Your ears are your most important musical instrument.
Listening– to your own singing or playing AND to the others in the group– is an essential part of worship team interaction. No musician, no team can really gel or become very good without this. Developing your ear, honing your ability to really hear and understand the music happening around you will dramatically improve your musicianship and contribution to the team.
When teams really listen to each other, good things happen:
•The bass guitarist hears and matches the kick drum pattern played by the drummer.
•Singers blend with the worship leader and each other.
•The keyboardist plays a string pad that complements what the acoustic guitar plays.
So, how do you develop your ear? Glad you asked! We’ve developed an exercise to help you sharpen your listening skills and understand your role on the team even better. In this exercise, you’re going to go behind the scenes and dive into the actual recording sessions of worship songs you know and love. You’ll crack open your favorite worship songs, listen to the pro musicians that played those parts, identify what they did and then apply it to your own playing. All while you develop your ear. Pretty cool, yes?! OK, let’s get started…
Interface You’ll be visiting a site that has studio tracks from popular worship songs without the lead vocal. It will take a minute to get used to, but you’ll figure it out pretty quick. Below is a screen shot of the interface you’ll interact with as you dive into the songs. Each song has a number of individual tracks (drums, bass, etc.) and a Master Track at the top (combination of all the other tracks). The play bar shows you where you are in the song– move that around to different places by pointing your curser to any spot in the darkened part of the waveform. Don’t grab the top of the play bar, your curser needs to be on the waveform itself! You’ll only be able to access part of the song without the buying it, there’s a portion that’s grayed out. But don’t worry about that, for our purposes the part you can hear for free is plenty.
Mute You can also mute anything you don’t want to hear! You can build mixes by eliminating a few tracks while leaving others playing. This is a great way to isolate instruments that you want to hear (say, just drums and bass together).
Make sense? Alright, here’s the exercise then…
2. Find the track YOU would sing or play on worship team. If you’re a singer, listen to the background vocals (BGV’s). Play drums? Listen to the drummer. Bass? Listen to the bass guitar. You get the idea.
3. This is the most important step: LISTEN to what that singer/instrumentalist does. Listen to that part by itself. Listen to it in context (with everything added back in). Build a mix with just 2-3 instruments and see how they interact. Notice how the instrument or singing changes when moving from one moment (verse, chorus, etc.) to another moment. Then do it again. Then pick another song on the Mulitracks site (search for songs at the top right) and repeat the listening process.
Take notes on that pdf you downloaded. How can you apply what you learned to the worship set this Sunday?! You’ll be getting some great tips on how to sing or play your instrument in the coming weeks, but for now– LISTEN to professionals who have played on great recordings and learn from them. Remember, you ears are your most important musical instrument. You’re going to feel great that you’ve developed your ears a little bit more!