In today’s modern worship, the songs consist of more and more musical parts; multiple keyboard tracks, anywhere from 3-6 electric guitar tracks, double acoustic guitar parts, multiple drum loops in addition to the acoustic drum set, and often times synth bass in addition to a stringed bass. What great training ground this is for your youth worship team as future worship leaders, recording artists, and musicians, to hear how all of these different multi-parts work together to make today’s contemporary worship sound.
It can be very beneficial and valuable to your team to take your 20 – 30 song repertoire, and switch the parts around between your players. It really helps to round them out as a musician or singer, whether songwriting in the studio, or assigning parts on a live worship team.
In one of my first touring rock bands we would cover songs by Journey, Styx, and other bands from the prog rock era. We had a rhythm guitar player, and a lead guitar player. It didn’t take long to figure out that the lead player couldn’t play rhythm to save his life, nor could the rhythm player handle a lead part of any kind. Neither one of them could cover the gig by themselves if they were called upon to do so. With our students, I might challenge our electric guitarists to play a finger picking electric style on a song one month, and then the next time they play that song, do the power bar chords instead, teaching them 2 completely different styles of playing on the same song.
When a student starts to show signs of boredom, not practicing, or not being enthusiastic about playing, we also encourage them to try picking up another instrument. This seems to always give them back their excitement, and re-kindle their love for music. It also lets them see how other instruments are arranged and executed in a musical piece. Being that our goal is to raise up the next generation of worship leaders and musicians, what a great thing to have players that are multi-instrumentalists, and can speak the language of the other players on the team.
With our singers, we encourage them to sing different styles, with different vocal ranges, to help round out their sound. You will find that there are singers who are only comfortable singing in their head voice, or they can only sing in full voice. We challenge them by switching out their vocal parts for each worship event. One singer might sing an alto harmony on a song one month, and then sing the soprano part the next time. In our experience, this has been proven to be one of the most valuable things we can do in their training.
We recently just had a night out with some of our students to the Road Show’s concert event in Las Vegas, featuring Bethel Worship, Zach Williams, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, and For King & Country. What a night! The highlight of the evening was the band For King & Country. They were hands down one of the most amazing live stage shows that we’ve ever seen, secular or Christian. What really impressed our students is that most of the musicians on stage were multi-instrumentalists, switching parts and instruments all throughout their set. It was great to see this being done with another professional touring band, as we have always done this with our students, and they got to really see the benefit with For King & Country’s stage show.
For this month’s worship event with our student band, we had the keyboard player that usually covers flute, synth, B3, strings, brass, and leads take all the piano parts in the worship set, and also play bass guitar on one song, as well as lead a song vocally, and sing alto and soprano harmonies throughout the set. We had our keyboard player that usually plays piano parts take all of the other keyboard player’s parts. It was somewhat of a learning curve for both keyboard players to switch their roles, because they’re two totally different styles of playing. But they are both rising to the occasion, and are being challenged to be great musicians in any type of circumstance. Don’t fall into what is easy as a leader and always let your pianist be your pianist – think outside the box, and challenge your team with new parts, even if they’re not as good at it right away. We feel that this is extremely valuable training while they are in their youth, and will set them up for many different types of playing situations in their future.
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders and musicians!