Ask the expert: Starting a worship band from scratch

Ask the expert: Starting a worship band from scratch

We received the following email from Viviene and it’s typical of the kind of question we are sent in:

“We are looking to start a band plus worship team but no one can play an instrument. Most of the singers just sing but with no harmony. How can you help?

If I purchase the drum video and the guitar video with our vocal would they learn the same song in order to play together?”

I thought that I’d unpack the normal answer we give (and also to see if our readers have any further advice):

Do we teach the same songs across different DVDs?

Yes, we do often use the same songs across our different DVD products. The list of songs and where they are used is actually over on our Worship Backing Band website.

However, as our portfolio of DVDs has been developed over the last 10 years, inevitably the more recent DVDs have newer songs on them. And very occasionally we might have taught the song in a different key on different DVDs.

Having said that I wouldn’t be too concerned about all the musicians having to learn the same song though. If people go through the Beginners course (and ideally the Song Learners/Worship Collection ) of their instrument, they will have the skills to transfer their knowledge into many other songs.

What about the singers? Everyone can sing after all

I would definitely suggest going through both the Worship Vocals DVD course. Even naturally able singers will learn something. And you often find that people who haven’t been trained have lots of bad habits which mean their voice isn’t at it’s best (not breathing properly, putting in too much vibrato etc etc).

The Harmony and Backing Vocals DVDs teach the high and low harmony parts to 20 songs (with the idea that you will then be able to transfer the learning to other songs). They come with a variety of backing tracks to really help you embed the learning.

We are buying lots of DVDs. Can we have a discount?

Yes. Of course. We love to reward customers when they buy more than one item so have created a “Build Your Own Bundle” product in the webstore. This is the place to get the lowest prices on all the products.

What other practice tools do you offer?

Our Musicians Practice Tracks DVD is currently half price and a great learning tool showcasing 54 contemporary songs. It shows which has on screen lyrics and chords and you can choose to remove any single instruments from the mix so you get to play along with a professional band. It’s a great learning tool both for beginners and established players wanting to pick up a new song quickly.

We have also invested in creating a set of training tracks along with workbook songbooks for beginner guitarists. For drummers there are four albums of training tracks.

You suggest using backing tracks but we want to have a live band not “karaoke” worship.

Firstly let’s hit the preference for an “all live band” myth on the head with this article. Backing tracks are used all the time even by professional bands. It’s not a crutch but a way to enhance the music you are playing whether with a full band, half a band or total amateurs.

So if you can put aside concerns about “Karaoke” worship, I would suggest that you have a look at our MultiTrack Pro Wav Player for playing backing tracks. Not only is this a solution that you could start using this immediately before your team are trained up but it will also really help them in their journey of musicianship. As your trainees develop they can play alongside it (and even take their own instrument out of the mix). It will give them loads of confidence and is a great way to get started with your band. They can solo their instrument so they can hear what is being played by the professional player. There are also harmony and lead vocals in the instrument mix which again can really give your singers confidence (or fill in for those missing harmonies). Because the Player has a right and left audio channel you could have the harmonies playing to your singers’ foldback so that the singers can listen and sing along (with the congregation just hearing the live voices).

And please don’t be put off by this “technological” solution. It is very simple to use and we’ve produced a series of video guides to help.

I would also suggest that it’s a really big ask of brand new musicians to suddenly start leading worship all by themselves. If you have one of two able, experienced players then it really is a lot easier but if they are all relatively inexperienced, it’s a tough job. It’s particularly challenging for the brand new drummer – having to keep time amidst a bunch of other newbies. Backing tracks will really ease this situation no end.

Can we trust the claims you make about the DVDs?

Firstly, there is a section for customer reviews under each DVD description in the webstore. Do click through there and read what other people have thought. Here is an encouraging story from someone in a similar situation who used our DVDs to train a worship team from scratch and is still buying new released from us regularly.

Any other free resources?

Yes. The website is full of them. Head over to the blog and click through the thousands of free videos and articles. Here are just a selection that may be relevant:

From 0 to worship band in 5 minutes

Empowering young people into worship – part 1,  part 2 and part 3

How to run a worship jam session

Rehearsing tips for worship musicians – video clip

Practical help for band rehearsals – part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 andpart 5 and part 6

Advice on leading small group worship

A salute to the average worship leader

10 things I wish I’d known when I started leading worship – Vicky Beeching

The Ideal Worship Leader (and other myths you should stop believing)

Does worship leader = musician or can others lead worship?

Top ten do’s and don’ts – worship leaders

Tips to improve your worship team

How do you give kind but honest feedback to musicians who just aren’t up to the job

Ask the expert – our song leader has trouble with counting and rhythm

Worship team auditions

Six ideas for working with your team outside of Sunday mornings

Building and pastoring our worship teams – Aaron Keyes

Pastoring a worship team

Three truths about small church worship

Top 10 signs you lead a smaller church worship ministry

Dealing with the challenges of leading worship in a small church

Kenny Lamm’s series on transitioning to contemporary worship may also be helpful:

Transitioning your church’s corporate worship – part 1

Technology improvement – part 2

Developing a worship leadership team – part 3

Song list creation – part 4

Helping the congregation learn new songs – part 5

Pulling together a worship team in a church moving from traditional to contemporary worship – part 6

What 8 things should you consider when selecting and serving worship vocalists – part 7

Cast vision for the new role of the choir – part 8

Educate, inform. Do it constantly – part 9