Would you like your Church band to make better use of the available time? Would you like them to prepare a higher-quality sound that will more effectively engage the congregation?

Huge gains will be made if the team understands the different things you can do with a band and the right time and place for each. Here’s what I mean…

After set up, there are five things you can do with a band:

  • Jam
  • Practice
  • Soundcheck
  • Rehearse
  • Implement

One of the main problems I observe as bands prepare music for a service is that each of these five terms is not well understood by the band members. Often the Musical Director (MD) has only hazy definitions too! Certainly, the expectations for, and the distinction between each are poorly communicated by the leader.

As a result, preparation time is often a messy, hodgepodge of setting up, jamming, practicing, sound checking, and rehearsing. Frequently, I see teams trying to do two or more simultaneously! Predictably, each is done poorly and inefficiently. Huge chunks of our precious preparation time slip through the cracks as a result.

Does this scene sound at all familiar to you?

We were supposed to start rehearsal at 7:00. But even though it’s now 7:20 …

…the bassist has headphones on listening to the songs (for the first time) from his phone and fumbling through the arrangements as best he can.
…the electric guitarist is ripping out Van Halen’s “Eruption” at full volume – just because he can.
…competing with the general din, the acoustic guitarist is in a yelling competition with the audio engineer trying to resolve a “no signal” issue.
…the keyboardist waits expectantly for direction from the MD, blissfully unaware that the chord chart in front of her is a different arrangement and in a different key from the charts that are in front of every other member of the band, and…
…the vocalists are doing exactly what vocalists do when they have not been directed to do any differently – chatting amongst themselves about their day, their week, life in general. It’s a singer’s version of jamming.

We haven’t even started our rehearsal! Is it any wonder that time runs short?

So, let me define the 5 things you can do with a band so that the leading MD can communicate each to the team members and establish and maintain a team culture that agrees to stick with these definitions and make them a priority.

1. Jam
Playing your instrument as you feel and just for the fun of it on your own or with others is a great thing to do. But there is no time to spare for jamming during our preparation. Make another time to jam but, please, not now.

2. Practice
To many musicians, the words practice and rehearsal are synonymous. But they are not! We do not have time for practice while we are together. Prior to us getting together, each individual needs to have invested time and energy in personal practice so that they come fully prepared for rehearsal with the other team members. Don’t call your rehearsal a practice. Don’t practice in your rehearsals.

3. Soundcheck
I am staggered by how few Church bands have a soundcheck – especially one that uses a specific system and with explicit goals. We must! Checking the sound quality and signal level of each, individual mic and DI on the platform – without anything else happening at the same time – is an essential prerequisite to quality preparation.

4. Rehearse
Distinct from practice, rehearsal is bringing together all the individual instrumental and vocal parts to make a good fit, smooth off any rough edges, and polish the final product. Proper rehearsal is only possible after sufficient personal practice from all band members and a sound check.

5. Implement
Finally, we get to implement what we have prepared to engage the Church congregation. I use the word implement here, instead of perform, intentionally. We implement the music in such a way as to invite the congregation to join the band as, together, we sing songs as an expression of worship to Almighty God. We have not practiced, sound checked, and rehearsed so we can perform for an audience of people. We have done these things to help our Church family recognizing that He is the audience and is deserving of our praise.

So, with no more jamming or practicing going on during your precious minutes of preparation before implementation, now you just have to soundcheck and rehearse.

You’ve just saved, perhaps, 50% of your time! Put it to good use. Let’s lift the standard.

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