by Wade Huggins
Loops and multi-tracks are a tool – just like your guitar or keyboard. They can be used to truly improve the overall sound of your band. However, if you do not use the tools correctly, they can become a distraction and cause a great deal of frustration. Get the best out of the technology by using some of these techniques.
- Prepare your tracks. This sounds obvious but I have made this mistake myself. The week gets busy and you forget to go through and make sure everything is set up. As leaders, we have to prepare for rehearsal more than we expect our team to prepare. Rehearse going through the setlist – triggering the loops (regardless if you are actually the person triggering them). You wouldn’t show up to rehearsal with two broken guitar strings you have to change out. Show up with your Ableton set (or LC Prime) ready and tested to go!
- Give the team an accurate song map of the song (before rehearsal). There are several ways to do this. If you are using planningcenteronline.com or something like it, consider uploading an .mp3 of the actual multi-track split file so the band can practice with the actual form of the song (with the right cues and click) that will be used in the service. Email is another great tool! A lot of times, I’ll send the band an email the day of rehearsal so they know what I’m looking for in a particular song and I don’t have to spend time at rehearsal talking them through builds, transitions, and forms. Most worship teams have one rehearsal, a sound check, and then it’s go time. The more you can do to clarify the form of the song and service BEFOREHAND the better off you will be and the more effective your rehearsals will run.
- First run through the song, from beginning to end. No stopping! When I was first using loops and multi-tracks, we would get to a place in the song where we got lost or messed up a transition and I would stop, explain what happened, tell them what I was looking for, and then I’d have to navigate through the track to get us back at that same spot and we would run it from there (or even more time consuming, start over from the beginning). This made sense to me at first because it was how I used to run rehearsals before I started using loops and multi-tracks. Without loops, you could mess up and stop, then immediately pick up where you left off. What I have learned in this is basic – most musicians know when they messed up and what they need to do to fix it. Since I started doing this, my team knows that we will run through the song from start to finish. If we mess up, we all take a mental note. After we have been through the first time, I’ll touch on the places where we made mistakes and clarify what we need to do. Then we move on. It helps rehearsals be much more productive and efficient. It also teaches your team to keep going even when you make a mistake.
- Run trouble spots with only a click. Set up a way to solo just the click track and run trouble spots without the loop. It is sometimes beneficial to take the loop out and touch on spots. Less instrumentation helps the band hear the individual parts and get tight as a group without the loop. As a leader, you’ll also hear things you might not hear with the loop blaring in your ear.
- Practice Transitions. This is equally important as getting through the form, maybe more important. Make sure you take the time to run the transition several times with the band before you move on to the next song.
- Make sure everyone can hear the click/cues. Ask them, “Can you hear the cues? Click?” I have found cues and click to be one of the most helpful tools for rehearsal efficiency. Another thing you can do from time to time is record custom cues where you talk through the song and throw it in the cues track to give extra direction for rehearsal. This is especially helpful for songs that are a little more complex or for if you want to do something different than the original track.
Any other thoughts? I’d love to hear how you use tracks in rehearsal!
A passionate leader and talented singer-songwriter, Wade Huggins currently serves as Worship Pastor at First Baptist Athens. His primary passion for leading is the local church, but Wade also serves as a speaker, trainer, writer, and leads for retreats and camps. Wade manages the blog for loopcommmunity.com. He lives in Athens, TX with his wife Kristin and their two chihuahuas: Verdell and Schubert.
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.
People often tell me that they don’t have in-ear monitors at their church. If you’re wanting to use loops and are trying to figure out how to get the click to the drummer, check out this simple diagram for sending a Click and Monitor send to your drummer. Hope this helps. Matt
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.
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