Have you ever received the worship leader’s most dreaded text message? That text you receive on Saturday night from someone on your team and it goes something like this, “Hey I feel awful but I am puking my guts out and there is no way I can play tomorrow! SO SORRY!” You’re nice so you respond, “No problem! Hope you feel better soon! We will figure it out.” But inside you are SCREAMING! Maybe you are at a small church and there are no back-up musicians to choose from. What do you do?
One of the primary jobs of the worship leader is to eliminate distractions and point people to Jesus. No bass player, inconsistent sound, and bad timing are all distractions. Thankfully, there is plenty of help out there for you.
Click tracks are your best friend. Click track? You ask… How is a click track supposed to help me fill in my missing bass player? Well, the first step to moving down the road of filling in the missing gaps is to start using a click track. There are entire articles written on this subject but in short: click tracks help your band play in time and open up a world of possibilities for all worship teams (smaller churches included) to greatly improve the sound of their team. Try just giving your drummer an ear bud and run a click into one ear from a phone metronome app or a click generator such as a Boss DB90. This is a simple and inexpensive step towards taking your band to the next level. You will find yourself spending less time in rehearsal getting the band to speed up or slow down and more time on other musical elements such as dynamics, voicing, and transitions. Introduce the click slowly in rehearsals only for a few weeks, then once your drummer is comfortable, you will be able to start using it every week in live worship.
Loops and Multi-tracks. Now that you have your band playing in time, you are able begin to introduce loops and multi-tracks. Have you ever been to a concert and saw the keys player or drummer with a laptop beside them? Odds are they are using software to run a click track and cues into the ears of the band and tracks out to the front of house. Good news! You can use the same technology to help fill in the gaps of missing players on your worship team! Perhaps you have heard of other churches doing this and thought it was too involved for your small church setting or maybe you are just hearing this for the first time. Either way, I am convinced that using tracks is one of the best things you can do for a smaller churches. Worship music today comes out with so many layers of sound. Many tracks may have 4 or 5 guitars, 3 keys, and auxiliary percussion. The artists don’t have that many people on stage (they are running tracks), and you do not have to in order to accomplish a consistent, excellent sound either.
Maybe your bass player calls in sick on Saturday night. Used to this meant that you would spend all night scavenging to find a bass player and sometimes that hunt ends in disaster (believe me, I know, I’ve been there). Using multi-tracks allows your band to play along to a track that plays the bass part for you – or guitar, keys, synth, drums.
Don’t be afraid. This technology is actually very easy to use and there are many resources out there to help you from square one. Loopcommunity.com is a great resource that has all the info you need to start using multi-tracks with your church band. Here are a few resources that you will find helpful:
· Loopcommunity.com PRIME App. This is a free (yes, free) mobile app that lets you mix what parts you want to play and it runs right from your iPad or iPhone. Click Here
· Don’t have money to buy Avioms or personal monitoring systems? You really only need to get the drummer set up to start. Here’s a simple way to make that happen. Click Here
· What’s the set-up? Here’s Basic hookup diagram – Click Here
If you have any questions at all or just want to learn more about using these resources, I am happy to chat with you about helping your team grow in this area! You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (social - @wadehuggins)- please, don’t hesitate to contact me! I have seen first hand what a difference using loops and multi-tracks can make for smaller churches. I love to help worship leaders discover the benefits of using this technology!