Practice Makes Perfect
Rehearsal is a key part of cultivating a worship team that supports each other and supports their congregation by using the musical talents that God has given them. It is important to highlight early that a rehearsal is different than a run-through. A run-through, prior to a service perhaps, is a quick opportunity to confirm keys, correct any obvious mistakes, and make sure the team can play the pieces required. A rehearsal allows a team to learn the immediate music required as well as practice new pieces for future use. It provides the opportunity to work out arrangements and work on communication as a team. It is also a time to come together through devotions and prayer, which is the key to uniting a team and guiding their ministry.
As a leader, here are some ideas to consider as you plan and prepare for rehearsals.
•Confirm with your corps officer(s) if they are choosing the music, if you are, or if it will be a shared responsibility.
•Look for music that you feel should be introduced to your team and congregation. Always remember that your personal preference should be monitored carefully. You need to ensure that the music you are selecting for your congregation will speak to your congregation where they are. People will come to worship with a variety of different feelings. You need to make sure you have a balance between upbeat and joyful songs and slow, reflective songs. A mix of tempos and atmosphere you present to the congregation will assist each person to meet with God where they are.
•As you decide on repertoire, it’s very easy and helpful to share your choices with your team ahead of your rehearsal. This gives the team time to listen to the songs and gain some familiarity with them before heading into practice.
•Set out a rehearsal plan. People have given up their time and you don’t want to take that for granted. By making sure they are properly prepared for what they are required to do, they will be more able to use their gifts. While you may need to alter the plan during rehearsal based on how things are going, simply having a plan helps everyone stay on track to accomplish what needs to be done.
As you move into the rehearsal itself, try and find a regular time that you can set aside to meet as a team and be consistent about rehearsing.
Arranging songs to suit the instrumentation and ability of your team will help you make the most of the talents they offer. Feel free to encourage team members to be a part of the arranging process and be prepared to guide this time if it starts to meander. Be mindful as a leader and encourage your team to think the same way. Arrangements need to work for the congregation. If you take your arrangement from a recording, you will likely have to alter various elements of the song to make it work for congregational singing. You may need to adjust the key, the number of repeated sections, simplify the melody or eliminate prolonged musical interludes.
Practice the physical signals you will use to communicate so everyone is on the same page. Standing in a circle facing the other team members can be helpful as you work through gestures. This is not how your group will stand to lead worship, so be sure to rehearse these techniques in the formation you will have during worship.
Here are some other thoughts on running an effective rehearsal.
•Encourage members to warm up and tune their individual instruments before the group comes together to practice.
•Encourage team members to mark their music, especially places where you need them to watch. This avoids repeating the same sections over and over because of the same mistakes.
•Start and end your rehearsals with a familiar piece. At the start, it helps the group focus and get comfortable using repertoire that they know well. At the end of rehearsal, it helps the group leave on a positive note and remind them of what has been accomplished.
A worship team can be a small church family in and of itself. Rehearsals should allow time for devotions, prayer, and support. This not only builds unity within the group that aids in worship, but also creates a body of people that can rely on each other for encouragement and support as fellow Christians. This unity and bond will only continue to serve our congregations. As we grow together as teams, we will grow together as congregations and communities.
Assistant Territorial Secretary for Music and Gospel Arts
Canada And Bermuda Territory