One of the fastest ways to improve the quality of your service is to improve your rehearsals. Making a few changes to how you communicate and run rehearsal can make a world of difference.
Communicate early, often, and in a language your people speak.
We communicate with our team before, during, and after rehearsals. The key to doing it effectively is to do it early, often, and in a language your people speak.
First, communicate early. Don’t wait until the last minute to give your team the song list. Give them proper time to prepare for rehearsal. The quality and comfort of your team increases as your communication before rehearsal increases.
Secondly, communicate often with your team. Communicate details multiple times leading up to rehearsal. If it’s an important detail, make sure you’ve spoken to the people that need to know it. What information can you communicate to your team that will help make rehearsal run smoother?
No matter how early and how often you communicate, if you aren’t communicating in a language your people speak, all communication is in vain.
A while back my team was rehearsing a song that we had done before, but I wanted to change the ending of the song. I told the team, “Let’s diamond on the 4 at the end of the chorus.” We played the chorus and as we got to that section, the band played through the end and ended on the 1 chord.
So naturally, being the incredible communicator I am, I said again, “Let’s diamond on the 4 at the end of the chorus.” But this time I said it louder. We continued the song and continually the band landed on the 1 chord and continued to play, despite the intensity in which my demands were made.
It was in that moment I realized…maybe they don’t know what “diamond” means or what the 4 chord is. It turns out I was right. So after taking a second to clarify what “diamond” meant and what the 4 chord was, we tried it again. They finally got it!
If you’re telling your team the chords to the chorus are 1-5-6-4, you need to make sure they understand how to play with numbers. If your team doesn’t check their email regularly, find another way to communicate. Figure out how your team best understands the message you’re trying to share, and communicate the message to them in that way. Determine the best language to speak to your team, and speak it.
Rehearse your rehearsal.
Only the brave would attempt a service without rehearsing first. We don’t show up and just hope service goes well. In the same way, some of us need to rehearse our rehearsal.
Look back at your last few rehearsals. Did you start and end on time? Were you able to get through every song? Did your band walk away prepared for service?
If the answer to any of these questions isn’t what you want, you should consider rehearsing your rehearsals. Take at least 5 minutes to think through a mock rehearsal. Think through the major details of rehearsal and come up with a plan.
- In what order should you rehearse the songs?
- What sections of the song really need work?
- What tech needs do you have for rehearsal?
The point is not to just let rehearsal happen. Prepare for it. Preparing for a rehearsal is preparation for a successful service.
Set and communicate your standards.
Every church and environment is different. Just because the church down the street does a 3-hour rehearsal doesn’t mean you should. Just because the teacher at that worship conference said you should have separate vocal and band rehearsals doesn’t mean you should.
It’s up to you to create standards for your team to follow that work well in your environment. Decide on details like what time rehearsal starts and ends, the level of preparedness you want from your musicians, and what’s expected of your team during rehearsals.
Communicate this information to your team (especially new members) and hold them to the standard. This will ensure that everyone knows what’s expected of them as well as what they can expect from you.
Revisit your rehearsal process. Do you need to re-communicate the standard to your team? Have you wavered in the past few months from what you’ve always done? Redefine the standards for rehearsal and re-communicate those to your team.
Give your team the tools to prepare properly.
Giving your team the proper tools to prepare will ensure an amazing rehearsal. If you change an arrangement, send an MP3 of the correct arrangement to your team. Edit the original song to your new arrangement in your favorite DAW.
We’ve all been part of rehearsals where the leader says, “Okay, this song will be exactly like the recording… Except we’ll change the key, tempo, start with a chorus, and end with two bridges.” You spend the rest of the rehearsal trying to learn the arrangement instead of actually spending rehearsal time rehearsing.
Post song details like who’s leading or playing lead on a song to Planning Center. Communicate any key details to the team ahead of time. Don’t make your team wonder about important details.
If you play with charts, make sure the charts match the arrangement and that the chords are correct. Having correct charts will save time during rehearsal and keep communication clear.
If you’ve noticed your team seems unprepared at rehearsals, take a look and make sure you’ve given them the proper tools to prepare.
With some simple changes to how we prepare and communicate before and during rehearsals, we can greatly improve our rehearsals. And in turn, we’ll improve our services. Make your rehearsals amazing, and your services will be amazing.