I never understood what the phrase "means to an end" meant until I started teaching drum lessons. (Shameless self-plug.) I was with my guitar-slinging brother-in-law one morning having coffee and I was telling him about my new endeavor of music lessons. The inevitable question, "Do you teach your students to read music?" came up, and, without really thinking about it, I said, "yeah, but reading music is really just a means to an end--'The end' being personal expression through music."
For the sake of teaching someone the whacky idea of playing music, we have to speak the same language. But once you've learned the language, you don't need to think about it. You think through the language, without thinking about it. (Like George Orwell taught us in his book 1984.)
A quick aside: This is why I love the aptly named "chord charts" so often used in modern worship music (and also improvised jazz music). They give you the lyrics along with the chords that make up the "foundation" and the "mood" of the piece. The rest you have to figure out on your own--In other words, just feel it. That's what musicianship is: Feeling it.
Reading sheet music does not make you a musician any more than reading words makes you an author. Reading music is nothing more than a stepping stone in the journey towards the next opportunity to express yourself through music. And success happens when each of those opportunities leaves you with nothing more than the desire to do it again.
For the last few months I've been using my "small pedalboard" because I often found myself going through entire set lists using only 3 of the 9,000 pedals on my "big board" (a.k.a. Gertrude). This made me feel a little like the congregation perceived me as being that guy who has this big assortment of pedals in front of him that he's not using for anything other than making himself look like he has a big pedalboard.
The smaller board does adequately accommodates the essentials, however I'm left thinking of ideas during worship team practice that involve pedals currently residing on a shelf. So I'm left with trying to remember that idea later, and then finding time to develop it. And then I have to convince myself that the idea is good enough to rearrange my board to accommodate desired effect. (Or convince myself that the idea isn't that good, which is very self-deprivating.) And then I have to hope it works in the context of the whole band on Sunday morning. And then I have to see a therapist because I'm all stressed out that my POG2 won't fit between my A/B-box and RC Booster. And then when I finally get it all done I realize that every time I reach for my volume pedal I accidentally bump my overdrive's volume knob with my heel which messes up everything's levels. And then... You get the idea.
Another downside is that during my daily practicing and tinkering, I don't have instant access to what I call "idea-generator pedals"--Effects that you have to play rather than just turn on or off (e.g., POG2, oscillating delays, loopers). This gets me seriously rusty with these effects, so when it comes time to incorporate one of them into my playing its like re-learning how to use it.
Lastly, a big incentive to me for keeping Gertrude on 1st-string (A sports reference? ...Weird.) is for easier set-up and tear-down. When my board is the same gig after gig, I can make a cable snake with electrical tape that has all 4 of my cables (instrument, power, footswitch, and XLR [for acoustic gutiar]) in a single cohesive unit. Handling gear is so much easier and more efficient this way, even if the board is slightly bigger/heavier. (And yes other guitarists... I'm aware that it's very uncool to have a footswitch on your pedalboard... I like my AC15's tremolo.)
(Also... I just realized that the above paragraph totally plays into a recent personality-profile I took that labels me as a "Maximizer", i.e., someone who always looks for the most efficient way to do something, can't stand the thought of wasting 2 seconds untangling cables , blah blah blah... Man I hate when those things are right.)
So it stands to reason that I will unashamedly be bringing back the big board to the demise of 248 square inches of floor space. (And yes, I did just get out a calculator and figure that out.) Even if I go a whole set list without using anything other than one overdrive and a delay, that's OK.
Because it definitely beats the alternative, which is giving a crap about my perceptions of other people's perceptions.