by Greg Johnson
Rehearsal is one of those “necessary evils” for worship teams. It doesn’t matter whether your players are volunteers or seasoned pros, we all need rehearsal time so that we are all on the same page. And, I have found that rehearsal can be one of the most frustrating, tension-filled exercises of my week. So, I am always looking for ways to be efficient and effective, while setting a healthy, tension-free climate for my team to prepare for leading the congregation in worship. Because musicians are in the mix, that can be a moving target. (You know what I’m talking about, right?) So, here are three simple, but strategic ways that can help create a better atmosphere in your rehearsal time with your team
1. Prayer is the ultimate tone setter. Without the infusion of the Spirit of God, we are just playing music. Because of that, it is important to begin your rehearsal with prayer, and not just a token “God is great, God is good” prayer. Make time and room to spend a few minutes of unhurried time with your team asking for God’s presence and power in your rehearsal. It can be a transformational moment that sets the tone of your time together.
2. Redefine rehearsal: Not learning songs, but polishing them. There are two ways to look at rehearsal – it can be a time to learn music, or a time to polish or produce songs that have been prepared in advance. I choose to define rehearsal by the latter. This makes preparation of utmost importance. In order to have the most effective rehearsal possible, I need to give players ALL the tools they need as far in advance as possible. If I know on Monday that I will be leading a rehearsal on Sunday, I need to give players charts and MP3s as soon as possible so they can learn the music on their time and show up prepared. If everyone is prepared individually, it will make the rehearsal significantly smoother and quicker, and it puts the onus on the individual to show up prepared. Nothing is more embarrassing to a player than to be the only one fumbling through a song, so changing the culture shouldn’t take long. Preparation is a two-way street: we must prepare in advance to give the band the best opportunity to be successful. Set this expectation with your team and the frustration level will go down significantly. In fact, I’ll bet the level of musicianship will go up.
3. Build the band’s confidence by rehearsing familiar songs first. As a musician, I know that my confidence as a player is directly related to my comfort level. A lot of that has to do with “feel.” I need to get in a groove with the people I’m playing with, and that can take time. So, as a leader, I generally don’t rehearse my set in order. In fact, I will start with the most familiar songs and work toward the least familiar. Do I really need to play through “Forever Reign” or “One Thing Remains” that we have played five of the last six weeks? The answer is YES. While it may feel unnecessary, playing through the familiar helps get the band in a groove and feeling good, so that when we play the less familiar song, they are in a confident place to attack it. Having the band play with a posture of confidence really helps create a relaxed atmosphere.
These are just three practical tips to help create a better climate for your team to be effective. Try them out and let us know how they work for you.
Question: What one thing do you always make sure YOU do to make rehearsals successful for your team? Please reply below.