What I Learned From Recording a Live CD

Last week my church recorded a live worship CD. It was the most exhausting/rewarding/fun musical experience of my life. I’m really excited about the CD and would be thrilled if you pre-ordered it, but wanted to share some things I learned after several days of rehearsals and recordings.

The value of laughter
Three of the musicians (Carl Albrecht on drums, Luke Moseley on piano, and Russell Crain on electric) were guests. We had never met each other, led worship together, or rehearsed. So there wasn’t a ton of chemistry that first morning at an 8:30am breakfast. It didn’t take long, though. After our Student Ministry Director got us laughing at Chuck Norris facts, the rest is history. We had great times of laughter, and that really helped the team grow together.

The value of good food and drink
We had volunteers delivering huge breakfasts with Starbucks coffee, afternoon snacks, cookies and milk, and plenty of water. We had good lunches and dinners around town. There was always something close-by to eat or drink. This kept us going. (I wrote a post on this topic a while ago here.)

The need for breaks
We did a good job most of the time taking 15 or 20 minute breaks every hour and a half or so. When things would start to drag we’d take a break and get a rest. On the Friday, however, we didn’t leave ourselves enough time after the 2nd full run-through to take a long break before the evening recording. So we all felt a bit frazzled and worn out that night. Lesson learned. We should have planned better for a long break.

Don’t make your congregation anxious
Before our first recording on Friday night, I went through little sections of each song that I thought might be new to the congregation, or I thought they might sing wrong. On one hand, it was good because it broke the ice and make people laugh. But on the other hand, I received feedback that it made the congregation feel anxious and afraid to mess up. So on Saturday night I scrapped the whole idea and just encouraged people to sing out. We were all much more relaxed.

A metronome really helps
Obviously, since we were making a recording, we had to play to a metronome in our ears. Carl controlled this and was an invaluable help. I learned that the difference between the right feel and the wrong feel can often be just one or two beats per minute. It took the pressure off our shoulders and helped keep us all more together. This isn’t realistic for every team or every song or every Sunday, but we’ve actually started to use a click in our ears on Sundays and so far we’re actually (mostly) enjoying it.

People in your congregation want to volunteer
Two weeks ago I sent an email to our worship team/choir/others with 15-20 different needs I had (airport pick-ups/drop-offs, meals, rides, etc). Within 24 hours, all the slots were filled, and many were double-booked. I should take time more often to ask people for help.

Our congregation loves to worship
For years, people have been asking me when we were going to have an evening of extended worship. After seeing the response this past weekend, I don’t know what took me so long.

Rigorous rehearsal doesn’t have to mean perfection
We rehearsed the recording’s 14 songs more than I’ve ever rehearsed any songs. But we never tried to get them perfect. Our goal was to get comfortable and confident enough with them that we could lead them with excellence. But we still held loosely to them and left space for God’s leading. The goal of rehearsal should never be perfection, even for a live CD.

One thought on “What I Learned From Recording a Live CD”

  1. Hey, I didn’t know you did a live worship album. I have been to The Falls Church a number of times with a music team, and also just visiting. Glad to hear you have done an album.
    And thanks for the lessons… very useful….

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