Signs of a Mature Musician


What does it mean to be a mature musician?

Does it just mean you’re the oldest guy or gal in the room?  Does it mean you’ve been playing your instrument the longest, or have the nicest gear, or can shred faster than anyone else?  Or is it something else?  Is it more complex and nuanced than that?

I asked our worship team for their input on this list, and together we created five signs that we believe a mature musician exhibits.

–  5 Signs of a Mature Musician –

Serve the song and not their ego

Lets face it…some songs may not challenge us technically as musicians.  Some songs aren’t going to show off our skill set and draw attention to us.  And that’s okay.

Mature musicians work to serve the song and not their own ego.  They’re okay with doing something that seems ‘basic’ or ‘easy’ because it will create a better sound as a band, and serve the specific needs of the song, rather than the needs of their own ego.  They get excited about  collaboration and creating something beautiful as an ensemble, not just about showing off their own skills.

Arrive prepared and ahead of time

It sounds basic.  It’s not flashy.  But it’s a really big deal!  Mature musicians arrive rehearsed and prepared and they arrive before they need to be there.  When I am looking for musicians to play with, I’m not looking for the flashiest or most technically skilled musicians I can find.  Those are great, until they don’t show up or know their part!  I’m looking for someone who I know will show up 100% of the time and will get the job done.  At the end of the day, an good musician who is super reliable will always win out in the long run over a great musician who is inconsistent.  Being prepared and arriving early is a sign of respect for your director, for your fellow musicians, and shows that you take what you’re doing seriously.  It communicates a lot about a person, even before rehearsal has started.

Listen, and adjust

Mature musicians are always listening and adjusting.  They listen to what the other musicians are playing and to how that effects what they should do at a given moment.  They listen to the acoustic space that they’re performing in and how they need to adjust their tone, or their volume, or their gear accordingly.  They may play the same ‘notes’ in the same song over and over again (and that can be a really good thing), but they’re always listening to what’s happening around them and making thousands of tiny micro-adjustments to tone, timbre, tempo, etc to be as in sync with the other musicians as possible.  They never just ‘phone it in’ because they’ve played something a few times before, but are always looking to make the best music as they can in tha t particular moment.

Are always improving

Just like mature musicians are always listening and adjusting while they’re playing, they’re also always adjusting and fine tuning their craft.  It may be improving their tone or their gear, taking lessons, or learning new styles of music.  Mature musicians have a hunger to keep improving and learning, because they know there’s always more to learn.  And yet – they also are able to have fun and enjoy creating and making music today, even while they recognize there is more to learn.

Support and Encourage Other Musicians

If you’re a good musicians and other people look up to you, you can do a lot with that power.  You can criticize others and make it even more apparent just how much better you are than everyone else, or, you can build others up and support them in their growth.  Mature musicians (and mature humans in general) look to build up and invest in others and help them to improve.


I’m sure that’s not it!  I’m sure we left something out. But what?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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