11 Ways to Improve Worship Rehearsals

Jedidiah Smith offers tips for efficient and effective rehearsals:

Dear Worship Leader,

Never underestimate the power of a good rehearsal. They go along way to improving the worship experience for your church and are vital in creating a healthy culture among your musicians. So don’t settle for poor or even mediocre rehearsals.

If your still not convinced that well run rehearsals are a big deal, here are a couple more reasons:

  • It shows a ton of respect for your volunteers time. I can’t stress this enough. To habitually run a bad rehearsal is to disrespect your time of people on your team. If you feel you run bad rehearsals you might be tempted to feel bad about it. Feeling bad about something is surprisingly unproductive. Resolve to improve and make progress little by little. The rest of this post will help.-It increases moral. Nothing is more discouraging than a rehearsal that feels like a waste.
  • It increases moral. Nothing is more discouraging than a rehearsal that feels like a waste.

Clear definitions are important, so before we can talk about ways of improving your rehearsals, let’s try to clearly define what makes a good rehearsal.

1. Questions are Answered

In a good rehearsal, musicians walk away more confident than when they walked in. Questions they brought with them during the rehearsal are answered. Maybe it’s questions about transitions between songs, the chord progression of the instrumental or how they are going to groove with the drummer.

Whatever the questions, it’s important that your team (and you) walk away from the rehearsal with more fewer question marks than when you first arrived. This means decisions will have to be made and you will be the one who will have to make them. This means that ideas will have to be clearly articulated and you will be the one articulating them.

2. Good music to talking ratio.

Playing music is fun. That’s why people join bands. If people walk away feeling like they spent more time playing music (fun) than they did anything else (not fun) they will look at that rehearsal as time well spent.

3. You and your band play music better together.

This is obvious but worth noting. Everyone should be able to point to the rehearsal and credit it for playing a song better, or nailing a transition.

So can we make our rehearsals better? Glad you asked. Here are 11 ways to improve your rehearsals.


Getting your musicians to play music quickly will snap your musicians (and you) in the right mind set for the rehearsal. This will set the tone for the rest of the rehearsal. If you waste time before the first song, there’s a good chance it will be harder to get your team to focus between the rest of the songs. The simple act of playing a song right away will send the message that you respect everyone’s time and that you really want to make the worship set a good experience for your church.


Don’t just start with the first song in the list. If you have to, practice the songs out of order and start with an easy one, a slow pitch that the band can hit out of the park. This will build your team’s confidence. Working on a hard song is psychologically easier to handle if you already have a song under your belt.


Once your team nails a song, pat them on the back…metaphorically speaking at least. If they played the song well, let them know. It’s possible for us musicians to play something well and still not feel good about it. Sometimes, just hearing the worship leader express satisfaction in how the song was played is enough to put everyone at ease.


This is incredibly powerful. The moment someone does something right or really cool, let them know. Sometimes just a quick, “dude, that was sweet” right before you sing the next lyric goes a long way to affirming your team and building their confidence.

Obviously it’s hard to communicate during a song. I like to make mental notes of what musicians are doing well. Once the song is done, I let them know specifically what it was they did I thought was so cool.

The more specific you can be, the better. Tell them where in the song it was, tell them specifically what they did, and let them know it was cool or exactly what the song needed.


You know your team. Get to know the song and try to predict what part of the song your team might have a hard time with. Is the transition into the bridge a little different? Is it clear what the instrumental progression will be? Predict what it might be and bring it up before you play the song. Set them up to play the song perfectly the first time through.

Continue reading.



Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


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