Worship Band Builder Podcast

How to Pick Strong Worship Songs for Your Worship Ministry Catalogue - Episode 9

April 21, 2020 Eric Michael Roberts Season 1 Episode 9
Worship Band Builder Podcast
How to Pick Strong Worship Songs for Your Worship Ministry Catalogue - Episode 9
Chapters
Worship Band Builder Podcast
How to Pick Strong Worship Songs for Your Worship Ministry Catalogue - Episode 9
Apr 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Eric Michael Roberts

“Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Worship Band Builder podcast, where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship! I’m Eric Roberts. I’m joined by my co-host, Emily Roberts.”

How often should you introduce new songs to your church? 

How many songs should be in your rotation at one time? 

Tips to Introduce songs to your church 

  • Use it in a preservice playlist 
  • Use the new song as an opener for a few services 
  • Be sure not to play new songs in the middle of the worship set (until the congregation is familiar with the song)


Other tips including: 

  • Where to find new good songs 
  • What key to play the song
  • What arrangement to use? 
  • How do you know if your congregation connects?  
  • What if the song flops?  



▶JOIN MY FAMILY◀
https://www.patreon.com/playandsingtv

▶DONATE TO MINISTRY FUND◀
https://actintl.givingfuel.com/worshiptheking

▶VISIT ME◀
https://www.worshipbandbuilder.com
https://www.worshiptheking.com


Show Notes Transcript

“Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Worship Band Builder podcast, where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship! I’m Eric Roberts. I’m joined by my co-host, Emily Roberts.”

How often should you introduce new songs to your church? 

How many songs should be in your rotation at one time? 

Tips to Introduce songs to your church 

  • Use it in a preservice playlist 
  • Use the new song as an opener for a few services 
  • Be sure not to play new songs in the middle of the worship set (until the congregation is familiar with the song)


Other tips including: 

  • Where to find new good songs 
  • What key to play the song
  • What arrangement to use? 
  • How do you know if your congregation connects?  
  • What if the song flops?  



▶JOIN MY FAMILY◀
https://www.patreon.com/playandsingtv

▶DONATE TO MINISTRY FUND◀
https://actintl.givingfuel.com/worshiptheking

▶VISIT ME◀
https://www.worshipbandbuilder.com
https://www.worshiptheking.com


Support the show (https://worshiptheking.com/partner/)

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

the worship band Boulder podcast, where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship. This is Eric Roberts and this is my cohost, Emily Roberts. All right. And today we're talking about how often and how to introduce new songs to your worship team. And you know, I think there's some really key elements to this, some key techniques to use for this. And if you don't do this right, it can be a complete disaster, longterm right trail. You're not wrong. I am not wrong. I'm often wrong, but at this time I'm not wrong.

Speaker 3:

Ah, well, okay. So how many songs do you think that worship leaders should introduce, say in a year? Probably like 10 10 I was thinking even maybe like six

Speaker 4:

maybe. I mean 10 would be the top. I was going to say 12 but then I thought, well, every month you might not be able to get them all in. So,

Speaker 3:

and that was my initial, when I sat down to think about this, I thought the maximum number of songs I would introduce any year would be one a month. One a month. No more than that for sure.

Speaker 4:

That's the key. How often should you, and my answer is no more than one a month. No more. I agree. No more than one a month.

Speaker 3:

And, and it could be less than that. You know, you throw in Christmas, Easter special events, you know, that kind of stuff. It could be less. So that's why, you know,

Speaker 4:

yeah. Six to 10 that'd be a good number. And we're talking about core songs, core songs that you're trying to introduce that you want to use.

Speaker 3:

Right? Not a special that you throw him for Easter or Memorial day or what have you.

Speaker 4:

Right. So I guess that's, let's, let's ask that question then. How many songs are in your catalog? Probably like your whole catalog of, of real songs that you're singing a lot.

Speaker 3:

What the songs that are in regular rotation?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Songs that your church sings that they know. If they heard the song on the radio, it would make them think, Oh, that's my church, his song or whatever.

Speaker 3:

Boy, you know, that's getting tougher to say because I feel like, uh, the songs are switching out much more quickly than the use teal.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's true. I mean, back back in the day we had a folder, you know, 80 songs, man, I'm talking about core songs, 50 to 80 to a hundred, I mean a hundred be okay. You could say I'm gonna have a hundred songs and that's what I did. I would take my spreadsheet, I'd have a hundred songs in there and I would kind of rate them by popularity. And there would be a top

Speaker 3:

popularity across the nation or just with your church?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, with my church, but it with the nation. So I would start with the national CCLI top as I'm picking and we'll get to that part I think. But the idea that on my list of a hundred, you know, I'm probably doing 30 songs in rotation at any given time, maybe, maybe 20.

Speaker 3:

Right. That sounds more like

Speaker 4:

there's probably like the top 20 or 25 and then there's probably like the next 15 that are like a little bit good, but not all. And then then you have some, so you're like 50 to 75 songs. I'm not trying to hold you down and say you can't have, that's why my list would probably be a hundred, but I'd probably be rolling off the top 50 or 40 week to week. And then you're adding one song, maybe a month and then you're knocking off a song or two a month of your list. Like, yeah, we're never going to do that one again. You know, because it's old and we've kind of re, we're kind of creak keeping that fresh. But there's something, um, that I like about church when I go to a church and we, we've been to different churches and you'll hear songs they're singing and you're like, Oh, that's, so when you hear it later on the radio, it makes you think of that church or that time.

Speaker 4:

And I think that's part of the key of picking a good list and rotating them heavily is people are familiar with them and they even become a part of their faith walk in that era of their life. It's a song that their church sings. If you have too many songs, you'll never have that. That's the big mistake. They have so many songs that they don't know what's going to happen. They're not singing. A lot of people on worship leader forums will say, people are just staring at us. They're just, if that's happening, it's most likely your song selection and it's a really artistic and creative thing to try to figure that out. What songs are really hitting with your congregation and then keeping them in the top rotation?

Speaker 3:

Well, I don't think you can judge what has connected with your congregation until you've played it four or five times because the first couple of times they're just learning the song and you have to assume that the only time that they are hearing or even trying to learn this song is on Sunday morning at church. Everybody's not listening to Caleb. So, and you know, it probably took you a few times to learn the song. You probably heard it over and over again before you even tried to start memorizing the words in the melody. Um, so you have to give your congregation that same permission to learn the song.

Speaker 4:

Right. And there are, I was talking to a church and they said, well, we tried this song and just everybody stared at us and it was a really popular song that does really well. And so I just thought, well how many times did you, did it do it? And they said, what was our first time that is going to be awkward. So there, so let me, let me tell you this. Our church, we did a song shout to the shout, shout Hosanna. And I really liked that song cause I came from a church that did it a lot and they were just, they liked it and they picked it and we kind of did it. And I think, um, the second time we let it, the worship leaders like, well I don't know if it was really hitting, you know, I'm not really sure. And I was like, yeah, I think it's going to hit.

Speaker 4:

I think he's like, okay, well we'll, we'll, we'll keep going. We'll keep doing it a little bit longer and we'll see. I had the gut feeling that it was going to hit and now we're seeing it a lot more and I think it is hitting and what I mean hitting like people are just, they're getting it. It's a great song. I could see the potential, but the first couple of times we did it, we kind of had that talk. Like I was like, I don't know. It didn't seem like they just really stared at us the whole time. And he was like, yeah, I don't know if they're getting it and, but they're still doing, I think they did it Sunday. So you see, I think it's, it takes a little time to grow. So here's, here's the, I do it. And it is a, it is a talent.

Speaker 4:

It is a, it is a, it is a craft in itself to find songs that fit your congregation, that, that you can do you, you have to be very perceptive and you have to get off of the, there's a lot of songs I love to do and I love to listen to right here in my studio that I would never do at church. And I, and I'm like, sometimes I'm sad about that. Like I'm never going to get to do that song, but they don't, it's not going to go, you, you have to key in on what's gonna work and then test and then test like you said a couple more times and then just get the feedback and decide is that going to go or not? And if it doesn't go,

Speaker 3:

if it doesn't, if you, if you play the song five times and, and it seems like it's just not resonating, it's okay to let go of that one.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. In fact, you have to, you can't be like standing up there like worship people do it. You know, you want a song that a few times in they start singing and then the whole church worships with it and it becomes a great song. So how I kind of sneak that in is pre-service, uh, iPad, iPod music. So if I'm going to do, I have a playlist that I'm working with, we're using all the time in the pre-service that's playing songs that I like, that I think I'm going to put into the church rotation. So for months they might be hearing shout Hosanna as they're coming into church. It's psychological brainwashing

Speaker 3:

people like what they know,

Speaker 4:

right? They liked what they know. So you, before you ever sing it, you're gonna S play it to them.

Speaker 3:

It's very rare that you hear a brand new song and just instantly connect with it and say, yes, I love that song. You have to learn it and let it grow on you a little bit.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And that's why a CCM, radio country radio, they do this to us. They play a song which could be stupid. And after about a month where you're like, that is a stupid song. And then a month later we are like singing and then we buy the album. When we love the song, it happens over and over again. And they that too. We're still buying albums. Yeah, they bought albums. But that, that's what happened. When you hear the song, um, you think it's dumb. I've, I've, I've really liked Brad Paisley, a couple of his songs, early days when I was listening, I heard him, I'm like, that's dumb. And then, you know, a year later, I'm like playing him and I liked the song. So introduce it to them, slowly sneaking in, use it pre-service use. If you do special videos, start working ahead and finding that song. You also, I look to the top CCLI I'm not saying they have everything figured out. I'm not saying every song there's good, but I look at those songs first. What's the number one? Number two, number three, what are people singing? What are, what is the radio playing?

Speaker 3:

People are listening to the radio. Then they're already familiar with those songs. And it gives you a little bit of an edge when you go in that first time playing it. You will have some people in the congregation that can join in and sing immediately,

Speaker 4:

right? You need, you need when you need little wins and you need to do it over, over a longer period of time. So, uh, how do you, that's how I choose a song. CCLI I, I do radio. I do just my own, you know, I know who I like. I like Paul blush. I like Chris Tomlin. Some of these guys, Lincoln Brewster, but I'll listen to some of their new albums and be like, no, those six, six or seven or eight or nine of those 10 songs are not going to work at my church. So I'm looking for gyms. You've only got six to 10 a year. So just looking for that one song to add. If you do this consistently, then your whole 25 or 30 songs in your top list are going to be really good songs. In other words, you can look and just pick any, any of those songs out of those 30 and know that your congregation is going to be like singing and worshiping.

Speaker 4:

And they're really the final say in this because it, that's, it just doesn't matter how cool you think the song is. Unfortunately it doesn't. I mean, I've, I've, uh, I've had to give up a lot of those good songs because they just weren't the right song for that church at that time. So let's go into how, how these, a little more technicalities, what key to play the song in what arrangement to use. And, um, and then we'll talk about how, how to know if the congregation connects with it and how do you know it's a super flopper

Speaker 3:

let's start with the arrangement because the GoTo is always to try to make it sound like the radio version, the original recording of the song. Uh, but that doesn't have to be it. If, if that doesn't suit your band, you can make some, some changes. You can make it your own. Um,

Speaker 4:

you're going to have to, most, most of you out there are going to have to, um, because the arrangements that are on the records right now, Hillsong elevation, uh, any of these guys, they're way above a four piece band. Okay.

Speaker 3:

As, as you're

Speaker 4:

sticking with the original melody and the original lyrics, then the arrangement is open to interpretation. The rest that's more forgiving. It's just, it's really the melody and the words that need to stay in place and some of these really cool songs, lion and the lamb. I mean, it has that intro lick. You're going to want to try to play that.

Speaker 3:

Yes. If it's got a recognizable riff in there, you want to try to nail that.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and I know a lot of you guys are new at this and some of your smaller churches, and I've struggled with this my whole ministry and I think I'd be struggling even harder now with uh, if I was like the lead bandleader because the range mints that we hear on the radio are so produced and our worship leader is phenomenal at this. He'll just say right up front, you know, I know there's seven guitar parts in here. Just make one that, you know, play the one that sounds good or whatever because there are like five guitar parts in that song, making it sound like that. So when you come in as the electric guitar player, you're kind of like, well, I can't sound like seven guitars all at once. You know, I can sound like a few, but most of us can't sound can sound like one.

Speaker 4:

So just know, just don't be discouraged. And also with the keyboard and stuff, there's also usually four keyboard parts and there are also a lot of them are sampled in loops. Okay. So you're not going to play that on the keyboard. So this is going to make us all feel in inferior and weird and it sometimes makes the song sound funny and off because we're not doing what w what we heard on the record. So you have to work on your own arrangement. You have to break it down. Think Beatles, think, um, think 1990s rock and roll country. You know you have guitar and I'm just throwing out some Sharas. Think of those older genres where there was less produced looping even nineties. Worship music, don't think nineties. Worship music. Think more like think Beatles, think old school, rock guitar, bass, drums and maybe a piano player.

Speaker 4:

And that's all they had. Look with four good musicians. Yeah, key player. But like the country guys will have like one lead instrument, a rhythm guitar player, a bass player. And then they kind of, the key to this is, and this isn't part of this podcast, but since we're landing on arrangement, let's just throw this in here and we'll do an arrangement episode. The key to this is get a really good drummer and bass player. Lay them down and don't let them stop. They're always going to go. My drummers would always like in their early days of before I could train them in, I would slow soften down a little bit and the drummers would start softening down and the bass players would see everybody would soften down all at once. I'm like guys, guys, you have to keep playing. So drummer, bass player, just lay it down and keep playing and then you can sing, you can play acoustic. Anything you put on top of that is going to sound good so that that's just a little tip on arrangement. Get a really solid drummer and bass player and let them, let them lay down the rhythm and beat B

Speaker 3:

solid meaning consistent can keep a tempo

Speaker 4:

and keep playing. So even on a slow part or a soft part, they don't get all soft and weird and everybody gets awkward. And then the song sounds like it's going to end. So you just like the drummer should be pushing forward and the bass player should have that low foundation. And then the arrangement could really, if you listen to music, really listen to production, it could be a really great vocalist, a drummer and bass player. And it could sound like an entire band, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Well, and, and your drummer and bass player, they don't have to be virtuosos. They just have to be able to keep a solid, steady beat.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Keep a steady beat and keep playing. So, so just work on the arrangement. Okay. And then the key to play the song, and that's the other thing. When you're picking a new song, you got to pick a key for your voice. Okay. We talk about this and our vocal foundations,

Speaker 3:

there's every range of voice out there in the congregation. So you have to do what makes you sound the best as you're leading it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And

Speaker 3:

because you just can't make everybody happy with the key that you pick.

Speaker 4:

Exactly. I'm a baritone. And so these, these uh, tenor worship leaders who are making these huge octave jumps are out of my range.

Speaker 3:

Oh. And I wanted to talk about the active jump songs. There are so many of them right now and honestly nobody sounds good singing these. You either sound good in one octave or the other maybe or you don't sound good at all because any either active because just we're not really built to sing like that. There are very few people that could actually do that and just sound stellar in two different octaves.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And remember the recording artist is a recording artist who they are, you know, the cream of the crop, the best singer that they have at Hillsong has recorded this song. And then they've also most likely vocal corrected that and done all kinds of stuff to make them sound good, low and high. And they've done all this stuff. When you get up there in your church and you try to sing the verse lo, you barely can sing the low and then you try to stretch up to the high and then it's too high.

Speaker 3:

Hi. Yeah, you don't have to do this. You, if you love this song and you want to do it and it's got that octave jump, just skip the active jump. Just sing it in a key that sounds good in your voice. Or potentially if you have the skill, you might consider doing a modulation the second time through where you're only moving up a half a step or something. But that takes some arranging skill, right?

Speaker 4:

Better. Better yet, you could get a us like you could sing the ver, we would, I would sing the burrs and Emily would sing the chorus because it would be, and it, and sometimes it just feels like that. It's like I can sing these verses, but you get to the chorus. I'm going to jump switch to harmony. Uh, and then, yeah, you want to find in these octave jump songs, the middle range where you sound good. And I have to do this on my, on my plane sing videos and everything. I have to pick that middle range where I sound good and the song still has enough energy because it is an amazing production. When those guys go from low to high and it's got a lot of power. And if you can do it, you're probably a tenor and you've probably got a really great voice and so you can do those jumps.

Speaker 4:

But most of us, especially baritones and maybe like Altos are going gonna really struggle to jump these octaves. So pick a good key for you. Pick a great arrangement, pick a simple arrangement and um, then you just have to the, the last thing is just what if it flops? What if, how do you know if the congregation connects? Just watch them, ask them, ask the band, ask people, don't be afraid to put the song on the stand. You know, in the, in this on the stand, Hey, did you like that song? If, if they like it after a couple of weeks, you're going to know it and don't be afraid to give it a few shots. You know,

Speaker 3:

people will come and tell you.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. They'll say, don't be afraid to give it a couple of weeks to do it once and then wait a couple of weeks. So when we're introducing this, I forgot to mention this, so we'll just introduce this at the end. I usually introduce the song through secret subliminal messages through through playlists and stuff like that. And then I usually will play the song in the service as an opener. Okay.

Speaker 3:

It needs to be the first time you played the song. It needs to be the first song on the set list because that is when people are coming in and you're not going to get a lot of participation on that first song anyway. That's when they're coming in and getting comfortable. They're just kind of acclimating to their surroundings. They're looking at what you're wearing, they're figuring out who came to church, you know, they're, you know, resolving themselves to, yes, my children are settled in the kids area. They're fine. I, yes, I remembered to bring everything I needed. You know, all of those brain things that they have to check off before they can really participate. So it's an ideal place to put a new song.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, put it up, put it in the pre-service music for a week or two, then put it in the first position. Then if you think you're gonna like it, you could put it in third position, but I'm talking about like first song, second song. If you put a brand new song in third position, it will flop you. You really got to be careful about doing that. If it's a slow song, put it in the offering for a couple of weeks because they're just going to sit there anyway, so you've got to, you have to strategically place the song. You cannot, I have almost always flopped a new song in position three or four. You have your first year. Let's say you're doing four songs opener, second, third, fourth. Your fourth song has to be one. They really know in love. You can't put a brand new song and forth or you lose everybody.

Speaker 4:

It's, it's like a worship experience killer and third position is really bad too. It's really a one and like I said, if it's super slow song and it's going to be weird to open with it, put it in the offering, put it in the communion service a couple of weeks until they really know it and then you can put it in position three. So if you, you see this is very a strategic movement to introducing a song. You cannot just, especially in this new modern, if you're building a band, you have to pick songs they love. The last thing I want to say for our youth band that we're working with right now, we probably have, literally, we've been doing this for a while and we had some interruptions with the coven thing and all this shutdown, but we have about six songs and we've been practicing and doing this for six months, six songs.

Speaker 4:

It's all because they're young musicians. We're still learning. The youth group is young, they're still learning to sing and you always want them to just feel like it's comfortable. It feels weird to keep coming back to youth band rehearsal every time with the same song. But the kids that are doing it with us love it. They get it. And then the kids in the youth group, they know those are the songs. So treat your congregation that way too. Especially if you're introducing this new worship style. If you're introducing a new band, you don't want the song, you want the song to create the familiarity. That way if you got a new instrumentation or new, all this weird new stuff you're kind of putting in the songs become comforting. But only if you keep it small. So five, 10 songs and just keep rotating them.

Speaker 3:

Right. And I would say don't, don't let your confidence in the song depend on their reaction to the song, at least in the beginning because, um, I think the tendency is to expect them almost to already know the song because you learned the song and so you want, you're excited about the song and you want them to jump in and be excited with you. Um, but you have to, like I said, give them the permission to learn the song first. Um, so if they are just staring at you like they're watching television because that, that happens. Um, give it a F a few more weeks.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, do that. So all of these show notes are in our show notes@worshipandboulder.com slash podcasts and you can check those out. Send us any questions you have, any comments?

Speaker 2:

This is a really big key to succeeding in a modern worship band scenario in a training scenario. Keep it simple, keep it, keep it great. Just keep praying through it and we'll be praying for you guys too. God bless you. Make sure you like the episode. Give us a share, like, and a comment cause we like to hear from and we'll see on the next episode.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible].