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The Music Schop is a resource for worship musicians and pastors. Song analysis of popular worship songs, theory lessons, reviews of worship resources, and tips and tricks for drummers, keyboard players, guitar players, bass players – the entire band. Written by Chris Schopmeyer.

A Music Director Can Revolutionize Your Band

Our leadership is at its best when we are free.

Freedom is unencumbered by anxiety, insecurity, and distraction. For the worship leader/musician, freedom is measured by your capacity for loving God and loving the audience in front of you.

Freedom begins with what you control: your spiritual and musical preparation. But what about the puzzle pieces you can't control? Will everyone remember the extra bar ending the bridge? Will the bass player remember to end the song with a 4 chord in place of the 1 chord?

You need an MD.

Dave Wyatt, Music Director for TobyMac. Photo by Renier Van Loggerenberg

Dave Wyatt, Music Director for TobyMac.
Photo by Renier Van Loggerenberg

What Is a Music Director?

My job as an MD is to serve the worship leader (or artist, depending on context) by leading the band to realize the artistic vision. The leader's primary focus is upward, God, and forward, audience; the MD's focus is in front, worship leader, and to the side, musicians on stage.

MD's worry about the band so the worship leader doesn't have to.

Qualifications

The best music directors are skilled musicians, curious artists, assertive leaders, and attentive observers.

Skilled Musician

You can only use part of your brain for playing an instrument when serving as an MD. You must save brain cycles for listening, watching, calling cues, making quick decisions. If you are weak or inexperienced on your instrument, your mind will be consumed with the instrument and will have little left for others on stage.

Curious Artist

As a teenager, I loved buying and listening to accompaniment tracks. With an accompaniment track the vocal was out of the way and I could clearly hear what the band was doing. As an adult, I love multitracks.com. Not only can I hear the music sans vocal, but I can now actually solo individual instruments and create new mixes! You don't have to be as nerdy as me with this stuff, but a good MD will possess a genuine curiosity for how music works.

Assertive Leader

A good MD has opinions and ideas and isn't afraid to express them. When speaking you must be confident and clear. To be heard over the band, you must speak like you are talking to someone on the other side of the room. Of course, this is all in the context of humbly following the worship leader or artist.

Attentive Observer

While serving as music director, you must have a shepherd's eyes and ears. It is important to be aware of the spiritual temperature in the room and the congregation's response. You also must have your ears and eyes available to your bandmates on stage.

Most importantly for me, I must be attentive to the leader in front of me. Before the service, I take notes and ask questions until I understand his/her intent. During the service, my eyes stay on the leader as much as possible. I'm listening to the vocal (and instrument) for cues. After the service, I ask for feedback and what the band can improve on.

The music director position can radically change your band and worship leadership for the better. My next post will be a practical, step-by-step guide for MDs.

What have I left out? How would you tweak this list? Please leave a comment!