Yesterday, I received an email from a church musician who was clearly frustrated and concerned, and he was desperate for some advice. He said his worship leader chronically waits until the last minute to start worship team practice for major holidays like Christmas and Easter. They’d only rehearsed and read over one song for Easter before this past week. As a result, they have 2-hour rehearsals scheduled for every night of next week leading up to Easter!
Multiple and grueling last-minute rehearsals can burn out band members and their families. They may get discouraged and end up dropping out of the band altogether.
Thankfully, this band member emailed me back today to say my advice below really helped him. He said, “I was thinking about just not doing Easter at all but after reading your response I am going to give it my absolute best.” PTL!
Below is how I responded to his concerns. What do you think of this advice and how might you advise him?
Thank you for your note. It sounds to me like your worship leader may have 2 problems common among worship leaders: procrastination and some lack of understanding.
Two Issues Worship Leaders Sometime Have
I’ve seen lots of worship leaders who wait until the last minute to prepare for services. The accepted model among many in fact is to introduce and rehearse music only once before playing it. This approach usually hinders excellence and discourages good musicians. What I try to teach guys is to start rehearsing songs 4-6 weeks in advance of playing them–especially more challenging and unfamiliar songs.
I have no doubt your WL is a good guy with good intentions. He probably just let Easter slip up on him, and now he finds himself in a situation where he has to practice every day next week just to catch up and be ready. He feels the pressure and responsibility of having to have the band ready, so he must now pass that pressure on to you. I don’t know his specific circumstances of course, but in most cases the pressure could have been avoided had the leader thought and planned ahead more.
His second problem may be a basic lack of understanding and empathy for his band members who work 40-60+ hours a week. As you know first hand, by the time you get to next weekends Easter services, you run the risk of being worn out completely from all the last minute rehearsals. If he hasn’t punched a clock in a while, he may not realize how difficult it really is on those who do. He’s not trying to be mean or uncaring. He simply may not know what he’s really asking and expecting of you guys.
Four Suggestions that Might Help
I suggest first of all you pray for him daily. Pray for his success and for God to give him understanding and to strengthen his areas of weakness. Prayer will not only help him, but it will also help guard your attitude toward him, to stay positive and supportive.
Next, work the music, attend the rehearsals and do the best you can with this situation. You are all in it now and you’ve got to be musically and spiritually ready for Easter, so you have to make the most of the situation.
However, once Easter is done, schedule a time to sit down and again talk with your WL. Start by affirming him and letting him know you pray daily for him, then share honestly about your concerns and frustrations. Say “____, i know you want the music to be the best it can be for Gods glory–so do I. That’s why I would really appreciate getting the music as far in advance as possible, so I and we can practice and be prepared.”
One more thing: go ahead now and expect him to procrastinate again at Christmas time. Thus, starting in October, plan to begin regularly reminding him to plan the music and rehearsals ahead. Keep a smile on your face and an affirming attitude every time you remind him.