Band Arrangements

Tim Hughes, worship leader and author of Here I am to Worship and other worship songs, has posted some great info on his blog. Below are the notes from a seminar Tim did on band arrangements.

Band Arrangements:

“Do not only prepare your choice of songs but also how you will lead them. Never repeat a song for no reason. We are singing songs for too long at the moment. It is boring and pointless. If you are going to repeat a song then think what you meant to emphasis the second time. You can change the emphasis by changing the instrumentation. To repeat a song with the same musical backing, tempo and vocal emphasis is just laziness. Don’t do it anymore.”

Mike Pilavachi

· Don’t repeat songs for too long.

· Don’t play all the time.

Sign of great musicians is not what they play – but what they don’t play.

A good slogan for any worship team is – “the goal is one.”

If there are 5 of you in the band then you should aim to play 1/5 of the music.

We need to be disciplined to not overplay.

Especially maybe particular for solo instruments e.g. Sax,electric, violin, flute

We need to therefore learn to play as a band – and play at different times.

Work out parts and sections.


Rhythm section always the foundation of a song.

Firstly needs to be solid – the bass and drums need to be working together.

The grove is the rhythmic feel within which we play the melody and chords of the song.

Could use many different feels for different songs that will change the feel e.g. rock, country, disco, reggae, acid jazz or drum ‘n’ bass.


This is the chords you use for a song.

Create an important feel for the melody to sit on.

Make sure the music is saying what the words are communicating – adds such depth

Make sure you’re all playing same chords – beware of clashes.

Another chordal thing to do that can create a cool feel is something called ‘bass pedalling.’

Here the bass plays the same bass note while the band plays the usual chord sequence.

E.G. ‘Lord reign in me.’ In chorus bass holds the ‘C’ whilst the band plays normal chords.

Keeps going until the Am7 when the tension is released and the bass starts playing the normal chords.


This is a musical idea, often a melody that becomes intrinsically linked with a particular song.

E.G. ‘Almighty God,’ ‘Dancing Generation.’

We’re very good at getting motifs for fast songs – perhaps need to work more on riffs for slower songs.

E.G. ‘God of Justice.’ ‘Inside out.

Can add so much to a song. Can really express something of the heart behind the song.

Learn how to build stuff.


Simply increasing or decreasing the dynamic intensity by playing louder or softer on your instrument.


Here you change the dynamics by either adding or taking away an instrument.

You build on what everyone is doing.

E.G. ‘Shackles.’

Can increase or decrease the intensity.

Again can even do that on an acoustic guitar.

E.G. By strumming 2 or 3 lower strings at first and then bringing in all 6 strings.

E.G. Beautiful One

· Musical variety

We’ve looked at varying stuff within songs but also need to vary the types of songs we do.

A lot of the songs we use in worship – that seem to work best are the mid-tempo ones.

The power ballad! (e.g. Here I am, Praise You, Shout to the Lord, You are God.)

If everything gets stuck in this zone can get very samy and predictable.

Let the praise songs be loud, fast and full of energy – Go for it!

We need more times of exuberant praise.

The other thing we need to work on is the more tender songs of intimacy.

Often they are thrown together too easily – don’t work on parts as well.

· Allow space

Don’t needlessly rush from song to song.

SINGING IN THE SPIRIT – don’t get in the way.

· Think of something fresh

Can add so much to a time of worship when something fresh is done.

It can really unlock something.

Maybe it can be a new song.

Maybe an old song with a fresh arrangement. Find a cool arrangement.

Maybe a fast song sung in a tender way.

E.G. ‘Beautiful One,’ ‘Open the eyes.’

You might need to drop the key.

Maybe find just a section of a song to sing.

E.G. Our God is an awesome God.

E.G. Our God reigns

Maybe flowing songs together.

E.G. ‘Here I am’ into ‘Lift up his name.

E.G. ‘All heaven declares’ into ‘Majesty.

· Learn to communicate

To play as a band need to have good communication.

Look at signals;

To repeat chorus, to end, for tag section, for drums and bass, to bring it down and to build it up.

Encourage band members to be looking at what’s going on.

Can be annoying when drummer is sitting there with eyes closed – oblivious to all that’s going on.

· Encourage creativity

Noticed that musicians need to be pushed.

Can often get a bit bored with same old thing.

Find ways to express creativity – to push the boundaries.

Note from Scot: For Tim’s notes in word format, check it out here.

[tags]worship-leading, band-arrangements, Mike-Pilvachi, Tim-Hughes, worship,Here-I-Am-To-Worship[/tags]

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