My Most Loved (and Hated) Worship Team Member

By Jon Nicol

I want to tell you about a player who joined my team a few years ago. I met him through some other musicians and realized he might be a good addition to the team. People who knew him touted his ability to keep the band together and tight. However, I knew he also had some naysayers. But we'll talk about that later.

He joined my team just for rehearsals at first. People gave him weird looks and even complained about him to me. This guy has no ego, but he has done a lot to damage the egos around him. He plays perfectly in time, and when someone gets off tempo he let's them know it. Not rudely, just very matter-of-fact.

We actually had someone quit the team over him.

For a long time, this new member was OK just sitting in on rehearsals. When we all started to get used to him, we invited him to start joining us for a song or two on Sunday morning. The stipulation was, however, that if we as a band got off tempo from him, he'd stop playing.

Some wonder if he's too rigid and mechanical and robs the music of its "soul." Others wonder if he's even spiritual enough to be on the worship team.

Are you ready to meet him and find what instrument he plays?

He goes by several names. Click Track. Click. Guide. Metronome. Least Popular Channel on the Aviom. A few of my team members have other names for him that shall not be muttered in this blog.

While it can be argued that the click is easily the "most hated" member of the team, "most loved" might seem a little over the top. I certainly don't value the click over my flesh and blood players. But the click brings with him something that makes him crucial, almost indispensable.

You see, my worship team isn't a "band" in the traditional sense. Likely yours isn't either. We have various musicians that play together in various combinations. And we don't have a 15-song repertoire that we practice and perform over and over. We have scores of songs that we pull from, and often have a new songs to learn within a week.

We simply don't have the luxury of putting in the hours and days and months it takes to get tight.

If you have rotating musicians, you know that creating a tight sound is tough. The first step in playing tight is playing in time.* The carpenter uses a level. The baker uses a measuring cup. The accountant uses a calculator. Even the freehand of an artist paints within the confines of a canvas.

Our tool for time and tightness is the click track.

You might argue, "Those tools are great for those trades, but the click's rigidity robs the music of life." For the uninitiated, yes, it can. It takes time to mesh with a metronome. But once you learn to play in time with it, it simply becomes another member of the band you're listening to and relating with.

For this to happen, I had to dust off my old met from my music school days and rediscover how to play with it. And I've encourage all my players to do the same. Over the past year of using it regularly, our musicianship has grown. The band that assembles each week is tighter. And we're becoming better lead worshipers. We rarely have mid-song course corrections, and don't have to worry if we're rushing or dragging. We have a constant keeping us together, letting us focus on the true Constant we're worshiping.

I'm going to write a follow-up post to this discussing the more practical side to a click, including some of my team's journey to start using it. In the meantime, let me hear from you: Clicks, guide tracks, metronomes in worship: Love them? Hate them? Why?

*("Tight" also involves groove and playing in the pocket. But it's hard to play in a pocket that keeps moving. So we need to start with playing in time.)

Photo Credit: alexknowshtml via Compfight cc

A related article: 12 Tips For Using a Click

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Originally written: January 27, 2014
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