I saw a reference in another thread about worship teams memorizing music. Have other teams tried this?
I'm quite new at this, but I started by giving our guitarist and keyboard player a list of a few dozen songs that I suspect they already know by heart but just never stopped to think about not needing the chord sheets. Once they let me know which ones they do have memorized, then I will circulate those to the rest of the team to work on memorizing. So the goal is that we will gradually add to that list . . . and of course as leader, I need to be willing to memorize lyrics and such as well!
Patti, as the worship leader and accoustic guitar player, I try to make a point of not needing my music. I think it gives the leader much more freedom to really get into the song and consequently lead the people there with him or her. If you're staring at your music stand the whole time, you're not going to relate to the people in front of you.
Keep only the words, almost never the music in front of you. Memorize as much as you can of the words, but keep it there as reference, esp for more complex songs.
The upside: This will develope your ear so you can play a song in any key without thinking. You will find you are focusing more on the words and your singing, on how the team sounds, and how the congregation is responding. You will also find it will give you more freedom to start imagining songs and song transitions in new ways.
For example, a few months ago I had my electric Guitar out and stumbled across a lick that I realized was the main line in "Wait Upon the Lord". It was in E, on the 7th fret. Later I lined "Wait Upon the Lord" for a Sunday, but when we started to sing it in practice, it was obviously too high for the men. Sooo.. instant transition to D, tried that. Noooo... still too high. Tried it again in C, and this was a keeper. We CCLI'd the music up for the musicians who needed it in C, and moved on.
I think memorizing the songs are a great idea. However, I have a memory problem and can't seem to get away from my music stand. It's a crutch for me. Plus when you think about it, we have near 70 songs in our repertoire. That's alot of songs to do from memory!
I so wish i wasn't married to my music stand but my memory is not what it used to be. I went cordless with my guitar, headset mic, and my IEM cuase i like to move around although the room on stage is limited but I just can't seem to get away from my stand but like most of us we have a rather large repetoire and trying to memorize all or even most of them is rather tough. I find that in the middle of a set with songs we do a lot I find that I seem to use the stand more as a crutch cause the idea of no stand or music would be a distaction as i would be to parinoid of messing up and causing a distraction and besides where would I keep all my spare picks as I'm always breaking them
This is a strange problem in some ways. I've been working on this with my team for a while now. We have over 200 songs that we currently pull from and we try not to repeat a song withing a 4 to 6 week period. So memorizing them is a bit rough. The problem I'm trying to deal with is not so much the memorizing songs to get rid of the music stands. I would like them to really use the music stands as a confidence aid. Right now the music stand becomes their total focal point. Staring at it intently during every song.
We talked about this the other night. What is odd is that a lot of the songs we sing, when they come on the radio we all have no problem knowing the words and singing right along. Yet on Sunday morning that same song gets us locking our attention tightly on the music stands. Same with guitar. I lead on guitar and at home I can usually sit down and fumble my way through the chords structures of a lot of the songs without having the music. But on Sunday I really have to fight the tendency to focus too much attention on my music stand.
What we've started doing is getting rid of some of the music stands and moving the rest more out of the way. Instead of everyone having their own stand we now share more. Instead of a stand being right there in front of you, it is more likely to be off to your left or right between you and someone else and further down and out of the way. We are teaching ourselves to steal a quick glance at the music just once every line or two as needed and focus on connecting with the congregation while playing and singing. That seems to be working pretty good. Without it right there easy to lock in on we tend to use our memories a bit more but not completely.
We have several hundred pieces of music that we use, so memorizing for the band at least would be very difficult. We have not even tried memorization for the band. We have in the past had the vocalists memorize the songs as we went along. That was successful, and I think it sends a positive vibe to the congregation. Now we have a projector for the back of the sanctuary, so we cheat off of that! You just have to be careful, though, that the team doesn't get the "deer in headlights" look from staring at the screen. Look quickly and look away! Ocassionally, however, we may bring music stands out on stage if we're using a song that is new or not as familiar to everyone.
I have to admit that our worship team is no different when it comes to memorizing songs. We come up with excuses like, "we have too many songs" or "it's hard to keep up with the ever changing new songs". The truth is we have become accustomed to using our music stands as a crutch that we find hard to let go. I understand that since we all have full time jobs and families it's hard to focus on memorizing the songs, but I believe we know the songs better than we think. For example: This past Sunday I inadvertantly (I really did) left out the chord chart for "The Happy Song". It was too late to do anything about it. I looked at my team members and everyone had the "deer in the headlights" look and I just smiled and said, "Let's do it". It came off without a hitch. I was very proud of all of us. Let's see what chord chart I "inadvertantly" leave out next.
You sneaky devil...yes, it's amazing what we can do when we don't have the music. Just think of playing guitar around a campfire.
Charts for the muscians can be hard to get rid of, but for the singers, I think every church should look at some kind of rear projection or even just tv sets at the front of the stage angled up at the singers. For the worship leader and BGVs especially, making eye contact with your audience just makes everything so much more real and authentic.
Dave made a good point that playing without the music will develope your ear for a certain key...unless the song is really complex. But that's been raised in another post!