Last month I had the opportunity to play drums for a night of worship that was recorded for a live record.
There's not a lot of room for issues or mistakes on something like that, and we wanted everything to run flawlessly. It would have been much more challenging if I didn't play consistently.
For this project, I had to load in Friday morning, learn 10 songs, rehearse all day Friday and Saturday, then remember and execute Sunday night with a couple thousand people. With an experience like this, there's always a little stress. But there are ways to keep that stress to a healthy level and feel confident.
Learning and locking into 10 new songs is alot! The producer and the worship leader had some grooves and specific parts that they wanted me to play, so this helped me come up with consistent grooves to fill out the rest. That way I was familiar with what I was playing and wasn't overwhelmed.
The most critical part of a song to me, and what I'm most concerned about, is how the song starts. As long as I start the song right, I can get through it from there. Chances are even if I don't nail it like I rehearsed, I can make it sound good and nobody will know. But, if I can't remember how the tune starts, I'm in trouble.
To help me remember, I would make notes on the setlist that showed me things like this song starts with a tom groove or this song has a hiphop / pop feel; these notes can save the song.
Remember that you are the backbone and the whole band is relying on you to lock everything in. That's a huge responsibility! If you miss an intro or specific driving part that everyone is hitting on, things are going to fall apart or feel empty. Playing consistent parts will not only help you remember, but it also helps the rest of the band. Your team may be relying on a certain fill or groove to bring them into a part, and if you're not playing that fill every time, that landmark not being there could throw them off. I know I listen for vocal and guitar landmarks sometimes to lead me into certain parts of songs.
Now this doesn't mean you should't practice or not know your parts. But if you're used to hearing something a certain way, and then for some reason you don't hear it, it make you second guess yourself. Playing consistent grooves makes everyone feel more confident.
I'm happy to say that all went well at the night of worship. I'm grateful that I nailed all of my parts and the night went flawlessly. I may have been learning songs for the first time that night, but even if you're playing songs you've played before, play the parts consistently. If you do, you'll see stress and nerves go away and you and your team playing with confidence.