Ah, rehearsal. That time during the week or pre-service when the worship band comes together to. . . well, rehearse. What’s that mean anyway? I know what you must be thinking. Rehearsal is when you show up and just practice the set list for the weekend services. But, let me challenge that notion. Rehearsal is not the time to learn the music; nor is it the time to hear the music for the first time. What if rehearsal was the place we rehearsed the songs rather than just play the chords? What if rehearsal was the place to bring our already prepared selves and figure out how to make one beautiful whole out of all the moving parts? What if rehearsal was a place where we learned to listen and make space for each other? Yeah, that might be nice. See, rehearsal, like most all things related to worship ministry, isn’t about you or me. I know, that stings a little. Hang with me, because saying that rehearsal is not about us doesn’t let anyone off the hook. It actually hooks us in a big way.
Here’s the thing: What we do before we show up at rehearsal will effect what we do during rehearsal.
So, here are a few tips on bringing your A-game to the platform for rehearsals.
1. Fix your eyes and ears and heart and mind. Please don’t miss this one. It’s first on the list for a reason. Spend time with Jesus on your own. Spend time worshiping, reading Scripture, and talking to Him through prayer. Every. Day. Pretty basic, I know. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve gotten so busy serving and doing that I drifted away from this very important habit. We can make idols out of even the good things in our lives. God gently corrected me by reminding me that it’s quite hard to lead worship if you don’t live worship. Corporate worship - worship that happens we when gather with other believers - should be an extension and overflow of our personal, private worship and devotion to Christ.
2. Rehearse like you mean it. Even our rehearsal time should be considered an act of worship. Yes, we come together to work on playing skillfully before the Lord (Psalm 33). But, what if we come and engage our hearts and minds by fixing our attention on THE ONE we’re singing for? It’s all about Him — start to finish! It’s a challenge, I know, especially for those midweek rehearsals; but, it’s not an unattainable goal. Worship is not just another gig or a show. Even in striving for excellence we can be intentional about keeping our hearts and motives centered on Him. So, go ahead and worship during rehearsal. Give it a go and see if it doesn't change the way you approach rehearsal time. I bet it does.
3. Listen to the music. Even the songs you’ve played 100 times. If you’ve played it 100 times, maybe it’s time to try and memorize it. But, I digress. Listening to the music on your own time will develop your musical ear. If you are actively listening to a song, you will start to pick up on things you might not have heard before. And, take notes! Mark up the chord chart with song order, solos, intros, instrumentals, etc. Something else will happen if you spend time listening to the set list. The songs will become familiar. There’s a difference between a song we’re comfortable with and a song we know way down deep. Challenge yourself to spend 10-15 minutes a day looking at and listening to the music for the week. It makes a difference!
4. Be early. It takes time to get plugged in and tuned up or to find that perfect synth sound. If you need extra time, then come early so you’ll be ready to go at start time. I’ll just leave that right there.
5. Practice for rehearsal. See what I did there? Rehearsal time is not the same as practice time. Practice is something you do on your own time as an individual so that you are prepared for rehearsal. Rehearsals are about the big picture, if you will. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces, so getting everyone and everything on the same page is no easy task. However, we set ourselves up for the best chance of that when we show up prepared. Rehearsal time then becomes more productive. Bands learn to . . . well, be a band. One cohesive, unit creating something that no one member could create on his/her own. Have you ever been part of a rehearsal where it seemed like everyone was on a different page, even though everyone had the same chord chart? Yeah, me too. Too often that’s exactly what's happening — every member is doing their own thing rather than working to figure out where they fit in the big picture. So, listen to the music, yes, but also PLAY through the music on your instrument. At home. Learn the part you need to play. When does the electric guitar come in? Where is it just synth pads and drums? And once you’re in rehearsal, listen to the rest of the band too and create space for everyone to contribute the thing they’re bringing to the table. Yeah, do that.
Worship ministry and worship leadership is an awesome thing to be a part of, truly. But being a part of a team comes with the weight of being a great, blow-your-socks-off team member. We are serving each other well when we steward our time and talent well. And, above all, we bring honor to God who gifted us to do this thing in the first place. Pick up your game. Go above and beyond. If you’re slacking a bit in one of these areas then challenge yourself to grow. Yes. Always, always be growing. And, always keep your heart fixed on the One whose worth far outweighs everything else.
Keep singing. Keep playing. Lead well.