I’ve played with bands since high school and have been in probably a thousand rehearsals. For most of us, band rehearsals feel like a sports practice. It’s something we have to endure to get to game time. However, rehearsals don’t have to be a dreaded event. In fact, rehearsals should be part of developing our worship community in addition to preparing for Sunday.
Here are five things I’ve learned about running a great rehearsal:
1. Send audio, charts and the song key out at least one week in advance. Most of your musicians are volunteers with busy lives. Giving them audio and charts in advance honors their time and allows for a more productive rehearsal. The CCLI Rehearsal Tracks License allows you to legally share your MP3s with your team. In addition, a worship planning service allows you to easily communicate with your team.
2. Set a start and stop time and stick to it. Allowing your band to consistently show up late will sabotage your rehearsal. As a leader, you need to be there at least 30 minutes before everyone else to make sure everything is ready to go. It’s also important to set a stop time so your band know when they can expect to be finished.
3. Start with prayer, then play something familiar. I usually start rehearsals by asking everyone how they are doing and praying together. It’s vital for your team to feel connected and loved. I also rehearse familiar songs first to get everyone warmed up and save any new songs that will take more time for last.
4. Road map your songs in advance. As a leader, you are driving the bus, and you need to know where you are going before you start rehearsal. It’s frustrating for band members when the leader is trying to figure how he or she wants to start the song or how many times to repeat a chorus.
5. Make last-minute changes the exception and not the rule. We all know that the pastor sometimes asks for a special song to be included at the last-minute. This is okay, but as a leader, try not to do this regularly to your band. God can work through your planned set list the same way He can work through your spontaneity.
In my experience, running a great rehearsal attracts better musicians to your team. A bit of preparation and planning goes a long way in building a great worship ministry.