Wow, how time flies! Summer is over and school is back in for our youth worship team members. For those of you that follow our articles, you know that our students have amazing opportunities to lead worship for adult congregations at many different churches around our valley once or twice a month. In July, they were invited to lead worship at different churches four out of five Sundays, and while they were so excited and up for the challenge of learning a different set list for every weekend, it was obvious that they struggled to execute the parts as well as they could have. What we’ve observed with a lot of musicians playing in church situations (especially with youth) is they can be asked to serve on the worship team so much that they just play through the songs with simple chords and standard rhythms while reading the pop charts. This has the potential to be a detriment to their musicality because they don’t have time to grow in their skill level as far as music theory, ear training, chord voicings, the number system, building great sounding patches, etc. So now that school is starting this week for most of our students, we’ve decided not to book our student worship band for the month of August.
This month we’re taking them back to the woodshed.
Woodshed # 1: Motivation To Practice
When an individual first starts taking music or vocal lessons, they generally don’t have the desire to become a musician or vocalist to just sing or play in their room for themselves. They typically have hope that they will get the opportunity to be in a band and perform live. For new students, we show them videos from our live student worship band events to encourage them that it will take a sacrifice of their time, and much dedication and hard work to be able to learn the songs and pass the audition to play live. More often than not they don’t pass the auditions for the first couple of months, and have to really learn how to manage their practice time to achieve their musical goals. But in the process, they’re learning chords and theory, and they start to see familiar progressions and chords in the songs they’re learning. And once they pass an audition and get to be on the worship team that month, they feel a part of something big. It lights a fire for them, and that’s where we’ve seen the most success for new students.
Woodshed # 2: Switching The Routine
Anyone that has worked with a professional fitness trainer knows their trainer will switch up their routine after four-six weeks. The routine needs to be switched up after this amount of time because the body adapts to it and we stop seeing much growth or benefit. And while the live worship opportunities that our students have are extremely beneficial in many ways, if they are consumed with doing it every week or are being over-used in live worship every weekend, it can have the potential to stunt the growth of them becoming a more diverse musician or vocalist. If you find that, as a youth worship leader, you’re using the same musicians every single weekend, try doing something different with worship. Maybe scale it back to just the worship leader with acoustic guitar for the first three Sundays of the month, or if you’re licensed, use YouTube to play worship videos (there is such great worship material online!). On the 4th Sunday of the month, schedule a live worship set with all of your student musicians and singers, but give them that month as a challenge to really grow in their musical skills and learn the difficult parts that are on the recordings, not just playing through the chords on the pop chart. This will have multiple benefits: you’ll see and hear the improvement in their playing, and they will be so excited to get to play again! Also, you more than likely will have a packed house with family and friends wanting to see them leading worship, with the potential of new people coming to your service. Giving the students a break in their schedule to focus on their musicality will pay off in big ways, and will keep them excited and eager to lead worship.
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders!