Leading a great practice
In the words of my old piano teacher, Mrs. Bedgood, and millions of other piano teachers out there today, “practice makes….”, say it with me: “perfect”. It’s probably a statement that has been overused, even to the place of loosing its value, but it is definitely the truth. You will only be as good as your practice.
Here’s a few tips for a great practice:
1. Be prepared.
Before every practice, know your parts, change your strings, tune your drumheads, warm-up your voice, etc. Send the band a line-up of the songs they will be rehearsing, including a link to a youtube version; have the charts ready on their stands, with the songs on your iPod, for a quick refresher (for those who didn’t read this blog). Before you teach the vocals their parts, be familiar with them yourself. Before you expect the band to know a song, you must be able to sing the song frontwards and backwards. Be prepared.
Every effective practice needs a plan. Don’t just show up, hoping that it will all come together. It may end up being a fun time with the band, but many great opportunities will be lost because of a lack of preparation.
2. Treat every practice as if it’s a live show.
Every rock star performs better in front of the crowd — the energy, the passion of the fans, the adrenaline, etc. What’s true for the rock star seems just as true for the worship band. It’s amazing how much better we perform on the main stage.
Take that same passion to the practice room. Tom Jackson (www.tomjacksonproductions.com) has always taught me the power of making a song come alive during the practice, instead of waiting for the crowd. I encourage you to get on the stage during practice, as if it’s the main service or show, and perform — interacting with the invisible crowd, going from one song to the next, allowing God to shift some things around, etc. It’s like working out: it may be hard at first, but you will eventually see results, and you will like them.
3. Be creative.
Don’t just practice the same arrangement you heard on youtube. What are some minor changes that you can make — some changes that better fit your band, your vocals, your audience? Would a minor key change, for example, make things a little easier for the crowd? It’s like singing “How Great Is Our God” in Chris Tomlin’s original key — it’s crazy. He’s a high tenor, and most of your audience isn’t.
Speaking of Chris Tomlin, one of the best worship writers of today, I encourage you to start writing. I promise you that it’s in you. Even if you can only write a couple of sentences at the end of another worship hit, start there. Anything that allows moments for you and your team to be creative is what it’s all about.
Remember you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you; the same Spirit that created the world. That means that you have been wired for creativity.
(I would love to come and help you “get creative”. It’s what I do.)
4. Give it your all.
God has designed you to be excellent. If you’re going to be on the stage, it’s a requirement. If this is not your passion, then ask to take a season off. Find a quite place with God and get your heart into whatever He’s asking you to do. Repent of losing your heart for the position that God has honored you with. As a worship leader, I would rather have an average player with heart, than a half-hearted musical genius. I’ve had both.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart”.
5. Have fun.
Life is too short to be bored. Worship is too great to “just show up” and get it done. Have fun…especially during the practice. Everyone will appreciate it — the band, the singers, the sound tech, the crowd and the one you’re doing it all for: God.
It is God’s will for you to have fun: “the joy of the Lord is your strength”, “rejoice in the Lord always”, “laughter is like medicine”. It’s even healthy to have fun…for you and your band.
Encourage each other, bring some doughnuts or fruit for those who arrive early, pray with the team, take breaks and share some stories, pick a “person of the week” and have a couple of people share something special about them, and etc.
And…the list goes on and on. What are some other creative ideas for a great practice?