Laura shares the secrets and struggles of her journey as a Worship Leader and songwriter as a wife and mother of two young children. In particular, she addresses the maturity and people skills required to be successful in leadership. You’ll hear how she programs her musicians for three services with respect to their individual availability. Finally, she talks about the impact that Mark Batterson‘s book The Circle Maker has had on her life and ministry (and songwriting).
Brandon (keyboardist for Break The Fall) talks to us about his thoughts as a “Back Pew Baptist“, sitting in the rear of a church, helping with the tech program, watching, and thinking about why we’re doing a lot of the things we do in church.
This podcast all started with a thoughtful tweet (and my followup blog post / analysis called ‘Throw-away songs’):
Why does a third of the church leave during the last worship song? Do we have better places to be than before God?
— Brandon Peoples (@BrrrPeoples) October 5, 2014
Check out his Church (especially if you’re in Rayville, Missouri), his amazing band Break The Fall (Amazon, iTunes), and if you ever wanted to master Propellerheard Reason, check out his extensive Reason Tutorials.
Pete recommends: Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decisionmaking
If you have something you’d like to share with the church on the Building Your Band Podcast, please contact me.
If you were to ask me who has the better voice – lead vocalists or the background vocalists – I wouldn’t hesitate to say that background vocalists have the better set of pipes. Making sense of that requires that you understand these are really really different job descriptions. A great set of pipes is not what being a frontman is all about.
I’ll be honest and say that my guilty pleasure is putting the background singers in my monitor. The truth is I can’t afford to put them in my monitor, I need to be listening to the guitars and the kick and hat, but if I possibly can, I do. Shshshsh.
New Zealander Lorde recently made history by being the first female and first solo artist to win the best rock video award at the VMAs. In her short time on stage, somewhat bewildered by it all, she asked the question: “Is there, like, a specific place I’m supposed to be looking?”
This is a telling question. If we don’t want people to be bewildered on Sunday morning, we need to have an answer to this question. The visual “melody” of the song if you will, must be clear. Lights can help create this focal point, but at a minimum, the worship leader must be visible. More than once, I’ve seen a worship leader sitting at a piano on the ground level with an unidentified voice coming from the sound system. If that worship leader needs to play a grand, get that piano on stage, or get them playing a big sample-playback keyboard on the stage. We have to get this right.
Let’s talk about sound for a moment.
Reality is generally coherent. For example when a twig snaps in the forest behind you, that means something is behind you. With artificial environments, sight and sound can be decoupled (become incoherent), to the detriment of the experience and the bewilderment of the observer.
Certainly, at a bare minimum, have your speakers up front where things are happening. Similarly, more than once I’ve actually seen speakers in the middle or even back of the church. The point is not just to make sound louder, it’s to make it all make sense. Disembodied voices are disorienting.
Now if you have a nice stereo setup, it makes sense to align the audio with your visuals. If backing vocals are slightly to the left, it may improve coherence to mix them that way. But if your drum kit is off to one side, I would still recommend panning it to the center of your mix (same with the bass), or if panning something off to one side means you will hear a different mix depending on where you sit in the house, then keep everything centered.
The goal is to make it easy for people to understand what is going on and minimize the artificiality of technology.
The worship leader has a unique role to play. In my perfect world, you need to be the focal point of a congregation and a band. You need to be comfortable in your own skin in that role. The congregation needs something to look at, so they don’t get lost or bored or confused. You need to channel that energy, being sensitive to the spirit of the room (as well as the Spirit in the room) and provide direction to the band about where things are going next.
The band has to have confidence in you, and you need to have confidence in your band. The more trust, the more opportunity for really remarkable things to happen. I mean things that you never could have scripted in a million years, things you simply cannot recreate from one service to the next (although you can try). Ideally, this person is willing to go there, to let it all hang out, because the band can never get in front of you. You have to be out front.
If you are comfortable in that spotlight, if you have trust in your band, if you can connect with the congregation, if you can let it all hang out, if you can stay open to the Spirit’s leading, you can truly help to bring things together in a unique and special way.
And if you can get out of the way for a few moments during the service – that’s even better.