Orchestrating an Effective Rehearsal

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Rehearsals are one thing that every single worship leader in any capacity cannot get out of. If you are on staff, you lead rehearsals. If you are a volunteer, you need rehearsals. If you are a tech guy (or gal), you attend rehearsals. And since we all can’t get away from them, we should take a look at how to make rehearsals effective. Effective rehearsals lead to encouraged and motivated teams.

Let’s look at 5 things that can be done to make rehearsals more effective:

1. Preparation.

The rehearsal leader should be adequately prepared. Here are some things that cannot be compromised when it comes to the leader’s preparation:

  • Prayer. Never forget to pray for your rehearsals. Pray during the week, come before and pray over the spot you’ll be rehearsing. Pray for each team member by name.
  • Having an “agenda” for the rehearasal. Know what needs to be done and carry it out.
  • Any chord changes, charts or arrangements. The leader should be able to hand these out to the team before the team even comes to rehearsal so that they are already familiar with these things.
  • If it’s absolutely impossible to get your team members the music before hand, have them ready for each member as soon as they arrive. Don’t waste time having people pick up and sort their own music.

Not only is preparation vital for the rehearsal leader, it is vital for each team member as well. How can team members prepare?

  • Pray. Pray for your leader. Pray for each member of the team that you’ll be working with. Come early and join your leader in prayer.
  • Assuming that your leader has been diligent in getting you the music before the rehearsal – practice. Learn any new chords you might not know before the rehearsal. Listen to various versions of each song if they are available. Play with any ideas you might have for a song’s arrangement.
  • Be ready to go by the time the rehearsal starts. If the rehearsal starts at 7pm, get there at 6:30 so that you’re gear is in place and you’re in tune by 6:45 so you can spend some time in prayer before the rehearsal starts. Drummers, get there at 6:15 if you set up your kit weekly.

2. Have the right people in place.

Be sure you invite your sound and video people to the rehearsal and stress the importance of their involvement on the team. Encourage them and be sure to let them know how important it is that they attend.

At a church I was serving at there was more than one occasion where I would have to stop the rehearsal and run back to the sound booth to adjust some monitor issues because we hadn’t asked the sound tech to come to the rehearsal or because the sound tech had neglected to come. I was thankful that our sanctuary wasn’t too large! Even though it didn’t take too much time for me to get to the back, adjust the monitors and come back, it still disrupted the rehearsal greatly.

3. Proper use of time.

Have you ever been to a rehearsal, knew there was a trouble spot in the music and had someone say, “Well, let’s just do the whole song over again.” Many people think that will solve the trouble spot. As rehearsal leaders, we need to learn to isolate any spot that is giving the team trouble and work it out. Work through it as much as it takes to fix the spot, then move to the next song. If the rest of the song is sounding great, there’s no need to go though the whole thing again. Plus, by going through the song over and over without focusing on the trouble spot, the trouble will never get fixed. You’ll spend less time going over the trouble spot five or six times and fixing it then going over the whole song three or four times and never fixing it.

4. Respect each other.

There are several ways that we can respect each other that will all lead to a more effective rehearsal:

  • Listen to the rehearsal leader. Always bring a pencil and write things down so that things don’t have to be repeated.
  • Don’t play while people are talking. Creative types like us love to just “mess around” on our instrument. While your leader or anyone else is talking is not the time to do it.
  • Turn your cell phones on vibrate and don’t answer them unless it’s an absolute emergency.

5. Leaders – lead. Followers – follow.

I have been to several rehearsals where I wasn’t officially asked to be the leader. I assumed that the person who had lined up the musicians and scheduled the rehearsal was the leader. When we got there, the leader didn’t lead but rather told us which song we were doing and then looked around, waiting for someone to “do something.” I wasn’t sure if I had the authority to lead, so I didn’t do much but give some gentle hints, but it was a bit of a painful experience.

If you are the rehearsal leader – lead! Understand how to count off a song, how to isolate the trouble spots. Know the basic terms for each instrument. You don’t have to know what a hammer-on or a flam is but you should know what clean as opposed to overdrive sounds like and what each part of the drum kit is.

If you are a team member – follow. Unless you’ve been given specific permission to lead, respect the leader and submit to them. This doesn’t mean that you can’t give suggestions for arrangements or sounds in the song, but it does mean that you shouldn’t dominate the rehearsal.

What It’s All About

These five things should help your rehearsals immensely.  Ultimately our rehearsals are about glorifying and exalting Jesus Christ and leading others to do the same.  Remember that in every interaction you have, whether in rehearsal or outside of it.

  • good stuff dude, just did a webinar with curt coffield. he talked about a lot of similar stuff.

  • That’s a sweet looking PRS.

    My band’s gotten into a good habit of the drummer having a metronome handy and always clicking off the beat. I say something like, “Let’s try it again from the bridge.” and our drummer automatically clicks off the count with out me asking.

  • @Jon Thanks a lot, I appreciate it. I haven’t heard of Curt Coffield? Who is that?

    @Billy – I thought so as well. And you reminded me that I forgot to credit the photographer! Photo credit goes to Will Rodes. He graciously offered this photo for free download at CreativeMYK. (Could one of our admins please add a photo credit to the article? Thanks!)

    Good stuff about having the drummer be the official “clicker.” Once we have a drummer where I am currently we’ll work to do the same.

  • he is a worship leader for resurrection life church, but has been a worship leader for willow creek and shoreline community. he’s been around for awhile.

    he is doing another webinar on how to do successful tryouts. the webinars are hosted by worship leader magazine.

  • Great tips! I appreciate your insight!

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  • This is a great post. I especially like that you put some tips in here for members of the worship team, not just worship leaders. It’s not just good because of the worship team members who might be reading this, but it’s good because it gives worship leaders some talking points. It gives them some things they can bring up when leading their musicians. Thanks!