Part two in my “What to tell your…” series deals with the idea of the “Worship Leader.” As a worship leader for a number of years (with adults and students), I feel I have some things that I have learned as well as some things that I would tell someone who’s thinking about becoming a worship leader. Here they are in no particular order.
1. “If it’s a little too high for you, then it’s way too high for everyone else.” – Most worship leaders are good singers. Most. And along with a good voice, most leaders have a pretty good vocal range. Songs written and performed by guys like Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Steve Fee are all written for their voices; which are pretty high. And to just take their songs and use them will cause everyone in your group to strain their voices or just give up. So be conscious of that as you’re choosing keys for songs and realize that if it’s a little too high for you, then it’s way too high for everyone else.
2. “Don’t Stray from the Melody” – You are NOT at a concert, and you are NOT Daryl Hall, so please refrain from jumping all over the scale as you sing “How Great is Our God.” As the leader, your job is not to showcase you’re “amazing” vocals, but rather to lead others into a place of worship through music. And it’s a little hard to follow as you drift in and out of octaves and harmonies. If you’re going to sing harmonies, then set someone else up as the leader for the group to follow and stick to your harmonies. Either way, it’s best for everyone involved if you don’t stray from the melody.
3. “Please not slow…all the time” – Just so you know, slow doesn’t always mean “spiritual.” And when you’re picking your songs and planning out your service (that’s right, planning), try to make sure you are balanced in your song selection. Too much slow will lose the “impact” of a reflective song because it’s just one in a set of four. “Fast” songs lower people’s defenses and many of them are just as theologically sound as the “slower” tunes. This is especially true in Student Ministries where I’ve found out of 3 songs, a 2:1 fast:slow ratio works well. But whether you’re leading middle school students or adults, please, not slow…all the time.
Hope this helps.
PS – Click here if you’d like to know “What do tell your Drummer“
I’ve been playing drums for about 13 years now. I’ve been playing in “worship bands” since I was 14 and I’m not here to say that I’m an expert. But I do think I have a couple things that you can tell your drummer that will help him to do more than just play the drums, but also teach him to play in your band as part of the group. (When I refer to a drummer as “he”, it’s only because I’m a guy, and because I don’t want to say him/her every single time.)
1. “Follow the leader” – Drummers need to know the power that they have, but they also need to know who’s in charge. They need to be able to speed up and slow down as well as get loud and get quiet as the leader dictates. If they can’t follow where the leader’s going, they become a distraction and a liability because you never know where they’re going to go or what it’s going to sound like when they get there. Whether it’s with a look, a tap of the foot, or whatever, drummers have got to learn to “follow the leader.”
2. “Fills are not important” – As a drummer, this was the LAST thing that I wanted to hear, but probably the best thing (I hate being wrong). If a drummer is going to lose the tempo, it’s more than likely going to be during a fill. Fills are also when uncreative drummers tend to think they’re creative and really just end up hitting the cymbal every four counts or just completely losing the beat altogether. I would rather have a drummer who never hit a crash cymbal or a tom the entire time than someone who hit it all the time and can’t keep a beat.
3. “Find the groove” – It blows my mind how many drummers are unable to “find the groove” and spend the whole song desperately trying to stay on beat. In every song, there’s a “groove” that you just kind of feel and it’s hard to explain. But the “find the groove” exercise teaches a drummer to listen to the instruments around him and figure out with his ears (not his hands/feet) where he fits into the group’s sound. Be patient with drummers who have a little trouble at first, because once they “find the groove” (Can I say that one more time?) they will be tremendously easier to play with and they will be able to “find the groove” (YES!) much quicker next time.
More to come. And as always, encouragement goes a long way.
Some of you might read the title and say, “Yeah right.” That’s okay, I used to think that too. But this is for the people who have or at some point would like to have a Middle School (or Jr. High) Praise Band. So I would like to share with you what has worked for me (us). Is this a “Do _____ and you’ll have success” post? No. I’m still a long way from where I’d like to be. But we’re moving in the right direction.
1. Clarify the Win – Yeah, all I do is steal stuff from books I’ve read (Stanley’s “7 Practices of Effective Ministry”). But before you embark on the Middle School Praise Band (MSPB) trail, you need to figure out what a “win” is. For me, a win is students on stage and leading other students. Everything else falls in line behind that. I think the #1 win for our group is to see their peers on stage, using their gifts to glorify God and leading others in worship. Learning new songs, dynamics, transitions, harmonies, and all the other stuff can be added later. If you can get a 7th or 8th grader on stage in front of their peers, that’s a win.
2. Have an Application – What an application does is add validity to your group. It says to the students and the parents that this is a real commitment with real goals and standards. Ours has a Welcome and a Theology of Worship section as well as a section about Expectations, a breakdown of who’s in what band (we have two that rotate), and calendar up through February, and of course, my cell phone number (just in case). The most important part is the Commitment page that is initialled by the student next to 10 statements about how they will conduct themselves while participating in the band. At the bottom, the student and a parent signs it, so I know they both have read the conditions. It sounds like a lot of work, but when you have a problem, you’ll be glad you have an application to fall back on and refer to.
3. Encourage your team EVERY CHANCE YOU GET – The sooner you understand that your band will NEVER sound like the Hillsong CD, the better. This realization will help you gage improvement among the participants in your group. Take the time before practice, during practice, after practice, while they’re standing next to their parents, whatever to encourage them and let them know that you’re glad they’re on the team and they are doing a great job. There will always be ways to improve and things to work on. But focusing on those things will only frustrate you because you are holding onto unrealistic expectations for your 7th and 8th graders. This goes back to you Clarifying the Win. Figure out what you want to do and do it well, with A LOT of encouragement along the way.
Do you have a Middle School Praise Band? Why or why not? What has worked for you? These are just some thoughts of mine. What are some of yours?