Ever had a worship team rehearsal that was so bad that you couldn’t wait to get home and eat a quart of salted caramel ice cream while binge-watching anything made by AMC? OK, that might’ve been a little too specific, but you probably know what I mean.

There are a myriad of reasons why a rehearsal might tank. But the two BIGGEST factors when it comes to a successful rehearsal are:

  1. The leader.
  2. The team members.

I want to help you and your worship team have a fantastic rehearsal this week. So whether you’re a leader or a team member, use these tips that apply to you, and then share them with others on your team.

What Team Members Can Do

  1. Schedule Your Practice (And Then Practice)

If the worship team is a high priority for you, then schedule your preparation like any other commitment. How much should you practice before rehearsal? Make it your goal to get your music to the place where you could “go live” if you had to.

  1. Listen To your songs (Repeatedly)

Listen actively with your charts and instrument in hand. But also listen passively (a lot). Your brain is a sponge—even if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics or the chords or the structure, your mind is taking it all in.

  1. Arrive BEFORE the posted start time. 

Be set up, tuned up, and charts ready before rehearsal begins. If everyone does that, it could shave 15 – 20 minutes off rehearsal. Plus, there’s more time to do the next one:

  1. Be Relational

Spend time interacting with your team members and leaders before and after rehearsal. Teams always function better when people care about each other.

  1. Mark Your Charts

Write down changes and dynamics and the circle the parts that trip you up. It’s too easy to forget this stuff. You don’t want to “rediscover” the issue on Sunday morning.

  1. Quit Noodling.

“Noodling” is that mindless playing that we all do whenever we’re bored. Here’s the thing: if the song’s stopped and the leader’s talking, there’s a good chance she wants you or someone else to hear what she’s saying. So please. Stop. Noodling. For all of us.

So if each of those six things is taking place with every player, you’ll have a killer rehearsal. That is if your leader has his or her stuff together. So let’s look at what the leader can do.

What Leaders Can Do

  1. Plan Rehearsal

Spend a little time mapping out rehearsal ahead of time. What are the tougher songs? Where are the problem spots in each song? What transitions might be tricky? And so on. Rehearsal may not always go as you planned, but it’ll still go better than if you hadn’t planned at all.

  1. Have A Pre-Game Ritual

Some of my worst rehearsals were ones I rushed in from some other activity. I was in the right physical space but wasn’t in the right mental space (or spiritual/emotional space). So make time to get your head in the game. For example, part of my pre-rehearsal ritual is double-checking every instrument input and mic to make sure everything is patched right. It gives me the peace of mind to know we’ll be able to start rehearsal without some tech issue.

  1. Be the most prepared person in the room.

If you don’t know your stuff, you can’t pay attention to your team’s stuff. If you truly know your own part in each song, it lets you pay attention to the team as you rehearse.

  1. Practice Transitions

Don’t assume that your band will be ready to end one song and start another without a hitch or awkward pause. The starts, the stops, and in-between songs are when things typically go wrong.

  1. Leave Time For a Full Run-Through

Too many bands wait to do a full run-through until the warm-up on Sunday morning. But if you do a full run-through of the set at your rehearsal, you’ll be so much farther ahead on Sunday.

  1. Be The Leader

It’s great to get input and take suggestions from your team members during rehearsal. But don’t let that devolve into a court of consensus. You’re the leader. Lead. Make the final decisions. Keep the pace moving. Call out mistakes (with grace). Your team members will appreciate you not wasting their time.

 

So if team members are rocking the first half of this list, and the leaders are rocking the second half, it’s a gonna be a good rehearsal. And by the way, if you did the math, you realize we need one more tip to equal 13. So here it is, and the final tip for both team members and leaders:

Pray

Pray for your leader and/or team members, as well as for the people you’ll be leading this weekend. Not only will it help bind your team together, but it helps prepare the way for hearts to be changed by God as your church worships Him.

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Jon Nicol is the founder of WorshipTeamCoach.com, a resource that helps worship leaders build strong teams and lead engaging worship. He lives in Lexington, Ohio with his wife Shannon and their four kids.

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