It’s the first Worship Leading Wednesday at Words on the Word. My vocational work is to lead worship and help coach worship leaders at an undergraduate college. In some way or another, I’ve been leading worship in church settings (and now a college setting) for the last 18 years.
One of the hardest things for me as a worship leader, especially early on when I started leading, has been making sure everything is prepared for band rehearsals. How many times have you, as a leader or musician, shown up to a band practice only to have no chord charts from which to play? Or have to change the key because the leader didn’t test out the key beforehand? (I’m guilty of such crimes myself.)
Here are some practical things to keep in mind in planning a worship band rehearsal.
1. Figure out what your goals are for that particular rehearsal.
- This may entail a regular/weekly meeting with your co-leader(s), if you have them, so you all can do this work together
- Think through the larger service for which you are preparing. Is there a theme? Important Scriptures to take note of? Something the speaker/preacher is going to touch on that you could bring out through song? What are the other worship elements that are going to be present, and how does your music tie in?
- Are there long-term things as a band to work on? Unity? Fellowship? People talking over each other at rehearsals or other such bad band habits? Think through how to address those larger issues in practice, too
- Plan a prayer/Bible study component of practice, so that you remember what you’re about
- Select the songs that you will rehearse, and what order to do them in in the rehearsal.
- Sing and play through them first to be sure they are in a comfortable key (excellent post about that here–worth reading every word)
- Secure copies of the chord charts. We use CCLI’s Song Select service.
- Make sure they know, with plenty of lead time and reminders, where and when the rehearsal is. Note that if you want to start making music at 7pm, that means members can’t just show up at 7pm. Encourage them to leave time to get equipment set up (e.g., come at 6:30pm, we’ll start playing at 7pm).
- Get the chord charts to your band members in advance–emailing .pdfs is a good way to go here
- Flag any particular issues or unique arrangements that they should be ready for in practice
- Make sure you know who is leading vocally for each song, and convey that information to the team
- Consider whether it’s worth scheduling a separate practice just for vocalists
- Think through things to say before, after, and in-between songs. E.g., is there a good verse of Scripture that sets up a given song that you could read beforehand? Do this planning as part of your rehearsal planning
- Figure out the tech side of things: amps, mics, someone to run the sound board (if appropriate)
- Chord charts often don’t have intros or outros to songs (lead sheets do)… think about how you want to begin each song and end each song. Are there other things you plan to do differently from what’s on the chord chart? Make sure this gets noted on the charts, whether electronically or by hand
- Bring printed chord charts to practice
- Bring pencils
- Be the first one there to help other team members (especially drums!) set up as needed
- Have Bibles on hand for any Bible study you’ll do
I’ll write more in future Worship Leading Wednesdays about how to run the rehearsal itself… for now, are there any other things you can think of that are important to do to prepare well for a worship band rehearsal?