3 Essential Tips for Adapting Musical Arrangements

10 August 2016

This is an excerpt from the musicians masterclass at Hillsong Conference 2016 in Sydney, hosted by Autumn Hardman and Nigel Hendroff. We hope you can join us next year!

In Joshua 6, the Bible talks about the musicians being the first ones to go out into battle. As musicians, we aren’t meant to just stand on stage and play an instrument; we are anointed for ministry and spiritual warfare. We can bring our musical gift before the Lord as a weapon for the Kingdom. As musicians, we can possess all the skill in the world but it’s paramount that we play with anointing and authority from God.

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In our team, we often find ourselves playing in full-band settings and using live tracks. Tracks can be useful as they can supplement for different instrument layers that we aren’t able to reproduce live. However, there are times when we need to adapt our song arrangements from a full-band setting to more of an acoustic setting, and here are a few tips to help you do the same!

1. Preparation is HUGE

Preparation is key in adapting songs and arrangements for different venues and band settings. We can’t adapt if we’re not prepared. Preparation isn’t just learning the songs that are being played for that service, but also taking the time to learn all of the songs that could possibly be played. It’s so important to be flexible and ready for any last minute changes in a songlist or service.

Don’t learn a song just so you can play it right a few times, but learn a song to the point that you can’t play it wrong.

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Musicians help lead worship. We’re not there to just play a part. We’re there to lead others! We can help lead the congregation through eye contact and engagement, and we can’t do that if we don’t know the song well enough to look up and engage.

SEE ALSO: The Platform: Leading from Wherever You Are

2. Know Your Instrument 

When adapting a song to an acoustic arrangement, it’s important to know the role of each instrument and how that instrument can best serve the arrangement. We’ve asked some of our key musicians about their thoughts on their instrument’s role in an acoustic setting:

“Acoustic guitars can be more of a percussive instrument in an acoustic setting. Their role is really to support the drum rhythm. Dynamics are very important, and it’s helpful to have variations during different sections of a song.” – Nigel Hendroff

“When drumming in an acoustic setting it’s important to compliment the necessary beats and rhythms of the song. Don’t feel like you have to replicate the original rhythm with brushes.” – Dan McMurray

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“When playing bass in an acoustic arrangement, your technique should change. It will be more effective to use a finger style of playing rather than using a pick. It’s also important to think about dynamics, playing in different octaves, and to be aware of what the bottom end is doing in the room.”Matt Hann

3. Relationship is KEY

In anything that we do, having a healthy relationship with our team is a top priority! When you have a great relationship with your team, and you know their strengths and weaknesses, you can enable them to bring their best with different song arrangements and band settings.

SEE ALSO: Working with Your Audio Team

As a team, we always try to carry a spirit of excellence and commitment to getting better in our craft. We hope that you can take these thoughts and apply them to your teams, and grow in your gifting as musicians!

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