Monday, April 26, 2010


Gonna' try to keep this post up for a few days and hopefully get some varied responses.

Leading worship is easy. Leading worship well is hard.

It's hard because there are hundreds of things to consider and listen to and adjust and remember. And since I've yet to meet a "perfect" worship leader, the variables in leading a congregation in praise combined with individual strengths and weaknesses make for a pretty interesting (and often challenging) job.

There are both big and small issues to contend with, but I think one of the more important philosophies is how you'll approach the "cover" aspect of a praise team. ("Cover" referring to duplicating songs already recorded and released.)

Do you learn them just like the CD? Same key? Same arrangement?

Do you do them exactly the same each time?

What would prompt a change to your arrangement?

So that's the question...

How do YOU do songs?

I'd love to see worship leaders comment below with not only the way that they cover songs but also why they've opted for that particular approach. We don't get a ton of traffic over here, but when do get into a dialogue, it's usually a pretty good one.



Johnny! said...

We can't do it like the recording, because we do not have the instrumentation. We will approximate the style sometimes.

Keys often change (we like men in the congregation to be freed to sing LIKE MEN), arrangements are sometimes shortened, and once we arrive at an arrangement that works well we stay with it.

We would change that based on either personnel changes or a time need.

We choose this approach because we sing A LOT in our services, at least 8 songs on a Sunday plus liturgical music. We want songs to be regular and familiar to the people when they come up in the rotation.

Artie said...

We generally do songs how I've heard them on Cd's. With so many styles out there and songs being done over and over by different artists many times I'm still teaching songs to my praise team and my congregation that I do different than it was done before I got there.

We can't do things exactly as they are on the CD. Like Johnny said we don't have the instrumentation to play songs as they have been recorded. We also have different people on different days. Sometimes it may be an acoustic version another day we may have 2 electrics, a bass and a drummer as well as 2 acoustics and a it depends on who shows up!!

Most songs we do pretty much the same each time. Sometimes with longer songs with bridges etc. We may learn a portion of the song to begin with and then do the whole song the next week but once we get to that point we pretty much do it the same.

There are a few exceptions... All Who Are Thirsty is one that I may change order and length..just because.. maybe other songs in the set that are longer may dictate shortening it.

Other times because of other things happening in the service we might drop an additional chorus or a verse and a chorus due to length of other elements of the service, but we usually try to just do it like everyone knows it.

When we do a song for the invitation it is always shortened to one verse and a chorus or some sort of abridged version of the's usually a reprise of a song already done in the service (same with the postlude).

Stylistically... although there is a general feel for the song we try to emulate regarding the "original" recording I relly like my band to come up with their own artistic interpretation of the song. I think we have come up with some very good renditions of our own versions of songs by doing that. I think it gives the team more ownership in their offering that way as well.

Blake Russell said...

wow. this is tough question. I wish i could say i had some sort of method of how I arrange "covers" but I really dont think I have one.

We usually use the album version as a starting block... to gain perspective. most of the time we'll listen two several different versions (live and studio)... but each band member is unique in their style and ability... so what comes out is usually different than what we started with on the album. Our band is very electric driven.. and that shows when revamping songs.

We occasionally do different arrangements after we've played them for a while... honestly thats probably a result of us getting bored with the current arrangement. the people I lead are there to worship (which is awesome)... and they will regardless of if the guitars are a blazin' or im alone with an acoustic.

as far as keys... i usually stick them in something thats not flat or sharp... i'm a guitar player... so i know the frustration that a guitar player can have when the worship leader plays all the songs in Eb.

thats my two cents.. haha

Justin Carnley said...

I usually change the key because most WLs are tenors and I, I am a baritone/bass. No way on earth I can sing it in the same key.

Arrangements I usually keep the same because thats what the people know. Anything to make it easier on them. (There's always an exception to everything though). I'll change it if I know I'm pressed for time or if I want to place more emphasis on a particular chorus/bridge/verse.
I also like the use of an a cappela chorus or verse b/c it forces the congr. to listen to themselves worship God. I'll also change something if I think its too "showy" for an actual worship service. I try to keep my focus on leading the church to worship and not just sing to good music--try.

I do not however like to be trapped in the same arrangement as the cd, or even the way we've done it before. I like to try to keep things fresh because if i find myself just singing along, chances are, they are too, and that's not what I want.

Russell Martin said...

I think covering the songs is an easy way to learn the music that you need to each week. The easiness though can lead to complacency, and can stifle the creativity.
We do use previous recordings as a guide for alot of songs, but try not to copy completely.
Another way we add some variety is by doing original music. We have some creative songwriters and our band is always excited when we bring a new song.

Britton Wesson said...

1. We never do it like the CD. We may do the same key, but we do our own arrangements. We don't have the same instrumentations and I feel it stifles creativity to copy the CD. We use recordings as a reference, but, we always ask the question "How can we make this our own?".

2. It depends on the song if we do it the same way twice. Sometimes we will do a fast song slower so that our people can really let the lyric soak in.

3. If we change the arrangement, we change it based on how we feel the Holy Spirit wants to communicate through the lyrics. We also would change it to grow as musicians.