Mastering The Art Of Worship Band Auditions And Rehearsals
When it comes to building a worship band, having the right people on the bus is a big deal.
But trust me when I say this…
I know it’s not easy to find the right musicians who are the right fit for your church worship culture.
In fact, let’s just go ahead and call it like we see it…
It’s not easy to find musicians. Period!
Especially not on the budget that you and I have for the worship band (which, if you’re lucky to have any budget at all, isn’t much!)
So what can we do? Here are your options…
- GIVE UP
- DO 25 FUNDRAISERS A YEAR
- KEEP WORKING AND FIGHTING TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT BAND AND A GREAT WORSHIP EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR CONGREGATION
I think you know which one we’re going to advocate!
You can make it happen on a shoestring budget.
You can make it happen on no budget at all.
It starts with one simple find…
You need a good worship LEADER.
Begin with a worship leader who can lead the whole church on their own. I see churches all the time that put a band together simply because they think, “Hey, we need a band.”
If you’re a pastor or worship pastor, let me say this: I believe it’s always best to start with a great worship leader who can lead from piano or guitar by themselves.
Instead of insisting on finding an entire band out of the gate, start by finding a leader, then put a band together around him or her.
After you begin with a worship leader, it’s time to look for great musicians.
FOR MORE GREAT TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN FIND GREAT MUSICIANS,
1) Own The Auditions.
Probably the best and most common way to find people to audition is by making an announcement to your church. After you’ve made your announcement, get a unique church email address that’s specific to the audition process.
**Then (DON’T MISS THIS), use video to screen people.
Have people auditioning record a YouTube video of them singing, playing drums, playing along with something, etc. Ask them to upload it and email the link to your audition email address. This helps you avoid a massive all-call at your church. Instead, you and your team can select the musicians you want to see in person.
Use tracks to audition bands or singers. Using tracks makes it simple because you don’t have to bring in a whole host of players to audition a singer or musician. With websites like multitracks.com, we now have the availability to download pieces of songs and instruments of songs. Put them in a program like Ableton that can play well-known worship songs, and have the player play along by silencing their track. It’s an extremely easy way to audition people.
As you observe people’s musical ability, you also want to have a conversation with them about their heart. Just because someone is a great musician, it doesn’t mean they’re a great fit for your worship team! I’d rather have a good guitar player with a servant heart than a great guitar player with a proud heart! I’d rather have an average keyboard player who loves people than a great keyboard player who is looking to find their self-worth and validation through playing on a stage in front of people.
Auditioning is a vital piece of putting a worship band together. At the same time, rehearsing is a vital piece of bringing the band together for a great worship experience.
2) Dominate The Rehearsals
Rehearsal can be a bear. Some people dread it. I’m going to share some tips that I’ve learned (many of them the hard way!) through many years of rehearsals.
Identify gifts and delegate. Just like the church body at large, there are so many different gifts on a music team. There are people who can cast vision in a way that breathes life into everyone. On the other hand, there are people who try to cast vision and it actually kills the vision. We have to be honest with ourselves about our individual gifting, ask God for discernment, and ask team members to call us out in love. This will enable us to delegate the right responsibilities at rehearsal.
Always involve the worship leader and listen to him or her. A true worship leader has the gift to determine how things need to go in rehearsal. Whether it’s putting songs together, knowing when to pause, or knowing when to run through a song again, great worship leaders are sensitive to what the room will need on a Sunday, even though you may rehearse on a Tuesday.
Make time for community. Even if people are busy and coming to rehearsal straight from work, you have to make time for community or your team is going to suffer. Otherwise it’s going to become just another gig and people will go through the motions. Whether it’s through time for conversation, eating together, or praying together, make sure you create space for community.
Make time for a sound check. Every church does sound check differently. I’m simply going to give you a few pointers based on what I’ve seen.
- Designate a band leader. There’s nothing worse than being in a rehearsal and having too many cooks in the kitchen: everybody has an idea of what to do, but nobody cares about keeping it moving, getting the job done, or keeping an eye on the energy level of musicians. That’s where a band leader comes in.
- Check drums and bass first. That’s the rhythm section. I think it’s good to use in-ear monitors. But even if you can’t use in-ears, it’s still great to start with drums and bass. They are the foundation for the song.
- Add the rest. Add guitars, keyboards, etc. Make sure everyone is hearing what they need to hear.
- Run one known song. After you sound check and fit all the pieces together, play a song that everyone knows well. Make sure you hear every instrument playing, and make sure everyone’s on the same page. After that song, you can make all the necessary tweaks and changes.
- Don’t over rehearse. There’s a fine line between rehearsing well enough to know a song and rehearsing it so many times that the people on your stage hate it. If you’re the music director, worship pastor, or band leader, be sensitive to that. You can lose the power and feel of a song if you run it into the ground.
- Pay attention to moments and transitions. Sometimes you can plan a great moment with a piano or acoustic guitar. That’s great. But until you’re on stage with the band and paying attention, you don’t know how it’s all going to flow. Rehearsal is the time to make those moments and transitions the best that they can be.
- Record your rehearsal. If possible, record your rehearsal so that everyone in the band can listen back to their part. By listening to that recording, I often hear things I want to change before we get to Sunday. Because of this process, I actually have time to make those changes ahead of time. You don’t need to nitpick your musicians to death (it doesn’t have to be perfect), but if you recognize some things that could really improve your worship set, you can use the recording as a way of pointing out where the changes could take place.