Obviously the most important things during any worship band rehearsal are prayer and worship. That should be at the top of any worship band’s list. That aside, what would you say the most important part of the rehearsal? For me there is nothing more important for our worship band rehearsals than some jam time. Plain and simple, unscripted time to just be musicians. I know, your rehearsal time is tightly scheduled and allowing 10 minutes of seemingly unproductive time is hard to imagine. But let me give you a few good reasons to allow your band to just jam for a bit next time they get together.
1. The more you play together as a band the more you know each other and how you play, where your going musically, and generally just a better feel for how each other plays and hears the music. Yes this can be done during regular rehearsals. But regular rehearsals tend to be too structured to really get a feel for how each musicians plays. It builds confidence in each other and can lead to better spontaneity in your worship. The more you play together the more you know where each person is going.
2. It’s fun. I don’t know if every worship rehearsal runs like ours but at times it can tend to get tedious, repetitious, and just promote a lackluster attitude through the team. It happens, not often, but it happens. Taking a few minutes to just play without regard to perfect notes, parts, or timing, can lead to an endorphin charged rehearsal. It always goes better when people are relaxed and happy. (if that doesn’t work just give them coffee – that always works for musicians)
3. Jam sessions can lead to new music. I don’t know if you are a team or worship leader that writes music but if so, this is a great tool to do so. When I have written in the past, (i am suffering from major writer’s block – need to get over my fear of crappy music) writing during and through jam sessions was my absolute favorite way to write. You get a great feel for how a song wants to develop when instruments are in. You hear different harmonics than you would with just a piano or just a guitar.
4. It encourages creativity. Let’s face it, many worship songs you probably play have very similar chord progressions. Chances are you will end up jamming on one that is similar to a song you will play during service. This can lead you to find new ways to treat the chords, arrangements, instrumentation, and so much more. Let these jam sessions encourage and lead you to find new ways to use your gifts, instruments, and talents (unless this leads you to trying to create a cooler newer arrangement of Lord I Lift Your Name on High – that song did it’s job, had it’s day – now it needs to go away, far, far away).
5. It allows instrumentalists opportunity to flex their skills when they might not normally get a chance too do so. Nobody needs a guitar player soloing over ever inch of a worship song. But at the same time it is hard to ask many talented musicians to come in week after week to play power chords and cross pick 4 chords. Giving them time to show off their chops, get their guitar solo face on, and just let loose is a good thing (be warned that if not contained to a jam session that guitar solo face may rear its head in the middle of a slow worshipful moment). And you may just find out more about your instrumentalists ability, restraint, and musicality than you knew before.
6. You can worship with no lyrics. There I said it. Yep you don’t have to speak or sing to actually worship. I know crazy eh? The simplest jam session can turn into a full fledged time of worship before you know it. To me these are some of the most powerful moments in worship. Take a moment to read this quote found written on a German Opera House.
“Bach gave us God’s word,
Beethoven gave us God’s fire,
Mozart gave us God’s laughter,
God gave us music so that we may pray without words.”
So don’t be afraid to pencil in some time to just let someone pick a chord progression and go to town as a worship band. You may be surprised to find out how much it can benefit your worship service.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with this idea. Do you have time allowed to just jam as a band? Has it been beneficial? Has it been not so great?