The Church Pianist: Help! I’m Nervous!


Ever been nervous while playing an offertory?  I’ve never met a church pianist who hasn’t dealt with this issue. (including myself).

A question from one of my readers…

How do you address the issue of nerves with your students? I am completely comfortable playing congregationals, but as soon as it is time for the offertory my hands start shaking!

A music professor shared some sound advice with me several years ago, about my being nervous to play or sing at church.  I’m human too 🙂

He said, being nervous reflects on self.. thinking about how I will sound or look when I’m playing or singing in front of others.  Then he said what I didn’t want to hear….PRIDE.  I know…pride is a sin and therefore…well…

So true!  If you think about it…being nervous hinders us as church pianists from being effective communicators through music.

I still get nervous at times, but this wise man’s words have rung in my ears many times… as a gentle reminder to forget self and focus on the message of the song.  Ultimately, I should rely on God to help me convey His message of truth in song.

I also find it easier to play for congregational singing as opposed to playing for an offertory.  During the offering, the church pianist is more on display right?  🙂  Just forget about all those eyes watching you and focus on the message of the song. I like to sing along in my head as I play…which draws me into the song.  Just ask God to give you peace.

Either my parents or piano teacher once advised me to imagine myself just playing in my own livingroom when having to play in church.  I found this helped me to forget the audience and focus on what I was playing.

I will have to say that experience over time does wonders to ease the nerves.  I’ve been playing for church since about age eleven.  I’m ancient now!  Well…just 46.   But…long enough to have gained some experience.

God has a way of keeping me humble if I get too prideful 🙂

There is another side to being nervous.  Maybe the pianist hasn’t prepared enough and therefore he or she is nervous.  Valid reason! Or…it could simply be…the pianist has chosen a piece above his or her level.  If you can’t play it at home without struggling after sufficient practice…then don’t play it.  It’s better to play a simple piece well than to play a fancy piece poorly.

In closing, I’d like to  encourage all church pianists, including myself, to focus on pleasing God with our music and so much will just fall into place.

Thanks for your visits and comments!  I pray for you all as you seek to please the Lord with the talents He has blessed you with.

Tags: , ,

7 Responses to “The Church Pianist: Help! I’m Nervous!”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Robin Hall. Robin Hall said: The Church Pianist » Blog Archive » The Church Pianist: Help! I'm …: If you think about it…being nervous hinders… […]

  2. Lisa says:

    I just found your site, and already finding it quite helpful! I will be looking for some of the books you’ve mentioned and checking out your arrangements as well.
    I only play the occasional offertory and prelude for church, and I get incredibly nervous. Playing the prelude is much easier than offertory because I can convince myself that no one is paying any attention to me. You have some very good advice that I will have to remember. My mom also told me, when I was a teen and doing offertories, most people in the congregation won’t hear your mistakes, and those who do hear them are glad that someone else is up there playing instead of them. I try to remember that every time I play. Along with much prayer!

  3. Gail O says:

    I am the backup musician at our small church, playing about once a month. I too get nervous when playing the offertory, much more so than the hymns, the prelude or the postlude. The only thing that has helped me is repetition. I started playing in church 3 years ago. The first few times, my hands shook so much I could barely play. Now, I am OK and only panic every once in a while.

  4. Jung Heard says:

    Thank you for encouragement Ms. Cook.

  5. adam allen says:

    I am one of three pianists at Church, and play about twice per month. I still get nervous (eapecially)when I think,that I am playing for God. And worry that if I make a mistake I will mess up the worship. But I have since come to the conclusion that God calls us to this position because he wants us there and we must take courage and do what the Lord asks us todo. No matter how difficult it can be. I feel that confidence in God rather than in my own abilities helps me focus on what I am there to do
    Thankyou also for your utube videos, I have found them most encouraging and inspirational. “Love in christ. Adam

Leave a Reply

Follow Jenifer on…
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
Article Categories