Sound Like the Pros


I’ll often hear the question “Should my praise band copy professional worship recordings?” Sure you should, and here’s why:

Amateur praise band musicians tend to overplay, and copying professional recordings teaches good habits. You’ve probably experienced a praise band rehearsal where everyone is chaotically playing every chord on every beat with all their heart, soul and might. Inexperienced musicians want to be active every moment or they feel they’re not participating.

A close examination of any professionally recorded worship song will reveal that every instrument does not play continually throughout the song!

Good music has dynamics. An electric guitar lick might not appear until the second verse. Strumming might not start until the final chorus. Or everyone will jam from the start, dropping to a light, sparse bridge, then come together again for a big, final chorus. Every song is different, and every song must be played appropriately.

Asking your musicians to copy a recording will separate the sheep from the goats. From my experience, good players (and those who strive to be good) enjoy the process of replicating a professional recording because good players like to find out what the pros are doing. They want to hear if there are any new tricks they can add to their own bag (and get better in the process.)

Read an interview with any famous musician and you’ll likely hear something to the effect of “as a kid I locked myself in my bedroom and studied [insert rock music icon]’s record over and over until I could play it note for note.” Top musicians become top musicians by studying top musicians.

Players with amateur thinking tend to be uninterested in copying a pro, if not downright opposed. They also tend to have endless rabbit-trail ideas that eat up rehearsal time (experienced musicians go through the rabbit-trail phase during their junior-high garage band years. Now they just want to get the job done efficiently.)

Current praise songs should sound like they were originally recorded. With the glut of modern worship music most contemporary church congregations don’t know half the songs in praise sets as it is, so let’s not further confuse them by changing the arrangements of the songs they do know! Stick to the recordings for now, then once the song has been in rotation for a good while (and your band is solid and trained) try freshening it up with your own or an alternate arrangement.

Bottom Line: Help those players who are less experienced realize that it’s only in everyone’s best interest to copy a professional recording. They’ll grow as musicians and as an added bonus, the music will get better!


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


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