I’m in my third year serving as Director of Worship Studies at The King’s University/Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. We have weekly chapel services in which we present a three to four song worship set. Like most of you, we tend to present a “cover” of the recorded arrangement. Was there a keyboard hook during the intro? I’ll play it. Did the drums stay out until the reintro after the first chorus? Yep, that’s what our drummer will do.
Usually things go pretty well in the service. Afterward we meet for a debrief meeting. We’ll discuss how transitions went between songs, where any rough spots might have been in the set. Typical stuff. Probably much like what you do.
Contrast that with another experience I had this week. I was asked to have a couple of students from our music program provide background music for a University luncheon. In helping the students agree on what songs to play, I challenged them to not concern themselves so much with following the roadmap of recordings of the songs, but to take some creative liberties with them.
I gave them permission. If you visit my website, kerrtunes.com, you can find an important document. Here’s a link to the page. The link takes you to a page where you can download my permission slip. I give it out in most of the keyboard sessions I teach around the country with Paul Baloche or with Yamaha.
Simply put, the permission slip is your encouragement to explore other ways your songs can be presented. Could you use a different chord progression for the verse of “Good Good Father”? Could you create an original hook for guitar or piano to play for the opening of “Cornerstone”? The answer is a resounding yes to both of these questions.
My conviction that this can be a fulfilling exercise was reinforced when my students presented their music for the luncheon here. They mentioned to me that they really had fun doing it, and that it was exciting for them to spend time in their rehearsals exploring unique chord progressions and instrumental figures to use within their songs.
Try taking one of your songs and exploring some optional chords and instrumental lines you might use. You have permission. You might discover something richly rewarding musically, and the overflow might be that in one of your upcoming worship services you may find that your songs impact your congregation more significantly because your team is enthusiastically engaged musically playing a fresh arrangement, an arrangement whose content they influenced.