7 Steps To Practicing For Weekend Worship

You’ve committed to start practicing more for worship on weekends, but you’re still not seeing the results you’d like from your pre-worship prep. Here are 7 ways to give your worship prep a shot in the arm:
7. Listen. Listen to the entire setlist of music with the charts or chords in front of you. This will give you the bird’s eye view you need of the weekend’s set, and help you with the next step.
6. Re-chart it. You’ll know the music far better if you chart it yourself, and something about the process of charting helps you memorize. Don’t chart it using a lead sheet- use a faster method like the Nashville tablature system to save time. Check out this LC post to learn more.
5. Take notes. If you don’t have the time or technical ability to chart the songs, go heavy on the note taking. This is your first line of defense for keeping track of the subtleties of the songs, and keep you on top of anything else not in the music like patch changes.
4. Ask questions. If you’re in doubt about a song or section, give your worship leader or music director a call and ask for guidance. It’s always better to ask, than to assume and work up the wrong part. They’ll be thrilled to hear you’re so thorough with your practicing.
3. Work it up, then program. I used to make the mistake of programming my patches before I worked up the song, which focused me more on the sounds than the song. Stick with basic stock sounds during practices, and don’t worry about tweaking your tone until you’re comfortable with the songs.
2. Ditch the sheet music. After you’ve practiced with the sheet music for awhile, get rid of it. It’ll make you more musically aware during worship and help you perform with more passion. If you feel uncomfortable, take the sheet music onstage and refer to it only if you’re really struggling to remember a section.
1. Use the “gap” method for practice. Don’t cram your practice times together at the end of the week. Plan on spending a few minutes several times during the week to go over the music, and you’ll be able to retain more and have fewer memory lapses.

Loop Transitions

If you are new at using loops in worship or maybe you have been using them for a while, you have probably noticed that there can be awkward moments between songs.  Like when you hit the stop button and it kills all sounds everywhere and its just dead silent.  Or the loop ends and you are trying to get into the next song that is in a different key.  This post will give you just a couple ideas on how to improve your loop transitions.

1. Swelling Pad- If the song you are transitioning into is in the same key then you have the ability to have a swelling pad sound in the background of your loop.  Through ableton or your midi controller you can set up an expression pedal to control the volume of the ambient swell.  If you are looking for some great ambient swell sounds check out http://karlverkade.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-pad-bases he has created some killer sounds.  I have also used these to transition into different keys. You can also use the Keith McMillen 12Step Pedal and a virtual instrument in live to play a Pad live to help with transitions.
2. Overlap your loops-  This is kinda like the way a dj would be mixing in a club.  I have one loop running when I am getting to the end of the song I can trigger the next loop as the last one fades out.  To make this happen you have to create open space underneath each clip in the next scene (Essentially, a blank scene).  Then right click on the clip slot, and remove the stop button.  This also works really well transitioning into songs with the same key.
3.  Automation-  This is probably one trick that not many people know about. You can actually tell ableton to automatically trigger the next loop at the end of the song.  So you could have your whole set programmed to flow one song after the other, with just one trigger.  I use this alot with different parts of a song or an intro. You can accomplish this by using “Follow Actions” in Ableton on clips. Find these settings in the Clip Overview window. Please note though that Follow Actions do not work with Scenes. In other words, you cannot tell a scene to automatically play after another. You can only trigger different clips automatically.
4. Use Arrangement View – You could use arrangement view to layout your entire worship set in order. Then hit play and let it go through all of the songs horizontally from Left to Right. Add any fades or volume automation that you need.
Hope these ideas got you thinking.  Share you comments or concerns below.
About the Author:
Jake Stemo is a worship leader from Wichita, Kansas. Go check out his band In All Things Love

Giving Up Control

As worship leaders we all want control.  Control is the thing that keeps the band tight, the thing that keeps everyone on task.  We strive for it and some of us are even chasing after it.  When you have control how do you get to a point when you can give it away?

The past 6 months have been some of the craziest but most rewarding days of my life.  My family and I have been in multiple places and I have led worship at serval different churches, youth groups and camps as well as doing some recording with my band In all things Love. In the beginning of July I moved my family to Wichita Kansas to become an associate worship pastor at Newspring Church.  It has been a crazy journey to get here but I am extremely grateful to be at an amazing church and to see how God brought us here. Hopefully the worship leaders reading this post can resonate with where I am at since a lot of you have been in similar transitions or are currently transitioning.

When I started working at Newspring I had to give up control of triggering loops. I did not give up control because I had to but because it was what I needed to do to help focus my energy in other areas of our worship experience.  This has allowed me as a leader to focus on engaging the people in our church and intentionally leading them in worship. This has given me a great perspective as a worship leader to think through transitions and become more of a producer of all the elements coming together. I cannot lie, it is something that was hard for me to let go of and it still kills me everytime it takes to long for whoever is controlling the click/loop to kill it or go on to the next song.

This has caused me to over communicate the direction of the song.  One of the biggest lessons I am learning is about transitions between the elements in your services.  Communication with your worship team is huge.  If you can learn to communicate with each other it makes for a very smooth experience for everyone serving on your team.

I was able to give up control of this area of our worship experience because I took the time to teach someone else how it works and clearly communicate the transitions of the service.  Maybe this is your week to teach someone else how to trigger your loops/click.

Join the conversation.

About the Author:
Jake Stemo is a worship leader from Wichita, Kansas. Go check out his band In All Things Love

Band Transitions


I want to explore what a good transition is. I want to learn about what is working for other worship leaders and how you transition your band. You might be able to get through a song and everything went great but if the transition bombs it throws the whole mood of the experience. Sad to say but people get distracted very easily.

Just last week I was leading worship at our High school service and I had one of those awkward transition moments. You know the ones I’m talking about where it feels like an eternity before the song starts. Our band had just come out of a super seriours monologue skit and we were transitioning into How He Loves. The whole transition was depending on me because I was starting the lead part on electric. So the keys player started playing a nice pad sound(Compliments to Seeds Resource for the free reason patches) and I was ready to come in with my part and my guitar just wouldn’t work! Something happened with my pedal board and I had no sound (I’m sure you all have been in this position at one time or another). So I tried to signal the leader to start the song and he waits for a while and then BAM!!! My guitar regains its glorious tone filled sound and the awkward waiting transition is over. The only reason this was not a completely off the chain awkward moment is because the Keys where playing underneath the band while we transitioned into the next song.

You need to work very hard in your rehersal times to make the transitions great. I spend time each week making sure all our transitions make sense and flow together. If you have questions about transitions or have some great ideas on how you transition you band please leave a comment.

About the Author:
Jake Stemo is a worship leader from Wichita, Kansas. Go check out his band In All Things Love