Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Hosting a First Band Rehearsal

This week, we're trying something bold for the Parish of St. Andrews - we're starting a worship band!

Worship bands are nothing new, but in this church, a band is a very new concept. Until now, music has been exclusively led by organ and choir, with the occasional guest musician. We know there are instrumentalists in the congregation, but getting them to stretch outside their comfort zones and help us lead worship has been a new challenge.

Last night, we hosted our first rehearsal, and tonight, we'll debut the band in worship.

Bringing a group of musicians together for the very first time has some unique challenges, so here are some things we've tried to help make the first rehearsal a success:

Learn About Your Team
We're new to this parish, so we've spent the last few weeks just getting to know the musicians. Some have come for private lessons, which has been great. Others have joined us in jam sessions, or have grabbed us for conversations after church. We've tried to get a sense of who reads music, who learns by ear, who is super confident, and who might need a little encouragement. All of this helps us work with the players as individuals to make the most of their talents and offerings.

Set Everyone Up For Success
This is our mantra for working with a band or choir! As you learn about your team, you'll learn each player's strengths and weaknesses. Use this knowledge to put each player in a place to succeed. If you have a highly skilled player, give them a chance to solo and really use their talents in a full way. If you have a beginner player, ask them what songs feel comfortable to them, and then feature them on a special number.

Start With Prayer
We're not just leading music, we're leading worship. We begin each rehearsal with prayer to give thanks for our talents, to offer them back to God, and to remind us of our role as worship leaders.

Share The Roadmap
At the start of each song, share the roadmap of the song. Let the players know the intro and ending, where the repeats happen, and any special notations. A seasoned band will start to know these things instinctually, but in the beginning, mark these things out clearly. Knowing where you're going at the start of the song will help everyone feel more confident and unified.

Allow Lots of Time
We didn't know what to expect with this first rehearsal, so we allowed plenty of time. Our rehearsal was held on a different day than the service, so we didn't feel the pressure of having to play the songs that night. We also started with only 2 songs, instead of the full 5 song set. This meant we could really take time to work the material. After working through details, we played each song several times to get used to listening to each other and following Gerald's guitar lead.

Remember to Check In 
As a band grows in unity, asking questions should become second nature, but on a first rehearsal, people can feel a little overwhelmed. Instead of asking for help, they may just keep silent, affecting both the music and their experience of the rehearsal. Be sure to check in with each player throughout the rehearsal, especially when you've asked them to take the lead on something, or if you know the song is new for them.

We're spending January and February as Musicians in Residence at All Saints Church in beautiful St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick. 
Follow our adventures at 

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!

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