrote a definition of excellence, which I think is perfect for worship bassists:
“Excellence is a choice to care more than most think you should, risk more than most are willing to risk, dream bigger than most will ever dream and think more than others are willing to think.”
(Scott Williams, www.bigisthenewsmall.com/2011/07/01/excellence-is-a-choice/)
For worship bassists, the most critical step to take toward excellence is making a choice. Regardless of anything else in your worship situation, choose that you bring your absolute best every day. Choose to, as creativity arts pastor and blogger Stephen Brewster writes, “…be willing to work, pursue, challenge, and fight to uncover the last 2% that requires love, passion, commitment and the refusal to be satisfied.”
(Stephen Brewster, stephenbrewster.me/2011/12/13/preventing-greatness).
When you decide to be excellent, you will change. You will begin to build new attitudes and actions. You will notice the change as your efforts manifest in your playing, your musicianship, and your worship. In addition, when you choose to be excellent, there is a direct effect on those around you. Others will sense your drive, your passion, and your hard work. Your playing will certainly be noticed, but your worship and leadership will be as well. Your choice will bring others up around you. My wife was absolutely right – everything starts by asking, “What are you doing to be excellent?”
I realize that this article appears while many people are listing resolutions celebration of the New Year. As we move toward becoming excellent worship bassists, I would suggest that we avoid making resolutions and instead challenge ourselves to do one simple thing: choose to be excellent.
This step will start you on your journey and will tap into a store of creativity and excellence. In the coming months, we will investigate specific ways in which excellence can be brought to worship bass. For now, please let me know if you take the challenge! Leave a comment, find me in the Bass Musician Magazine Community, or send me a message on Twitter. I would love to hear your story and how you can bring excellence to worship bass!
Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!
About Steve Gregory
Steve is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and serves as the bass player and assistant band director for the Highlands Fellowship (Abingdon campus) praise band. Much of his time is dedicated to exploring bass in the praise and worship setting while working to dispel the myth that worship bass is boring, bland, and musically unfulfilling. Steve also enjoys playing for a wide variety of musical opportunities, in both live and studio settings.