8th Grade Odor and Sucking Out Loud: 17 Ways to Build a Better Youth Band, 2

Read Part 1 (#1-5)
6. Create a standard form for each song. And don't deviate from that form (at least until #16 starts to happen). By a standard song form, I mean the order of the verse, chorus, bridge and other parts of the song. Use the original recording arrangement when possible. (And check out www.Transposr.com for changing mp3s to more student-friendly keys.)

7. Practice to improve.This generation of students has epic amounts of confidence infused from helicopter parents and school-sponsored self-esteem programs. You may have to yank some chains occasionally to help them to realize they are NOT yet the legends they think they are. Create the expectation of personal practice and continual improvement. Encourage and love them, but don't coddle them.

Photo: Flickr by Josh Delsman

8. Rehearse to relate. I have a mantra with my adult team: "Practice is personal. Rehearsal is relational." Rehearsal is partly about getting better as band. But for a youth band, it's the perfect chance to make deeper connections with your kids. It also gives your students a greater sense of belonging to and purpose in your ministry.

9. Let them make mistakes. Stress doing things well, but don't be that perfectionist youth leader. And you'll have to keep an eye on your mentors/teachers from the adult team. Remind them the goal isn't to create Jesus Culture-Cleveland or Hillsong Toledo. Also:

10. Encourage the students to make mistakes. The aforementioned self-esteem and confidence also cuts the other way--some students are paralyzed at the thought of making mistakes. I like tell my musicians: "Suck out loud. It's the only way you'll get better." 

Cued up for Part 3: Jon's Mom's Band. Stay tuned for that...

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