Forming and Working with a Music Team: Rehearsals

Featuring Tom Kraeuter Posted on January 23, 2010

Some of the most common questions I am asked at worship seminars center around worship team rehearsals. How often should we meet together? For how long? What types of things should we include in our rehearsals? Should everyone meet together or should the singers and instrumentalists be separate from one another? There are no one size fits all answers to these questions, but we can consider some general guidelines.

Most churches find that a once per week rehearsal works well. Some meet every other week, some twice per week. Keep in mind that even top quality musicians need to rehearse together to really sound “tight” musically. With no practice time the music will suffer.

At our church we have two rehearsals per week. Please don’t tell my music team this—they don’t know it. You see we have our official practice time on Saturday nights. Then we meet early on Sunday morning to run through the music we plan to use. This Sunday morning time is not really billed as a rehearsal, so it is not thought of as such. If my musicians ever found out that we really do have two rehearsals each week there is no telling what could happen! Use a little creativity. There are lots of ways to make having rehearsals more palatable. (One of my favorite punctuation symbols is the smiley face, and if I could just figure out how to get my computer to typeset it there would be one after that last sentence.)

What should happen at each rehearsal depends on the individual church. Some of the things which I recommend are as follows:

Praise and Worship — Many music leaders do their team members a disservice by never having a time of worship during rehearsals. If we only spend time practicing music we are sending the wrong message to our people. In essence we are telling them that music is the important thing; worship is something for Sunday mornings. It is vital to spend time worshipping the Lord during your practice sessions.

Prayer — Begin to incorporate more prayer into your rehearsals.
Learning new songs — This one should be obvious, but please note that I intentionally placed it third in this list. Learning new songs is very important, but only when it is in proper perspective.

Rehearsing old songs — Especially as new members are added to the worship team it is necessary to go back and rehearse older songs. You may be very familiar with those older songs but that does not mean that everyone else knows them.

Evaluation of previous services — Occasionally it is beneficial to prayerfully consider the good and not so good things that happen during your services. Discuss them together. The perspective of others on the music team may help formulate how you handle future situations together.

Discussion (upcoming events, scheduling, etc.) — After the section on communication, this should be obvious.

Each of these items is important but each is not necessarily an absolute for every rehearsal. Plan what you will do during your practice time, but be open to changes by the Holy Spirit. At one of our rehearsals we spent nearly the entire time praying for one of the team members who was going through a really rough time. There is no way to schedule this kind of event, but it is vitally important to be open to something of this nature happening. The resulting family type relationship from that single incident of prayer during our rehearsal session is still evident on our worship team.

The length of your practice times will also depend on your structure and goals. Worship rehearsals in the average church range from one to three hours. Although the time frame will depend on how much you plan to accomplish, the amount of time should be fairly consistent. This allows families to know what to expect.
Our rehearsals are held on Saturday evenings. From 6:30pm until 8:00pm we have our general rehearsal. During this time we do any or all of the things listed above. At 8:00 the people who are not scheduled to minister the next day are allowed to leave. Also at this time the pastor, and anyone else who has a significant part in the service the next morning, joins us for prayer and planning of the service. During this segment we discuss the order of the parts of the service. We talk about whether the main time of worship should be before or after the sermon. All of the various aspects of the service are considered. When we are finished praying and talking, we prepare musically by practicing the songs we are likely to use. We endeavor to end this portion of our rehearsal time by 9:30pm.

On Sunday morning we have another time of preparation. Our first service is at 8:00am, so the music team meets together at 7:15am to put final touches on the music we are planning to use. After this we break for a time of prayer. When the service starts we are both spiritually and musically prepared to minister.

Tags: ,