As I've posted before, I recently took a new position at a church near my home town. When I arrived, the team had 1 Electric Guitarist, 1 Bassist, 1 keyboard player, 2 drummers, and one female vocalist. I have everyone I need, but would like to have two musicians for each instrument, so the volunteers don't have to play every Sunday and to keep them from burning out. I was able to get some individuals on board through some of my personal connections, but will have to hold auditions for some of the others.
Here is what I want in a musician:
1. They need to fit the culture; they have to get along with the other musicians, and lead by example to set the culture our church and worship ministry is creating.
2. They need to have practical skill on their instrument. They don't need to be perfect, but able to play their instrument with little to no help.
3. They need to have a basic understanding of music theory. Again, not a degree in theory, but at least know what an 8 count is.
4. They must have a heart for worship, be willing to be lead, and have a desire to improve.
These are just a few off the top of my head. Do any of you have any suggestions on what else I should look for, and/or what the best way is to test each of the above.
TL;DR- Running auditions for the first time, how and what should look for in musicians?
Thanks for your help!
Rare is the person who has excellent musical skills, vibrant faith, and the ability to collaborate with others!
I think a good foundation for auditions is to have good application materials. I think it's wise to move away from auditions a la American Idol, and move toward worship team interviews. "Interview" doesn't sound as intimidating as "audition" and it also emphasizes the fact that the team is looking for not only quality musicianship but also spiritual maturity and ability to work on a team. Have people submit applications before beginning an interview process. In an application, describe the worship team. (It wastes everyone's time to interview an accordion player if you're building an alternative rock band for a youth service.) Also, describe the available positions, and the expected commitment.
Explain the interview process. When are applications due? When are the interviews? What will be asked in the interview (in detail)? When will decisions be made?
Application form. This is your opportunity to gather background info, find out about the musician's faith, and ask questions that can provide a starting point for the interview. The trick is to ask questions that don't allow the applicant to answer the "right" way. Most applicants will write, "I want to join a team because I love the Lord and love to worship him, and I want to use my musical talents to glorify his name." (What applicant is going to write, "I'm a lukewarm Christians looking for a place to jam and meet girls"?)
Songs to learn for interviews. Any music the applicant should learn for the audition should be included in the application packet with clear instructions.
Perhaps you could assemble a panel of interviewers? You could ask the applicant to present a song they are comfortable with. That would give you an opportunity to find out the style and repertoire with which they are most comfortable.
When making decisions, it was helpful for us to remember that allowing a marginal musician into a worship team might rob the Sunday school of a teacher, perhaps keeping them from their true calling within the body of believers.
After interviews, I strongly suggest a follow-up letter or call. Regardless of the outcome of the interview, everyone who applied deserves to receive a phone call or letter.
Hopefully these are ideas you can adapt into your unique situation!
Half of your requirements cannot be measured in the context of an interview or audition. If you view a position on the platform as a leadership position (i.e., Deacon), then Paul can provide some guidance.
I heard Mia Fields (Hillsong, co-writer with Lincoln Brewster and others) speak at a conference a couple of years ago. She explained that Hillsong requires their candidates to serve in other ministries for a period of time (up to six months, if I recall) before they "get their shot." I would not necessarily advocate six months or dedicated service in other areas for the candidates of your team. That said, if participation in a small group is a requirement, or if setting up or tearing down consistently helps you "see the heart" of a candidate, or consistency in preparation for rehearsal is a value, I would let candidates know that you have a probation period where "fit" can be determined.
"Rock On" (Matt 7:24-25)
I agree with both responses, especially about avoiding the "American Idol" approach.
One thing that will help is having as many objective measures as you can. These things you can measure consistently between different candidates. It doesn't have to be a yes-no, but a ranking system of 1-5, for example.
Attitude and character are only going to be determined by time. Interviews are good place to start, but many people know the "right" answers- all the cliches and colloquialisms- to get by for awhile.
Some things you can do in an 'audition'. You can assess their level of musicianship fairly objectively. You can see how they can play, how they can adapt to changes, how quick they can learn a song, etc.
What I would suggest, do the 'audition' part as a start. If a person passes with flying colors as a musician, the next step could be an on-boarding period (I don't like calling it 'probation'- that's what Cousin Frank got for vandalism...) of maybe 3 months, where they show up for practice, get to meet the team, and work them into rehearsal. This can help get them to a point where they feel comfortable and more of 'themselves' come out. You should get a good idea of their commitment by how they show up for rehearsal, meetings and how they contribute the 'off stage' stuff like learning parts and communicating with the team.
This could work for the not-so-gifted musicians as well- to see what level they will have to get to (give them a goal to aim for). It also helps see their attitude and gives them a fair shot. Personally, I'd rather work with a "C" musician with an "A" attitude than an "A" musician that shows up with an attitude, wants to do things 'his' way and brings a rock star/diva vibe to the group. If a "C" musician sees what he has to get to and decides it's too much, he can opt to help another ministry. If he applies himself and gets better, you've gained a good musician with a good attitude.
And, there will be the ones who just aren't going to make it. This is where having as objective measures as possible helps, because it's not an issue of "the leader doesn't like me". You can explain how they are not ready and why without making it personal.