Scott Lansburg finds purpose and fulfillment in shaping the next generation of guitarists, pianists and drummers at McKibben Music, a place where faith and tunes intersect.
by Gabriel Stovall
Scott Lansburg views music as a ministry, which accounts for how he ended up shifting from a life of touring with bands and helping churches to becoming the instruction arm at McKibben Music in Covington. However, when Lansburg discusses the journey, he provides an overwhelming sense that he is as fulfilled now as he has ever been.
“Just to see the effectual change music has on people,” he said, “that’s where the ministry part comes.”
Maybe that explains why Lansburg formed such a strong bond with Mack McKibben, owner of McKibben Music on The Square in Covington. McKibben sees his shop as more of a sanctuary than just another place to purchase instruments, so when he opened it some 14 years ago, he knew he needed someone like Lansburg to help him make a spiritual impact on anyone who walked through the door.
“It wasn’t any guesswork for me when it came to bringing him on,” McKibben said. “I’ve been knowing Scott since we were kids. He had an older brother who I played with in a band years ago when I used to travel. I call those years the dark ages. God delivered me and spared me.”
McKibben’s shift to ministry provided a path for him to connect with his friend’s own heart for God. Born in Germany, Lansburg was the son of a military man. The family moved to Colorado when he was 2, later relocated to Conyers and then settled in Covington. After getting married, Lansburg spent seven years in Indiana before he returned to the place that felt most like home.
“I’ve always enjoyed Covington,” Lansburg said. “I’ve seen it change and I’ve seen different things here, but the people here have always felt like family.”
That deep connection made it easy for him to join forces with McKibben and use his considerable musical talents as a tool for ministry.
“I tell anyone who’s thinking about learning music, if there’s something you want to do, it’s never too late to start something or to finish something you didn’t finish before.”Scott Lansburg
“He’s multitalented to the extreme,” McKibben said. “Guitar, bass, piano, drums—he plays them all well and teaches them all well. You’ve heard of the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none?’ Well, Scott’s the jack and master of all of them.”
Lansburg enjoyed success with various bands and on tour circuits. However, he began to see music as his ministry during the time he spent serving alongside Jeff Hay, the former worship leader at The Church at Covington. Lansburg found his true sweet spot teaching at McKibben Music.
“All those moments were fun for me,” he said. “It became a career for me at a very early age, but as far as the ministry part goes, I just felt compelled to move away from the institutional church. I’ve just changed my belief system a bit, and my ministry in music has become more personal for me instead of a hierarchy. It’s more me and my Maker doing what I’ve learned and helping people change in a positive way.”
McKibben and Lansburg reconnected at the store in 2008 or thereabouts. Over time, McKibben Music built up a cache of 11 teachers, but that number has fallen back to eight since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March. Lansburg was always the headliner.
“He’s got about 55 to 60 students a week,” McKibben said. “He’s kind of the king of it here. Some guys are good musicians but aren’t good communicators. They can’t relate to the students. With Scott, the biggest problem we have with him is that none of his students ever want to leave.”
Lansburg indicated that his favorite teaching times are born out of discussions that do not even involve music. McKibben has seen it happen.
“They’ll go to a half-an-hour lesson and never play a note,” he said. “It’s just about connecting with people, and he’s just really into listening to his students and knowing them, and that’s why when I opened, I needed to make sure I had people here teaching and working who reflected my beliefs and my walk with Jesus Christ. I’ve been blessed with that. Because of people like Scott, it’s a real ministry here. It’s like family here. Day in and day out, it’s a way for people to come in and escape the pressures of life.”
Lansburg keeps a busy schedule while mentoring prospective musicians. Each student gives him another opportunity to see a life change through music, and usually that change manifests in his students accomplishing something they did not think was possible.
“I tell anyone who’s thinking about learning music, if there’s something you want to do, it’s never too late to start something or to finish something you didn’t finish before,” Lansburg said. “Just to see examples of people doing that, whether for fun or making some money from it, it just makes you feel good about it.”
McKibben understands perhaps better than anyone else the lasting impact Lansburg has made.
“This community’s got a gem in Scott,” he said, “and so many people don’t even know he’s here. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have him, and if he ever leaves, I tell him all the time, ‘I’m coming with you.’”