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Singers: Just because you have a mic in your hand...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    ...doesn't mean that you should USE IT AT ALL TIMES...

    Church praise team, Wednesday nights. We rock it hard, and we get a lot of high school kids in (including a surprising amount of goth/punk kids that you wouldn't expect to see in church). When I showed up, this teen girl was singing lead, and her friend was singing "backup" (ie also melody). Neither was good necessarily, but I was the new guy on drums, so I didn't worry about it. The band also had an acoustic guitarist/singer (who's good - he plays in a local band), and an amazing lead guitarist. The bassist is the lead singer's fiance.

    Well, long story short, the bassist (who also leads the middle school youth group) and the singer get pregnant. Both step down from leadership roles in the church. My sister, who plays bass in my band, steps into the bass playing role and she eventually starts singing lead. The acoustic player and I start singing backups, and we start getting VERY TIGHT.

    Fast forward to last week. The lead singer girl and her friend come back (she's still pregnant, and obviously so, but apparently the shotgun wedding from a few months ago is enough to put her back in the church's good graces). All musical synergy is destroyed. Frustration abounds. And on top of that, the lead singer's friend INSISTS upon singing when we've stopped... into the microphone... with no semblance of relative pitch... OVER AND OVER AGAIN...

    You want to talk about doodling on the guitar? It's nowhere NEAR as irritating as singers who insist upon talking to the band through the mic (when they're standing 3 feet away from you) and SINGING through the mic as we're trying to work out difficult passages.

    The church often finds itself in this difficult position. When the service started, there were 15 people attending, and 5 wanted to be involved with music. So what if 2 of them are tone deaf? But now that the service is up to 50 kids regularly, and there are 10 kids sitting out there that WANT to be involved and are better musicians, but CAN'T because the non-musicians are holding those "roles"... How do you ask them to step aside without defeating their enthusiasm?
  2. Be as polite as possible and just tell them the truth. The longer you wait, the worse it'll be.
  3. Is there some kind of church leader in charge that you can talk to? Trying to work this out amongst the group itself can be pretty difficult without an authority figure weighing in.
  4. tlwaps


    Feb 13, 2006
    Just tell them. You're out they're in.
  5. jimb213


    Nov 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    dude... what don't you play?

    That one's easy. Tell the current group that you want to give the other kids an opportunity to serve, and set up a rotation. If they balk at letting others sing, remind them that it's about worshipping Jesus, and not about them singinging on stage. And if they do complain about it, maybe suggest that they need to examine their motives for being on stage, and need to take a break until their hearts are in the right place to lead worship, not perform on stage.

    Remember this, too: I heard Mike Pilavachi speak recently. He's the pastor from Matt Redman's church (and was his youth pastor when Matt was young). He told a story about how much Matt sucked at one of his first worship-leading experiences. The point of his story is that you have to have the opportunity to be bad before you can be good.

    If you're the leader, work with these singers so that they can improve. If they're causing problems during rehearsal, tell 'em to be quiet while the musicians are working on their parts, and the musicians will be quiet while they're working on their parts. Make sure everyone knows what's expected during rehearsal.
  6. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Ummm... I'm not a very good trumpeter, but that's just because my chops are gone... :)

    No, I started out as a drummer, then picked up the guitar because I didn't think a drummer could sing lead in a rock and roll band. Then I had to play bass my junior year of high school in jazz band, and finally I seriously started playing piano my freshman year of college. When I transferred to the school I am about to graduate from, I had quite the decision on what to major in. In my heart, I was a drummer, but I knew that I wasn't versatile enough to be a percussion major (nor did I want to be). I didn't want to major in piano or guitar, because I didn't want playing them to turn into "homework". Thus, I decided to major in bass - arguably my weakest of the first three instruments I started to play (ironically, the only instrument that I'm not touching this semester is my bass).

    Now, as a music education major, I technically know how to play the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, french horn, oboe, bassoon, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. My strongest out of these is the trombone (and the DB, for obvious reasons).

    I also dabble with the recorder, ocarina and harmonica. :)

    Btw, thanks for the wise words. Sometimes it's tough for me to push the musician aside and see solely through the Christian eyes.
  7. I was in a somewhat similar position, but not in one of relative "power"

    My youth group used to have a pretty amazing praise band. I was in the "first iteration" you might say; it was where I learned most of what I know now. Anyway, the first 2 years went great, then the older members moved on (college/university out of town :(). So, to fill the void, the "leaders" of the group decided to open up practice to anyone who wanted to show up. The result: 7-10 guitarists (not joking), 5-8 singers, 3-4 drummers and 2 "percussionists", 4 pianists, 3 bassists (me included), and 1 violin player...at practice...nothing got done at practice. Someone would bring a song in to listen to, and during listening, 3 of the guitarists would be jamming in the corner. One of the bassists would incessantly play "Schism" in the wrong timing. One of the drummers was a Travis Barker wannabee. ARGH

    I'm almost posting this just to vent frustration, but also as a warning.

    Beware of opening up the group to everyone. As "nice" as it may seem to let others share their "gifts" it may cause more harm and strife than good...

    sorry for the rant

  8. jimb213


    Nov 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I've been in similar situations as an adult leader with the youth. Lots of kids showing up to practice 'cause it was a fun hangout time.

    I'd say as long as there's decent leadership, this kind of situation can be avoided. There probably needs to be one or two "everybody practices" just to sorta assess skill levels and see what kind of instrumentation you've got on your hands. Then whoever's in charge needs to set up a rotation so that only the band playing that week shows up for rehearsals, to cut down on the chaos.
  9. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Great advice.

    I also suggest integrating some of this into your opening prayers prior rehearsal. At our church, our opening prayers for the worship team always include letting ourselves decrease so that He may increase. That others don't see us, but see Him. That we empty ourselves, so that we may be filled with the spirit. This doesn't go for just musical service, but all service.

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