Find the Key to Taking Your Worship Team to the Next Level

//Find the Key to Taking Your Worship Team to the Next Level

Find the Key to Taking Your Worship Team to the Next Level

At some point, every professional develops systems to help them be more efficient and effective in their field. Some even find secret weapons that help them to stand out in the crowd, earn the respect of their peers, and ultimately find a way to add value to their job.  For a world-class chef, it is the secret ingredient. For worship leaders, I believe it is charting.

Chart ScreenShot In Your Presence

For the first few years as a worship leader, it was obvious to me that charting was the most effective way for me to communicate with my band.  I was able to read music, chord charts, and tablature, but it was clear that there were serious issues with them all. Standard notation took way too many pages. Typical chord charts and tablature were both too vague.  I needed something in the middle, so I set out on a major project to develop a system of charting that was unique, but offered solutions to all the problems I found with systems that I was familiar with.

  1. The chart should fit an entire song on two pages with as little repeating as possible.
  2. It should make it easier for those entering lyrics in presentation software to copy and paste without excessive reformatting of the text.
  3. It should allow the instruments to lay the foundation of the song, rather than the instruments trying to follow the vocal line.
  4. It should formatted clearly enough that one can glance down and capture enough information to look back up and engage the crowd before looking back down.
  5. It should contain details about the feel of the song as well as important parts for individual instruments.

The system I developed ended up looking like this:

G   |   C   |   Em   |   D

The entire progression is easily visible.  It is understood that each chord above takes up the entire measure.  If the progression contained half notes, it would look like this:

G   |   C   Am   |   Em   |   Dsus   D

In this instance, the C and Am chords are each half notes.  I would use brackets to help with anything more complex than that, shown below:

G   |  

[C   D]   Am   |   Em   |   Dsus   D

So the C and D are within a bracket, meaning that they are each quarter notes.  The Am in that same measure is a half note.  It may seem a bit difficult to read at first, but I always include an original recording of the song so that my band can listen to any complex rhythms.  I expect them to contact me during the week before rehearsal if they need any help figuring anything out.

Remember, one of our goals was that the instrumentalists would set the foundation of the song without relying on the vocal line. Another goal was to keep it easy to copy and paste into presentation software. So if we keep the instrumental lines separate from the vocal lines, it allows us to meet both of those goals. Using this method, the band should be able to play the entire song without one word sung. That lays the perfect foundation for the vocalists to be able to sing freely without messing up the band.

I opted for the lyrics to go below the band section, one stanza at a time.  We’ve formatted them a bit differently so that they are visually separated from the instrument sections.  Above each section, we are able to place specific queues for the band or vocals, like this:

FULL BAND – Drive Hard!
G   |   [C   D]   Am   |   Em   |   Dsus   D

Add Harmony
These are the words to our new song
The lyrics are certainly very awesome

I’ve found that using the fonts and line spacing that I’ve settled on, I can chart almost every song we have ever done to fit on two pages, with no repeats.  When a longer song contains an excessive amount of chord changes or lyrics, then I find ways to be very strategic about where to use repeats.  For instance, I’ll find a bridge that repeats several times and list out band queues for each time through.  Those times have been very rare, though, as nearly even song we’ve done fits on two pages with a fair amount of ease.

This style of charting has helped me to communicate clearly what my expectations are for the song. It also helps me to remember all of the details involved in each song, and it has become the backbone of my leadership when it comes to teaching new songs to our team. I hope that you will think through some of the same issues that I’ve dealt with in charting songs and perhaps develop a system that works well for you.

If you would like, feel free to DOWNLOAD MY CHART TEMPLATE (Apple Pages File) and use it to chart your own songs.

If you’d like to see an example of one of my charts, read my last blog post introducing a new song from Elevation Worship.

Discussion Question: What is your secret weapon?

By | 2016-12-15T16:31:24+00:00 July 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|1 Comment

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One Comment

  1. Matthew Short July 1, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Thanks Mark. Interesting article. I’ve seen this done in a lot of different ways but I like the bracket solution that you came up with. Thanks for sharing!

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