Today over lunch, I had a conversation with a fellow worship leader that has become recurring. If I’ve had it once over the last year, I’ve had it at least 10 times: Why is it so hard to find good electric guitar players?
As a worship and arts ministry leader, this is an issue I’ve pondered at length. I became even more glaringly aware of its significance when I became an adjunct college instructor and started to notice an increasing scarcity in actual electric guitar players. Even more alarming, I’ve experienced an astonishing lack of interest to learn.
Not surprisingly, I do have an opinion.
At the 2012 Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit, Craig Groeshel skillfully identified some growing trends that identify the generational differences in our world today. He spoke respectfully and pointedly while challenging us all to remain committed to the intentionality it will require for generations to work together. During that talk, he specifically addressed those in the younger generation with some realities about which they should be aware:
When a national survey asked business leaders what one word best describes the emerging generation, the number one response was “entitled.” And because of this entitlement mentality, members of the emerging generation overestimate what they can do in the short run, but underestimate what they can do through a lifetime of faithfulness. They desire respect (which can only be earned), but often forget to give honor to those who’ve gone before and paved the way (and, incidentally, can invest in them through mentoring).
So, what does any of this have to do with the endangered electric guitarist?
It’s my developing belief that most aspiring young musicians today would rather pick up an acoustic guitar, load a YouTube video (or 10) and learn how to play enough chords to join or form a band. But what does it take to play electric guitar skillfully? Work. HARD work. Playing the electric guitar requires diligence in learning about the intricacies of lead lines, riffs and licks. And the best electric guitar players I know spend an almost obsessive amount of time (over weeks, months and years) researching equipment and dialing in the perfect tone. It’s a process that requires commitment and dedication. Because of the aforementioned mindset of entitlement and desire only to focus on what they can do in the short run, I don’t think that most of the emerging generation is willing to devote themselves to the work it will require to become an accomplished electric guitar player.
So, how do we fix it? I honestly have no idea. But I think there are a few good places to start:
Honest and Healthy Mentoring Relationships—I’ve shared these thoughts with several of the young people with whom I have relationships and it has resonated positively with them. Though they have to combat a mentality that’s overtly prevalent in their cultural context, most don’t want to be boxed into a stereotype and be labeled as “entitled.” Once they become aware, they want to change and that happens through honest, healthy mentoring relationships.