The frustration of many Worship Leaders, both new and seasoned, is getting the sound you desire out of your band. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you typically play, whether gospel, modern, blended, whatever, you’ve got the sound you’re looking for in your head.
You’ve heard it on records or maybe in another live experience before, but you don’t know how to coax it out of your own team. This can not only be frustrating but disheartening, even if your band sounds pretty good anyways. When it comes down to it, you know it can be better and you’re not quite sure how to make that happen.
Let me start by saying these two things:
1. I believe that it is OKAY to shoot for a specific sound.
Having a sonic goal will only help to move your team forward in the same direction. Don’t feel the pressure to be all bands to all people, and find that sound that you think will serve your church best.
2. I DON’T believe that there is an ultimate “right” sound.
Hopefully, the sound you’re looking for is meant to compliment your church. While playing Gospel tunes at my church wouldn’t be wrong, I don’t know if its the best fit for our church.
With that out of the way, let me outline a few ideas for you to try as you try to find your team’s sound that will help you keep from losing your team along the way.
If You’re Shifting, Communicate Why . . . A LOT
If you’re moving from one kind of music, or maybe mix of styles, to a specific sound, you need to communicate why you’re doing it and you need to do it A LOT. People on your team aren’t going to want to be told that change is happening, so get on board. It’s YOUR JOB to cast the vision for why the change is needed.
This is true in many places in leadership, but we need to paint a picture of where we are, where we’re going, and why we HAVE to go there (Thanks Bill Hybels). And just when you’re starting to feel like a broken record, you’re probably starting to be heard a little bit, so keep going. Change isn’t easy, especially when you’re searching for your sound, so communicate the WHY upfront.
Be Very Clear With Where You’re Heading
Like I mentioned above, part of our job is painting a very clear picture of what the destination looks like. What are the musical characteristics of the sound we’re looking for? Are there any bands who are doing it well already that they can listen to? What DOESN’T this sound include?
The clearer you are with the end goal, the better you set your team up for success. Give some healthy boundaries that the team needs to keep in mind as they’re playing. Use lots of descriptive words, and then clarify what those words really mean and how you can achieve them with their instrument. Clarity will bring Momentum.
Provide Tools (as Best You Can)
When working towards a new or different sound, you’re going to want to find tools to help your team get there. They don’t have to be expensive, and you can take steps to help your team learn new skills and techniques that are required for your new sound.
Make an Amazon Wish List of guitar pedals that are typically used in this kind of music. Find YouTube videos of bands playing in this style of music. None of these things I mentioned cost money, but they are tools you can put in your team’s hands to be better equipped to move towards a new sound.
Be Consistent With Feedback
As you’re starting to play towards this new sound, you need to be very consistent with your feedback. Don’t just make a comment once about a guitar player’s tone and hope that it sticks. Work with that teammate to hone the tone (I know, it made me feel weird too) that you’re looking for.
Let your team members know when they’re doing something that doesn’t fit in that new sound, but also make sure to tell them when they’re doing something RIGHT! Be honest when things don’t work and heap praise when things are clicking. Most musicians desire that kind of feedback, especially when it is thoughtful and designed to help, so be consistent!
Talk About It As Friends
This one might seem dumb, but take the time to talk about the sound as friends. What I mean is talk shop with your team. Everyone has different musical preferences, and those musicians tend to like to talk about music together.
I’m not saying that you need to have a gripe session about how people like this and don’t like that, but rather take the time to talk about the songs you’re playing as musicians who love music. This will help your team bond and help them to learn more about the sound you’re going for.