12 Things to Try at Worship Team Band Practice
Do you ever feel at a loss for what you’re supposed to do at your worship team band practice? Do you feel like you’re not maximizing your practice times? Or maybe you’re just looking for a way to change up what you are doing with the team?
I have found the following 12 tips helpful for keeping my practices meaningful and fun. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are some things that have worked well for me over the years.Worship Leaders: Do you ever feel at a loss for what you're supposed to do at your worship team band practice? Here are 13 things to try. Click To Tweet
Not all of these suggestions will work for you and your team. What you choose will vary based on your team season, band size, how often you practice, and how long your practices are.
1. Cancel band practice and take your band out for coffee.
Nothing invites community more than coffee (am I right?). This idea works best if you pay. Many times there will be someone who doesn’t want to spend the money and it’s never fun to have that one guy sitting there while everyone else is enjoying their latte. This is a small monetary investment that can pay big dividends in developing community.
2. Start your practice by asking people how their week has been so far.
Let the conversation go as long as there seems to be momentum behind it. Sometimes these times really take off and become a great community-building time. Other times, they naturally fizzle out and we just start practice. Obviously, you don’t want a conversation to always take the place of practice, but it is important that your team sees the value you place on their individual lives and stories. This idea works best if you ask direct pointed questions to specific people.
3. Take ten minutes during your practice to encourage and pray for someone.
This doesn’t have to be a super heavy time; make it light and fun. You can ask if anyone has any prayer requests, or maybe you as the worship leader begin encouraging someone and then invite everyone to pray over and share something they appreciate about them.
4. Take a few minutes to pray as a band.
Ask the Lord for new melodies, new songs, and greater creativity as you practice together. A great option is to ask each band member to pray, going around the room so that everyone participates, even if it’s a short prayer. Then tell your band that you’ll close. This eliminates the question of who is going to pray next, encourages people to step out of their comfort zones, and eliminates the chance that you’re the only person praying outloud.
5. Take time to ask for feedback on the team.
Ask the band members how they feel the last set went and for any suggestions or ideas that they may have for improvement. If people are being honest (which might take time) not everything they share will be positive. Receive it with humility and genuinely consider the feedback your band offers. It’ll most likely cause you to pay more attention to certain areas of the team and help you grow.
Your team is your free research team. You don't have to pay a professional to come in and tell you how you're doing, just ask your team. This can be humbling but can yield amazing fruit. Click To Tweet
6. Take time to ask for specific feedback they have about you as the worship leader.
This is a humbling thing to do, but you will be surprised by how much fruit can come out of it. Don’t make it a long and heavy thing. Simply say something like, “You guys have been under my leadership for the past year and I would love to hear if you have any feedback about how I lead onstage or offstage as well suggestions for ways I can grow.” Your team is your free research team. You don’t have to pay a professional to come in and tell you how you’re doing, just ask your team. You’ll be surprised at some of the honesty and insight your band shared.
7. Work on some basic theory training.
You can get a music book to work through or you can find some great training resources online. Make this learning time light and fun. Maybe you all learn a new scale or mode together and spend time practicing it.
8. Listen to and play for your band some music that inspires you.
Play a song or two that you’re really into and explain why. Ask them to play a song that inspires them. Listening to different songs is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
9. Song feedback.
Bring one of your own original songs and ask your band for feedback on the melody and lyrics. What!? Yes, you read that right. Give it a try! We have to be open to feedback on our songwriting, and the honest gut reaction of my band is a great place to start.
10. Arrange your own original songs together.
Asking for suggestions as to how to arrange your original work is a great way to develop synergy among your band.
11. Arrange worship songs done by another artist or worship leader.
There are different ways you can do this. One way is to send your band the track a week in advance. Ask them to listen to it and come to the following practice prepared to play the part exactly as it was recorded on the CD. Another way is to listen to the song there at practice, hand out the chord sheets, and work on your own arrangement.
You can also arrange a song by yourself at home and come with it written out and prepared for your band to play. You work on the melodies and arrangement yourself. This way is a lot more time effective, as you will complete the arrangement of the song much faster. The drawback is that it removes the camaraderie of you all arranging the song together.
12. Songwrite together.
Maybe a melody or chord progression came out of a spontaneous worship moment in your last service. You can take time refining it as a band and maybe even turn it into a song. Or start playing a spontaneous progression in your practice and see what develops out of it. Nothing may happen the first few times. It may feel awkward. But you might just be surprised what can happen when you step out and stick with it.
I hope that some of the things on this list will help strengthen your band practices.
I’d love to hear how this goes! Post your comments below.
Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Roscommon Castle, Ireland. Check out more of his work here.