What to Look for in a Worship Audition (Every Instrument Broken Down)

  • Written By 
  • Michael Waring

Putting together a worship team can vary in difficulty depending on your congregation.

 

Some ministries have issues with getting people on the schedule consistently because they have so many members, other ministries struggle to fill a team each Sunday (if this is you, check out our article on 6 proven recruitment strategies to grow your worship team). Despite which of those struggles we relate to more, we need to have a standard for what we expect and seek out of our team members.

Each position within a worship team requires a different set of skills, so in an effort to simplify I will tell what I, as a worship leader, look for when filling my teams.

Certain expectations do, however, apply to all members of my team regardless of position.

– I expect them to be pursuing Christ

– Reliability

– Ability to receive direction

– Be able to work within the context of a team

If those boxes are not checked they will not be a successful member of the ministry; no matter how good they are.

Now, onto what I look for in every position!

Drummers

 

Drummers are ultimately what keeps the band together.

They must have the ability to consistently keep time.

I cannot stress this enough. The reason this is so important is because all other members of the team go off of the drummer’s leading, if there is inconsistency the rest of the team is only going to be more disjointed.

The next most important trait I look for is volume control.

Drummers can very easily be overpowering even in very large rooms or through drum cages, having good control of their playing volume always helps to set them in the mix better.

Bass Players

 

Bassists are in so many ways just as important drummers to setting the base, pun intended, of the music.

They provide both rhythmic & harmonic content, so the ability to lock in with the drummer is the most important trait as a bassist.

Those should almost be viewing as one entirely that lays the ground work for the rest of the band. After the ability to play well with a drummer, I view tastefulness as the next important trait. The traditional role of a bassist in the context of a worship band is rooted in simplicity, generally any sort of playing that is overly busy does not tend to fit well (see slap bass).

Keys/Piano Players

 

Keyboard and piano players are a lot of times some of the easiest instrumentalists to find to fill your team. Most people that have learned piano have learned in a classical context. This is almost a completely different skillset than what is commonly asked of most worship team pianists.

Simplicity in their playing is the most important thing I look for.

With all the different technology and effects that are used on modern keyboards, it is very easy to take up too much space with too many notes. More often than not the simplest melody and voicing is the best choice.

Additionally, I look for someone that has an open mind to learning the more sound engineering aspect of the keys.

Most churches have a keyboard that lives on stage and is used every week. I have found on my team it has been hugely impactful when one of the keys players (or more) takes pride in learning the in’s and out’s of the churches keyboard and shares their knowledge with the other keys players.

Electric Guitarists

 

Guitar players, like pianists, are sometimes “too easy” to find. Modern worship guitar should not resemble what you’d hear when you walk into a Guitar Center (cue metal sweep picking licks) and more like what you’d hear in the background while getting a massage.

Shred ability is not what I pay attention to at all.

It’s all about taste and tone!

On a lot of teams electric guitars cover the most space, especially on teams without pads or tracks. I look most importantly for the ability to serve the needs of each song. This means knowing when to use swells, when to chug, and when to bust out that big lead line.

Again, not only is it about the capability to play the right parts, but it’s also key to be able to generate the right sounds too!

Acoustic Guitarists

 

Acoustic guitar should also look to serve the song as their highest priority. That looks different on the acoustic through.

You must treat an acoustic guitar more like a percussion instrument. Almost like a shaker.

Give less harmonic content & more rhythmic content. The last thing, that should go without saying, is playing in tune. It does not matter how nice your guitar is, how dialed in your delay was, or how well you played if you are out of tune. 

Vocalists

 

What I seek in singers & co-leaders is less musical than the other team members. It is far more about how they present themselves.

I look mostly that they carry themselves with comfort.

If you are visibly uncomfortable in front of the congregation, they are uncomfortable in front of you. When you present honest, not showy or fake, confidence and positivity you can be an impactful co-leader on stage and never make a sound into your microphone.

I would rather have the conversation with someone to dial it back than to encourage someone to open up, and that feedback is generally much easier to act on.

Much like an instrumentalist, intonation is hugely important.

The wonderful unique thing about being a singer is that you have a truly beautiful voice without being the most technically skilled vocalist, as long as what you sing is in tune. 

Another thing that I check is their ability to sing harmonies.

That can be a difficult thing for some people; even if they have a great voice. If that is a struggle, try to figure out what they need in order to show up prepared with the right part. An easy thing you can do is send them the vocal lessons we have on our site for the songs you’re doing that week so they can learn the specific vocal part for that week.

Everything that I mentioned is what I look for, but I don’t always find it & don’t necessarily turn people away that don’t have those traits.

 

Each different expectation listed is grown with the proper support and dedication. Our job as worship leaders is to foster that within our team. A healthy team is a place where team members desiring to improve their craft is met with our encouragement and acknowledgment of that improvement along the way.

When we dedicate ourselves to being that source of encouragement and coaching, we create spaces where our team members feel like they belong. This fosters a drive to continually get better and better. Which ultimately is the image of a healthy team!

We want you to have a healthy team. So encourage, guide, support, develop, genuinely care, & most of all lead your people to Jesus. 

 

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