Below is a great resource for training and explaining how to do music in club. It could even be an outline for a seminar if you needed to lead one. Thanks Eric!
The Soundtrack of Club: Music and Song Leading
Did you know that music can comprise up to half of our Club? So, in order to put on a Club that appeals to kids, we must know how to use songs well. Bad music and poor song leading can make it impossible to maintain momentum at Club.
Why do we sing?
Music at Club is not just a time killer or space filler. There are actually several intentional reasons why we use music at Club. Here are some of them:
· Music is a unifying force. Singing has particular value in getting a group of kids doing something together.
· Music is one of the most important mediums to a teenager. In many ways, music defines kids and sets them apart. Singing allows us to get into their world.
· Music reaches kids where they are. Music helps us engage the farthest out kid and pull them into the Message.
· Music can set the stage for the entire Club. Properly chosen music can encourage excitement, can be used to slow our tempo, and can set up the Message in tremendous ways.
Preparing the Soundtrack
Good song leaders are well prepared and put thought into every aspect of music selection and song leading. Good song leading does not just happen. The old adage holds true: If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Good preparation involves:
· Choosing music wisely. Start with songs kids know at the beginning, and avoid choosing too many new songs that you will be forced to teach. Know how kids respond to specific songs. Transition from fast to medium to slow, and always group songs together at least 2 at a time. (Note: 5-7 songs is a good number for Young Life Club, whereas 2-3 is more appropriate for Wyld Life Club, if any at all.) A “typical” song list might look like this:
1. Fast paced, sure fire winner. “Hottest song out.”
2. Up-tempo, different genre from the 1st song.
3. Medium tempo, song that everyone knows.
4. Medium tempo, great spot for a new song/teacher.
5. Medium tempo, points toward the message.
6. Slow, content based. (Can be secular for sin/need.)
7. Slow, content based.
· Using a variety of music. Singing the same songs every week will cause kids to lose interest. Also remember that new songs don’t stay new for very long, so we should have a wide variety of newer and more classic music to use.
· Choosing music from their culture. We want to use appropriate music from pop culture, and we must be aware of lyrics that either support or conflict with the Message. There are 3 types of music: catchy, content, and both. The more of the latter we use, the better we set up the Message. Never, EVER, choose music that interferes or confuses the Gospel.
· Knowing the topic of the Message. Choose songs that support the Message, and ask the speaker if he/she has suggestions.
· Practicing. Get together with your musicians and practice, practice, practice. Practice using the overhead and transparencies so that you can be aware of flaws. Work through how you will teach new songs and how you will lead difficult parts of songs (long instrumentals, tricky bridges, etc…)
Leading the Soundtrack
Good song leaders understand that there is much more to being a good song leader than simply being a good singer. In fact, singing well has very little to do with your ability to be a great song leader. Here are some tips to help you lead effectively:
· Lead! Don’t be led by the crowd. You are in charge and should lead like it. Though you may not realize it, kids are watching you for cues.
· Be enthusiastic. Use hand motions, facial expressions, and other body language to lead the crowd. Your voice is only one tool in song leading. Use the others!
· Know the words. If you do not know the words, you will either not sing or you will turn to face the screen. But, you cannot lead a group with your back turned to them.
· Know the music. If you or your musician is having trouble with chords on a guitar/piano, use a CD. Badly played music will cause kid not to sing, and frankly it’s pretty embarrassing for the leader and guitar player.
· Teach new songs. Do not just assume that kids will know new music. Once you have taught it, repeat it a few times in the coming weeks.
· Make smooth, quick transitions. If you drag, so will everything else.
· Have fun! This is vital. Sing like you’re in the shower! If you are having fun, kids will too. If you are singing loudly (even if it’s poorly), they will be less intimidated to do the same.
· Don’t be afraid to scrap it. If the song you are leading is bombing badly, it is okay to scrap it in the middle! It’s better to admit failure and laugh at yourself than to completely lose all your momentum due to a bad song. It’s even a good idea to have a backup song that you can switch to that everyone knows.
The Soundtrack Needs a DJ
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of a great Club is the sound tech! If your job is to sound tech, you are the DJ, and you are responsible for transitions and appropriate songs for each aspect of club. Be aware of songs that work with certain games, and know when a song has questionable lyrics. Practice fading songs in and out and be quick to start a song at the end of a skit or game. Be prepared to start music early in Club, as well as once the speaker says Amen.
The Soundtrack for Skits and Games
Choosing music for pre and post-Club, as well as for skits and games is also very important. We want to keep in mind that all of our music (not just the songs we sing) can help dictate momentum and tempo and can point toward the Message. We can sometimes use songs in these playlists that we would not normally sing at Club, but using songs that we would sing at Club is a great way to get kids singing along even before Club gets started. As with the songs we choose to sing at Club, we need to be aware of lyrics that interfere with the Gospel. Post-club music should reflect the tone of the Message.
Never forget: good music is instrumental (get it?!?) in a fun Club. So, let’s work hard at choosing and leading music with excellence.