preparation

How to Lead Great Band Rehearsals: Part 2

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a distraction-free Sunday service is to have rehearsals that allow for more freedom on Sundays.  God deserves all glory for services that usher people into His presence, but he's all also called us to lead his church so there are steps we can take to steward that responsibility well as musicians.  

Part 1 was about the difference between "rehearsals" and "practice" and how a simple tweak of language can cast vision to your team.  Once your language is adjusted, the next step is to back up the vision with preparation. Preparation begins and ends with the leader. You have zero credibility to ask your team for preparation, if you don't lead the way.

Here is how to breakdown preparing for a song:

1. The Beginning! How does each song begin?  Know what instrument starts the song.  Know the timing of chords so that you can communicate.  

2. The Map!  Know the verse, chorus, bridge order.  Where are you trying to take song dynamically?  Know when certain instruments enter/exit.

3. The Standout Sections!  Are there any special elements that demand attention?  Often there's a guitar riff, or a drum fill, vocal run, etc. that takes a song to the next level.  Make sure you are prepared to coach through those parts or at least remind the musicians that you want that part to the stand out.  

4. The Ending!  Have a plan for how to end the song.  Are you going to end abruptly?  Are you going to a big rock and roll ending?  Are you going to end gently with a swellabration (guitars and cymbals milking the swell to encourage celebration)?  

If you have those 4 areas nailed, then you should be prepared enough to navigate through any song and instill confidence in your band that they can trust your direction.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

1. Be Decisive- even if you don't have an answer for something, or have overlooked something in your preparation, just be decisive in the moment.  You can always adjust something in between rehearsal and the service.  

2. Have accurate lead sheets- make sure your lead sheets for your band are accurate.  The map and chords need to be exactly like the reference

3. Plan ahead- make sure you are giving your musicians enough time for prep.  A good goal to aim for is to have all prep materials accessible for them 2 weeks prior to rehearsal 

How to Lead Great Band Rehearsals: Part 1

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a distraction-free Sunday service is to have rehearsals that allow for more freedom on Sundays.  God deserves all glory for services that usher people into HIs presence, but he's all also called us to lead his church so there are steps we can take to steward that responsibility well as musicians.  This will be a series of posts, as there many tangible things we can do as leaders of musicians in the church.

The first thing to do is ensure that your language is accurate by using the word band "rehearsal" rather than band "practice."  Practice is something you do individually at home, rehearsal is something we all do together where each member brings their part.  Using the word rehearsal itself implies there there has already been work done beforehand, whereas you can practice something without any prior history on the subject.  

Think of it as actors in play...if they come to play rehearsal without any history with the script, the beats and rhythms of the play, how to act off of other people's lines, etc., then your rehearsal is going to be long, frustrating, and fruitless because you'll find that the actors will be individually working on the nuts and bolts of their parts.  Individual preparation does not require meeting together as a group.  It can be done individually!  

The same idea applies to a band...each musician should respect the time and talent of their band mates by not using rehearsals as a personal practice time, but as a time to put their puzzle pieces together to create art.  If you have people using rehearsals as practice time, then you're going to end up with frustrated band members who feel disrespected and don't trust each other.  How can you expect to have the people on Sundays put their trust in the leadership of the musicians, if you the musicians on stage don't trust each other?.  A simple adjustment of your language to calling it "rehearsal" and being consistent with explaining the vision of rehearsal time to your musicians will go a long in not only having efficient rehearsals, but it will also increase the capacity for trust, freedom, and creativity. 

Of course, the leader has to lead the way.  You can't simply adjust your language, and expect your musicians to understand.  In Part 2, we will talk about the importance of preparation and how leaders need to go first.