By Mark Roach
I don’t know about you all, but I have had plenty of experience with well-intentioned expedience that has backfired. Let me elaborate by way of example: You decide you want to do that cool pop tune as a feature song or add that new worship song to your rotation. You scour the interwebs for resources—a chart, instructional video, lead sheet, what have you. Being an incredible steward of the time for which you are paid (or aren’t, for that matter) you grab the resource, print or upload it and head to your next task only to find that at rehearsal—or even worse, at service—some serious flaws are discovered. Whoever made this chart must not have known anything about music theory. Whoever made this lyric video didn’t know how to spell. The person who posted the instructional video? They got some of the chords right, but they didn’t even play it with a capo on, and you know it was played with a capo. Listen: even paid resources have let us down before on all or most of these fronts! It’s a bummer, but it’s true.
Now, my proposed solution isn’t a fix all, and I know that some of you just may not have these gifts at all, but hear me out... in the long run, I think this is a great philosophy to run with: DO IT YOURSELF. You know your ministry. You know your instrumentation. Maybe you can save a few dollars or hours getting stuff from somewhere else, but trusting it blindly may cost you in the long run! Get out your guitar or piano… put on the headphones and chart the tune yourself. Figure out how and where they’re playing that lick—and how you’re guitarist will have to play it in the key your congregation can actually sing. If you do grab something online, comb through it and make sure it feels accurate. Check spelling on lyric videos, check chords and inversions. The chord G/B is way different than the chord Bm. Seeing the chord Bb2(add 11) may confuse your people beyond measure when you could have just put Bb on the chart. This will take some time and effort, but it will also develop your musicianship and help your whole team continue to develop theirs! If you’re blessed with an employee responsible for these tasks, encourage them to do it themselves as well.
Now, if this seems overwhelming, don’t freak out yet...there are a few things you may be able to do even if you have no gifts whatsoever in this area. Maybe you can’t hear the difference between a minor 4 and a flat 6, but you may have that know-it-all guitarist or piano player who will surely show up at rehearsal and tell you how wrong the chart is...ask THEM to do it! Take it one step further and ask them to help YOU learn how to do it. That’s some glorious servant-hearted leadership there, and now someone on the team gets to use his/her gifts AND increase ownership in the whole ministry.
It’s amazing how often NOT doing this on our team has come back to bite us, and it’s always awesome to know you’re fostering a good, solid DNA of excellence and development in your ministry. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly several resources that you can turn to in a pinch, but my advice is to avoid using them as a crutch. After all, the old saying can prove itself true...sometimes when you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!