Overseers Adam Diehl & Jon Paul Robles

One of the most un-talked about issues in Worship Leading, in my view, is how to prepare for rehearsal.

I mean if you’re able to say, “Let’s do this like Matt Redman’s second recording,” and everyone knows what you’re saying – more power to ya.

But for the rest of us — those who lead teams that don’t play together every week, who desire to be open to new people serving with the team (versus being an exclusive clique), there needs to be rehearsal preparation for the rehearsal to be clear (and timely).

So here are four questions to which I think every worship leader should have an answer before going into rehearsals:

What’s the Roadmap?

By “roadmap” I mean the flow of the song. For example… Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.

Refusal to establish a roadmap, in my view, is kinda selfish for a leader if you think about it. If you want others to be able to participate in worship leading with you, they need to know where you’re going — or at least what you’re thinking.

This is all about clarity and serving the team. They need to know what you’re thinking, leader. Do you really think you can go off on some new and random chord progression and other people can follow along? (If they can . . . well, that’s awesome and we all are jealous). It doesn’t have to limit you in a box – if you want to leave things uncertain, that’s okay! Just plan for some spontaneity so others can be spontaneous WITH YOU. Serve the team by telling them what’s in your head — however structured or loose that may be. Wouldn’t you appreciate that clarity from the leader if you were following?

For example, you might say, “We’ll do Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus – and then if I start praying we’ll play [designated chord progression] to leave some space for people to worship in their hearts, and I’m not sure what we’ll do after that.”

As a sidenote, for what its worth, my roadmaps are usually notated like this:
V1 C

I use separate lines because it gives me little “chunks” to glance at and remember a “little chunk” at a time.

Uncertainty and Spontaneity is okay (and good) in my book. But not communicating what that means for those following you only because you didn’t plan ahead – that’s not okay.

How will the song start?

Again, this is all about serving others you’re leading. Don’t expect them to read your mind or understand the way Chris Tomlin did it in his obscure remix.

What does the band play? Is there a specific introduction?
Is it musically connected to the previous song in a medley?
What will the leader do? (Prayer? Spoken Challenge?)

How will the song end?

This usually just entails what chord the band needs to end on. But see the questions above regarding the song’s start as well!

Are there any specific “mid-route” details?

This is about communicating cut-outs, builds, diminishes, quiets, louds, etc.

For example, “When we do the bridge four times, we’ll start soft and build each one and be really big by the chorus.”

The only thing worth adding here is that I think this question needs to be explained to the team AFTER they know the road map.

For example – I would never say, “Hey we’re going to Seattle by car. We’ll head west and then somewhere halfway through we’ll be able to drive as fast as we want and then after that we need to turn right.” No No. I’d give specific directions and THEN add commentary. Like, “We’re going to get on I-90 and head west all the way to Seattle. When we hit Montana, we can drive as fast as we want, and be watchful in Seattle because we’ll need to head North on I-5 to get downtown.”

In the same way, we aren’t clear when we give instructions like, “We’ll get big towards the end” unless the team knows when “the end” actually occurs (hence, the need for the roadmap FIRST).


In summary, the worship leader (or at least the music rehearsal leader, if that’s a different person) must have thought through each of these four questions before rehearsal starts. Regardless of how thorough or cursory his answers are, taking a moment to provide clarity to others on the team is always valuable.

One Response to "Rehearsal Prep Checklist"

  1. AMEN! :)

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