Music

Nervousness & Mistakes: Playing for Others

“Would you play that new hymn arrangement for Mrs. Smith?” a lady asks her daughter.

The girl hesitates; she really doesn’t like playing in front of people. She always gets nervous and makes silly mistakes, even on the songs she can normally play flawlessly. “I guess so,” she reluctantly agrees.

Going to the piano, she sits down on the bench and opens the music book to the arrangement her mother asked her to play. Taking a deep breath, she begins to play. Of course her hands are on the wrong keys and the first notes are anything but melodious. With a nervous chuckle, she adjusts her hand position and begins again.

The first verse goes alright, but the second one, the one with all the trills and runs turns out rather rough and choppy. Why can she never remember timing when playing in front of someone else? After playing the last notes and removing her foot from the sustain pedal, the girl slowly gets up from the bench. What has Mrs. Smith thought of her playing? Will she be polite and say it was nice? Will she be amused at her mistakes?

Does this sound familiar to you? If you are a musician, you have probably had experiences like this. It’s normal to be nervous playing in front of people, and today I’m going to share some reasons why you should play anyway in spite of nervousness.

Piano keys playing music to bless others

Playing for God’s glory

Our first and primary reason for playing should be to bring glory to God. We can glorify God through our music and through our mistakes. Our mentality when we play should be to give God the glory and not to seek praise for how well we play.

We should be humble in our playing, no matter how good or bad it is. And whether we play flawlessly or hit a wrong note 99% of the time, God can get glory from our playing.

I remember one time I was playing a special with the young lady’s ensemble at our church, and I began with a guitar solo. I made some bad mistakes, and felt embarrassed about it. But after church, more than one person said the song was a blessing to them, and one lady asked if we would repeat the song again sometime. God can use our failures as well as our successes to bring glory to His name.

Playing music to bless others

I have found that many people enjoy hearing you play, whether or not you make mistakes. Sometimes, if they don’t know the arrangement, they might not even notice you made a mistake.

When you are playing for someone, your goal shouldn’t be to draw attention to yourself and your ability to play. After bringing glory to God, the next motive should be playing music to bless others.

Music is a ministry, and we should view it as such. We should focus on ministering to others as we play. We should choose songs that would be meaningful to them. And we can pray that God will use our music to be a blessing to them. We should turn our focus from ourselves and our nervousness to the ones we are playing for.

A miniature guitar leaning against the head of a full-size guitar playing music to bless others

Don’t hide your talent.

Jesus told a parable about a wealthy landowner who gave his servants money to do with as they saw best while he was away on a journey. Two of them invested their money wisely, and the third hid his away. When the landowner returned, he praised the two and rebuked the third.

Our talents are like the money the landowner gave his servants. We can use them, or we can hide them away. There are some people who know how to play an instrument and could use it to bless others and glorify God, but they won’t play in front of others. They hide their talent, and it does them and others no good.

If you can play and you have the opportunity to share this talent with others, do so. Even if you make mistakes and feel embarrassed about them, you are doing more good than if you refused to play for others. Playing music to bless others is a wonderful ministry.

Conclusion:

So what did Mrs. Smith think of the girl’s playing?

As the girl turned away from the piano, Mrs. Smith said, “Thank you so much for playing. The words to that hymn spoke to my heart. That is something God is teaching me right now. Your playing was such a blessing.”

With a smile, the girl responds, “I’m glad God used the song to be a blessing to you.” She leaves the room, in her heart praising God for what He did, more willing to play the next time she is asked to play for someone.

Don’t hide your talent. Use it to bless others and glorify God. If God has given you the opportunity to play your music for Him, take full advantage of that opportunity. Let your music be a ministry to others and a way for you to glorify God.

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2 Comments

  1. Wonderful post!! I certainly relate to being nervous while playing, so this post was helpful to me!!

    1. I’m so glad it was a blessing to you, Anna! Yes, I always get nervous playing for others too. 😊

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