Play It All the Way Through
Late last summer, I was having a conversation with a younger worship leader over coffee. In the midst of discussing various practical ways to lead our worship teams, the subject of rehearsing songs came up. It went something like this:
Him: “How much do you worry about everything being just right?”
Me: “Well, I think it’s important that a leader pushes the team to excellence, so I do work to try to get them where I want them to be musically. But I usually don’t stop and fix something until we’ve played the song all the way through.”
That last part was new for him. At one point, it was new for me. Play the song all the way through before you go back and fix things. Why?
1) When you stop every time you hear something that needs to be fixed, the team does not get a feel for the song as a whole. When musicians don’t get a feel for the song as a whole, they don’t play with the kind of feel that they would if they did.
2) Many times, when I lead us to play all the way through a song, the musicians will fix notes or harmonies that they missed on the first time through a verse or chorus. It communicates a sense of trust that I don’t stop the song every time someone misses a note, and it gives them time to fix it on their own.
3) It’s much easier to enjoy rehearsal when you are actually doing full songs.
4) It gives musicians a chance to be creative as we move through the flow of the song. If they don’t know where a song is going due to all the stopping and starting, it can curb creativity.
Of course, there are times when I have to stop. Maybe the beat/feel is completely different than what I would like. Or maybe someone is consistently missing a note and I don’t want them to get in the habit of playing it wrong. Certainly it makes sense to stop when you can tell someone is lost. But overall, I encourage worship leaders to play it through. I’ve been pleased with how it enhances our rehearsals.