Worship Teams: The Role of A Music Director

For most of my years working with worship teams, I have been both the Worship Leader (WL) and the Music Director (MD) or Band Leader. Many worship leaders prefer having someone else to direct the musicians so they can concentrate on leading the congregation in worship.

Currently, we have four worship teams that rotate. I lead worship on one of the teams and with the other three I serve as the MD.

In my role as a Music Director, here is what I have found gets the best overall results from our teams. Special note: we use an MD mic that is programmed by the sound-man so that only the worship team can hear the MD in their ‘in-ear’ monitors.

Pre-rehearsal

  1. Contact the worship band and set up the rehearsal. This is usually done 4-6 weeks in advance. (We use Planning Center Online). 
  2. About a week before the rehearsal, I double-check and follow-up on any team members who haven’t responded yet. (texting usually gets the best response)
  3. Recruit (and audition) any subs that might be needed.
  4. Pray for the team and the church.
  5. After receiving the worship list from the worship leader (usually 5-10 days before the rehearsal), I may make suggestions on keys, songs and flow.
  6. Write any new charts that might be needed for that week. This can include any choir, string, brass or orchestra parts if they are involved that week.
  7. Update all the charts and Mp3’s online for the band to rehearse with. (note: Planning Center has the ability to transpose MP3’s. I’ve also done this using Garageband)
  8. Email out notes to the band & singers (on the Monday before) about any problem areas to pay special attention to.
  9. Program the click for each song and any back-ground tracks for the service.
  10. Serve as IT help for any members having trouble with Planning Center.
  11. Do my own personal rehearsal (keys, acoustic guitar and/or woodwinds). This usually includes practicing with the original recordings (often in a new key) and reviewing the arrangements, instrumental groove and vocal parts. 
  12. Work with the sound-man on the band set-up for that week.

Mid-week Rehearsal (Wednesday or Thursday PM)

  1. Show up early and do my personal set-up.
  2. Greet all the team members as they arrive.
  3. Introduce any subs for that week.
  4. Work on getting the rehearsal started as soon as possible.
  5. Run the in-ear or monitor soundcheck.
  6. Have the worship leader open in prayer.
  7. Work with the worship leader on a song order for the rehearsal.
  8. Run the in-ear click off my iPad.
  9. Use my laptop or phone to run any tracks.
  10. Count-in the songs (via MD mic) and give musical cues.
  11. Address any problem areas that arise.
  12. Keep the rehearsal moving and productive.
  13. Give vocal and instrumental suggestions.
  14. Make musical suggestions to team members on areas to work on before Sunday.
  15. Close in prayer.

Production meeting (Thursday)

  1. Review last weeks services with the pastors, usher co-ordinator, sound and media.
  2. We work on this week’s service order.
  3. Close in prayer

Pre-Service Rehearsal

  1. Show up early and do my personal set-up.
  2. Work on getting the rehearsal started as soon as possible.
  3. Pray.
  4. Review the service order, lyrics and video shots with the worship team, pastors, sound, media, camera operators and floor director.
  5. Work with the team and sound on any last-minute adjustments.
  6. Work on musical transitions from one song to the next.
  7. Encourage the worship team to get past the music and worship God.
  8. Pray.

Services (9 AM & 11 AM)

  1. The band goes on early to tune.
  2. Cue and count-in all the clicks. 
  3. Give all the live musical cues (via MD mic). This usually includes cueing the team for the introduction, verses, chorus, bridge, any solos, a cappella sections, transitions and endings.
  4. Play and worship God.
  5. Remind the worship team to smile and worship.
  6. Socialize, eat and build community with the team between services.
  7. Play keyboard for the pastor at the end of the service.

What is your experience with the Worship Leader – Music Director dynamic? What is working in your situation?

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Comments from Facebook:

Tamarah ~ Great article – very helpful, thanks! I am the worship leader and music director, but as my team is growing, I have been looking at how to move to having the two roles separate.😀 In your article, you list out the job of the music director, and I would love to see a list of the job responsibilities for the worship leader working with a music director.

Mark ColeThat’s a good thought.. I’ll work on that..

AndrewWe use an MD each week, and it’s amazing how much flexibility that has created in what we do. His role looks super similar to what you’ve laid out. One of the most important things we’ve learned is to really develop the chemistry between the WL and the MD. When that is done, I (WL) know that we’re on the same page. He has full authority to make calls for repeated sections, structure changes, etc, because he can sense where I might want to lead the congregation. It’s awesome!

Mark ColeCool.. thanks for that feedback.. I totally agree about the WL-MD relationship.. it can make the whole team & worship stronger.

About Mark Cole

Jesus follower, Husband, Father, Worship Leader, Writer, Pastor, Church Consultant, Founding Arranger for Praisecharts.com, squash & tennis player, blogger & outdoor enthusiast.. (biking, hiking, skiing). Twitter: @MarkMCole Facebook: mmcole
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