12 Tips for Using Click Tracks in Worship

Or, how my team survived aural water-boarding…

A few weeks back I wrote about The Most Loved (And Hated) Member of My Team: the click track.

I won’t go into all the background of how we got to the point of using it all the time, but here’s a quick review of why:

Since “the band” every Sunday is actually a different combination of rotating instruments, we don’t have the luxury of putting in the hours and days and months it takes to get tight.

I went on to say that,

If you have rotating musicians, you know that creating a tight sound is tough. The first step in playing tight is playing in time. We leverage the click to keep us all together.

The carpenter uses a level.metronome

The baker uses a measuring cup.

The accountant uses a calculator.

Even the freehand of an artist paints within the confines of a canvas.

Our tool for tightness is the click track.

So I wanted to follow up that post with 12 practical tips for using a click:

1. Start simple. 
Just use a metronome that has a headphone jack out and the the ability to subdivide (we’ll get to that in a minute). Don’t try to learn Ableton or other loops based stuff. Just learn to play with a click first.

2. Sell the right people.
There will be a backlash (See #10). So as you’re starting down this path, get key members of your team to buy in and help support the decision to use a click.

3. Learn this mantra: “Better to be together than right.” 
I’m not sure it’s the exact words of the venerable Carl Albrecht, drummer extraordinaire with Paul Baloche and others. But I heard him say it at a worship conference as he was exhorting drummers to turn off the click if the band gets too far off. His point: You can stay with the click and be “right,” but it won’t sound good. Just get back with the team and hold to the tempo as best as you can.

4. Learn how to bail. 
Because of #3, the person operating the metronome (most likely the drummer) needs to know how to shut if off quick in those moments of irreversible dragging and rushing.

5. Subdivide. 
It is SOO much easier to stay on tempo if there is a subdivision of the beat. For most songs, having the eighths in is enough. For really slow songs, sixteenths will give you that extra connection between downbeats that you need. Most modern digital metronomes do this.

6. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Warning: the beeping of most metronomes can cause the loss of one’s sanctification. And if the volume is too loud in your in-ears, that aural water-boarding turns into a sonic icepick traveling horizontally through your head.

If you can find something that makes a more natural woodblock sound, great. However, the click does need to be a high enough pitch so it won’t get lost in the mix.

Just a side note: I actually prefer my iPhone’s $4 Tempo Advance metronome app’s click sound to one on our far more expensive Boss DB60.

7. Make individual practice a priority.
If the team practices with a click on their own, the learning curve will go so much faster. And don’t forget to “strongly encourage” your singers to practice with a click. They don’t like to admit it, but vocalists are some of the biggest culprits of tempo issues. Many are used to the fluid flow of a choir, or the accommodating accompaniment of the lone piano player.

8. Use only in rehearsal (at first).
Don’t push your team too far, too fast. Start in rehearsals where train wrecks are far less fatal. But don’t stay in practice-mode forever. Have a ‘go live’ date and stick to it.

9. Require everyone on in-ears to turn up the click.
Occasionally, I plug into another team member’s Aviom (personal monitor mixer) and wonder what in the world they’re singing/playing too (other than themselves). If a player is on in-ears (and that’s my whole team now), they’re strongly urged to turn up the click in their ears.

10. Be prepared for emotional outbursts.
Yes, really. For the uninitiated, playing to a click is akin to hearing your voice recorded for the first time. Most of us don’t realize how poor our timing truly is. The click track is this full-length, unforgiving, magnifying mirror that shows every last tempo blemish and blackhead.

Its ugly.

But that’s why people need to practice on their own.

11. Put tempo markings on your charts.
If you want people to practice on their own with a click, you’d better add tempo markings to the charts. And don’t be afraid to stray from the original recording tempos. Find what feels right for your team.

12. Keep after it.
When you go live for the first time, don’t get discouraged that you had to turn it off in the middle of EVERY song. That’s OK. Keep working on it at the next rehearsal, and try again the next Sunday.

I don’t remember when the first Sunday was that we finally didn’t have to turn the click off. But now, we’ve been doing it long enough that I don’t remember the last time we had to stop it in a service.

I’m telling you, the click track has really made us better, and better than we actually are. The experience of playing with a click has given us all a better sense of time. And the unifying factor of the click really does make us tighter as a band.

For discussion – how have you migrated to using a click? Any other points and tips for using a metronome or click with your team?

If you’re just starting down this path, any questions this post didn’t answer?

(This article was originally posted on WorshipTeamCoach.com. Used by permission.)

Official Launch of Version 5.0

WorshipPlanning.com Home PageIt’s a big day that has been a long time coming.
WorshipPlanning.com version 5.0 is finally live!  Whether your a current subscriber or not, you’ll notice our new snazzy “exterior” pages the moment you go to WorshipPlanning.com.  We’ve got lots of easy-to-find details about what WorshipPlanning.com has to offer, and a very informative 3 minute video that shows version 5.0 in action.

So, what does it mean that version 5.0 is now live?  Check out the questions and answers we imagine you might have:

Q: What is the major change with version 5.0?
A: Other than enhancements to the style of the site, we focused the majority of our efforts on the worship flow page.  This page hasn’t really been updated in years, and it is far-and-away the most used page on the site.  We wanted to make it both easier to use and more flexible.  This video gives you a nice overview of the new worship flow page.

worship flow screenshot

Q: Does this update cost anything?
A: There is no additional charge for this update.

Q: I was already using version 5.0.  What does this mean for me?
A: For several months, version 5.0 has been available in a “beta” for those that wanted to try it before the official rollout.  We are so very grateful for the thousands of users that tried the beta version, many of whom provide excellent feedback (thank you!!!).  Along with the official launch today, we have deployed several updates as a result of the most recent feedback provided.  Other than that, you probably won’t notice any other visual changes.  If you are looking closely, you might notice that the “beta.worshipplanning.com” web address is gone.  Instead, you should just see the regular “worshipplanning.com” address.

Q: I’m not ready to change to version 5.0 yet.  Can I stay with the old version?
A: Yes, for now.  Our goal is to make version 5.0 something that you want to upgrade to.  If you have tried version 5.0 and found things didn’t work the way you wanted, please reach out to us and let us know (if you haven’t already).  If you tried it and didn’t understand how it worked, the new video tutorial we’ve recently published should answer any questions you have about the worship flow.

If you had trouble understanding any other parts of the site, please let us know via the support center.  Eventually, we will be retiring the older version of WorshipPlanning.com because it is expensive to maintain two different versions.  The timeframe for retiring is not yet defined, but it seems like this summer is an excellent time to update on your own.

Q: If I updated to version 5.0, can I go back to the old version?
A: During the beta testing phase, it was possible to change back to the old version if desired, though it might interest you to know that well over 90% of those that tried the new version have stayed with it.  Now that version 5.0 has been officially rolled out, churches will not be able to go back to the older version.  If it is an emergency and you need to switch back, you can reach out to our support team where they have a hard time saying “no” to anything, and they might be able to help you out.

Q: If I sign up for WorshipPlanning.com today, which version will I be on?
A: Starting today, any new church that signs up for WorshipPlanning.com will automatically have version 5.0 enabled.  And as per the previous question, there will not be an option for them to revert to the older version of WP.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the release of WorshipPlanning.com 5.0!

Why Your Church Should Have A Facebook Page

Why Your Church Should Have A Facebook

The fact is we are in the digital age, but with most things The Church is behind the times. Sad, but true. Even with the most popular social media platform (Facebook) we have good excuses why our church doesn’t engage on it:
-We don’t have the time.
-We don’t have the resources.
-We don’t see the need for it.
-We want to focus on “real” ministry.
-On and on the list goes…

Here’s the reality: most people looking for a church will make a decision about whether or not to visit your church based on your online presence. That means that most people will never even step foot on your church campus if you don’t make a great first impression.

Your first impression in today’s world is your online presence. This includes your website and any other online platform you have. Let’s all agree, first of all, that it is a MUST that your church has a website…a nice website at that.

Second, I believe that every church should have a Facebook page. It’s a no-brainer…I hope. We cannot deny the fact that social media is a huge part of our American culture. However, some churches may still feel it’s not relevant to their congregation. Maybe their congregation is older. Just last week I was at the local Apple store and couldn’t help but notice a workshop that was going on in there on how to use your iPad. The workshop was full…with senior citizens. I’ve heard pastors say, “We don’t need a website. We don’t need to be on social media. Most of our members are old.” Sorry, you can’t use that excuse anymore. Even “old” people are on Facebook and surfing the Internet these days.

Still not sure if your church should invest time and energy into creating and managing a Facebook page? Maybe these statistics will convince you:
-1.23 billion monthly active users
-757 million daily active users
-Percentage of Internet users 65 years and older that use Facebook: 45%
-48% of users 18-34 years old check Facebook when they wake up
-There are over 54 million Facebook pages

Creating a Facebook page is free. However, I would recommend that you utilize someone who’s knowledgeable with creating Facebook pages and Facebook marketing to help you get started. As followers of Christ, we should go where the people are. Today, billions of people are on Facebook. Why should your church not be? Be where the people are. Engage with them. Encourage them. Use the technology to connect with the people and to spread The Good News!

One last thing: if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all. Meaning, if you’re not willing to put the time and effort into doing Facebook the right way, it would be better for your church to not have a Facebook page at all.

Does YOUR church have a Facebook page? Feel free to share the link in the comments below!

-Wisdom Moon
Wisdom is a husband, father, worship leader, songwriter, podcaster, and social media consultant. He has been involved in worship ministry for over 20 years. He is the Founder of All About Worship and The Songwriter’s Cafe. You can connect with Wisdom on Twitter @WisdomMoon and Facebook.com/wisdomaaw.

Introducing…WorshipPlanning.com Version 5.0

WorshipPlanning.com V5.0

The long-awaited update to WorshipPlanning.com has launched in “beta” version for anyone with a WorshipPlanning.com account.  So, what’s new in version 5.0?  Aside from updating the look and feel of the entire site, we focused our efforts on making the worship flow page easier and more flexible.  Here’s a brief list followed by a 2 minute video to show you many of the features in action.

Worship Flow Updates:

  • Add elements, songs, people and files to worship flow by drag and drop
  • In-line editing of all worship flow details
  • Down-to-the-second timing for elements
  • Set list view (hides timing details)
  • Add songs directly from SongSelect‘s database (SongSelect(tm) account required).
  • Unlimited person/role specific notes

This update is free for all WorshipPlanning.com accounts.  To get early access to these awesome features and help us beta test, follow the brief instructions on our support site.

Merry Christmas from WorshipPlanning.com

WP christmas

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)

For most church leaders this is probably the busiest season of the year. With service planning, Christmas programs, Christmas Eve service, along with finding Christmas presents for family and friends…it can get pretty exhausting.

We want to invite you to take 5 minutes today to pause and reflect on Jesus Christ – the true reason for the season. He came into the world as a baby, yet our Savior had no place to lay His head. We worship this humble, selfless King.

From all of us at WorshipPlanning.com, have a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Lord’s birth!

What is God Worth to You?

Thanksgiving has come and gone. And, the biggest shopping day of the year is also over…for 2013 at least. I heard there were some great deals out there! For me, personally, I like to stay home on Black Friday and just relax and enjoy some family time.money

When we shop for things like Christmas, which is just around the corner, most of us try to find the best deals. That’s why Black Friday is so huge! We consider not only what the person likes, but also how much money we have to work with. Interestingly, in a way, we also look at how much that person is “worth”. Are they worth spending $20 on? $50 on? $100 on? Most of us don’t spend as much money on our friends or co-workers as we do our family members…because our family is “worth” more to us.

In the midst of this busy season, with all the shopping and festivities, I’d like to challenge you with a question that I recently came across: “What is God worth to you?”

In the book The Way of A Worshiper, Buddy Owens (Teaching Pastor at Saddleback Church) writes, “When we worship God, we declare His worth. But in order to declare God’s worth, we must first discover His worth.”

Then he presents the question: “What is God worth to you?”

What a powerful question! As we enter into this Advent and Christmas season, consider that question. It’s a question that all of us must ask ourselves.

-Mark Logan

The Worship Leaders’ Comparison Game

If you’re a worship leader, you’ve probably struggled at one point or another with the comparison game.

balance

You compare your guitar with the other guy’s…’His guitar looks cooler than mine. I bet it cost at least $500 more! I’ve gotta have a better guitar than that guy!’

You compare your church with the other guy’s…’Man, how big is his church? He leads worship for 4 services!? I wish my church was that big!’

You even compare your family with the other guy’s…’He has 5 kids!? We only have one. We are so behind! His family even seems more happy!’

It’s also easy to compare ourselves and think the other way:

‘I can’t believe he can’t even sing that song in the original key!’

‘Did his church even audition him before hiring him? I would never hire that guy if I was a church.’

‘His church is so small. I must be a better worship leader since I lead worship at a church twice the size of his.’

The comparison game is a very dangerous game to play. We can either get discontent with what we have and where God has placed us, or we can get prideful in what we have and our abilities. We must protect our minds from the comparison game.

Social media doesn’t help either. Most of us only post the highlights…the things that will make us look good. We like to show off and brag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If social media causes you to struggle with comparing, maybe it’s time to delete your account, or at least limit your use.

Comparing yourself with others can lead to jealousy, coveting, pride, or even bitterness. God doesn’t want us to compare. He calls us to live in contentment.

Prayerfully ask yourself: What’s something I can do this week to protect myself from the comparison game? (Feel free to share in the comments below.)

-Mark Logan

Thank You For Voting For Us!

Editors PickReaders Choice

Here at WorshipPlanning.com we are dedicated to providing you a top-notch resource for your church’s planning needs. So, we are thrilled to be recognized in this year’s Best of the Best issue of Worship Leader Magazine!

We were honored with Editor’s Pick AND Readers’ Choice Awards, under the category of Planning Resources. So, thank you for voting for us! And, thank you Worship Leader Magazine for the recognition!

We are looking forward to unveiling more new features and updates soon! Stay tuned!

If you are not yet using WorshipPlanning.com, we invite you to give it a try for 30 days absolutely FREE!

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