Worship Tip: February 22, 2010 How to Setup a “Self-Led” a Vocal Team Rehearsal #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

For years, I’ve dreaded vocal/choir rehearsals. It’s because I would sit there as a tenor, and wait for the sopranos, altos, and basses to learn their parts.  It was frustrating, too, when I knew the musicians would should up not knowing their vocal part.  Basically, we were all learning it for the first time together.  To complicate things, if my section was rehearsed last in the cycle – I would have to unlearn the other vocal parts my ear just heard.  Frustrating.

I knew there’s a better way to do vocal rehearsals to make them more efficient. While it’s not perfect, I think we’ve stumbled on to a decent system.  Here are the steps…

  1. Pre-record the individual vocal parts.  You might think this would take a lot of time, but think about it.  You only need to nail the part once.  If you were doing this in rehearsal, you’d have to go over the part several times with the section.
  2. Provide a rehearsal recording to all vocalists in advance of rehearsal.  Again, it may seem like a lot of work, but the alternative is a rehearsal every week.
  3. Communicate the expectation with vocalists to come having their individual parts learned.  Make a deal with your vocalists.  If you provide a recording in advance, and they listen to it and learn the music, then your end of the deal is only ONE rehearsal before leading worship on a weekend.
  4. Split into sectional rehearsal immediately when the vocalists arrive.  They will refine their part individually, and make the best use of time.  Have a boom box with their individual parts on a CD ready to go.  Buy a $40 keyboard powered by batteries to accompany the boom box if that helps.
  5. Put it all together.  Finally, bring all the vocal parts together before they get together with the band.  You can now rehearse blending, phrases, and nuances rather than parts.

It can be done, and done well.  Our Vocal Team (we don’t call them a choir because of the negative stigma attached to choirs today in churches) rehearses ONCE before leading worship … and they do it without any music in their hands.


  • Non-music readers love this system.
  • Most music reader find the system freeing.
  • Fewer rehearsals.
  • More time for music nuances, devotions, and prayer.
  • Vocalists tend to think about WHAT they are singing instead of how they are singing it.


  • Some hard-core music readers find this system too loose.
  • This won’t work well if a piece of music is more difficult or requires more time to put together.
  • It takes time to put together pre-recorded rehearsal tracks.

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View the full outline for this past weekend.

iPod Click Track Playlist for February 21, 2010
  2. Test – click LEFT and loop RIGHT
  3. Sound Check – Full Band
  4. Sound Check – Vocals
  6. SET 1 – created February 18, 2010
  7. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  8. SET 2 – created February 18, 2010b
  9. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  10. ___ END click here (cue)
  12. All Hail the Power of Jesus Name – loop and click 109 BPM
  13. Holy Is the Lord – loop and click 92 BPM
  14. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  15. As the Deer (funky) – loop and click 90 BPM
  16. The Power of the Cross – loop and click 68 BPM
  17. Prayer – 30 second spacer
  18. Friend of God – loop and click 126 BPM
  19. ___ END click here (cue)
  21. All Hail the Power (F – G)
  22. Holy is the Lord (G)
  23. As the Deer – funky (Bm)
  24. The Power of the Cross (Bb – C)
  25. Friend of God (C)

Watch/listen to last weekend’s message

Links to other setlists:


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