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.

Pre-order The Falls Church’s LIVE Worship CD

As I’ve mentioned in two previous posts (here and here), we’re recording a live worship CD this weekend at my church. We’re about to lose our building (you can read more about why here), and will know the exact date tomorrow after the judge signs the “final order”, but we know it will be soon and wanted to capture a sense of corporate worship in our space before it’s too late.

We’re going to be singing 14 songs – a combination of re-worked hymns, some songs that might be familiar to you, and some original songs as well. We’re using some musicians from my church and also bringing in some gifted musicians from elsewhere. You might recognize Carl Albrecht, playing drums with us, who’s played on a ton of worship stuff from Paul Baloche and Integrity Music through the years.

My church has never done something like this before, so this is exciting. It’s also a bit risky. While a generous couple in our church is paying for all the initial costs related to the recording, we are counting on donations and pre-orders to provide the funds we need to get it edited, mixed, mastered, and packaged professionally. We’re hoping to raise enough funds to get it mixed and mastered in Nashville by the folks who have done many of Sovereign Grace Music’s latest albums.

So if you’d like to help us out by pre-ordering a copy, we’d be really grateful. You won’t get your CD for a while, but your donation will help make it come sooner.

Usually you wait until you can hear a CD to decide if you want to buy it or not. If you’re open to buying it in faith, and help our church make this CD while moving out of our campus, then visit www.tfcmusic.org and you can pre-order it today.

Weekend of Worship – March 2 and 3 at The Falls Church

I don’t know how many of the people who read this blog live close enough to Northern Virginia to come to this, but I wanted to share this just in case…

Next weekend at my church we’re going to be having a “weekend of worship”.

First, on Friday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 3rd, in our Main Sanctuary, we will be having two evenings of extended worship and praise while we record a live congregational worship CD. We’ll sing the same songs both nights. We’ll start at 8:00pm and would love to have you. Before God leads us out of our building, we want to capture a sense of corporate, Jesus-exalting worship in that space.
Secondly, on Saturday, March 3rd, from 9:00am – noon, we’ll be offering a FREE worship team/musician workshop for instrumentalists, vocalists, and organists. You’ll get practical demonstration of how to play together as a team, rehearse, arrange, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Special guests include Carl Albrecht (drummer for Paul Baloche and Integrity Music), Russell Crain (professional electric guitarist and worship leader from L.A.) and Luke Moesley (studio pianist from Nashville). I will host this morning workshop with other musicians from The Falls Church family joining us too. We want to demonstrate what to do, what not to do, and how to do it. I’d love for all of you to come to this if you’re able!
I especially want organists to know they’re welcome to come to all of us – but particularly the Saturday morning workshop. Simon Dixon, our worship director and organist, will be demonstrating how he plays organ in a contemporary worship context.
So, if you’re able, please come next Friday and Saturday nights (the 2nd and 3rd) at 8:00pm for two nights of worship. And come on Saturday morning (the 3rd) for a fun, free, brief workshop from some really good musicians on how we can all grow.

Live Worship CD Recording

I’ve been quiet on here this week and will probably be quiet for the next couple of weeks since we’re planning on recording a live worship CD at my church on Friday March 2nd and Saturday March 3rd. We’re really excited and really busy!

We got word about a month ago that, in all likelihood, we would be losing our building in a very short amount of time. The thought came to some of us shortly after that after years of dreaming about recording a live worship CD at our church, the time to do it in our building was quickly running out.

So in record time we planned it, budgeted it, are raising support for it, scheduled it, are getting people in place, are advertising it, are finalizing a song list, working on arrangements, and trying to figure out how to set all of this up in a ridiculously short amount of time.

I’m excited to capture a sense of corporate worship with the congregation of The Falls Church in our building before we move on from it. That’s the main reason we’re doing it. I think it will bless our congregation and other congregations who are losing their building. I think God will use it beyond our church, though. I don’t really know how, but I think he will, and that’s exciting too.

We’ll be using some of our own musicians, but also bringing in some gifted guys (Carl Albrecht on drums, Russell Crain on electric, etc.) to help us out. Lord willing, we’ll be getting it mixed and mastered in Nashville using many of the same guys who have done Sovereign Grace Music’s recent albums.

We’ll be doing some re-worked hymns, some songs you may have already heard before, and some new songs original to our congregation.

I’ll keep you posted over the next few weeks/months as this project progresses, and let you know how you can pre-order the CD soon. It really will help us if people pre-order the CD as that will allow us the funding necessary to bring the project to a quicker completion. We’re viewing it a bit like a Kickstarter project, but the difference is that we’re guaranteeing it will get done eventually, we’re just not sure when. The more positive a response up-front, the more likely it will be in your hands by early summer.