10 tips to improve your worship team – stage placement
There is rarely one quick fix to improve the musicianship of your worship team. Individual tuition so that each musician can play competently as well as an emphasis on practice both as individuals and as a group will help hugely. But there are also plenty of more subtle and often overlooked issues to be considered – communication, leadership, dynamics, arrangements, musical flow and more.
Before we even start to play its worth thinking about where each of the instruments are placed. Most contemporary worship music has been influenced by rock bands, and it is therefore no surprise that many worship teams position themselves in a similar manner – the drummer at the back, lead singer in the middle and other players flanking each side. The looks great visually and is fine if you are well rehearsed with little need for spontaneity but most worship bands are really based on making community music where the interactive involvement of the congregation actually changes the order, volume, tempo and sound of the music. This challenge means the musicians primarily need to be able to see and hear each other to run with those changes on the fly.
With that in mind here are 10 tips to improve your team all around positioning:
Arrange yourselves where you can see each others eyes. You can communicate a lot just by eye and body movements. It’s no good for a drummer if the primary view they get of the worship leader is the back of their head! And make sure everyone has a clear view of the worship leader who should be directing the band through body language and other cues.
We often suggest that a “banana” shape works well.
Try placing the drum kit at the front and side of stage and rotate it 90 degrees so it faces inward to the rest of the musicians.
Experiment with arranging the other musicians in a semi circle so they can see each other too.
Split up instruments that produce sound in the same frequency range e.g. guitar and keyboard. Its so much easier to hear yourself if you are not competing with another sounds from the same octave range.
When sound checking work on hearing each other acoustically before adding any foldback.
Place amps only towards the musicians that need to hear them, like drummers. And be aware that when standing immediately in front of an amp you are unlikely to feel the full force – that will be reserved for the unfortunate Doris sitting in the front row of the congregation.
Try to position the whole band in the area in the building that best connects with the congregation. It can be anywhere, on a stage, in the round, whatever works best – just try to build a physical sense of all of us worshipping God communally together rather than a separated congregation and band.
Do you need to be on a stage at all? If so, too high or too low a platform can hinder communication.
The whole band doesn’t have to face the congregation. As in tip 1 the priority is being able to gain eye contact with each other.
Don’t put equipment in positions that block sight lines between you and the congregation – e.g. mic and music stands at head and even chest level can seem like a barrier and can hinder visual communication.