Better by Sunday with PCO (Planning Center Online) #3

Hello worship peeps! In the last installment of Better by Sunday with PCO (Planning Center Online) I dared to venture my belief that PCO is as much a pastoral tool than an administrative one, if not more so. I would like to train our thoughts on a bit more of the why of all this before we dig into this issue’s tips on providing and transposing audio files.

Communication tools like email have their own mores and protocols. If you reply quickly, it implies that you’re interested in what the sender has to say. The longer you wait, the more the sender starts to feel that what they had to say mattered less to you than it did to them. Whether we’re aware of it or not, there is much the same dynamic at work at varying levels with PCO. The longer a leader waits to roster a team, the more the team mates start to feel that their time is not valued. A subset of that centers around selecting and providing audio assets for the team.

The deeper you wade into the professional end of your talent pool, the more you encounter a very interesting dichotomy. Professional musicians generally need the least amount of time to get material up and running, yet tend to want the most amount of lead time so they can feel adequately prepared. Another equally interesting dichotomy lies in the fact that skilled musicians can evoke tremendous emotion from their respective instruments, yet when they are frustrated their emotion starts to get in the way of their functionality. So what is one to do?

Leaders, if you want a happy team, roster your songs and teams with plenty of advance notice – and I’m talking at least four weeks – and your team will love you for it. Team mates, if you’re not getting enough advance notice on rostering, lovingly let your leaders know that it gets in the way of your feeling good about the volunteer experience and inhibits your ability to do your best. Often times people just don’t know, which is the whole point of this article!

Leaders, although “professionals” tend to desire plenty of lead time with the material, this doesn’t apply just to them. Everyone on your team will appreciate it if you can follow the four-week rule when it comes to rostering songs and people. Which gets to the songs themselves.

Just because PCO gives you the option of attaching a YouTube link for a song does not mean they are implicitly saying that is enough to get the job done. The YouTube version of a song is almost guaranteed to be in a different key and use a different arrangement than what you’ll be doing, and is in no way a worthy substitute for uploading an audio file in the correct key. Simply put, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

That said, there is definitely a huge benefit when it comes to having your worship and sound teams watch a song video for arrangement and dynamic nuances. Just remember that professional musicians will tend to loath having to practice to a YouTube video if that is the only option you give them. And if your team doesn’t have any professional musician types, dumping your peeps off with just a YouTube video creates even more challenges since many of them have yet to develop their transposition skills.

Which gets us to the songs, nothing but the songs. Back in the olden days, worship leaders used to hand out song CDs. Since those dark times the smart people at Apple invented something called iTunes which allows leaders to purchase worship songs and with the help of the good folks at CCLI distribute them legally to their team. In turn PCO makes it SUPER EASY to transpose these songs into the key or keys your team will be doing them, directly within their web site. Noting that sometimes the transposed files can sound a bit like Alvin and the Chipmunks, there will be some artifacts the further you move from the original key.

Aaron at PCO has gone to great lengths to create excellent tutorials and the one he put together for transposing songs is no exception. As he points out, attaching the audio file original key to the “Arrangement” of a song gives your worship and sound teams the benefit of hearing the song sans any transposition-born artifacts.

The above video does a great job of walking you through the transposition process. For a deeper explanation from the good people at PCO we encourage you to click here.

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