5 Reasons Worship Teams Are Abandoning Charts
In the old days, churches sang only hymns and were often accompanied by a pianist who used sheet music. As the church progressed, many churches added an organist; still, both used sheet music. As time went on, musicians such as guitarists and bassists were added, and they continued to use sheet music (and charts with chords). But today, many church worship teams are abandoning charts altogether. Here are the Top 5 Reasons Worship Teams Are Abandoning Charts:
- They Believe Charts on Music Stands Keep Them from Connecting with the Congregation. Whether or not one has the official title of “Worship Leader,” if you’re on a worship team—like it or not—you’re leading the congregation in worship. So if you’re leading the congregation, you’re not going to be able to connect with them if your eyes are glued to your charts, plain and simple.
- Major Artists (Worship and Secular) Don’t Use Charts. Ever wonder what it would be like if you went to see your favorite artist in concert and they were using charts? Wouldn't it seem a little impersonal if their eyes were on their charts on a music stand rather than upward toward God, or on their audience? Wouldn’t you feel under-valued—even cheated—as a fan? While worship isn’t a concert, we do need to be able to connect with our audience, the congregation.
- Charts Are Dated. Quick! Name as many types of musical genres as you can who use music charts. How many did you come up with? We came up with only three: Classical orchestras (well, they use formal notated sheet music), the crazy uncle at family gatherings who always breaks out his acoustic guitar, and dated worship teams. If you know of others, do tell.
- Today’s Worship Artists Have Great Musicians. Back in the 70s and 80s, worship music with modern instrumentation was just coming about and still a relatively new genre. By today’s standards, it was mediocre at best. But in 2016, worship music is bigger than ever, with global listeners in the billions. So for a church’s lead guitarist (for instance) to completely change their lead guitar part from a recording that sold, say, 10 million copies, simply because they thought they could write a better part, isn’t that a bit arrogant? Here’s a simple rule of thumb before changing a part: Ask the opinion of your Worship Leader and others on your worship team before doing your own thing.
- Chord Charts Don’t Paint a Complete Picture. We’ve all seen chords above the lyrics on a sheet of paper. Em. G Major. Dsus. But does this really tell the bassist (for instance) to play steady eighth notes like the recording, or the guitarist to strum a certain pattern, or the keyboard player to use a warm pad versus a piano sound? The problem with chord charts is that it leaves the music up to the interpretation of the musician. Why is that a problem? What if that interpretation completely changes the song’s feel? What if that interpretation is old and outdated? What if the interpretation is inviting your lead guitarist to be too “busy”? Chord charts have their place, but usually not with experienced musicians.
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