What is your point of view, and experience?
If you are covering material, which most of us do, do you press for accuracy from your team?
Do you leave room for a more open interpretation by your players instead?
I have pressed for accuracy for the following reasons:
1. The arrangement of parts is already defined.
2. Rehearsals are more efficient..changing the song involves time and too much input from all makes a unified agreement tedious, Offence taken because "their idea" was not accepted.
3. If players are "pooled", they all know the same part. No surprises.
4. Covering others styles, chordings become "tools" in your toolbox to utilize as the band progresses into original material possibilities.
5. Using 3 guitarist, all would gravitate to familiar rythyms, in the same pocket. (machine gunning) mudding the sound.
6. Volume wars..3 guitarist playing the same pocket can't differentiate their instrument from the others.
I did receive complaints:
1.That personal creative input would be squelched
2. Micro-management by the chief musician.
(eg. keyboardist would fill all the pockets,mudding up the mix. Bass player had to compete with KB left hand.)
3.Required too much personal practice time to nail the part.
John, are you saying that you will be the new leader of the worship team, or one of the musicians? Not clear.
If you're thinking of taking the lead position of an existing band, then I'd say it's back to Human Relations 101. My advice would be to not start by telling them all the things you're going to change, but rather decide to spend the next six months getting to know them. Have times of fellowship, take them out for coffee one by one - in other words, put some time into the team aspect of the band before you go too crazy on the music side.
While you're doing this, decide what changes need to happen first, and work on them slowly. Don't lose your cool, don't berate anyone during a practice, don't deliver any ultimatums (at least not right now).
Celebrate the small improvements with your team. When something really clicks, tell them about it and thank them for working hard enough to make that happen. Being a servant goes a long way towards becoming an accepted leader.
This is a start. If you're just coming in as one of the band members, then it's a whole different story.
I wouldn't go as far as Terry in saying that as a band member you're not there to be creative, but your creative suggestions will only be that - suggestions. The ultimate decision is up to the worship leader.
So suggest, but don't insist. You'll be surprised at how much influence you'll have once the leader figures out you're not gunning for his job.
This is an important topic that (as we can see from the posts) is very opinionated. There is no scriptual definition how to play someone else's song. Unless you have a worship "team", and notice I underlined, made bold, italicised TEAM, there will always be another opinion of how we could do it. Then, the more gifted the musicians, the more we tend to want to change something I guess mostly out of boredom of doing something the same way all the time. But I do realize, what we do is not for us, it's for the congregation. People need predictability. Throwing them for a loop in the middle of worship can distract their attention from the ONE they're singing to.
I've always tried to stay close to the original version, keeping in mind the ability of the musicians to play it like the song, and making arrangments according to that. I can't count how many times I've heard this statement, "Let's do a TFC version, or let's do it TFC style". TFC is our church initials.
The problem is, no one could actually define what the TFC version was. I think all of John's points in the intro are legitimate, pros and cons included. Which leads us to understanding spiritual leadership in the church. In this case, there is really no wrong way. It's only wrong when people go against what leadership is trying to accomplish by causing division.
your statement "Which leads us to understanding spiritual leadership in the church. In this case, there is really no wrong way. It's only wrong when people go against what leadership is trying to accomplish by causing division"..is the heart of why some of the issues we deal with cause so much pain.
All of us (that lead in any way) embrace the scriptural basis for why G-d established this government in His church. The issue that arises is when a pastor, or a leader makes a call in an area that they do not have more knowledge and wisdom in than those whom they are trying to govern, would you agree?
This got me in HOT water more than once. I am trying hard, to learn,and apply submissiveness in the midst of those situations.
Does this resonate with anybody?
I guess the "perfect world" would be: give me the vision, equip me to do what I need to do, and get out of the way.
Maybe I'm being too transparent here. I might expect some "recoil" here, if so, that is fine, kind of what I am looking for I guess.
Rick, Good advice on the relational issues, you confirm much of what I have read from many wise sources.
Sorry for not being clearer, but at this junctor, I most likely will just rotate in, playing and singing wherever it is needed.
I was the department head for A/V, and was responsible for instrument / vocal arrangments while playing guitar and KB for 8 years.
I am inquiring where my pastor wants to go, and to see where I can serve best.
I will pretty much be starting over from square one, which will be challenging, considering where my responsibilties were before.
I may find it difficult to sing though after a week or so, it's kinda hard to sing without my tongue!
"Ah, grasshopper, you must learn to lead, not with a staff or a sword, but with a basin of water and a towel..." (spoken in my best Chinese accent). :)
Seriously, sometimes God will change our status (or allow it to change becuase of our actions) in order that He can teach us a whole new skill set that we didn't have before, or that wasn't as well developed.
I suspect that you are a lot like me - results driven (e.g. I guess the "perfect world" would be: give me the vision, equip me to do what I need to do, and get out of the way.) Man, I hear you!
What I've been learning of late is that sometimes the issue is not "should this be done?" but rather "should this be done now or in this way?" Yes, sometimes the leader over us doesn't know as much about the particular area of expertise as we do, but they often know more about people and how to work with them.
When my pastor tells me that this is not the right time for something that I think would be really awesome, I've learned to pull back and watch. Most times, he's right. Sometimes he's not - but God can work through that, too!
I have a few thoughts. The first one that comes to mind is that I am of the opinion that we're not a cover band .. we're a worship team. I believe the best worship teams are the ones that you don't even notice. If they do what they do ... well enough ... they fade into the woodwork, they are no longer the focal point, God is, and this allows the congregation to get vertical.
Second, God made up to be who we are musically. If I believe this premise, then I must let those who are on the platform with me be who God wired them to be. My job is to take them, as individuals who are bringing different things to the table, and develop them into a cohesive unit. Each team has it's own musical personality and must be given the place to be who God made them. I "will" lay out basic musical parameters. But as long as we stay within them, each member brings their own musical slant to each song. That is how we develop the musical personality of the team. I don't see us as musical clones.
Here's another thing; When I hear the audio clip of a song, I see it as nothing more than a starting point. My people may have the capacity to mimic it, they might not. The real issue is taking that song and making it our own. We mold it to our musical personality.
As to micro-managing; All sheep need a shepherd. Jesus was all about equipping and releasing. Micro-managing can lead to putting people in a box with little freedom. Ministry shouldn't be a drag. We must remember that we work with volunteers. As leaders we must help them grow. But in order for that to happen we must create an environment which doesn't stifle growth but, rather, becomes an incubator for it.
"My job as musical director is to hear every note everyone plays all the time."
Your comment twigged me to recall something that happened at last practice - We had just gone through a song, and when it ended I began tweaking things as usual. I had a suggestion for the bass player on the bridge, a clarification for the singers on the chorus, a note of praise for the pianist for the great intro she did, and so on. When I was done, one of my BGVs looked at me and grinned. "How could you hear all that stuff?" he asked. "Especially since you were playing your instrument and singing as well?!"
For me, as for many of you, it was second nature. I'm always listening, always evaluating, always exploring new ideas, even as we're doing the song, and sometimes even in the middle of Sunday morning! It's really the same thing as what a choir leader does when working with their 150 voice choir - they can hear the one tenor that didn't quite make the high note on the third repeat of the chorus. It's what you do with that knowledge (and how) that matters.
What I have to remember is that many of my musicians are just concentrating on their own part (and I'm glad they're doing that). But if I keep trying to bring everyone up to performance level all the time, it becomes more like work and less like worshiping in freedom.
Sure, the cd version is great for being "the standard", the goal we're aiming at, if you will. But always keep it in perspective. Hold that goal loosely, and remembver that experiencing God's presence in the song matters more than getting every note correct.
I'm sure you know that already; just sharing some random thoughts...:)
Given that we are a worship team and not a cover band, we still seem to fall (maybe not by our standard) but under those who have ears of hear us, as a band. Until you're on a worship team, many will never understand that we are not a band.
Still I think back in my secular music days that musically a "cover band" was only good if they could cover the song well. If there was a lead guitar part, I wanted to hear that part. I especially hated if I went to a concert and the origianl band couldn't play their own music like the CD they put out.
I wonder if, for the most part, we are not viewed that way by our congregations, and especially those seekers who are looking for a church with that "hot" worship band. Our ability to cover a song is probably judged by many non-musician music lovers. And then I've heard some groups take a song and make it their own and their version sounds better than the original.
Of course our objective is that the presence of God be manifested and He be glorified, not our ability to cover, improvise or whatever we do with the songs.
I alternate between the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid) and "shimmering" the music. having only two instruments on a given Sunday (guitar, keyboard), and sometimes only guitar, we are very vocal and guitar driven - keyboardist is getting real good with lead sheets or sheet music with chords superimposed on it that he can go by and ignore the actual scores, because we (try) to put everything into a key that the majority of people can sing. sometimes it dampens the "feel" of the original, but usually not, and more people are more easily brought into worship. Also worth looking at "dumbing down" intricate arrangements that confuse or distract instead of allow people to flow with the song. (David Crowder's "O Praise Him" is a fine example - plenty of repetition and easy melody, but the syncopation is a little challenging for some, and the biggest difficulty is the inconsistency of the bridges, codas, etc. - and forget getting seniors to get into "la-la"s!) I love the song, I worship to the song, but it will get serious rework before ever taking it into a service here again - doesn't fit the culture of the church in its original arrangement. Arrangements have to be conducive to the lowest common denominator, not just the people who already know the song or that arrangement of the song. Christian artists are selling CD's which we will listen to over and over and memorize and by osmosis have no trouble worshiping to. Not so on Sunday morning with a diverse congregation that may or may not have even heard it. It's ALL about leading people in worship, not dragging them through a gauntlet! Again, with our limited instrumentation, I like to integrate a lot of "color" chords - extra fifths, minors with thirds, etc. - to give the music a little more "shimmer". This is especially effective if you have the capacity for multiple tunings on the keyboard and can use a Kernberger tuning on the keyboard and tune the guitar(s) to that instead of a straight A440. This may become more challenging as more instruments such as brass, etc. are added - I just don't know. As for the "mud" - when you have enough instruments for that to happen, the cream rises to the top and is evident when people know when or what NOT to play. And if they don't get that right away, you will have to "help" them. You ARE the leader. God put you there for a reason. You are leading mentoring, and yes, sometimes micro-managing, but under the plan of the One who called you. Submission to authority is part of our Christian journey an opens to door to God's anointing. If you are submitted to God and your team members are submitted to God, they shouldn't have any problem being submitted to you.
You stated "It's ALL about leading people in worship, not dragging them through a gauntlet!"
I agree. Some team members would suggest a tune that they found propelled them in, but were not conducive to congregational worship IMHO. Usually, too wordy, solo oriented, written for a piano when no one in the band played a keyboard. I tend to lean towards material that has "commercial" value. When a proven worship tune is studied, there are certain aspects that always seem to be common for the most part. Those who have played in professional cover bands usually identify those elements quickly.
Guitar dominant tunes, for the best part, I would try to leave them in original keys, and let the person best suited for that register lead the tune. A song in the sharp keys, loose impact if we drop them down a 1/2 or even a whole step.(unless they are originally using a capo) Of course, this is A-440 assumed. You guitarist and bassist can appreciate that I am sure. A song written for the key of say, G is real clunky if moved to F or say, C. The chord voicings get jacked up for the guitarist. As far as Kirnberger tuning, I would leave that one alone with a full band of course. Drop top / bottom, is OK when it's in the original.
I receive alot of respect from the musicians,like you said, the cream rises to the top, but can become soured if it stays on top too long. =)
I am learning how to temper managing others playing in a team. It's been a difficult challenge when others may
feel that your "preference" is trumping theirs. I believe that when I pressed for "my" preference too often, I would loose some respect from the team. I think they feel "injustice".
Rambling is kewl, that's what forums are for.
A few years back, I had issue with the other E guitarist.
When he would solo, he would go for the minor pentatonic everytime. My hope was if he would attempt to cop the solo, so he would pick up some new tools to put in his toolbox. Not too many popular worship tunes utilize minors in their chording structure nowaydays.
He would have to have his marshall 1/2 stack, NO efx., a "purist".
I tried to get him to look into a pod, He wouldn't even consider it back then.
2 years later, he has a line 6 pod, loves the efx., and uses them well I might add. He even finds the major pentatonics every once in awhile. =)
My gift's are from Father, my talent has developed through copying the masters, and using the tools I gained come into play when there is a place for improvising.
It is always a challenge to keep a lid on the performance aspects of playing before others.
The bassist would have a very animated playing style that might be seen as showboating to some, but, he always received so many positive comments on his playing. People could see where his joy was, and it was contaigious to the congregation!
How about animated preachers? You know, the guy that gets all worked up, marching all over the platform, spitting on the front seats. Fervency!!...some would see that as showboating too!
I personally don't judge that, eat the fish, and spit out the bones I say. I sometimes find a fervant, animated message refreshing and challenging.
A true worshipper enters in regardless of the eye gate. Those who are "observers" will see those who are entering in, and maybe, feel safe to release in themselves.
IMHO, G-d does not "show up" on Sunday, or the shekinah glory decend in our midst.
Could He?, you bet!.
I read he "inhabits" the praises of His people instead. His presence manifest in us because, His Spirit is resident in us that have received Him.
Dang,If I ain't gone from ramblin' to preachin'