The Music Director (or Band Leader) is the unifier, the connector, the orchestrator, the multi-achiever, multi-tasker, the teacher, the customiser, the pacifier, the entertainer, the counsellor, the arbitrator, the Trustee of great attention, the elder or, at times, the “father” of the Worship Team. He is chief musician, and also the interface between the worship leader and the rest of the singers. His job is to align his music arrangements with the worship leader’s worship songset-journey-map so that musically, spiritually, it’s one synchronised worship flow. His job accounts for 70% of the successful outcome of a worship session.
A qualified Band Leader or Music Director is essentially one who possesses at a good level:
EQ, the Emotional Intelligence to empathize and get different people working harmoniously as a synergistic team
LQ, the leadership intelligence to lead varied skill level musicians and decide the best possible musical arrangement, suited to the capabilities of the band
SQ, the spiritual ability to communicate with God and others through music
MQ, the musical intelligence to understand, play and communicate through multiple instruments
THE COMMON STRUGGLES
These struggles happen from time to time if you are a Music Director (MD). They test the foundational beliefs, skill sets and acquired experience of Music Directors in every corporate worship setting.
Musicians with poor fundamentals - In a band, we are only as strong as the weakest player. MDs require an intimate knowledge of what is doable and worshipful at the same time, in order to manage weaker musicians or customise their parts. Greater sensitivity to their openness is required.
Insufficient knowledge of every musical instrument - This greatly impedes MD’s ability to lead and instruct the others. Even harder to win them over to your point of view or musical direction. Genuine trust comes unwillingly.
Unmusical or stagnant worship leader - Working with such a worship leader requires hand holding or adult-sitting. MD takes extra effort to make sure the right keys or mix of songs that form the worship medley are well prioritized and sequenced. Possibly, the complete song flow has to be written down, pre-agreed and as little room given to spontaneity, at least for a start.
Inconsistent drummer - A drummer who is not used to following metronome timing is susceptible to the lie of following the whims and fancies of the musicians, not realising they execute the tempo and rhythm that is to be followed by the rest. Put simply, the Music Director should always set the metronome tempo and the drummer should follow the metronome. The rest of the band should then follow the drummer.
Absent Vocal Harmony - Many worship teams operate without vocal harmony. What happens is the entire vocal section goes against the grain, the DNA of every other instrument in the band. Majority of the other instruments in the band exists as a harmony instrument. There is harmony in the different strings on the guitar, the keys on the keyboards, even in the drums! Vocalists have to be challenged to see themselves collectively as one instrument. Great ‘risk-taking’ has to be explored for vocal teams to harmonise intentionally, allowed to ‘fail’, pick themselves and thrive. The congregation is hungry for unity and harmony. Let’s feed them. MD has to work closely vocal director on this.
Low Dynamics - This is a result of songs poorly sequenced based on variety of rhythms and song flow. Also, a result of a band that is not skilled with the essential rhythmic styles and patterns to handle 90% of praise and worship songs. The MD has to vet through all chord charts distributed to the band. The exact worship flow of the entire worship set should be planned with dynamics, and written down.
Missing Frequencies - Missing frequencies very often mean missing musicians, or overcrowding of musicians or vocalists at a certain range. We need to use different musical frequencies especially for those big choruses. However, a band without an electric guitarist for example, makes the existing keyboardist or acoustic guitarist overwork to produce the same intensity of a reference YouTube recording. A band without a second keyboardist makes the main keyboardist overworked as well. MD has to always keep in mind to spread out as much as possible the available musicians across the spectrum of frequencies.
Poor Communication with Sound Tech - Sound Tech needs instructions on who is exactly leading or co-leading a song, whether it be vocalist or musician. MD plays strong role in uniting the music and sound team. He can share a copy of the worship flow, so as to inform Sound Tech on the sound direction to take.
Long practice times - This is a result of not having a clear worship set plan. It’s recommended for worship leaders to check with MDs to see if the set is feasible, given the available musicians.
All of these struggles, and more can be systematically managed over time. If we have a clear goal, time and commitment can overcome these struggles significantly. What every budding music director needs is a Master Trainer to help him/her elevate her perspective of music, role, qualification, management of this very significant role in the Worship Team.
Kingdom Music is committed to training worship leaders and music directors, who will better lead their worship teams clearly and synergistically for worship.