As worship leaders, we find ourselves with great material to choose from. But we often find ourselves stalled at finding the musicianship to articulate the material.
Today?s current mainstream worship playlist is sonically bold. It?s exciting, passionate, and often carefully articulate. It?s an unbelievably huge stadium sound fostered with an innocent home church intimacy. It sounds as if we?ve finally reached the correct crockpot recipe for Worship Gumbo.
I regularly get the unique opportunity to mentor local church worship leaders and ministries. One of the consistent themes I?ve discovered is the need and desire for a higher level of excellence for the band, singers, and media operators. The difficulty is that there?s no real blueprint on how to achieve this desire. Each scenario is independently different with a unique supporting cast.
However, even though each creative group is wired differently, there are a few disciplines we can lean on to raise the skill level of our worship team.
1. Inspire Hearts and Share the Vision
Inspiring your volunteers and sharing the vision is often free of charge, but it can also be the most rewarding. Remember, we are coaching and inspiring volunteer musicians who potentially work a vocation by day. We can hinder the process by not clearly communicating our vision to enhance our overall skill level.[quote]Inspiring your volunteers and sharing the vision is often free of charge, but it can also be the most rewarding.[/quote]
This is important because, during the process, each musician will be stretched in some capacity. This could require a season of heavier lifting and more sacrifice. So having that information and vision upfront allows the musician to posture their heart properly.
You may find some musicians who are less open to this new concept. Don?t be afraid to take some time and minister to their internal fears. They could be asking several questions silently ? from ?am I good enough? to ?how am I going to squeeze in more practice time?. Whatever their anxieties, remember that perfect love casts out fear. Inspire and cast vision with love and continue to communicate with your patience and actions.
2. Utilize Your Resources
Today, because of great resources such as YouTube, amazing musicians can tutor the average person. Even new musicians can get close to the musicianship found on the original recording.
Many of the current trailblazers in the CCM worship genre have decided to equip the local church by recording tutorials to display their chords, strum patterns, pedal boards, and drum techniques, to name a few. These tutorials are goldmines. I would encourage you to locate tutorials that best mimic the recording and upload them to your church?s Planning Center.
When stretching the band, invite them to commit to watching the tutorial while learning the material. Simply playing the notes on the sheet music isn?t enough. You want to equip them to play what the sheet music cannot say or convey. Often, those little nuggets are given in the tutorials. Also, don?t shy away from individuals doing covers of the songs. I?ve found many great bass guitarists and drummers (with focused and detailed camera angles) to be even more impactful than the tutorial as they are playing the song in real time as opposed to the stop-and-go pattern of tutorials.[quote]Simply playing the notes on the sheet music isn?t enough. Equip your band?to play what the sheet music cannot convey.[/quote]
3. Multitracks is a 2-for-1 Deal
MultiTracks has been a huge blessing to the local church. It?s given the average body of worshippers the chance to do all of the most popular songs despite having a smaller pool of skilled musicians. In times past, many churches would have to shy away from doing a great song or water it down to fit the skillset of their volunteers. This often offered us an un-inspired cover band version of a brilliant piece.
While you may currently use MultiTracks as a backing foundation, consider another option. Multitracks can also allow musicians to hear each detail of their individual part. By creating a mix of the song with their instrument considerably louder, musicians are now afforded the gift of hearing a professional play their part in real time. You?re slowly equipping your team?s ear to hear music at an enhanced but tangible level, while training them to think like arrangers.
Why arrangers? Arrangers are patient, consistent, detailed, and creatively enhancing. If our teams have a front row seat to a paid professional executing their ?arranging prowess?, how much more are they encouraged to do so and play ?with? the band?
4. Find a Rabbi
3 years ago, I heard a gentleman say, ?Every aspiring entrepreneur needs a teacher/rabbi to push them higher.? I began to think about this concept in terms of our creative culture. Though the above listed disciplines can work wonders for your team, adding the addition of a skilled coach/teacher/rabbi for the occasional clinic or rehearsal can be an immediate steroid ? someone that has a sharp ear and can communicate the next steps to growth with simplicity. This person could also run drills with the team. This is fairly easy, but it can become tedious if you?re uncertain what you?re listening for.
5. Refuse to Be a Cover Band
Decide that your team will work to make each song come alive in your service. That?s the start.[quote]Decide that your team will work to make each song come alive in your service.[/quote]
But before it can come alive in a service, it must come alive in rehearsal. We often show up and just play the songs through, believing that we?ll magically fall into sync on difficult parts. Instead, start with the difficult part first and work your way through the song patiently. It will take time, but you?re building chemistry, understanding, and your sound by doing so.
It?s time for your team to leave the sheet music, and instead lead the sheet music. If you control the music, you have the opportunity to make the weekend experience a stadium sound with home church intimacy.
You can increase the skill level of your band; you just have to be intentional in casting the vision and equipping your team to do so. Be sure you enjoy the experience, and reach for the highest level possible.