The MD (Musical Director) is such an important role in the sunday team, their role is to support the Worship Leader/s to guide the team through rehearsal, service, and spontaneous moments. Here you’ll find some great resources to help you become a better MD at STN.
1. Know the charts
If you’re serving as an MD on a Sunday then knowing the charts off by heart is one of the most essential things you can do. Start by learning the full Main List in Numbers first and then approach each Sunday service separately making sure you’re aware of the correct chart. Feel free to write them out if that helps, but I’ve found committing the charts to memory helps when you’re trying to juggle the many roles during a service.
2. Know the songs
Come to rehearsal not just knowing the chart, but know how the song goes. This means dynamics, form, instrumentation, vibe. Helping the worship leader means getting inside the song and figuring out what gives the song it’s character. You’ll be more prepared to fly spontaneously if you know the songs intimately.
3. Setup the mic
You’ll be calling the shots through a silent mic on stage, that means that only those with in-ears in will be able to hear you (and not the congregation*). Get it setup so you can play naturally and chat without having to move. Often I see people set up their mic so they have to really lean in to it to be heard, but this often translates to missing the mic altogether during a service and no one hearing you. *Check this! You don’t want people hearing you counting in or having a joke with the team!
4. Make sure everyone can hear you
This might seem obvious, but during soundcheck make sure everyone can hear you and can hear you clearly. Get the band to play as loud as possible and then talk normally, if people can’t hear you then ask them to turn you up.
5. Make mental notes during rehearsal
Watch, listen, and make notes during rehearsal to any changes the Worship Leader wants to make to original form. Any changes from normal are the most commonly forgotten by a team, so you’ll need to remind the team during the service of these things.
6. Ask good questions
Often the worship leader isn’t thinking about the big picture or stressed about time and moving too quickly for the team, helping them by asking good, leading questions can relieve much of their pressure. Questions like:
Can we go over those chords again?
How would you like to transition?
Can we go over that transition again?
What kind of dynamics are we aiming for here?
How will we start/finish this song?
Is there a way to make this a little less busy/muddy?
How many should be singing the melody here?
What kind of energy do you need from the drummer?
7. Identify Strengths and Vulnerabilities in the team
Not all sunday teams are alike, that’s the beauty of God’s kingdom is that he uses people of all abilities to create something beautiful. As the MD it’s important to take note where the strengths and vulnerabilities of the team are. If you’ve got an unconfident keys player, try not to lean on them too much for spontaneous moments, and be ready to call chord names to them to guide them through. A worship leader who rushes may need a few prompts to hold back or keep the click. BVs who don’t know the lyrics or are feeling self-conscious may need some friendly banter or encouragement to relieve the stress and a prompt to look up and smile.
8.Set the culture tone
It’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to culture, but as a leader, your responsibility is greater. Say hi to everyone, ask them how they are, smile, encourage, get excited about the task at hand, worship and press in to Jesus. Setting the tone is a leadership decision, and as an MD you’re as much of a leader as the WL.
9. Is the band tight?
How am I working with the teams strengths/vulnerabilities to set the service up for a win?: Reasonably self-explanatory, but if the band isn’t tight in rehearsal it’s unlikely to be tight during the service. Use clear guidance, counting, and arrangement to bring the team together. Simple is better.
10. Learn the WL’s signals
Ask the Worship Leader/s for their signals. You’ll need to know - “Pull back”, “Repeat”, “Build it up”
11. Get Confident
Confidence is SO important as the MD, people are relying upon you to keep them together so make a call and stick with it. Sometimes things change mood-wise between rehearsal and service, but the best way to serve your team is to stick to the plan and go for it confidently.
12. Look Forward
Be ready for what’s coming next, whether it’s a chorus, down bridge, transition, ending, whatever - always be ahead of the game. Keep your eyes on the room and the Worship Leader.
13. Be Ready for Change
Have some plans for what happens if things start to change. If the worship leader pulls the band back, what are the band going to play? Can you communicate that quickly? Have you prepped the band for a holding pattern/groove?
14. Run on time
Try to help the rehearsal run on time. If the team is stuck on a section, guide them through it. If you’re out of time, prioritise the Transitions, Intros and Outros, the team should know how the song goes, but they won’t know how to get there together.
15. WL/Service Host Check-in
Check in with the WL and SH to make sure everything is ok. Do they know who is introducing worship/praying at the end? Are they feeling good? Do they need prayer for anything? How can you make their jobs easier?
16. Production Check in
Make sure the FOH engineer knows who is leading each song, and which songs need tracks to be coming through the system. Also if you’re doing new songs, make sure the ProPresenter operator is clear on the song form so there aren’t any dropped slides/lyrics. Ask the FOH engineer to cue your mic so they can hear anything you need to communicate to them.
17. Prayer Meeting
Get excited about prayer meeting! Join with the other teams serving on Sunday to press in to God, set your hearts before Him and prepare for worship. It’s so important you’re there and asking for the Spirit of God to move through the service. People’s lives are on the line!
18. Countdown and Intros
Our services start with a countdown leading straight into worship. Make sure the keys player is ready to pad up, tracks/click are ready to fire and the worship leader is on stage and on the ball ready to welcome and start worship. Know the countdown track so you know when the music fades (not always at 0secs!)
Take note and bring some encouragements to the team at the end, what went well, and feedback to the Worship Pastor and/or WL what could go better next time. Always in love, but always the truth!
20. Have fun!
My favourite MDs are the ones who can guide us through well but also keep the atmosphere light and friendly. Have a joke, get everyone smiling.