So I've just been hired in to lead worship for a startup contemporary service in a church with about 300 weekly attendance. I am reuniting with a drummer here, but we have no other musicians on board yet. The first service will be January 8th, and we're plenty prepared to go with just vocal, guitar and drums, but it would be awesome to fill in spots before then.
What I'm not sure about is whether to audition musicians right off the bat, or take them as they come and work with what I get. I've never held auditions before, plus I don't want to have to ruffle feathers before we even get things rolling. On the other hand, I really am looking for certain things out of a background vocalist or a lead guitar.
What are some of your experiences dealing with this issue?
How do you guys run auditions?
Last edited by ignite; 11-01-2011 at 10:37 PM.
I'm not opposed to using tools such as Craigslist to find people for a praise band, but there are those that are really against the idea. I think that as long as you make it clear that you aren't looking to provide a weekly "gig" for them, but are rather looking for someone who is searching for a community to join where they can use their gifts. I know some will say, "We should wait for God to provide the right people for the band," but sometimes I wonder if God might see that as slothfulness when He has provided ways for us to reach out to others. I think you should ask your leadership how they feel about reaching out through CL or other media, and pray about what God would have you do. If all else fails buy a djembe and have the drummer practice on it, go acoustic style for the first service. I am not a fan of drums without bass (or at least a piano), so I would rather not do a full kit and opt for percussion instead in that case. Hope you get it figured out!
I've got no doubt that eventually I can fill the band from within the church, I'm just not sure whether or not to audition the people that are interested, or just ask them if they can provide what i'm looking for and hope we end up on the same page.
Last edited by ignite; 11-02-2011 at 10:34 AM.
Keep auditions casual, but definitely have them play with/for you, either at rehearsal or before or after service. If they are not ready musically, say "not yet - maybe in a few months" rather than "no", or limit them to the simpler songs.
Take time to get to know them, explain the time and practice committments, and have them talk with your leadership, also. Some churches have new praise team members attend several rehearsals before they play on Sunday morning.
People who are hesitant about doing so with you may be the same when it comes to doing so before a congregation...
I have responded to a Craigslist ad before for a church looking for band members- it didn't work out that well. There were other people that responded but turned out to be unreliable and not committed to Christ.
You have enough to get started. If you want to build, there are a few options. one, grow from within- as musicians come available. Another, if you are part of a network of churches, see if one of the other churches has people that would be willing to fill in a couple times a month until you can build a team. You could get in touch with a Christian college and see if they have students who need some experience.
If you can do it from within, do that first. They might not be the top talent you will ever see, but they are there- if they are committing to the church growth and are willing to commit to getting better, start there. If they just aren't ready, that's one thing- but in a smaller startup church, you aren't always going to have session material musicians in your midst. Using what you have also helps them take an ownership stake in the church and helps them feel like it's 'their' church.
Hope all goes well
I would say that it's easier to do auditions and set expectations upfront than to get someone on your team who seems like a good fit, but then later have to ask them to step down, whether due to character issues or skill issues.
If you have standards set ahead of time it becomes less personal and more objective should you have to tell someone they're not able to be on the team. Either way it's not a fun conversation, but at least this way they knew what was expected before they auditioned or applied and hopefully won't take it personal.
We finally put together an application and expectation sheet for potential new members as well as set up auditions and it's already saved us from having to deal with some problems.
For auditions, we give them two weeks to learn two songs in two keys (using Nashville number system) and then let them know we'll do a little 'sight-reading' too. Drummers also have to play a groove at a couple different bpm to get an idea of what they're comfortable with. Singers learn the harmony to the same songs and sing along with me. Overall, the audition vibe is very laid back and conversational with just my husband and I present. Not at all threatening or intimidating.
Thanks for the info everyone!
I've been toying with this thought for almost a year now: What about "sharing" musicians in the local church setting? If you live in an area with lots of churches, are the various congregations well connected? If so, why not seek musicians in other local churches close to you, and see if they can fill in once in a while. You're not taking them away from their church home, but you would have an idea of where they are coming from since they are part of a larger pool of church musicians. Of course, this is possible with the consent of the leadership of the church you are "borrowing" from. Just a thought.
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
Sorry, I did not answer the original question about auditioning. I'm not opposed to auditions, but I've been in some pretty picky ones. My advice would be to make clear what you're looking for. People may have talent but they may be a different style than what you need. Also, you may have to decide if you want a pool of musicians to pull from so you can allow the creative process among the body, or stick with a set group of people to maintain a consistent sound with the band. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not show any favoritism to the better musicians. That makes for a very awkward environment.
Of course, don't do anything without hearing from God first. He knows what's best for your group, and you want to do as He desires since it brings him joy! Blessings to you!!!
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
Use the youth group! Young people may not be the most talented or experienced but can really flourish if someone gets beside them and encourages them to step out (and you automatically get allies in the form of their parents!). I started a worship band a few years back with just myself as worship leader/guitarist and a drummer, but then taught a 14 year old aspiring guitarist to play bass, a 13 year old pianist how to play along just using chord shapes and a group of three or four teenage singers! Last I heard at least two of them are still playing in the worship team!