We don’t have that much time. If you’re one of the lucky ones you have a mid-week rehearsal, then you’ve got two rehearsals to get 5, 6, 7 or more songs ready for a bunch of people to hear. And they’re not just going to hear them, they have to be good enough that they don’t distract people from worship. If you’re not that lucky, you have one rehearsal – maybe on the morning of your service – to get everything ready.
How do we do it?
First, use tools that help your people prepare ahead of time.
If you listen to our podcast, you’ve heard me rave about Planning Center Online (& here). Give your team members as many different resources as you can come up with. The more tools you give them, the better the chance they will use one of them. Even better, there’s a chance they will use more than one. And if they use more than one, they’ll be better prepared. If you don’t use planning center, then get your team members charts as early as possible, get them recordings if you can – or links to recordings.
One great resource is YouTube. There are a lot of YouTube videos that actually show the different band members how to play their part of the song. There are other great ways & ideas to help people be prepared – too many to talk about here. (Feel free to comment below with what you do!) The idea is, do as much as you can.
Second – Give them the big picture.
Let them hear the whole song if you have a recording. Of course this brings up a philosophical dilemma for some of us. You know who you are. Some of you like using a recording of how someone else has done the song isn’t musical or creative. If you’re not one of those, play them the recording – more than once. I play the recording a time or two, and then usually play the intro again to get everyone started.
If you are one of “those” – talk them through the song. Make sure your chart has as much detail as possible, and that they have the chart in front of them. Then talk them through the song. Tell them where they’re in & where they’re out. Give them rhythms & syncopations.
But don’t talk too long. The more you talk, the less time the band will have to play. And the more they’re playing, the more they’ll be familiar with the songs. The more reps they get in, the better off they & you will be. They’ll be more confident and make fewer mistakes. That’s why it’s important to put as much information on the chart as you can. It will save you explanation time, and get you to playing music quicker.
Then play through the whole song as a band. Don’t stop to fix stuff yet. Just get through the song. You’ll want to stop and fix the problems, but don’t. Pay attention to the problems and where they were so you can come back & fix them, but don’t stop to fix them yet. If you have a train wreck, stop, tell everyone where you are and get going again. Once you’ve gotten through the song, then you can start to woodshed.
Three – Woodshed.
Now it’s time to focus on the problem spots. Work the Introduction to the song, work through the verse, then work the chorus, the bridge & outro. If someone has a question, let them ask it. Ask for questions here. Do as much as you can to put everyone at ease.
But don’t spend too much time. If you’re doing 5 songs, and you have a two hour rehearsal, you have about 12-15 minutes max to spend on each song. You’ll want to leave yourself time to run through everything at the end, pray, etc.
Four – Work your transitions.
If you’re transitioning straight from one song to the next, you’ll want to have some kind of musical transition to get from the end of one song to the beginning of the next. You don’t want to have to stop & start each time you move to a new song. You want to move between songs as smoothly as possible. When you stop, you might as well be saying “Hey – we just finished a song, and we’re about to start the next one – but we need a minute to change this or that. Okay we’re ready to start….” Because if you don’t, they’re thinking it.
Five – Put it all together.
Run through the whole set, in order, with all your transitions. Don’t stop to fix things. You won’t be able to stop during your service, so if you can do it without stopping now, you’ll do it better in the service. Make sure your tech crew are running through everything as well – not off getting coffee or something.
A few additional notes on leading a rehearsal.
Don’t waste time. Do your best to have everything read before hand. If you can’t have everything ready, hurry. Don’t walk, run.
Be decisive. Listen to your team, especially their creative input (they need to know that you hear them when they make a suggestion – they’re putting themselves out there & we need to honor that) but, you are the one in charge. You have to decide, and you have to decide quick. You’ve had more time with the music/songs. You’re probably more familiar with them than they will be for a long time. You know how the song should feel, so you should be able to decide quickly.
Make sure everyone can hear you. You need to be able to “direct” people, and to direct them they need to be able to hear you.When you’re in the woodshedding phase – you need to stop quickly. If you can’t be heard, you won’t stop quick enough.
Of course there’s more that could be said, but this is long enough already. Feel free to leave your tips in the comments section below.
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