I’ve been a part of some pretty terrible rehearsals both as a player and a leader and the repercussions are detrimental to the band, morale, and music. We all walk away defeated and red in the face with frustration and pray the feelings dissipate come service time. Conversely, I’ve also been a part of some great rehearsals and felt the joy of playing a set to the best of my ability where everyone is on the same page and happy to follow the direction given.
Often times, a "great rehearsal" seems to be one of those things worship leaders can’t figure out. But really, the success of a rehearsal is simply a matter of leadership. Below, I’ve outlined some things I have discovered over the past decade as a worship leader and a band member that have helped to make my rehearsals more effective and efficient.
One of the best ways you can serve your team is by setting them up to win with time and resources.
- Put the songs up somewhere for your team with plenty of time for them to learn them and execute them (one week minimum). Whether that’s through email or an online platform, the sooner the better.
- Schedule your team in advance. I usually try to have our worship teams scheduled a month out, that way they have more than two weeks to prepare for each service.
- Make sure you provide correct charts and mp3’s. Nothing causes greater confusion in your rehearsal than multiple people learning different versions of a song.
You need to be the most prepared person on your worship team. Even if you’re “just singing,” know the songs and know the transitions. Your team should be looking to you for guidance.
- Prepare in such a way that you can play or sing your part without effort or thought. This will allow you to key in on the other instruments and will help you to be more aware musically.
- Your level of preparation sets the example for your team. They will follow YOUR lead.
GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT:
Once you’ve done your work, trust that your team will do theirs. Treat everyone on your team like a professional (even if they aren’t acting like one).
DEVELOP A COMMON LANGUAGE:
Work towards utilizing a common language for things like chords (Nashville numbering, for example), dynamics, and transitions. This will help you streamline your communication on stage. There is nothing worse than someone taking way too long to explain a section of a song. Remember, your team wants to make music!
Communicate your expectations to your team. Make sure that everyone understands what you want from him or her.
- Communicate the difference between practice and rehearsal. Practice is learning your parts at home and rehearsal is putting all of our parts together.
- Communicate a prompt start time.
Once you’ve communicated what you expect it’s up to you to reinforce those expectations.
- Always be early to your rehearsals
- Always be the one the most prepared
- Demonstrate that you follow the rules you set for your worship team
- Be realistic. Make sure your expectations are realistic, and also that you aren’t legalistic. If someone is late or unprepared once, that’s an accident, twice it’s an issue, and any more than that it’s YOUR FAULT.
- Be loving to your team when you bring a correction or admonishment. Remember, they are choosing to serve at your church in your ministry and that they’re human too.
I’ve played for too many worship leaders who don’t acknowledge their team when they do something good. That "no news is good news" mentality usually ends up wounding people. Don’t be the person to withhold gratitude from your team members.
- Thank and encourage specific people with specific compliments. Your attention to detail makes their handwork and attention to detail worthwhile. This goes so far.
- Remember that leadership is a bank account. If you invest in that account you will be able to draw on it when necessary. Don’t lead with a negative account.
As you honor your team, I have no doubt that you will see the musical experience improve over time, as well as the relationships amongst you and your team members. When everyone is on the same page, it gives you the freedom to actually enjoy what you're doing and each other!