Q & A: Using Lead Sheets and Sheet Music

Q: “I lead by using lyrics only. The instrumentalists use full sheet music. Is there an easy way to lead the instrumentalists when I am not using the same written music as them?”

RICK MUCHOW: Simply put, there is not an easy way to lead the instrumentalists without the full sheet music, but I do have a few suggestions. Personally, I do not use sheet music or charts when I’m leading worship. I memorize the music and rely on one of my band members to tell me where we are on their chart during our rehearsals.

If you can read music on a chord chart, you can write your lyrics on your chart directly under the chords. During rehearsals you’ll be able to ask the band to start at any measure and you’ll know where that fits in with the lyrics. Assuming that the singers only have lyrics and not sheet music as well, this is helpful to communicate the starting point at the same time to both the band and the singers.

Another suggestion is to put lyric cues into the musicians’ chord charts. This helps the musicians know where the singers are as they can reference the words and know where you as the leader are.

It is obviously important for us as leaders to get on “the same page” with our musicians! 😉

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Rick Muchow
Rick Muchow is the Pastor of Worship at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and has served faithfully there for 21 years. Rick has recorded 11 albums and has 84 songs registered with CCLI; he also authored The Worship Answer Book and is a contributing editor to Leadership journal. Rick offers resources and ministry support to the local church through his Web site, EncouragingMusic.com.