Worship Band Builder Podcast

Don't Stress Out, Plan Ahead - Worship Team Leader Tips - Episode 13

May 18, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13
Worship Band Builder Podcast
Don't Stress Out, Plan Ahead - Worship Team Leader Tips - Episode 13
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Worship Band Builder Podcast
Don't Stress Out, Plan Ahead - Worship Team Leader Tips - Episode 13
May 18, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13

“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.

www.worshipbandbuilder.com/podcasts/dont-stress-out-plan-ahead-episode-13

Not planning ahead is the NUMBER ONE STRESSOR for any worship leader and team 

Things are going to go wrong, the more things you prepare for the less stress you will have!


NUMBER 1 - Pick songs months in advance

NUMBER 2 - Give song lists / Spotify / iTunes playlists months in advance 

NUMBER 3 - Give production notes / expectations / pick keys / IN ADVANCE  

  • Makes it easy for people to practice  
  • Gives your band a chance to succeed 
  • Remember each band member is at a different level  
  • Nobody is going to complain about over preparation  

NUMBER 3 - Start rotating team 

  • Rotate whole teams (Red, Blue, Black)  
  • Rotate musicians within a large team - but Use basic rules  (Zach plays drums the 1st and 3rd Sunday every month)  

NUMBER 4 - Plan ahead for technical difficulty and put a team in place  

  • Have extra cables on hand  
  • Have a sound tech or two at rehearsal to help  
  • Have a plan B and know what’s going on in every area (you are the leader after all)  

NUMBER 5 - Be the first one there… and have everything ready  

  • For Practice  
  • For Sunday Morning  
  • PREPARE YOURSELF  
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.

www.worshipbandbuilder.com/podcasts/dont-stress-out-plan-ahead-episode-13

Not planning ahead is the NUMBER ONE STRESSOR for any worship leader and team 

Things are going to go wrong, the more things you prepare for the less stress you will have!


NUMBER 1 - Pick songs months in advance

NUMBER 2 - Give song lists / Spotify / iTunes playlists months in advance 

NUMBER 3 - Give production notes / expectations / pick keys / IN ADVANCE  

  • Makes it easy for people to practice  
  • Gives your band a chance to succeed 
  • Remember each band member is at a different level  
  • Nobody is going to complain about over preparation  

NUMBER 3 - Start rotating team 

  • Rotate whole teams (Red, Blue, Black)  
  • Rotate musicians within a large team - but Use basic rules  (Zach plays drums the 1st and 3rd Sunday every month)  

NUMBER 4 - Plan ahead for technical difficulty and put a team in place  

  • Have extra cables on hand  
  • Have a sound tech or two at rehearsal to help  
  • Have a plan B and know what’s going on in every area (you are the leader after all)  

NUMBER 5 - Be the first one there… and have everything ready  

  • For Practice  
  • For Sunday Morning  
  • PREPARE YOURSELF  

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

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to this episode of the worship band over podcast where we are working with you to lay the foundations for skillful worship. I'm Eric Roberts and I'm joined by my lovely cohost Emily Roberts. Thank you. And today we're talking about planning ahead, planning ahead. And

Speaker 2:

in honor of planning ahead, I prepared some quotes about being prepared. Oh, that's real serious as well. These are inspirational. These are good. So, and they're by very famous people. Should I let you guess who said them before? Before I tell you who said that? Franklin. The first one is actually from Ben Franklin. There are two on here from Ben Franklin. The first is, I didn't, I was a total guest. That was, well, it was a good guess because the first one is by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. It sounds like me my whole life. That's good, isn't it? That's a good one. Where's my other one? Uh, Benjamin Franklin. Where are you? I know you're on here again. Uh, here. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hmm. Have you heard both of those before? Yeah, I had heard both of those before. Now this one I had not heard. Would you like to guess who said it before? I tell you what it is.

Speaker 2:

Barack Obama is not on this list, so you can narrow it down that far. Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax. Johnny Appleseed. He planted trees. He did not chop them down as far as I know. Well it sounds like something he would have said, but it was Abraham Lincoln actually. Oh, okay. Smart guy. Now this guy, I can't pronounce his name. Um, it's dope. Yeah. I don't know. It's not English. Um, but he said opportunity does not waste time with those who are not prepared. That's true. That's true. You get more opportunity when you're prepared. Now this one, I think this will resonate with you. He who is best prepared, can best serve his moment of inspiration. How many quotes did you, did he write a quote book over here? I got three more.

Speaker 2:

Three more quotes. We don't have to do all three though. Let's save some for the end. Save some for the last three for the end. She's like a quote boat over here, man. Well, they were, there were so many good ones. I don't know where to stop the quote boat and we're going on it with Emily Roberts is our captain. Today's quote. Boat. Yeah. I don't know any captain things except, I don't know. Swab the deck. I don't have the deck. I don't have any funny captain like things to say to, you know, you go get some funny crapped in quotes.

Speaker 3:

Well, really we're talking about the, the, the stress of the number one stressor for any worship leader and team is not planning. It's gotta be not being prepared and not planning ahead.

Speaker 2:

Right. Okay. That was kind of a funny way to say that. Yeah. But by planning, we can avoid many of the stressors that come with leading worship.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Because I wrote here not, not planning ahead is the number one stressor for any worship leader. Yeah. Not planning it. I think I said it in a backwards way, but, um, but things are gonna go wrong. And the more things you prepare for, the less stress you're going to have. Yeah. That's a quote from the all wise Eric Roberts.

Speaker 2:

There you go. Write that down. Everybody,

Speaker 3:

things are gonna go wrong. So, um, whenever, whenever you think, uh, what should I do? Just keep planning head, keep planning head. I've got, I don't know how many I have here. Five or six different things that you can do, five things you can do, we'll go through them and, but, but really as a worship leader in my experience with anything, and I've done both, I've shown up all frazzled trying to print my songs right before church, trying to get everybody ready and you know, I actually have dreams like nightmares about like going to church and like walking on stage and then all the sheet music is like not printed yet. And the congregation standing there, I mean that, that's, that's, that's why I'm glad now I'm just sort of, I'm a podcaster and not a worship leader full time. I have bad dreams about public restrooms, but that's a whole other, Oh my goodness.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think some of those are in reality, especially when you travel, go to the gas station bathroom. That wasn't a dream that was real. But yeah, I would draw, I would dream about, you know, walking out on stage and because as a worship leader, all these systems have to be in place. You know the lights, the, all the cameras, all the, you know, the musicians or they all have to, and you're kind of in the middle of that. You're in charge of all of that. You're trying to work that all out. And then you go out on stage and then none of the musicians have their notes and then you wake up and you're just like sweating and realize. But it's with your heart racing. Yeah. So, so let's talk about it. Number one, let's, so don't live in fear, just plan ahead. Number one, pick your songs months in advance

Speaker 2:

months. Really, can we do it months in advance? That sounds extreme.

Speaker 3:

No, I would definitely, I would, I would plan about three months out song lists and some of them

Speaker 2:

like you don't know what's coming, right? Maybe we did. Christmas stays the same day every year and Easter's around the same time. And so it's not like you can't plan for it. We have the whole year of dates right there on the calendar. So you really can, that sounds, um, maybe like overkill, but why not do a few months at a time while you're sitting there? To me it helps to do a bunch at the same time because you don't have to search the recesses of your mind for when did I last do that song? Or how many times this month have I done this song? Are people getting sick of this? Have I done it too much? Have I not done it enough? Are they familiar with it? You can put a system in place to get people comfortable and familiar with your songs without overdoing it, beating it into the ground. If you lay it out on paper and you can see, yes, I'm going to do this song three out of the four weeks this month and let people learn it, for example.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I would say three to four, three months, two to three months. And I have draft outlines, you know like, so it's not like three months. You know that that's 12 week you're set in stone, but you're pretty much planned. I mean if you get to that week and the pastor says, Hey, we're going to be doing something a little different, sure you can put a song out or put a song in, but you are drafting out literally a whole quarter of music. It sounds, it could sound unspiritual, but like exactly what you said, you can see it all. You can say, yeah, we're going to do trading my sorrows and it's an old song, but we're going to do that as an opener every other week. So you just put it on there and it just becomes more of a puzzle instead of a spiritual journey every week of starting over, what am I going to do this week? What is God saying to me this week? What am I, what am I going to do? You're actually just saying, you know, overall, what's God saying to me this quarter? What? What songs are we rotating

Speaker 2:

room? If you feel led to do something else that you could throw in a different song than what you had planned here or there, but you have a plan.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And if, if things get busy, kids' schedules get crazy. You get sick, uh, easy to say, well, we already have the songs, let's do this. And it gives, it frees up for you to do other things every week. If you're starting at zero, trying to plan the songs for that next coming week and it's a mess. Also, if your pastor is not scheduling his sermon series way out, then, uh, you're still gonna play on yourself and you're going to say, well, if he, if he picks grace or picks mercy, whatever, we have to change the theme, we'll add a song for offering that's on that theme, you know? But in general, I never really, I did marry my songs to the sermon some, but because I work with a lot of pastors that were not as, um, not as ahead planning as I want it to be, I would just plan out and I would just adjust as I go.

Speaker 2:

Well. The other thing about planning ahead is that when you plan ahead, it lets the rest of your team also prepare and plan ahead. You can give them a whole song compilation

Speaker 3:

number two. That's my number. She's going to number two, go for it. Go for it. Number two,

Speaker 2:

they, they have the opportunity to be listening to those songs to be practicing them at home and to come to your weekly practice already prepared to play.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so give song list, Spotify, iTunes playlist, months in advance and that's so that they can do just what you said. This number two, you're ahead and they're ahead. So now they're not showing up that week going, Oh, I just learned that we're going to do this new Chris Tomlin song. I've never heard it before. They've actually been listening for months to that song knowing, Hey, that has a really hard drum beat, so I'm going to practice extra. I mean it's going to help them as a musician. I'll listen ahead and I'll be like, Oh that guitar solo, that's a little different. I need to, I'm going to make sure I listen to that. Over and over. And for me, I listen in the car, I listen everywhere. And uh, you know, somebody asked me once, how do you, cause I could pick up songs pretty easy. I'm just kind of natural at that, but it's not, it comes through listening. So they would say, how do you learn all these songs so fast? And really what I was doing is listening to them all the time, like everyday, all the time. So when I get to the song, I'm like, well, yeah, I've listened to it 300 times. I can, I know that melody. It's, it's not like you're just gonna hear it once and play it. So there's a trick to look at making it look easy.

Speaker 2:

Well, and I feel like when you give them the opportunity to prepare in advance, you're not just lowering your own stress. You're lowering theirs. That makes practice more enjoyable. That makes playing on Sunday morning a more joyful experience because everybody's confident about what they're doing. They're not crossing their fingers and, and saying a quick prayer to hope that they can get through the song. They're, uh, they're ready.

Speaker 3:

They're more comfortable. And that brings us to number three. And actually I have two number three, so I have to edit that in the text. Give the production notes, expectations, pick the keys, all of that in advance. Okay? So not just give them songs but give them chord charts, notes, keys, uh, you know, Hey, you know, so and so female singer, you're going to be singing, you know enough by Tomlin. Okay? You, you're probably going to be singing this song, those things ahead of time. So if you know, you have a lead singer and you're introducing new songs, you can tell them months in advance, Hey, I hear this song being one that you're going to sing. Here it is. Um, and it makes it, like you said, easy to practice. It gives them a chance to succeed and every band members at a different level. So nobody's, nobody's going to complain about over preparation. That's the one thing nobody's going to be like, man, my worst bleeder gave me, you know, four months of new songs that I get to listen to. You know, nobody's going to complain about this.

Speaker 2:

Well, what we don't want is to show up to practice and start figuring it out. Then we don't want to hand out sheet music and then figure out we're really to play this in a different key so everyone's madly scratching out chords and you know, we're, we're standing at the piano trying to figure out the the vocalist range and where he or she is going to sing it. Those things can all be taken care of ahead of time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. If Susie is going to sing enough, then she can tell you weeks in advance, Hey, I really think this song's too high and you can say, well, let me, let's do it in this key or that key that that's, that's a thing that usually throw stress into a rehearsal that I've noticed. If you don't know the keys of the songs and we just did a national number system podcast and a webinar talking about how you can ease that stress, but still, if you don't know the key, you're going to play it in. Then it's hard for the guitar players to learn the lead lines and everybody else to sort of feel comfortable. So do that plan ahead with keys to number four, this is a little shift on just instead of planning ahead, this is a little shift start rotating teams.

Speaker 2:

Now lots of churches don't have teams so we've got to, we've got to make teams before we can rotate teams.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, they don't have teams yet, but if they like a, in the foundations webinar I've been doing, talking about my experience of like a church that I took over once, had a whole bunch of musicians on the stage, just all, all together in one big man, like five guitar players, drummer, two percussionists, you know, six singers. You can really create teams that are realistic bands, you know, drums, bass, guitar, one vocalist, you know, one keyboard player and now you have two bands instead of one and you can start rotating. So I rotate whole teams. There's two different ways to rotate teams and this, this has to do with planning head, but it's, it's, this could be its own podcast on its own and we'll get to that, but I rotated colors so I had a red team, a blue team, black team, so you're not calling like team one, team two, team three, so they're not like I'm on a team, I'm on, Oh I'm on, I'm only on like the third string. So we used colors at one church we rotated, which worked good and then you can also rotate full teams together so the whole band rotates

Speaker 2:

and I like that model because those players can build relationships.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I liked that model too. And you can comfortable playing together. Yeah, I skill batch and that's something we talked about in our propel and we'll get to that too. We've got a lot of stuff to get to this year, but you can batch them into skills and say, okay, you're, you're about a medium skill, you're going to be on blue team and then they can grow together. It's a, it's a good center. It creates synergy and you can also just rotate musicians, which within a large team, so this is what most churches do that I've seen. They, they have one main worship band and then they just say, this drummer plays this week, this drummer plays next week. And so, but even if you're in that model, try to pick it like Eric's gonna play electric every, every first and third, you know, Sunday. So I know ahead of time there's some consistency even in my rotation or Zach's going to play drums the first, you know, first and second Sunday and then the other drummer is going to play the other Sunday.

Speaker 2:

That's a courtesy to your players that that helps them too.

Speaker 3:

Also, if you're planning three months in advance with songs and you know that your say your alias drummer is always the first and third Sunday, you can pick songs that are like, okay, I know I'm going to have this drummer so I'm not, I'm going to pick this song cause he's really good at it. Um, I like skill batching and rotating full teams because then you can pick songs based on teams. So, um, if you got your AA team up there, your red team or whatever your, your number, you're going to know this is my core team, that the better team usually. Now some churches might have three really good teams, other churches might have three teams and they're at different levels. But anyway, you're going to know what team's coming so you can pick the right songs. So when you're looking at a three month plan, you can say, okay, well I know that the first Sunday it's always Steve on drums and he nails these hard fast songs. So we're, we're going to, you know, do that. So you see how that could work for you.

Speaker 2:

Now some of you are saying to yourselves right now, I really work better under pressure. I like waiting until the last minute and throwing everything together. And if you're saying that right now, I just want to encourage you to try preparing ahead of time and just see how it feels. Give, give it a chance because, um, there are just so many benefits to doing it this way.

Speaker 3:

I am that person. I work under pressure, I work better under pressure. I really hate planning. I'm a Willy nilly guy. I like to just do whatever. And you know that because you're, you're a very big planner and I'm always like, let's just go somewhere this weekend. And it's so, but in terms of leading worship, I learned that if I do it that way, then I end up just having nightmares, you know, waking up in the middle of night or getting to church and just feeling really stressed out. So work under pressure with other things. If you want to learn the song last minute yourself, that's fine. Maybe that will fuel your work under pressure. If you want to throw in a song at the end of the service last minute, you know, acoustically with you, you know, we would do that a lot. We'd throw in a song, the pastor, there will be enough pressure. Trust me, my pastor would come to me. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

we didn't throw the songs and he would just make things up and say, Hey Eric, do you know this one? Um, it's called and he would just pull something out of nowhere.

Speaker 3:

Sunday, it'd be like Saturday night he'd be texting me, do you know the hymn this blah blah. And I'm like, I've never heard that him in my life. He's like, can you put that right in the offering? And I'll be like, Oh man, you know, I'd say, yes, I'll get that done. There's enough pressure coming. Trust me. So number four, let's plan ahead for technical difficulty and put a team in place. So this is, this is what I've see happening to people basically getting just, Oh, she has a quote,

Speaker 2:

the three quotes, one of them was, um, this was from Chris Bradford and said, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, the worst. Now, I don't think we really need to prepare for like, what if there's an earthquake on Sunday? I don't think we're going that far, but what if, you know, what if the sound guy doesn't show up? What if, uh, the guitar player shows up and he's got a bad cord or,

Speaker 3:

yeah, if you don't have extra cables on hand, which is my first point, then if you're a guitar player, shows up in his quarter inch cable goes uh, scratchy, which always happens, then it's like a ginormous ordeal. You know, you're scrambling around looking under everything in the church, trying to find one cable and I've been there, it's like we don't have one more cables and you're stealing it from another thing. And that's why I put on half

Speaker 2:

batteries ready. All the microphones

Speaker 3:

haven't have extra cables on hand. I mean seriously, just buy some new quarter inch cables, XLR cables. The mic cables have a couple brand new ones just in a box just sitting there and because they're going to break, you know, have a plan B and know what's going on in every area because you are the leader. And that's one thing that I, I've seen some worship leaders, they don't really know what's going on. They just do whatever. They're going to go lead worship, but then they're not really sure what's happening over here. Happening over here, I was a lot more involved and hands on. So you, if you're the worship leader, you should be knowing who's running sound. You should be knowing who's doing all this because you're going to be the one standing on the middle of the stage when no lights come on and when the sound starts squealing and it's going to look like your fault, right? It's going to look at your fault even if it's not your fault.

Speaker 2:

Well, I don't know about that. As a congregation member, I, I'm not thinking, boy, the worship leader really blew it. Um, but um, the flip side of that is if the sound person is sick and they don't show up, it would be really helpful if you knew how to turn that board on, you know, just a few, you know, you don't have to be as good as your best sound guy, but you should at least know what's going on back there a little bit.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think just be really proactive. You're the leader. If you're the worship leader, worship director, look, every board I've ever been under, every pastor I've ever worked with, they expect you to know everything. And when something goes wrong, they come straight up to you and say, what about this? And if you say, well, I don't know Andy was supposed to be here and do that, I don't know about that. Then you just look like doofus, basically unprepared. So take the extra time, learn how to turn the lights on, learn how to turn the soundboard on, learn how to have everybody's phone in your phone, have everybody's number in your phone.

Speaker 2:

You don't have to learn how to do that. But if you just go ahead and do that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, just put their their numbers in your phone and have a plan B. Uh, no, no, no. What's going on? I do think it is, and I have a video. I never published it, but it was basically, it was, it's all your fault. The worship leader. It is your fault, in my opinion. If you're the leader and something is going wrong and is your fault, that's just my leadership style. And most, most leaders will tell you, you know, it's, it's on you, you better know what's going on, you better have a plan. And pastors, especially if you're in a paid role or if you're in a role where they think you're the person leading this ship, then then I do think if it goes wrong, then it's pretty much your fault. You should've, you should've known. And that's probably why I would have nightmares because I was always feel responsible for all of this stuff. And you should too, but no pressure. Yeah. And then the last one for today on being prepared and we probably have a quote from the captain of the quote boat.

Speaker 2:

Well let me see here. What have I got? Um Hm. Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it.

Speaker 3:

That's good. Alan Armstrong, Armstrong, prepare, prepare. And my last point on my sheet is be the first one there and have everything ready. Don't be goofing around. Let me showing up late. Don't be acting like somebody else is going to get it all done. Take leadership, take preparation seriously. Be the first one at church, be the first one at practice and pretty much be the last one to leave and have everything ready and in hand. You have to, you have to be doing that. If you're not doing that, you're probably going to be living with stress. You're probably going to be living with um, fear. You're probably going to be living under this idea that what, what could go wrong next and worship leading is not going to be as fun and rewarding as it could be. Leading a team should be fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You don't want to be speeding to church Sunday morning with a baggie full of Rolaids in your pocket.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That is the final quote from Emily today. So Hey guys, listen, you can get all of these podcasts and every episode@worshipbandbuilder.com slash podcast you can also get show notes and everything and I'm getting better and better at show notes. They, a lot of them now have links and Amazon links for the gear that we're talking about. Sometimes I'll even draw little pictures or have YouTube videos, and if we do webinars on the same topic, then they'll be embedded in those pages@worshipandbuilder.com slash podcast and I want you to go over there, take a look and make sure you subscribe to the podcast and keep listening. But more than anything, plan ahead.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible].