Choosing Worship Team Singers: To Audition or Not?

Abbie Stancato of Rocking Gods HouseWhen a vocalist requests to join your praise team, should you hold an audition?

Before you even consider that question you should first ask the question, where is this potential musician in his or her walk with Christ? That should be the number one criteria even before their musical skills. The greatest singer in the world will be counter-productive to the church and the spirit of the congregation if they are void of God, His Word and Faith.

If you answer the first question and determine that the vocalist is spiritually in the right place to serve on your praise team, then you are ready to ask the audition question.

When it comes to having auditions, large churches don’t have much of a choice. With so many possible volunteers and only so many available positions, auditions should be scheduled, announced, and conducted once or twice annually.

However, small to medium sized churches are often hard pressed for talent. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in the past, it’s usually better to perform solo than to allow bad or mediocre individuals to join the praise team. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove them as your team builds. A previous article Allow or Rehearsal Mix to Fill In, is a great alternative for a limited member praise team. Additionally, if you are auditioning to remove bad team members, you should read “Should You Ever Downsize Your Praise Team.”

I always recommend vocal auditions. I can get just about any musician to sound good if he or she possess even the slightest musical talent. But singers, if they’re bad, will cause the entire team to suffer. One strong musician can carry a band. One bad singer can destroy it. If the sound person is burying them in the mix to spare their feelings, you’re doing them, your congregation, and God a disservice.

If the person wanting to join the team is a seasoned musician playing professionally or majoring in music, I will often add them without an audition. I only require an in depth discussion of their skills, and I will then choose the music accordingly. If they are a newbie, I move slowly. They need to get past the nervousness of playing before others and (often) their insecurity of playing an instrument.

I have a process to acclimate newbies: I schedule them for the first song of a service to evaluate their performance and skills. I begin with a one-on-one to privately access their strengths and weaknesses. Then I prefer to schedule a one-on-one on stage where they’ll be playing (with the sound system on). The newbie will begin to experience the big sound while also developing a feel for playing or singing live. Without the entire band present, you alleviate the pressure of performing before seasoned musicians, which may intimidate them. Lastly, I prefer to schedule them for at least one band practice and an additional one-on-one before the Sunday service. Usually by then, they are confident and prepared.