What is your point of view, and experience?
If you are covering material, which most of us do, do you press for accuracy from your team?
Do you leave room for a more open interpretation by your players instead?

I have pressed for accuracy for the following reasons:
1. The arrangement of parts is already defined.
2. Rehearsals are more efficient..changing the song involves time and too much input from all makes a unified agreement tedious, Offence taken because "their idea" was not accepted.
3. If players are "pooled", they all know the same part. No surprises.
4. Covering others styles, chordings become "tools" in your toolbox to utilize as the band progresses into original material possibilities.
5. Using 3 guitarist, all would gravitate to familiar rythyms, in the same pocket. (machine gunning) mudding the sound.
6. Volume wars..3 guitarist playing the same pocket can't differentiate their instrument from the others.

I did receive complaints:
1.That personal creative input would be squelched
2. Micro-management by the chief musician.
(eg. keyboardist would fill all the pockets,mudding up the mix. Bass player had to compete with KB left hand.)
3.Required too much personal practice time to nail the part.

How do you balance these?

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John, I think it depends where your band is at. I've been accused of the same thing in the past - "squelching the creative spirit." The problem is, as you've already found, that if you leave most church musicians to their own devices, they end up doing the same thing over and over, and on every song. Not always, but more often than we'd like.

If your players are "young" (in their talent, not necessarily age), then I think learning off the cd is a great way to learn new styles, riffs - all that stuff you've mentioned. Plus, having everyone on the same page at practice night is so refreshing!

But if you start to see more seasoned musicians joining your team, then you probably need to start taking baby steps towards "opening up" the song. Yes, it's more work, but as a worship leader, I feel that a big part of my job is to help train, not just perform well. So maybe pick one or two songs per set, and say, "Hey, let's make this song our own. Throw out the suggestions, and as long as they work, we'll run with it." I think they'll start to appreciate it, and cut you some slack on the other songs.

One last thought, perhaps unrelated but here it is anyway - don't be afraid of doing a song that doesn't sound exactly how you'd like it. Most people in the audience can't tell the difference, and if it means having a happy team by giving them some say in the music, then I think it's worth it.
Thanks Rick,
I found an old blog of yours from 2008, and was going to reply. I'm glad we hooked up here.
Were on the same page of experience in this area for sure.
I am returning from a 1 year sabbatical. Are team at present is: 2 electrics, 2 acoustics, KB, drummer, BP.
It's muddy as all get out, alot of comp. in the same pocket.
Musically, the team is not focused, leadership is weak, and all the chairs are taken.
I'm meeting my pastor tommorow to clarify his vision as we move into a revamped warehouse to see where I can plug back in.
I am hoping for either pooling players, or multiple teams to evolve.
I played guitar and KB for 8 years. Best band I have played in for years.
This band disintegrated last year, bassist went to another work, drummer had major family issues, and I took a sabbatical.
This left the church with utilizing junior player's from the 1st service to comprise a band.
I have had 4 other (unsolicited) offers in other bands recently because I have not been playing.I have declined them all in hopes of a future where my family has been planted.
I can provide more detail.
I want to give you a chance to reply.
We need to remember that it is not about the musicians, it is about leading the congregation in musical worship. If we have a song that the congregation knows how it goes and we "perform" it a completely different style then it can distract them from their worship. My idea is work out a song how it should go and then only make minor changes. If it is a song that is new to the congregation then we can "play" with it a bit. For us we usually take out the guitar solos since we don't have a lead guitar. Melody should not change once it is set. If musicians want to have personal creativity it may need to be outside of the music leadership realm. Again it is not about us at all!
Thanks Jon,
I agree it's not about us, it is about others in the body. :)
In a small body, with a "set band", changing up the original song, and adapting to available resources makes sense.
If others rotate into the set band, I can see that becoming a little more prohibitive though.
We still try to do the songs as close as the recording we have. Some songs have many different versions out there so we try to find the one we can do and what we think the congregation can handle. Then we try to match as much as we can.
Thx TC....ha.. I cut my teeth on Vanzant!...yeh, I'm an ole' f--t
I think alot of us have some background in school bands, taught me alot about pockets, dynamics, discipline, musician etiquette (sp?)
So many that want to come on board haven't been there, they have a hard time with a "director" orchestrating.
Cacaphony....I've used the term, and had to explain what it is when I used it.
To most, you would come across as brother brillo (or sister sandpaper) in your leadership style. I'm kewl with it.
I blew up our band when during rehearsal, a dear brother (Joe) was asked to "assist" on the acoustic by the WL without advising anybody. He was willfully submitted to me for about the 1st 30 minutes, laying back in his pocket until I started a Baloche song that I was singing. Dude jumps up, snags a mike, and starts blowing lead right over me.
I blew a fuse. The WL couldn't understand what the problem was with me.
I walked of the platform after giving Joe a lesson on musicians etiquitte,the drummer walked, bass player walked, and I was asked to take a "sabbatical". Needless to say, bye bye band. It's all history now (over a year ago).
I have spent the last year praying, reading everything I could to understand myself and my motivations, and trevailing over the loss of eight years working in the tightest band I have ever been a part of.
Strange, but Joe called me a couple of months later to see how I was, and asked me to come play with him in another church! Wow, that was humbling. He ministered to me greatly. No one in the church even called to see how I was. I think I am pretty much over that now. :)
I went back to every person involved, asking forgiveness, releasing healing for all involved.
I still attend the same church, andmost importantly, have improved on my relationships with all.
I am meeting with my pastor tommorrow to see where he wants to go, and if I am still a viable part of the vision for the ministry. I could have gone to 4 other church's and played, but I haven't felt released to go.
The existing band is struggling, and some of the issues in the group are becoming more apparent to all.
I am hoping to re-insert back into the ministry, and be effectual for the whole body I am a part of.
I needed to run this by other's to see if I am way off base. It appears that much of the issues I have dealt with are somewhat, commonplace.
The secular cover bands that I played in for years had a different focus, usually getting paid at the end of the night. Christ centered, leadership is a very hard skillset to aquire from a world view perspective.
Sounds like you have some organizational/HR issues you should address. A lot of people problems need to be headed off at the pass. Also have the sound tech on your side and prep them ahead of time of any issues that you think could arise. I had a bass player and some sax players that would ask the techie to set up a mic for them so they could sing (except they can't carry a tune). I told them they should focus on their instruments because they were sounding really great and I needed them to be strong in their parts (yeah that's it). After practice I talked to the tech and let her know that no one gets a microphone unless I tell her to add one. OK this story getting long...long story short, keep everybody on the same page at all times, regardless of whether you are doing a cover or an, *GULP* original.
LOL, our bass players must have come from the same place!
Same issue..love the dude, he plays very well, but can't sing worth a dang (and he doesn't know it)
Told him the same thing!
The trouble began when he started giving the WL instructions on how to improve his singing! =)

Keeping all on the same page is a challenge...sheep are led, cattle are driven. I think most musicians fall into the bovinian category, wouldn't you agree?
John, guiding musicians (and I'm one of them) is worse than driving cattle, it's more like herding cats.
This is also my issue, I closely cover the material as I heard them in the recording. But I change some like key signature to fit the singer vocal range, passing interludes to go to next song, changing tempo's to compliment the next song in the set. But most of the time, I cover it as heard. I follow the same chordal structure as that of the recording. I use lead sheets and songbooks of the recording heavily. :(
Do you get flack from some wanting to do their own rendition instead?
I had the same experience as Tom Cooper, what they did was pretty much what they did all the time.
Sometimes it was apparent they coudn't cop the part,or, didn't practice, and were reticent to ask for help.
Gladly, that the new congregation I'm attending and the band players are good players from the secular amateur bands. They have been attending the church for a couple of year and started to play in the worship band early this year. They have little exposure with praise and worship music except for the worship leaders and singers that handing out the set to the guitarist, who acted then as the band leader. That has been the advantage for me that I'm a wide listener of praise and worship music, that I'm able to influence them to somwhat cover the recorded arrangment. If I heard the guitarist or the drummer or anyone in the group putting a slight changes thus sometime showing their creativity, I welcome it and if that is easy on the ear, I maintain the changes they put. But of course, before I was able to influence them, I prayed for them a lot, bonded with them and made them as my friends first so that if a correction come from me and misunderstanding or friction occured we will just sit in a coffee table as friends and settle our differences.


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