As the culture of worship develops and grows in your local church, no doubt you will find yourselves looking to expand your team. Here at Bethel Church, we have found that the most helpful way to add to our worship team is through auditions. Giving the opportunity for prospective team members to be seen and heard will encourage them in their pursuit of authentic worship and may help you to unearth some hidden treasures in your midst.
However, auditions can be both exciting and stressful. Over the years, we have tested and refined our audition process and we would like to offer a little insight into our approach to expanding the worship team.
We’ve established some prerequisites for people who would like to audition. These will most likely vary from church to church, but we require all of our team to: attend Bethel Church, know the Nashville Number System, be able to play to a click track, and learn the song arrangements from our albums.
We also have some standard expectations for specific instruments. For instance, if you’re a guitar player, you must have your own pedal board and guitar. Or if you play keys, you should own and be familiar with software programs such as Ableton and Reason.
In our community, we place a high value on spiritual well-being. We want our people to be spiritually healthy and continually growing. Because of this, we will sometimes wait to bring a fantastic musician onto the team, until we have seen that their spiritual maturity and character has a stable foundation.
Once these prerequisites have been established, our next step is video auditions.
We ask our team hopefuls to make a video of themselves singing or playing one of our songs, then to upload it and send us the link. We do this simply because we have a lot of enthusiastic people who want to audition. So the video process helps us to sort through the sheer volume of prospects and refine the list of potential team members.
For those who don’t make the cut to live auditions, we encourage them to pursue their craft and continue to grow. Our feedback from this process helps them to focus their efforts for future auditions.
This brings us to the next phase, live auditions.
3. LIVE AUDITIONS
When we conduct live auditions, our goal is to be efficient whilst keeping things casual and comfortable. We do our best to communicate upfront how the audition process will work and when people can expect to be notified of their results, with the hope of reducing the volume of potential phone calls and emails.
We choose a few songs that will highlight strengths and potential challenges for those auditioning. Typically, this will be two up-tempo, guitar-driven songs and two slower, more piano-driven songs. This helps us to see people play in different settings. Once these songs are selected, we inform those auditioning of the arrangements and keys they should prepare.
Obviously, people are likely to be nervous, so we try to take some time to be sure they feel welcome and relaxed. Once they’re on stage, we don’t rush anyone and usually have them play at least two songs. This gives space to settle any remaining nerves, which will help their focus and playing. It also gives us the opportunity to hear how prepared they are and how they handle potentially difficult sections in songs.
For musicians, we typically cycle through one or two people at a time while our own band supports them. For potential leaders, we use our musicians. We want everyone to have a positive experience and this tends to provide the optimal audition environment.
Once auditions are over, our panel will discuss who we feel will be a good fit for the team. It’s important to remember that just because someone plays well doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for the team as a whole. Some people may have the technical skill but lack the maturity we’re looking for, whilst others have the heart but just need a little more time to hone their skills.
For those who don’t make it through this stage, we do our best to give encouraging feedback and some specific goals to work toward. The way you communicate here is crucial. Auditioning is a vulnerable process, so communicating in a way that heads off discouragement is really important for your people’s hearts and for their future development.
After identifying the musicians and singers who we would like to bring onto the team, we schedule meetings to welcome them and to explain how our department functions. Setting clear expectations and guidelines at the outset goes a long way in preventing potential frustration and drama, and ensures that everyone is starting off on the same page.
So there’s a little sneak peak behind our process here at Bethel Church, but you may find that certain things we do aren’t the best fit for your church and that’s totally fine. We hope that some of these ideas can streamline your own audition process and help you to create the strongest possible team.