Effective Rehearsals, Part 1 of 3, with Adam Countryman

By Steve Young / Uncategorized / 06.29.15


Effective Rehearsals. Part 1: TIME


ACountrymanAs church leaders, the weekend is always approaching.  For some of us, we walk onto the platform every six days. For others, it’s every seven. Some of us even have mid-week service experiences.  Each of us spends a good deal of time in meetings each week, prepping music for the various services, making changes after the senior leadership has decided they would go a different direction this week with the message.  We also communicate to our various teams all that needs to happen for the weekend. As leaders, we also spend a good deal of time shepherding our teams.  We may have people in crisis that need our attention and guidance.

Time is a very precious thing and there’s never enough no matter what size church you are in or how many staff dollars you have to spend.

So…what does this have to do with effective rehearsals? Everything. If you don’t give time the attention and respect it deserves when it comes to your rehearsals, you might as well pack up and go home before your team arrives.

Time = Respect

Remember the game “follow the leader” ? You mimic what the leader does. Those of you who have kids know that this is not a game in real life. Your kids follow your lead no matter the intention or if it is good or bad. You are the leader of your team and your boss at rehearsal is…the clock. If your team notices that you are always late, you’re telling them that it is okay for them to be late. If they notice that you don’t seem to know what you want out of your time together, that is a sign that they need to come with ideas ready to take over. If you are lazy in your approach to the sound and execution of your music than your team doesn’t have to practice during the week.

Here are some helpful hints that work for me:

  1. Two hours is the max amount of time that it is respectful to keep people at a rehearsal for weekend services that are recurring.  Whether they are paid or not. 90 minutes would be the target that I always shoot for.  If you have a chance to rehearse your Sunday for 90 minutes before service that may serve your people better than coming up on Thursday and then again on Sunday.
  2. Do your prep work!  Know what you want. Have your charts ready. Is everything in right key? Do the charts reflect the changes you want for that particular weekend or are you going to “talk them through it” in real time at rehearsal (which takes more time)?
  3. If rehearsal start at 7…rehearsal starts at 7 no matter who is there (or isn’t there).  It may be helpful to have a “call time” and a “downbeat” time.  Call Time: the time when people are expected to show up, chitchat, line check and get ready. (Typically 30 minutes before downbeat).  Down Beat: the time when rehearsal starts. You have already sound checked. You have already prayed. People are holding their instruments as you count off.
  4. Have an end time Set an end time that you stick to. This will create the sense of urgency that is necessary in a rehearsal If you say 9pm is the end time. End at 9! “What if we didn’t get to all of the music?” – then you cut that song. Or you do it yourself on an acoustic guitar. Rehearse in the order of songs that can’t be cut. This will help you stay on time and on mission. If there is a song you can do on acoustic or piano during communion, rehearse that one last in case you run out of time.

A very important thing to remember to communicate to your teams is the following statement: Rehearsal is not Practice!!!

You need to let your team know that your time together as a team is not time to practice. Practice happens at home before rehearsal! Rehearsal happens together as a team! This goes for you too, worship leaders!

This brings us to our last and most imperative bullet point for part 1:  Set people up to succeed.  Here are some tips on how to set our teams up for success:

  1. If you are not using a resource like Planning Center Online, you MUST start now. This is an amazing tool.
  2. Plan ahead. Schedule your teams out at least one month, giving them plenty of time to prepare.
  3. Make sure your charts are accurate.
  4. Anticipate questions that may come up regarding the music.
  5. Print the books ahead of time and have them on their stands with the chart that YOU WANT THEM LOOKING AT!
  6. Put a bottle of water at everyone’s feet before call time.
  7. Schedule at least one 5 minutes break (knowing that it will take 10)
  8. Make sure you have already checked all your mic lines and monitor sends so that you don’t have to spend time trouble shooting when everyone is there.
  9. Remember, people are volunteering their time, don’t disrespect them by wasting their time by not checking to see if the keyboard was hooked up before they showed up.
  10. Over-communicate There is no such thing. Emails are great. If they don’t respond, call them. “Just making sure you knew about rehearsal tomorrow and that you were good to be there? We can’t do it without you!”
  11. Know your people’s abilities Don’t be surprised when the 8th grade guitar player doesn’t have the delay effect nailed out for “Our God”. Don’t put “Our God Saves” in D when you have a female singer leading it.
  12. Have alternative musical expressions prepared for your people who you know can’t hack it. If your guitar player sucks at soloing, don’t do the solo section. Just cut it.

So much of this may seem elementary to some of you, but not to others. My prayer for you is that you recognize that you are a leader whether you realize it or not. If you are reading this, you are! There are people that want to help in your journey. Lean in. Ask your peers and colleagues for the help you desire. Have faith that God will be glorified amidst your inadequacies. Good Luck Out There!

Adam is the Music Director at River Pointe Church in Richmond, TX.  He can be reached here.