When it comes to programming a service, there are two moments most churches have consistently that pose a challenge for worship leaders:
1. The Offering.
2. The Welcome.
I’ve talked recently about how to make your welcome awesome and we’ll tackle the offering time in another post, but today I want to talk to you about something we’ve been doing recently that has helped to infuse our welcome with more energy and intentionality, without distracting from its initial purpose.
Now, this does assume that you’re doing your welcome (or announcements, whatever you want to call them) well. This includes clear communication, minimal bad jokes, and having an intentional win for this time together. If your Welcome sucks, check out this post for a few tips on how to make it awesome before continuing here.
The Welcome has a tendency, most times, to suck the energy right out of the room. It can break any momentum you’ve built in the first minutes of the service and put you in a hole as you want to really start pulling people in. However, we found a solution that has been working to keep the energy up during the welcome and to ease our transitions into and out of it:
Have the Band Play Behind the Welcome.
Essentially, we’ve been having the band play in the background while the host is leading the welcome. They aren’t playing a song or even playing at full band strength, but they are providing a nice bed of music as the backdrop for the welcome.
This does require that your band understands how to play with restraint and that your audio engineer is able to control the level of the band relative to the level of the communicator, but this has really helped boost our welcomes recently.Check out this ONE THING you can do to make your Welcome less awkward!Click To Tweet
In my experience, there are 2 keys to making this work well:
1. Keep It Organized.
First, you need to have things for your band organized. What chord progression are they going to play? How will they know when to start/stop? How are we going to end? These are all important things that need to be explained ahead of time and rehearsed as a group.
It is very helpful if you can have a Music Director mic setup for someone to lead these times. Essentially this is a mic that is only going to the in-ear mixes of the band, but not to the house mix. This way, whoever has the MD mic can speak to the band only.
You can use an automatic microphone gate like the Optogate PB-05, which uses a infrared laser to turn a mic signal on and off (this is what we use and it is AWESOME!) or a push-to-talk option like the Pro Co Power Mute or the Wirlwind MICMUTE-PT. These options ensure that your mic isn’t on all the time, but rather only when you want to be speak with the band.
Next, it’s important to keep things organized with your production team with regard to playing behind the welcome. The audio engineer needs to have time to rehearsal having the band play while the host is speaking over top of it. Lighting and Cameras need to know what to emphasize (i.e. not the band) during the time. Just communicate the vision of this piece clearly so that the whole team understand what’s trying to be accomplished.
Finally, make sure that your hosts know what’s going on before hand. Don’t just do it without letting them know what you’re trying to do, it will really mess with them. It is difficult to speak over a band if you’ve never done it before, so make sure that your host has time to rehearse speaking over the band as well.
2. Keep It Simple.
The #1 thing that will get you in trouble with playing behind the welcome is trying to do too much. You don’t want to try and play an instrumental version of a song or working through a complicated chord progression. When it comes to determining what you should play, remember K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid.
For the chord progression, I suggesting picking something that is familiar yet not distracting. I will typically take the Chorus or Bridge from a song we regularly play and use the chord progression for that. Also, I would suggest playing in the key of the song you’re going into next. That way, at the end of your Welcome, you can easily transition into the next song.
When it comes to what parts people should play, again, keep it simple! I have our drummers only using a Kick on the downbeat of each bar, or maybe on 2 & 4, depending on tempo, Our Bass players play whole notes, Keys players on pads, and guitar players are playing very simple parts. You want to the band to disappear into a backdrop for the announcements, not take over the segment.
Finally, when considering the tempo for your band, know what you’re playing behind. Are you playing behind something near the beginning of the service? Probably keep it more upbeat, something between 90-110 BPM. Playing behind the closing of a service after a message or song? Keep it a little slower, maybe 65-80 BPM. I wouldn’t go much over 120 BPM, as you’ll feel like you can’t keep up, but let your tempo help to set the feeling for your segment.What if the Band Played Behind Your Welcome? Here's how you can do it!Click To Tweet
You can also use this technique to play behind a baptism setup, a service, closing, or anything else. If you can help your band and production to have a clear vision for what you’re trying to do, and you can help them stay organized and keep it simple, playing behind the welcome can really help give your welcome new life.