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5 Tips for Improving Worship When the Musicians Are Mostly Unskilled or Inexperienced

In any church, the quality of the music will make or break the worship experience of the congregation. In order to ensure your congregation hears God’s message through music that is moving and inspiring, you may need to help improve the quality of your worship music despite your team of singers being mostly unskilled or inexperienced musicians. Here are five tips for making worship music better when the musicians are mostly unskilled or inexperienced.

1) Communicate Clearly

One of your most important responsibilities as a music leader is to make sure everyone understands what they’re supposed to do. This includes making sure your musical team understands what you expect them to be doing, why it’s important, and how you want them to do it. Clear communication is often more difficult with volunteer musicians because many are inexperienced at being in front of others—especially if they are accustomed to being regular attendees rather than active participants. Communicating your vision for worship music is one of your primary responsibilities, so don’t take shortcuts. Be specific about what you want them to accomplish and how you expect them to accomplish it!

2) Consider Musical Styles

Depending on your church and its worship style, it’s possible that you don’t have to reinvent worship music — you may simply need to improve what you already have. Look at musical styles of other churches in your denomination and see if there are any particular songs and sounds that resonate with your congregation (and stick out like a sore thumb). With a few more musicians on board, you might be able to incorporate some of those sounds into your existing repertoire. To boost attendance and save money on instruments, start small: form an ad hoc group that meets only as needed. If they enjoy playing together, you can eventually expand their roles as time goes by.

3) Manage Expectations

It may sound harsh, but if you want to ensure that musicians get your congregation’s music right every time, don’t rely on volunteers. However, when you're working with a volunteer worship team, the best thing you can do is to manage their expectations kindly and let them know exactly what is expected of them. Write it down and give it to every volunteer before they take on a role within your choir or band. This way, you can keep expectations realistic and volunteers will understand how much work is required of them in order to be successful.

For example, you could create a Handbook for Volunteer Musicians that describes all of your expectations as well as what volunteers can expect from you and other members of your team. This will help keep musicians on track and let them know exactly what is expected of them so they can succeed. You could explain which rehearsals they should attend and how often to practice between rehearsals. You can also include other important information such as details about how to contact members of your team in case there are any problems with arrangements.

4) Give Feedback on Performance

One way to improve your singers' skills is to give them feedback on their performance. Some people think of feedback as criticism, but that's not necessarily true. If you can highlight positive performance and encourage singers to pursue good habits, that's just as useful as pointing out mistakes. Don't be shy about letting them know when they're doing well—everyone loves a pat on the back!

5) Encourage Dedication

There’s an old proverb that says Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can’t expect to transform your church into a highly functional band of musicians overnight. Encourage dedication and hard work, and make sure all of your volunteers understand what they need to do in order to improve their musical skills and quality of worship. And don’t stop there; praise them for their progress and celebrate when they finally nail a tricky chord or difficult harmony part! If you stay encouraging, they will keep improving.