david santistevan


How to plan for a great rehearsal

Sometimes we love it. Sometimes we hate it. Rehearsal can equal a recipe for disaster – bringing together different people of different ages with different skill levels with different musical experience with different opinions and different styles. Ready for a good time? I hope to equip you in this post with practical advice on how to improve your worship team rehearsals so you can start seeing some instant improvement. It’s possible for you to look forward to rehearsal. It’s possible for you to have consistently good rehearsals. It’s even possible for your team to have fun. It just takes hard work and some time to build momentum.

I think most worship leaders leave their rehearsals up to chance. Here are some things you should begin to implement:

1. Put front end work into rehearsals

  • Prepare for your rehearsals like you would prepare for a service.
  • Give intense thought/prayer to songs, transitions between each song (musically & vocally), musical arrangements.
  • Call/Email/Facebook/Twitter/Text/Go door-to-door to make sure everyone arrives on time. Enforce this in love 🙂
  • Depending on your musical knowledge, have ideas for what each instrument should do. You need to ‘produce’ the sound so it’s not mass musical chaos, which is very distracting to the goal of worship. If you don’t have this type of musical knowledge or training, you should find someone you trust who does and work very closely with them.
  • Make sure the stage is set for your musicians! You want to minimize distractions and focus on your rehearsal. Too often loads of time is lost finding direct boxes, cords, and making sure the stage and sound is ready. Do this beforehand. TRUST ME!
  • Don’t plan a rehearsal covering 400 songs. I typically rehearse for 2 hours and plan to get through 3-4 songs. I spend the most time on one song that I know will be a challenge. I also try and leave time for spontaneous practice too. More on that later.
  • Ask the question, “What is the goal of this rehearsal?” Write it down. Plan around it. See it happen.

2. Create a fun, disciplined culture

  • RELAX! Don’t be tense, mean, impatient, and rude to your team. You may be leading worship by yourself if you are. Give them a reason to respect you.
  • Have fun! Make jokes. Laugh at yourself a lot. Something weird seems to come over us musicians when we’re on a stage with lights and a guitar in hand. You’re not really that good 🙂 It’s healthy to realize that.
  • Don’t allow everyone to say whatever they want whenever they want to. The front-end work you put in will enable you to have an organized practice with a specific goal and outcome. Definitely allow your worship team to offer ideas and give input (which may even be better than yours), but realize YOU ARE THE LEADER! Lead them!
  • Challenge your team to musical excellence. Less is more. If someone is consistently messing up, talk to them personally. Challenge them to practice on their own and come to rehearsal prepared. If they come unprepared, again, talk to them personally. If you set this standard, over time you will see dramatic improvement.
  • Don’t be afraid to confront.

3. Prepare for the spontaneous

  • I’ve noticed the best worship experiences are not my breakthrough musical ideas, drum loops, and air-tight arrangements. It’s what happens in between.
  • Reserve 10-15 minutes of your rehearsal for ‘flow time’. Take a simple chord progression and flow with it. Teach them how be spontaneous musically, follow the Holy Spirit, and be sensitive to the moment.
  • Don’t be solely ‘music-centered’. Pray. Worship during your rehearsal. Lead the way.
  • BEFORE rehearsal, take time to pray over your songs, your musicians, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading in your practice.

June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Worship, Worship Leaders


  1. Good stuff, Dave! 🙂

    Comment by Kate Griffin | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] on this blog. How to flow in the spontaneous and some qualities of a great worship leader and even how to lead a great rehearsal. These are great things. But allow me to challenge you […]

    Pingback by The Pitfalls of “Professional” Worship Leaders « david santistevan | November 5, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] Rehearsals (rehearse songs & ‘flow’ moments) […]

    Pingback by Do You Disciple Your Worship Team? « david santistevan | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] go wrong, but at least you’ve done all you can to avoid them. Spend time in personal worship, put front end work into your rehearsals, plan your […]

    Pingback by 3 Ways Worship Leaders Can Deal with Discouragement « david santistevan | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] who is not prepared. Do the work to ‘set the table’ for your worship team. Put front end work into rehearsals, think through challenges you may face, set the stage, plan your devotional, know where you are […]

    Pingback by 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Leadership « david santistevan | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  6. […] Show up prepared for rehearsals and services. […]

    Pingback by Creating Unity on Your Worship Team « david santistevan | December 21, 2010 | Reply

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