This page is intended as a resource for our Worship Team members. We hope that you will find the posts to be useful in developing your heart and your skill for worship!
1. Learn the parts
Don’t waste your team’s time — prepare beforehand on your own time and come ready to rehearse! Know the songs, know the arrangements and be ready to contribute at a higher level — warm up if you are a vocalist, tune up if you play an instrument, etc.
3. Take lessons
No matter how good you are, keep pushing the ceiling and keep getting better! Not just in your leadership and Christian discipleship but in your skill, technique and musicianship — make every effort to bring your very best every time you play and sing!
2. Turn up. On time!
As musicians and singers, it’s so easy to think you’ve done the right thing by showing up at all… that song that was running around your head sidetracked you, those lyrics you had to memorize, the latest song that just downloaded to your iTunes account that you just had to stop and listen to…
The truth is though, as a musician you play on a team… there’s no room for lone rangers or late-comers. Respect others enough to turn up when you should and where you should — be punctual! And if you have gear to set up, then arrive earlier! It won’t go unnoticed.
Here at Worship Artistry we're always equipping you to bring your best. Well, here's 10 ways to be the best at being the worst.
10. Never stop playing.
Not before the set starts. Not in between songs. Not when someone is talking. Not when someone is praying. Not even when the service is over and the sound guy has put the background music on. NOT EVER. Silence is for players who don’t know the blues scale.
9. Recognize every song you play is beneath you.
The chords are too easy. The riff isn’t creative enough. There’s not a single augmented chord in the whole thing! If it was a real song it would include finger-tapping, now wouldn’t it? Be sure to let out an audible groan when the song is announced so everyone knows it’s lame.
8. Don’t waste money on a tuner.
Tuners are for rookies and you don’t want to dull your ear. If you go out of tune in a set, you can either turn up your volume and tune over the song or better yet, just keep playing out of tune because the musical idiots in your church can’t tell the difference anyway. Don’t worry about any dirty looks you might receive. They’re just jealous of your musical superiority.
7. Take on an irritated demeanor when motioning your sound engineers.
I like to scowl, point emphatically at my guitar and then jam my thumb into the air. Throwing both hands up in the air with an exasperated shrug is also acceptable. Just be sure you exaggerate enough so everyone in the congregation knows all your wrong notes are the sound guy’s fault. Speaking of sound...
6. Understand that you are never loud enough.
You can combat this by bumping your instrument volume up a few ticks as soon as the set starts. That way if you aren’t loud enough in the house mix, the stage volume can overwhelm the house and at least a few more people will hear that raging solo you decided to add to the middle of the chorus.
5. Make sure everyone knows your time is more valuable than theirs.
This is easy to do and super effective. Simply show up to practice late and then wait until everyone else has set up before even taking your gear out of the bag. Bonus points if you have technical problems once you are set up.
4. Play the wrong part.
Sure everyone else is trying to play as a cohesive unit and counting on you for the hook, but your ideas are definitely better than the hacks who recorded the album. No need to learn a part when you can just make up one of your own.
3. Find a sidekick.
You know you’re number one but one is the loneliest number. Choose someone on the team you can crack jokes to, roll your eyes with and keep in a side conversation while your team is figuring out a song. You shouldn’t have to shoulder all the weight of derailing practice on your own.
2. Be competitive.
Your position on the team is the sole basis for your self-worth so you must protect it at all costs. Be sure to offer lots of critique while accepting none. Put others down to raise yourself up. Don’t be encouraging. If your bass player’s band is recording an album, ask who’s producing it and then comment you’ve never heard of them. Then talk about your own music career for the rest of the conversation. Backhanded complements are a plus. “Nice job on that drum fill. When I heard it on the record I didn’t think you could land it. Another week of practice and you should have it."
1. Above all, you need to realize is that the worship team is all about you.
You're a busy person and the team is lucky to even have you. If you keep this attitude, everything you do will make you the worst worship musician ever.
Hey guys! We have a new song to roll out this week that is really fun! We are excited to be adding Grace Like A Wave to our setlist and we will be introducing it on the 8/26 setlist.
For this song, I would like to invite each of you to join us in learning the song at our 8/23 practice at 7:00pm. Anyone who wants to learn the song with us can join at that time - even if you're not on the team for that week! If you aren't able to make it, don't worry! We still have our usual tutorial files and harmonies uploaded to Planning Center.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare:
General notes - This song is really fast and upbeat! It should be a really great song to open up our time of worship and to sing about the Grace of God. It's really a song of celebration!
Technical notes - at 137 BPMs, this is one of the fastest songs that we have in our repertoire! We will be playing through the song in the key of D initially, but the original recording is in C#.
Pay special attention to the timing of the bridge. At the end of each stanza, there is a measure that feels like of 2/4 time and so you'll "rush" into the following stanza. They do this well on the recording. We will mimic this each time we play, even with the bridge at the end of the song.
The harmonies on this song are really fun, but a little challenging. If you are learning a harmony, make sure to take some time to work through the Harmony Recordings on Planning Center.
The word “intimacy” gets thrown around a lot in the church. For some people, the concept of “intimacy with God” can be an uncomfortable thing, but I think that’s because we may misunderstand what it actually means.
Intimacy, by definition, means: a close familiarity, friendship or a deep understanding of a person, place, etc. In essence, it means to know and be truly known.
In Matthew 7, we find an interesting tension. This is the chapter where Jesus describes a group of people who cast out demons and saw the sick healed, yet He says of them, “I never knew you.” How is it that God, being omniscient, can say He never knew a person? How can He know all about someone but not ever know them? It’s because intimacy cannot be forced. It must be initiated by an invitation.
All throughout the Bible, King David is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart.” He was not always a model citizen and he made some pretty big mistakes, but his title never changed. What earned him this distinction was that he repeatedly invited the Lord to search and know his thoughts and motives. David’s heart was an open book to the Lord and that’s why he found such favor with Him.
When we invite the Lord to know us, we are welcoming His fathering in our lives.
We are giving Him permission to bring things to the surface that are holding us back from a deeper relationship with Him and, consequently, a more fulfilling life. He is a good father. He’s faithful in the way He leads and will never give us more than we can handle.
One of the most fascinating and profound things about all of this is that the Lord took the first step. Anyone in a healthy, growing relationship knows that love cannot exist without vulnerability. When He gave us the option to love or reject Him, He became vulnerable with us. All that He’s asked of us is to know and be known by Him. Everything else flows out of that.
It is only through being known that we can become who we truly are.
The Lord sees through all of our pretenses, through the things that pain has made us and sees who we are at our core— the person He made us to be.
That is why He is able to call us pure and blameless, even when we are in the midst of sin. He sees us as we truly are. We were created for wholeness and it’s only through allowing the Lord to have complete access to our hearts that we walk in fullness.
We have a new song to roll out this coming week, entitled Hallelujah For The Cross.
We want to be a church that celebrates the resurrection and the awesome work that Jesus did to reconcile us to the father! This song really focuses on giving praise for Christ's sacrifice.
The recording is in the key of D. For female lead, we will be going up to the key of E. There is quite a bit of vocal range required in this song! The intro is a full 8 measures, with the turnarounds are 4 measures. Also there is no turnaround before the choruses. There is also an extended outro on the recording that we will skip over.
Hey everyone! Check out this video from Chris Brown of Elevation Worship for some encouragement to get you through those times of stagnation. Have a happy week!
Hello worship team! We are excited to have another chance to get your feedback! One of the main priorities we have as a team is to strive for continued growth. We want to know how we can better support you and what areas we should improve!
Please take a few minutes to answer ten questions regarding your experience on the worship team. It should only take about five minutes. Also remember that all responses are anonymous.
We are so glad to have such an amazing team and we look forward to moving toward continuous improvement!
The ongoing debate about the idea of performance being a bad thing in leading worship: it rears its head constantly in Facebook worship leader groups, in local church elder board meetings, in conferences, and in church conversation. It’s a concern that’s been with us for a long time, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
From the perspective of worship leaders who aim for the team to meet the Biblical standard: trained and skilled in music for the Lord (from 1 Chronicles 25:7) as well as to reach for the goal of how God likes to be worshiped (see over 100 scripture passages pertaining to worship & praise), there is a lot to be said for performing skillfully. God tells us that a person skillful in their work will not stand before obscure people but will stand before kings (Proverbs 22:29). Certainly, we would not expect that a skillful person would only stand in the king’s presence and do nothing; he would exercise that skill to perform a duty. We use the word perform with good reason: it fits the task at hand perfectly.
When pastors teach the Word in our weekend services, they are performing a task for a purpose. When ushers help people find their seats, they are performing a task for a purpose.
When musicians play skillfully before others, they are performing a task for a purpose.
Performance is necessary and is itself a very good thing, commended by the Lord.
I’ll argue that it’s the purpose we need to be focusing our conversations on, not the performance.
I’ll go a step further to say that the main debate really should center around whether what we do as musicians in our gathered times of worship is for the purpose of personally worshiping the Lord, versus the purpose of sacrificially helping others worship the Lord.
There are two brothers I know, both outstanding musicians, and both worship leaders. They are each completely different in their approach to leading corporate times of worship.
One approaches leading worship with this attitude, “I’m going to be up here worshiping Jesus. If you want to worship Him too, that’s cool, but it ultimately that’s your choice to make. My job is to minister to the Lord in song. I’m going to be closing my eyes, blocking out all distractions, and focusing on the Audience of One. You can follow my example, or not. It’s up to you.”
The other brother approaches leading worship with this attitude, “I’ve already spent time worshiping Jesus in private this week, so I’m here to serve you and invite you to come along where I’ve already been. My job here is to help you worship Jesus. If I don’t get to have as intimate of an experience with Him right now because I’m serving as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord to usher you into His presence, that’s okay. Come taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Neither approach is in itself wrong. Both can be Biblically defended. One is priestly, one is pastoral. Both are ultimately necessary. However, I’ll argue that the first example is really what should be done in private as part of preparing for the second example, not the end goal of what should be done in the context of the gathering of the saints to seek the Lord together, pray together, sing together, and worship together. It’s our private worship of the Lord that fuels our public leading of others in worship, not our private worship done publicly that is the end goal.
And that’s really the key here: our public leading of others in worship. That is the end goal of our jobs as lead worshipers. Servant leaders; helping others.
If the purpose of our performance is helping others, then how we perform will be molded by that purpose. That means that our performance is contextual. Tailored to suit the needs of our congregation, our vision and community culture, our pastor and leaders, our team, our worship set, our song, and even the particular moment in that song. Everything we do performance-wise needs to be scrutinized not legalistically, but with loving discretion, weighed and measured to see if it fits the purpose of helping others worship Jesus.
Should I punch in my transtubulatorboost pedal and wail out with an expressive guitar solo right now? Should I use that new keyboard patch I just downloaded on Mainstage right now? Should I exercise some vocal gymnastics as part of a spontaneous aria of praise? Should I add more cowbell?
Well, it depends.
Working from the inside out, does it serve the moment? Does it serve the song? Does it serve the set of songs? Does it serve the worship service as a whole? Does it serve the vision of the leadership? Does it serve the culture of our local church?
If performing with more cowbell is all green lights for all those criteria, then you know the prescription you need and you can bring it with a loud, joyful noise. If it’s not… discretion is the better part of valor. Show love and kindness in how you perform to help others worship.
Performance with kindness and love for the sake of others leads to a more excellent way. Performance without putting others first is just an obnoxious noise like a clanging cymbal.
We have a new song that we will be adding to our song list this month. This is intended to help you learn the song and any specific details that go along with it. We will be taking some time during practice to put together parts for this song. Please take some time during your practice to listen to the song and bring your parts prepared to Thursday practice. We look forward to infusing some new music into our worship!
"In the middle of such devastatingly bad news, we don't want to just sing Good News, but follow the example of Jesus and actually BE Good News to hurting people,” -Gareth Gilkeson
This song is a joyful celebration of the gospel, literally the "Good News" of Christ's resurrection! As the band puts it, "If Christ can rise up from the dead, I can get up off the floor."
This song is listed at 164 BPMs, but with a half-time feel. When playing through the rhythm, be sure to subdivide! We will plan to skip through the first 5 seconds of the song and just do the verse-mimicking intro. During parts of the song, the chord change happens on the 3rd & 4th beat of the measure. This is noted in the chord charts,, but you can also just think of it as a walkdown that "rushes" the chord change.
So, here’s the thing. For my work as Worship Arts Director at a church in Seattle, I ride a ferry for about 50 minutes twice a day. It’s a beautiful ride. Mt Rainier and the Cascade Mountains to the East. The Olympic Mountains to the West.
I’ve observed a recent phenomenon standing in line to board the ferry. It’s a posture thing. A quick google search just now revealed that there’s even a name for it: text neck.
<<<<<<< . Look familiar?
Yep. Tons of people are totally engrossed in whatever is incredibly interesting on their phones, necks bent at what looks like a painful angle. I have text neck often, too. Minutes pass and I look up aware that a lot of life just passed by that I completely missed. Hmm. As I watch my fellow ferry riders bent over their screens, it’s made me think about something we all have in common: 24 hours. Since I’m confident that none of you have figured out how to squeeze more minutes into your day, I’ll pose a simple question: what place does developing your musicianship have in your day? In your week? In your month?
It’s a challenging question. For me, too. I’m grateful that my current position as a worship arts director allows me time at a piano. Choosing songs. Brushing up on my favorite passages from the Chopin G minor Ballade. Playing some scales and arpeggios. Developing an arrangement of a favorite hymn. Beyond that time “on the clock” at church, there’s also that time in the evening when I could put on my headphones and head to my Montage. Or that Saturday morning when I’m up before my family.
My challenge for you readers, you keyboard players, you lovers of God and worship musicians is to make some time, more time, for developing your keyboard skills. That might mean watching a tutorial on MainStage, writing out a takedown of a favorite piano recording, or seeing how close you can come with your available sounds to imitating a keyboard sound from a recording.
Check the table of contents here and you’ll find an article for bass players from my friend Norm Stockton. Several years ago, Norm came to a church my area and did a workshop for bass players. He asked the musicians who’d attended what their daily practice regime was. You could almost see the shock on their faces. Daily practice? Thoughts like “I can’t pick up my bass until the next time I’m scheduled for worship team” were likely running through their minds.
Norm outlined some of the details of his practice to them. I wonder, these years later, how many of them implemented any of them. I’m sure some did.
So, take a deep breath and don’t let a condemning voice say you’re a slacker. Remember, we all have 24 hours in our day. Here are a few things you might consider for some of your practice time.
Listen to a song that has a conspicuous piano part. Could be the opening of “Cornerstone”. Or the start of Kristene DiMarco’s “It Is Well.” Sit at your keyboard and play exactly what was played in the recording. No extra notes. No left hand activity that wasn’t on the recording. Make it just as sparse as the original. Then play it in a different key. Up a 5th. Down a 3rd. Do the same voicings still sound good? What changes do you need to make?
Practice key changes. I’m not talking 90’s modulations up a step before the last chorus (careful, I wrote some of those songs), but key changes like the ones we often make between our songs during our worship sets. From D to G. From A to E. You know. Those guitar-friendly keys. One of my favorite devices for those moments is to play the hook/intro figure/lead line for the upcoming song in the current key.
The opening progression of “Great Are You Lord” from All Sons & Daughters is a perfect example. That progression moves from 4 to 6 to 5. Play that progression in whatever key you’re leaving. Create a specific melody above the chords. Then start the progression in the needed key. Play that same melody in the new key. Next, choose a random starting key and move to that key. This a great exercise and can prove invaluable when your worship leader or pastor looks your way and gives you the “Get us to the right key!” look. If you’ve spent some time practicing these progressions, these connections, you may find that your heart rate doesn’t increase by 20 beats per minute and that, without much effort, you’ve established the new key. Yes!
You are remarkable. You are capable of lifelong learning. Whatever your age. Whatever keyboard you have. Think about what you might have found awkward last time you played on your worship team. Was it challenging to find the right sound you wanted? Did you forget that melody you were supposed to play after the first chorus? Is it still challenging for you to create parts using pad sounds? Everyone has challenges. Even Norm Stockton. He practices regularly. You and I should too. Today’s a great day to start. You have 24 hours. Straighten that text neck and have a seat at your keyboard.
Ed Kerr Lives in Seattle with his family. He serves as worship arts director at First Free Methodist Church, teaches keyboards in Paul Baloche’s leadworship workshops, and is a clinician with Yamaha’s House of Worship. He also manages the Yamaha Worship Facebook group and invites you to join the group. www.KerrTunes.com
"...leading worship starts with the way I live my life, not with what I do in public."
-Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters
Being a worship leader requires more than being a great musician. There is so much more. We have a two-fold responsibility as people who lead the body of Christ into corporate worship. We must prepare ourselves musically, but also prepare ourselves spiritually.
Worship leading is less about what we do with our hands and more about what we do with our hearts.
One of the many ways that we prepare our hearts to be leaders of worship is to make a habit of spending time with the Lord. Take a moment to check out this video from Hillsong about quiet time! We want to encourage you, wherever you are, to make time for heart preparation.