Saturday, October 03, 2009

So Wanna' Be In A (Worship) Band...

As weird as it sounds, I've been leading worship for almost 19 years. Sure, it started out with a chubby 14-year old kid singing to split tracks, but I've basically been leading worship for over half my life at this point. Any time you do something for near-20 years, you're going to have some tips or tricks or hints for others in your field who may be newer to the job.

I thought it might be fun to try to boil down my thoughts on worship bands into one tip for each instrument. Granted, every team is different, but I tried to go very general with instruments. Apologies if I skipped that one instrument that makes your team rock so very hard.

  • DRUMS - be consistent. In tempo, in rehearsal, in arrangement. You are more vital than you know. You've need to bring it...every time.

  • ELECTRIC GUITAR - you need to have three no-fail, go-to, dependable tones for worship. One good, cutting tone for leads/riff. One nice, slightly overdriven tone for rhythm. One ambient tone for layering and synth-like transitions.

  • ACOUSTIC GUITAR - two things. First off, know your charts. You're one player who can relax a bit and listen to the rest of the team to determine what you do. Secondly, do not use effects. Chorus and flange and delay all work to kill any percussive elements of your instrument. Find a good tone and do that job!

  • PIANO - some times piano in a worship band feels like a mathematician trying to paint a watercolor. It's tricky. Piano players, spend time on your own w/ chords. Just chords. Knowing your chords w/o thinking will allow you much more flexibility on improvising.

  • SYNTH/KEYBOARDS - Good synth tone is hard to find. Work hard at avoiding "spaceship" sounds. Watch out for B3 organ patches...they're hard to get right. However, your keyboard probably has strong electric piano/rhodes tones and good string/horn patches. Don't be afraid of them...get in there!

  • PERCUSSION - Good percussion takes a band to a whole new level. Bad percussion just makes everybody sad. Listen deep to tracks...there's always shaker or tambourine or a programmed loop that you can add to make the song come together. It's the small stuff that will help you succeed in your spot.

  • BASS - We hear a lot about 'playing less' in worship. And that's a fair point. But not for you. Bass player...learn your chops. Work on big fat bass tone. And cut loose on stage. Your creativity and passion can support the drummer and the overall dynamic of the team in a way not many other instruments can.
What about you? You got thoughts on these (or other) instruments?


Johnny! said...

Persussion--you don't have to play every 16th note in the bar.

Everybody--if you don't have something to play, don't. It's perfectly acceptable to rest.

Singers (harmonies)--if you don't know what you're going to sing, sing unison.

Robert Conn said...

Percussion - don't try to sound louder then the drummer. You're not going to, he'll hate you for it, and you'll look like an idiot.

Acoustic Guitar - There is a BIG difference in C Major and C add9. Learn when to play each.

Sound Guy - This isn't RonCo... You can't "Set it and forget it"