Sometimes these two words, practice and rehearsal, are interchangeable. But if you dig a little deeper into a practical approach you can find some very insightful differences. I was reading over on Chris Vacher’s blog today and was inspired by this statement:
Practice is personal, rehearsal is relational.
Practice – this is the time that you spend by yourself working on YOUR part and learning how to get better at your craft. This is the time that you spend alone honing your skills. This is when you learn and memorize YOUR parts.
This is the part that takes discipline. You have to be intentional about practice. You have to dig into the music.
Worship Leaders: this means that you need to be OUT FRONT with your planning. If your team doesn’t have an opportunity to listen to and learn their music before rehearsal time, they won’t be as prepared. The end result is longer and possibly more difficult rehearsal times.
Unless you have studio quality musicians, the odds are that you won’t be able to just plug and play, and have it be as excellent as it could be. This is obviously going to vary by location and by team make up, but the general idea is that people prepare better if they have the materials earlier!
Rehearsal – this is the time that you gather together as a group to bring all of your individual pieces of the larger puzzle to the table. It’s about the group, not the individual. This is the time that you spend together working the arrangements, polishing the harmonies, and worshiping together.
This part takes focus and patience. You have to be intentional about rehearsal. You have to listen to each other.
Worship Leaders: this means that rehearsal is not the time to be teaching music lessons or going over an individual’s part because they forgot to or didn’t make an effort to go over the music. Granted, there will always be exceptions, but for a rehearsal to run smoothly, the leader needs to be 100% prepared. All of the team members need to be led well. Know the arrangements! Chart out a roadmap!
All in all, practice AND rehearsal are both vital elements of the whole. You need folks to practice at home so that rehearsal will go smoothly. You need folks to be intentional about the music.
If this doesn’t happen, you might still be able to wing it and produce some decent sounding music. Worship will probably still happen. Worship is about the heart anyways. But what you might find, is that if you encouraged your team members to prepare, and you provided every opportunity for them to do so, the quality of the music might get better. This might lead to a better environment for worship. It’s not a guarantee, but it usually happens.
God honors discipline!
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Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.