A Lesson in Praise Dance from the Piano Guys
On New Year’s Day 2015, I was catching up on some ministry work and playing with a new wireless bluetooth speaker, which I purchased for dance ministry practice. I was listening the Piano Guys, one of my favorite groups. I decided to take a break and watch a few of their videos. I love watching the cello player, Steven Sharp Nelson. He plays the cello with such emotion and passion; he draws me into the song. As I was watching the videos, the Holy Spirit began ministering to me. I was smiling and somewhat surprised as God used Piano Guys' videos and related them to praise dance.
Watch these two videos. Focus on the cello player’s face and body movements.
After watching the cello player in both videos, the "Peponi" video really stood out to me.
The emotion in which the cello player plays his instrument draws me into the song. The way he plays the cello shows how serious he is about creating every note and making the music as clear and beautiful as possible. He is concentrating on the music while being emotionally tied to the music. Notice how his emotions change with the music. The movement of his body changes as the music level changes. Watching him makes me get into the song. I always get chills and goose bumps when I watch him play. I found myself swaying and moving with the music.
The Holy Spirit ministered and showed me that all of these observations are applicable to dance ministry. Here are some point the Lord left in my spirit:
1. The cello player maintains this emotion during the entire song, he feels the music and is married to the music.
Lesson: Knowing the music (i.e.: every note, high points, low points, etc) "like the back of your hand" as they say, is extremely important. This helps you, the dance minister, to express every note of the music, including those subtle points of the music that nobody else may hear. Once you understand the music and know it well, you can focus on the movement and emotions. If you understand the music then the emotions and your movements will come naturally. Dance movements should be deliberate and clearly expressed.
2. The cello player is committed to finishing the song and maintaining the various emotions throughout the song to see it through to the end. He plays the cello as if his life depends on him finishing the song; he plays with passion.
Lesson: The dance message begins with the first note of music. Once the music has begun, the dance minister must stay focused on the message he/she is trying to deliver. The must be maintained throughout the song. This will draw the audience in and they will feel the music as you do. Stay focused on the Lord, the music, and the message that you are communicating. See the song through to the end. Minister with passion; minister as if someone's salvation or understanding of God is dependent on your dance message. Your audience we see God in your dance; this is the ultimate goal!
3. The cello player is committed to the song; his goal is to make music until the last note of the song. However, at the same time, he is thoroughly enjoying the creating the notes of the song with his cello.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to enjoy your ministry piece. After all, it is just you and God dancing anyway! Notice the cello's players face at 4:41 (it is a clip from the filming of the video)....that smile is pure joy.
4. The cello player's facial expressions change depending on what he is expressing musically. When watching the cello player, I get into the song when I see the joy in his face, as well as his emotions and feeling of the music.
Lesson: Facial expressions are an important part of your ministry piece. Your facial expressions should change with the music. However, facial expressions should always be genuine and in line with the song. By this I mean the following: if one is ministering a song about Jesus' death and crucifixion, you would not smile but rather your facial expression would be one of sorrow or anguish. On the other hand, if a song about God's love for us, then smiling would be appropriate.
5. Notice how the cello player changes cellos during the song to express the music. He uses a traditional cello and an electric cello (the blue cello that is shown during the "Peponi" video).
Lesson: Worship instruments such as flags, streamers, scarves add to a ministry piece and enhance the dance message. Don't be shy about using more than one instrument, in a ministry piece, to express your dance message.
I thank God for this different perspective that he ministered to me. I pray this has been a blessing and helpful to you. Please share your thoughts by commenting below. Shalom.