Five (and a half) Tips for Teaching New Songs, #4
By Jon Nicol
I wondered why everyone just stared glassy-eyed for half the worship set. OK, they might've been glassy-eyed the whole set. I just had my eyes closed because I couldn't take it.
I was a young worship leader without a ton of confidence. The "unsinging undead" was unnerving me. I just chalked it up to them being unspiritual.
Afterwards, I was talking about the congregation's lack of participation with someone in the church whom I figured "got it." She got it alright, and she gave it to me:
"You were singing too many new songs."
In my effort to bring this congregation into the then-current decade, I had pushed new song after new song at them. I figured since we had sung one a couple times, we were ready to move on to another new tune. After awhile, I had introduced enough new and current songs to create (what I thought) was a killer worship set.
Oh, it killed. But not in the good way.
It's obvious I had yet to learn the principles that've spawned this Five Tip series. But besides not intentionally introducing and teaching new songs well, I committed another worship planning faux pas: surround a new song with other unfamiliar tunes.
Which brings us to tip #4:
#4. Create a new-song sandwich.
Whenever I introduce a new song for worship, I try to place it between two well-known/loved songs. Worshipers will come into the new song engaged and enjoying worship. Even though they won't connect with the new song as well, they'll re-engage as we move on to something more familiar.
Now imagine that I placed another lesser-known tune right after a new song. That could leave people struggling to connect for the better part of 10 minutes. Which in my situation, is 1/3 to 1/2 the time we spend worshiping through music.
New song placement is crucial. Here are a few things to think about when you're planning a service with a new song:
1. Placing a new song as an opening or closing song is (almost always) a bad idea.
The opening and closing of your services are prime real estate. With one, you set the tone for the service. With the other, you're sending people out.
An exception: If your opening song is a "welcome song" and meant more for listening, then a new tune is great. But just to open a set of worship with a relatively unfamiliar tune is asking for disengagement.
And to be completely honest, I closed this last week with a new song. We had just started the process of introducing this new song. So I had only done it once as a "pre-service song" the week before. During planning this week, my lead pastor saw I was running it again during the pre-service, and he requested it for a closer to his message. So I broke my "rule." Which is OK to do when it serves a bigger purpose.
2. Put some thought into the "bread" of the new song sandwich.
I've gotten tougher on myself as I plan. I scrutinize what song precedes and what song follows the new one. Try to make the "bread" of your "new song sandwich" the worship equivalent of tasty comfort food. Like a well-loved hymn or a classic chorus.
3. Maintain worship flow.
Let's get real. How do I intentionally teach a new song (Tip #3), plus sandwich it between two well-known songs and still keep the flow of worship going?
Good question. Here are two options:
- Stop the flow of worship and teach the song. Or,
- Do tip number 4½: teach the song at the top of the set to prepare people to encounter it later.
I think this "Tip #4" was the hardest-learned of all five for me. Not sure why. I think part of it was a wrong assumption that people pick up on song quicker than they do. Whatever the reason, I'm now a lot more intentional about where I put a new song.
Question: How about you--where do you place new songs?
Post graphic derived from: Stock.xchng
October 22, 2012Tweet