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— Workshop —

Hello, team!

We have absolutely loved getting to see more of your faces and to play music IN PERSON again. Last year we missed each of you more than you know. As we look forward, we are expecting God to do big things in 2021. We believe each of you plays a vital role in moving the mission of Red Rocks Church-- and by extension Red Rocks Worship-- forward. God is always up to something and our team can feel the shift in our spirit towards what’s ahead!

Each week our church, whether they are joining online or in person, has the opportunity to encounter Christ in a new way. As we release new music it has been our goal to write faith-filled anthems to put into the mouths of our people from Monday to Saturday. But Sundays… Sundays are our opportunity to facilitate lasting God-moments through our worship experience that stick with them through their difficult moments. These moments are an altar that they can look back on as proof of God’s abiding presence in their lives. 

There is a greater emphasis on our weekend experience than ever before. For whatever reason, we are seeing heavenly favor on our worship culture. It is felt by our leadership and in our staff, and that has given us permission and excitement to dream. It has ignited a fire in our hearts to cultivate an amazing experience every week, at every campus. 2021 will bring a sharper focus; we are going to streamline that culture from campus to campus -- One church. One mission. One overall experience. As a church we are a front porch for prodigals. As a worship department, we throw the party. 

This workshop is a way for us to share some practical vision behind where we are going. As you scroll, please read along with us and watch each video as directed.

 

Intro

Jerrica's Role

Tyler has given me the opportunity to run/dreaming up the WEX by creating a worship environment that is fresh and innovative. Always staying true to the Red Rocks Worship brand itself. From setlists to transitions, to the production value, to camera 1, 2, 3, or 4. It’s all setting the table for the Lord to speak. We create an authentic environment for God to move and then get out of the way.

 

John Clark, Carson, Ronnie and myself are working in tandem to make sure that the WEX experience is next level everywhere. New equipment, new lights, etc. Ronnie is now campus pastor of the online campus and we are emphasizing that experience as well.

Scott's Role

Scott is now a part of our family to implement new ideas, streamline communication to worship leaders and bands, work with Jerrica on new content and arrangements, train and equip existing MD’s as well as provide training (such as this) for existing band members, create new music/content for our online pre and post, and so much more.

Session.01

Shift the room

As you read along/watch these videos… please keep an open mind and heart. The intention is not criticism but communication. We want to serve each of you by establishing clear expectations. We are VERY thankful for and proud of our musicians. We have the best of the best! We are truly blessed. 

Last year during quarantine and through the end of the year, something shifted as all campus worship leaders had the opportunity to lead together on a consistent basis. We all felt it. A new passion rose up in each of us and a fresh anointing filled our house. Authentic, energetic, passionate, “flowy,” even spontaneous worship became our new norm. This was a welcomed shift; our leadership got behind this dynamic and began encouraging us to facilitate these moments each weekend. 

 

As the worship leaders (that is you!), we are in a unique position to help people feel what the speaker is conveying... to lift as they are passionate, fall back when they are reiterating a heartfelt thought, and to build as they powerfully exhort the audience. It is our job as musicians to go first. Our boldness gives the speaker boldness! Your confidence gives the worship leader confidence. 

You have the ability to affect the room!

Be assured as you play. Our MD’s are doing the best they can to help dictate the vibe, but it is up to each of us to follow well. I heard it said once by a worship leader that I respect, “All it takes is ONE of your musicians to confidently/boldly “go there” and it impacts the rest of them.” When an electric or bass player is feeling the speaker lift and begins to add more… woah. You can feel it. And we all follow suit, right? When the drummer is not only connected and locked in to the speaker or worship leader, but is actively ready to rise or fall boldly… it changes everything! Speaking moments and spontaneous moments become the norm when we are all ready, waiting, and willing to lead. This is true of every position. In fact, I have been inspired more times than I can count by a camera operator who is wholeheartedly worshipping while holding a camera on their shoulder. Their passion made me lead with more passion.

In the “old days” at RRC...

... we placed a high value on a particular structure in our worship. The speaker would speak, we would stay out of the camera shot, the stage would go black, and we would walk out and begin worship. We had a way we did things, and there wasn’t much room for deviation. We used to have a running joke about the 9 A.M. service; it felt sleepy and slow, and our energy would often reflect what we would feel in the room. Anyone remember those days? We will not disparage our past -- it has laid the foundation for what we are walking in now! We recognize that our culture has shifted since then. As we move forward, we want to be fully present and engaged each time we are on stage -- even before our song starts. We want to pay attention and actively wait for instruction from the MD, a cue from the worship leader, or simply follow the tone and vibe of the speaker.  

We are going to anticipate moments to lift.

We are going to be alert and fully aware of the band and worship leaders on stage around us. The stage should not be your solitary worship venue, it should be a reflection of the worship you are tending in your own spaces. We are not just in our own world, having a worship moment all our own. When we are on stage we are leading the whole room; everyone joining online, God Behind Bars, people who watch a post on Tik Tok, etc. It is an immense privilege. 

And your voice is important.

I’m not just talking to the singers. Your experience, your life, your battles, and your story are what you bring to the table. When Ryan Soriano plays electric and is worshipping like crazy in the back… it shifts the room. When Matt McKenzie goes from zero to a heavy tom groove while the speaker is closing… it shifts the room. When Colton Sanchez is on keys/MD and is calling out chords as Jes Parson’s leads a crazy spontaneous moment… it shifts the room. And when a BGV is dancing on the stage or falls to their knees in worship… it shifts the room! 

Here are a few examples of what we are talking about.

We recognize you all are so gifted, so this is not a “how to play worship songs” tutorial. Watch these three examples and take note of the vibe. Notice how one person begins to lift and it moves the room to another level. Notice how the band works in tandem with the speaker or worship leader to create moments.

example 1

example 2

example 3

When we each start to view ourselves as leaders we will be unstoppable for the kingdom of God. Each of us adds. No matter how talented we are, we can all commit to challenging ourselves to look at where we can grow in this area. Being in tune with each other and with the people in the room is a learned skill that must be exercised.

 

Session.02

Verbiage

Something we are excited to do is to identify clear and consistent verbiage from campus to campus relating to feel and vibe. Some of this may seem elementary to you, but not all of our musicians have the same background with worship music. When we say that we want to “trash can” the ending, each drummer often does that a little differently. When we say to swell or lift, we often get a different result from person to person.

To bring some clarity around verbiage, Scott has made what we are calling a “cheat sheet.” This will cover what we are communicating when we use certain terms and give clarification around what “percentage” means in differing scenarios. Please take a moment to learn or review this. Our MD’s and worship leaders will be using this language as we move forward.

RRW Cheat Sheet

First thing to note: We use the Nashville Number System. 

If you are not familiar with it, it means we use numbers when talking about chord progressions instead of the name of the chord. For example, instead of saying “E-B-C#m-A”, we would say “1-5-6-4”. We use the Nashville Number System because we have found that it is easier and more consistent, because a song will always have the same numbers, no matter how many different keys you play it in. Also, numbers stay major or minor no matter what key you are in.

Here is a chart that can help you know what the number is for each given key (1 being the key you are in):

1 (Major 2 (minor) 3 (minor) 4 (Major) 5 (Major) 6 (minor) 7 (dim)
C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
Db Ebm Fm Gb Ab Bbm Cdim
D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim
Eb Fm Gm Ab Bb Cm Ddim
E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim
F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim
F# G#m A#m B C# D#m Fdim
G Am Bm C D Em F#dim
Ab Bbm Cm Db Eb Fm Gdim
A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim
Bb Cm Dm Eb F Gm Adim
B C#m D#m E F# G#m A#dim

The MD will use numbers when talking about what chords to play.

MD Terms

The MD will also use a lot of different terms so that the entire band knows what to play in a cohesive manner. Here is a list of the most common terminology the MD will use:

 

“Percentages”

  • The MD will say things like “10% energy, very low” or “Kick it up to 50%”. This applies to the overall energy. This way you know how much to give, and how much more room you still have to go if needed. 100% is a full band, full groove. Everything else is like building up/down.

 

“Guitar swells” or “Cymbal swells”

  • Typically used when at very low energy, to keep things light and airy before establishing a tempo.

 

“Volume swell”

  • Different than the previous, the MD will typically say “Swell bigger” or “Volume swell”

  • Typically means for the whole band to bring more volume. Drummers should mostly stick to swelling on the cymbals.

  • Typically used for swelling into the beginning of a song.

 

“Lift”

  • “Lifting” means to bring the energy up for a couple seconds then bring it back to where it was.

  • Typically used when flowing behind a speaker and they say something that initiates applause.

  • This can be achieved by playing a quick riff, or for drummers, adding in a quick, strong, drum fill or stronger cymbals.

 

“Tom groove”

  • Meant for the drummer. It means to start playing a syncopated tom groove with the snare thrown in sporadically.

 

“Straight build”

  • Typically used to really start building harder. Stay away from syncopation.

  • Usually means to build in eighth-note increments.

 

“Quarter-Note Hits”

  • Every instrumentalist should hit chords/drums on quarter-note increments with 100% energy.

  • Typically used to keep the energy up, but to change the dynamics.

  • Usually followed by another straight build.

 

“Drum Break”

  • All instrumentalists should drop out except for the drummer, who should play big on the toms and snare.

 

“Acapella”

  • All Instrumentalists (including the drummer) should drop out completely on the downbeat, and the singers will sing acapella.

 

“Breakdown”

  • “Breakdown” or “Bring it down” means to end a song without a trash can ending, or to bring all dynamics down and continue a progression at 0%-10% energy.

  • Typically used when you still want to flow after bringing the dynamics down.

 

“Trash Can”

  • “Trash can” means to end a song on a given chord, and go wild on whatever instrument you are playing to keep the energy going.

  • Sometimes the MD will call for “two hits” or three or four hits during a trash can. For that, everyone looks to the drummer for when he hits his cymbals, since it will be off tempo at that point.

 

“Cut”

  • “Cut” means to do a quick volume cut before going into a big bridge or chorus, and coming back in full volume on the downbeat.

  • MD will typically say “Cut on 4” or “Cut on 3” then count in time “1… 2… 3… 4!” 

  • During spontaneous/flow moments, it is very rare that you should settle into a plateau’d groove. You should be thinking of long, constant, building up and building down moments. The best way for drummers to do this is to stay away from the hi-hat and focus more on syncopated toms with a snare hit here and there, along with cymbal swells.

  • Always be paying attention to the MD, but also to the worship leaders, and the speaking pastors. Matching their energy with the way you play will help the moment and keep the music changing dynamically.

  • Sometimes during spontaneous moments, the MD will call out a chord progression that was not rehearsed, whether it be another song, or just a new progression altogether. This is why it is important to know the Nashville Number System!

  • General rule of thumb: During spontaneous/flow moments, no matter how much the dynamics change, keep playing whatever chord progression you are on unless otherwise told so from the MD.

Hand Signals

Worship Leaders will also give hand signals for the band. This is how the MD and the rest of the band knows what to do. Here are a few hand gestures:

 

Forming a “C”

  • It means to go to the chorus of whichever song you are playing. Instrumentalists should play the chorus chords.

 

Holding pinky and thumb out, like the “hang loose” gesture

  • It means to go to the bridge of the song you are currently playing. Same rules apply to instrumentalists.

 

Rotating index finger in a circular motion

  • It means to either keep playing what you are playing, or to keep building.

 

“Come here” type gesture with full hand, as if to say “Bring it up”

  • It means to give the dynamics a lot more energy and start building faster.

 

Waving hand up and down, palm towards the ground

  • Bring the dynamics down all the way, or keep it low, but keep playing the progression.

 

Forming a fist

  • It means to trash can the song.

 

Pointing index finger down towards the ground

  • It means to start the song from the top, or more typically, start from the verse.

 

Pointing towards the drummer

  • It means to do a drum break.

 

Holding up three fingers together, like the “scout’s honor” gesture

  • It means to do an acapella moment.

We have attached some quick examples we would like you to watch.

example 1

trash can ending

example 2

quarter-note hits

example 3

acapella

example 4

drum break

example 5

when we say lift/swell

example 6

cut

I know this may all seem like a lot, but it will become very natural with practice. Yes, listen to the MD and follow the worship leaders as best as you can, but don’t get too caught up in the technicalities of it all. We are worshippers! Not performers.

Closing

As we move forward, we want to communicate (and perhaps over-communicate) where we are headed.

The vision for our bands is that we would be a group of leaders who are ready, willing, and passionate about leading people to a moment with Jesus. If we are not doing that, we are missing it. We understand that you may not always feel close to God when you play, or you maybe had a fight with your spouse that morning, or made an unfortunate choice the night before. There is no condemnation here. But as a worship department, we are asking that you view yourself as a leader of our church. When you show up to play for a weekend, youth, or young adults, we want you to be expectant and excited for how God will use you to lead. 

 

We have felt God calling us to a deeper place with Him and we are asking you to lean in with us and to seek Jesus like never before. We believe that the moments we get to create will change the trajectory of a family lineage. We believe that the songs we write in this next season will be birthed out of spontaneous moments of worship with our church family and will give someone the hope they need to fight for their marriage or mental health another week. We believe that the excellence we lead with will only bring more and more glory to the name of Jesus. We believe lives can be forever changed because they felt God for the first time in the stillness of a simple piano line or in the way we fervently accompanied the speaker as they passionately closed their message. 

 

Every single moment and transition we play matters. Our ability to sense and shift the room matters. Having clarity on verbiage and direction matters. Even the band jam under the campus pastor matters. The excellence and boldness we lead with can impact eternity for someone. What an honor to do that week to week with teams we love so much!

 

THANK YOU for being a part of this ministry. 

You are each so valued—more than you can know. We love getting to know your lives, families, dreams, and everything in between. Tyler and the rest of our worship department are expectant for what is to come. We promise to lead the charge at 110% and we will do our best to always be authentic, energetic, passionate, and ready to follow where we feel God leading us. 

Much love.