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Who leads the band?

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  • Who leads the band?

    I wonder if anyone else has found this to be frustrating. I am a multi-instrumentalist/composer. I can arrange vocals and I know how to run a band. Although I can sing it is not where I am best used.

    This is my frustration: I have found that the people who tend to choose who leads the band, will pick the guy who plays acoustic guitar and sings. I'm not trying to pick on guitar players perhaps for you this is someone who sings and play rudimentary piano.


    While I see the value of why the band would follow the lead singer, in my experience this isn't always someone who has a sufficient amount of knowledge and skill. I try to be patient while people like this give instruction and I resist trying to fix the situation because I am trying to respect who has been placed as my leader.

    I guess I wish church leaders could recognize that the guy who sings and plays guitar is not necessarily the one who should work the band during rehearsal.

    Don (crazykeyman)

  • #2
    I'm the worship leader in our church, and I don't sing at all.

    I know other worship leaders who don't sing and who lead their band, although it's generally from keys. I prefer to lead from guitar.

    I know many worship leaders who lead from keys, and even a couple who lead from drums. What matters is the calling God has for you, and how you answer it. Being a worship leader is a bigger job than the musical side of it. While it is true that often leadership teams do not fully understand what is required to do the job, hopefully they are following the leading of the Holy Spirit in making their appointments.

    Have you spoken with any of your leadership about your desire to do more?

    Comment


    • #3
      I think part of the issue is stereotyping. The "lead singer" is often synonymous with "band leader". This is usually the case, but not always. In church, the people often making the decisions over who should lead the band are rarely trained in music. They don't know better than to use the rationale of "oh, you can sing and strum chords, do you want to lead the team?" They don't think to ask how they handle people, how they do arrangements, etc. Many teams are still using the 'leader and the backup band' structure.

      One of my favorite stories is from one of my biggest influences from classic rock. I spent a long time listening to Pink Floyd, and they have a song called "Have A Cigar". The song was penned by Roger Waters (the bass player and arguably the leader) and it's a satirical jab at the music industry money men. After the band hit it big with "Dark Side of the Moon", they were at these record label parties and such where record label execs would come up to the band and be like "I just love your band- now which one's Pink?" They just assumed that 'Pink' was the name of the lead singer (For the record, the name came from two blues singers that influenced the early days of the band- Pink Anderson and Floyd Council).

      So even among industry people, the assumption that the 'lead singer' does it all is prevalent.

      I've experienced similar frustration with dealing with sound techs- the rationale is "oh, you are one of those techie guys- do you want to run sound?" Yes, they are good with iGadgets and computers, but do they know how to layer sound? Do they know how to use compression and EQ to get a good sound? Not always.

      Sometimes, you just have to smile and nod.

      There will be times an opportunity may present itself for you to offer suggestions and fix an issue or make it better. I've come across situations like that- "How about we play 'this' chord instead of 'that' chord? If we do that we can go right into 'the other' chord for this song and not crash through it."
      If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Mikemo1741, I understand the weight of responsibility that goes along with being the worship leader, and I'm not necessarily looking to fill that job. I just like to fix what's wrong, but the problem with fixing what's wrong is that many times it's the guy in charge. I think it would be wrong to usurp the authority given to him and also wrong to promote myself.

        I've been playing in worship bands since 1979 and occasionally I have been given the job, one Pastor called, lead musician. At the time we had a guy who led the group as a real spiritual leader and it seemed fitting that he would be the worship leader. I would make arrangements for both band and vocals and be at the keyboard behind anyone that either needed prayer music or accompany an impromptu song.

        I guess I'm not looking for answers on how to fix this. I believe we sometime mess things up worse when we do that. I'm just wondering if anyone shares this frustration.

        If you are interested what I do outside of the church here is a video of one my instrumentals, hope you like it.

        Comment


        • #5
          That's a funny story about Rodger Walters. I think Ian Anderson used to get the same thing with Jethro Tull.

          I'm in full agreement with sound guys. At one church one of these guys were wearing headphones while at the board. I stopped the band and asked, "Why are you wearing headphones?" and he told me he got a better mix in them. Yes but not for the room!

          The problem with inexperienced musicians leading is they don't know how to find the space to play in but they are leading so you have to try to compensate and it's not always easy.

          I came to this one church that needed some musical help. The Pastor told me I would be taking direction from this guy who he had made the worship pastor. The Pastor said, "He has been playing for just 3 months now, but God told me he has the anointing." Now I didn't stay long enough to see if some anointing eventually manifested, but the few times I played with this guy was very similar to playing with a guy who had only played for 3 months.

          Sometimes you just have remind yourself that as long as people are freed up to sing tender words to our Lord your job has been done.

          I had a wonderful time in one church not so long ago. All my gifts were being used but then we got a new worship pastor who brought in cameras and started yelling at musicians for missing cues and yelling at the sound guys for not using the right lighting for a certain song. You know I don't mind that when I entertain but I just hate that kind of environment for worship.

          Comment


          • #6
            Wow, I really enjoyed listening to your piece! Thanks for sharing. I am a pianist (kind of a purist... but for worship I love to stand up and play, so I was open to an electronic keyboard) and our church recently got me a Yamaha Motif XF8, which I hope to grow into... (Ack, it seems overwhelming at this point!)

            Blessings!

            Comment


            • #7
              Skye, I've experienced some of that overwhelmed feeling when switching from bass to guitar (more like adding guitar to my 'box'). What helped me out was just sitting down with the user's guide, checking out videos on Youtube, and spending time with the equipment I would be using getting familiar with what everything does. Once it started to make sense, it clicked pretty well and the light bulb came on, now I'm a lot more comfortable using the features on my guitar, amp, and effects chains.

              That's a funny story about Rodger Walters. I think Ian Anderson used to get the same thing with Jethro Tull.
              Yeah, probably did. Darius Rucker said the same thing about Hootie and the Blowfish. He got so sick of being called Hootie. Again, for the record, the name "Hootie and the Blowfish" came from two childhood friends of the band. One kid wore really thick and round glasses that gave him the appearance of and owl, so they called him "Hootie". Another friend had really chubby cheeks that reminded them of...yep, a blowfish. Hence, "Hootie and the Blowfish".

              The Pastor said, "He has been playing for just 3 months now, but God told me he has the anointing." Now I didn't stay long enough to see if some anointing eventually manifested, but the few times I played with this guy was very similar to playing with a guy who had only played for 3 months.
              That's interesting, because I just did a mini-study about anointing/calling and training. Basically almost everyone in the Bible that God used, called, and anointed went through a period (often many years) of training, study, and preparation before stepping fully into their anointing. Even Jesus had to study, learn, read, and grow before fully coming into His ministry in his 30s. So God may well have given this very green musician the anointing, but that doesn't mean you throw him in the driver's seat right out of the gate. That's not the model we find in the Word.
              If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mike on Bass View Post
                That's interesting, because I just did a mini-study about anointing/calling and training. Basically almost everyone in the Bible that God used, called, and anointed went through a period (often many years) of training, study, and preparation before stepping fully into their anointing. Even Jesus had to study, learn, read, and grow before fully coming into His ministry in his 30s. So God may well have given this very green musician the anointing, but that doesn't mean you throw him in the driver's seat right out of the gate. That's not the model we find in the Word.
                That is spot on. Just because you have an anointing doesn't mean it's for NOW. David was anointed as a child, but didn't become king until much later. Closer to home, I remember a young man anointed as a pastor while in high school, who didn't get there until after college. (and was the better for it)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Don. I, too, am a multi-instrumentalist and have led from acoustic, electric, keys and bass. Years ago, when I first started learning how to lead worship rehearsals (and worship!) , I relied heavily upon our very accomplished pianist and urged him to offer me his input and advice. Now, I am really glad I did even though, like all of us, I am always trying to learn and grow - so much room for it!
                  It sounds like your frustration is coming from an individual who is leading worship on Sundays but is struggling with the, for lack of a better term, "musical logistics" of a rehearsal, is that correct? If so, what is their attitude towards their own weaknesses in this area or are they oblivious to them? If they have a humble and teachable heart, as I pray they do, I would recommend taking them aside and speaking with them. Start the conversation with a few positives and elements of leading they are doing well. Then maybe you can say something to the effect of. "Hey, I hope you realize that I want to see you succeed but I've noticed you seem a little unsure about this or that." Obviously, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but offer to help them in an encouraging and loving way. I hope this helps at least in part! Bless you for serving!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Generally, I would say the person "out front" should be considered the worship leader, as they are the main one interacting with the congregation during the service. The congregation is following their vocal, and in most cases instrumental, lead. Even if another person leads the band/instruments (ie: band leader), I see the worship leader as the out front role. Even if that isn't the title given to your main vocalist...it's how your congregation is going to view them!

                    I would agree with others that as long as the leader is working toward becoming a better musician, then having patience is the best route to go. But be careful that you don't fall into the trap of thinking the leader has to be the best musician on the team! That just isn't so. I know I'm not the best musician, nor will I ever be. But a quality leader will allow their team members to shine, and won't be intimidated by someone who has a greater gifting in an area than them. They will find a way for everyone to use their giftings, and do it in a way that helps the entire congregation draw closer to the Lord. Hopefully, your new leader can grow into this role, as you are patient, loving, and use your years of experience to help him along the path he is called to.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree with what others have said here regarding patience.

                      In some ways I think this issue is a result of a lack of experience that many worship leaders (and pastors for that matter) have with actually running a band. As much as we'd like to believe Praise and Worship teams are not bands, ultimately that's what they are. And the skills necessary to not only keep a band functioning, but get them to grow and become better are very broad. Although technical music skills are important, so are people skills. And in the case of Praise and Worship teams, so are spiritual insights and dedication.

                      Maybe God is ultimately preparing you at this point so your best response is to contribute as best you can, but also observe and learn. Once the time and conditions are right you may very well be placed in a Worship Leader position. But it's best to be in that position once you're truly prepared in all ways to do it.

                      And if it gives you encouragement, I am a Worship Leader but I don't sing in the band. I'm the lead guitar player.
                      Last edited by DunedinDragon; 07-03-2013, 03:44 AM.
                      The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by crazykeyman View Post
                        I'm in full agreement with sound guys. At one church one of these guys were wearing headphones while at the board. I stopped the band and asked, "Why are you wearing headphones?" and he told me he got a better mix in them. Yes but not for the room!
                        Actually, a little off topic here, I insist our sound guys intermittently check their mix in isolated headsets. There's really no better way to interactively check your mix levels without room ambience and stage sound interfering. That's generally just during sound checks and practice. But listening to the "room mix" can often be deceiving...thus the headsets.
                        The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am a worship leader who strums a guitar and sings. Admittedly I do play multiple instruments and know a fair bit of theory, however, I am the first to admit that our team is populated by people who are more talented than myself both instrumentally and vocally. I've asked myself from time to time why I am the one leading. We are going through a bit of a transitional time at my church and I was wondering if it might not be time for another person to take over. The word from one of our elders with whom I regularly meet was that they wanted me to continue to lead because of my leadership ability. I'm sure we'll all admit that musicians are not always the easiest people to work with, however, our team always gets along well. Whether that is due to my leadership or the team's heart for God, who is to say? (I tend to think the latter.)

                          My point is that sometimes people who are leading are not always leading because they are the most talented musicians or vocalists. Sometimes they are selected for some other reason.

                          I tend to defer to my team's opinions when it comes to musical arrangements and such. As far as I'm concerned there is no need for me to be the only one who has a say in things. Does your leader do this? If not, perhaps talk to him about it. Do it one-on-one as it will be perceived as confrontational if you do it during practice.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My point is that sometimes people who are leading are not always leading because they are the most talented musicians or vocalists. Sometimes they are selected for some other reason.
                            I agree that does happen. In your case, they said your leadership style and ability is what you bring to the position. Part of that is you recognize and understand that people bring stronger musical strengths to the team. Not every leader does that.

                            tend to defer to my team's opinions when it comes to musical arrangements and such. As far as I'm concerned there is no need for me to be the only one who has a say in things.
                            This kind of collaborative style is less common than it should be, at least in my experience. It's almost always a 'top-down' approach where the leader decides the songs, the keys, the arrangements and you show up and play/sing along.
                            If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If this thread shows anything it's that there' a pretty wide range of criteria and reasons a worship leader may be selected. I tend to believe that's because the people that select worship leaders may not completely understand the range of skills necessary to do the job.

                              I think as time has progressed and churches have moved from choirs and song leaders to bands, they haven't necessarily kept up with the additional skills necessary for a Worship Leader to be successful. There's been a lot of discussion here regarding leaders selected more on their people/leadership skills versus there music theory skills, or instrument/vocal talent; but in my opinion those are only a few of the vast range of skills an effective Worship Leader will need in today's worship services in order to do the best job of helping the congregation "tune in" to worship.

                              There's no doubt in my mind that one needs both a fair amount of people skills as well as musical ability, but musical ability isn't just confined to music theory, or expertise on a musical instrument, or vocal talent. If there's any specific thing I would look for in selecting a worship leader it would be the ability to be a problem solver and a predilection to learn. Negotiating skills, counseling skills, spiritual skills, music theory, music production, sound reinforcement, and ultimately a good ear and musical instincts all play a part in being effective in this position. Finding someone with all of those skills probably isn't as important (or likely) as finding someone with a natural curiosity and desire to learn...which is all you can ask.
                              The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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