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On Playing and Variety

My primary instrument has always been (and likely always will be) keys of some sort. I started piano lessons when I was 7. I started playing for church at age 14. I first started playing with a church worship band in college at age 19. I’ve led worship while playing the piano hundreds of times. Those fingers on the keys at the top of my blog are my fingers, playing piano at my sister’s wedding.

Back in high school I taught myself to play guitar, and I’m a reasonable hack there, though my fingerings are never very clean. From there I did a lot of playing bass lines on the guitar, though I’ve only played bass as part of a band a handful of times. Keys are where it’s at for me. And that’s worked to fill the need where I’ve been. After college there haven’t been an abundance of other keyboardists.

For the last year or so, though, while I love playing keys in the worship band, the instruments that are in my head all the time, the ones I dream about playing, are bass and drums. I’m not sure why. Maybe because so much of the music I listen to is guitar/bass/drums driven instead of piano-driven? Maybe I’m just getting bored with piano right now?

In reality, I’m a passable bass player. I can keep tempo on the drums, but one listen to a real drummer (of which we have several at church) quickly reminds me that I’m just a hack. (Of course, I have no practice… maybe I’d pick it up quickly?)

I don’t know where this leaves me or even really what my conclusion is. It’s just odd to observe that after having piano ingrained in my brain for almost 30 years, I’m now doing a lot of my primary thinking in terms of other instruments. (It’s suppose it’s also entirely possible that piano is just so ingrained that I don’t notice it any more.)


  1. I have the same problem. I’ve played drums for a while, and I’m still just a hack.

  2. Well, piano is a percussion instrument (I was horrible playing timpani though at school).

    I think, after a while, if you don’t challenge yourself with the same old instrument it gets to be second nature and you don’t even think of it as something special anymore. I thought that way for a long time before I began to play seriously again.

    • Lydia, that’s a really helpful thought. Almost all of my playing is on the worship band on Sundays, and I have noticed that my keyboard playing tends to devolve to the same set of patterns, rhythms, and harmonies. And when I switch over to play B3 organ, I play basically the same riffs there. They’re fine riffs, but there’s not a lot of challenge or variety to it. Hmmm…

      • That’s the problem I had with piano. I switched to keys, using synth to get a larger range of sounds and sonic possibilities, but I just barely started that before I quit that band.

        I still feel like a baby with a synth, because I’m trying to translate skills (from piano) that don’t necessarily apply.

        • I play a synth in the band, but I’ve found that I typically only switch between two sounds – piano and Hammond organ. Pretty much everything I know about playing Hammond I learned from listening to Caedmon’s Call. Still, in the overall worship oeuvre we’ve got going on, it works pretty well.

          We also tend to play everything with background tracks for the parts we don’t have, so it’s not like we have a lot of need for me to figure out extra pads and synth sounds and things.

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