Worship Consulting – A European Perspective with Mike Sandeman of Phatfish!

Abbie Stancato of Rockin' God's HouseMike Sandeman is the keyboard player with Phatfish, a seasoned contemporary UK Christian band that has performed around the world for nearly 20 years. Mike now offers his experience and expertise as a worship consultatant for local churches. I recently spoke with Mike, and he explained the how and why of his services and his website called Worship Band Advice.

“This is a relatively new venture. Early this year our lead singer and drummer (who are married to each other) went off to work with a church in South Africa for several months, so the band went on temporary hold. I began to pray for what I should do during this gap. I recalled that over the years we would get calls from churches, most often small churches, saying their praise team was struggling and asking us to help. It seemed that developing this kind of worship band advice and working with the worship teams would be a great way of serving these churches. So in January 2013 I put up the site, and it’s been working well.

“I generally go to work with a local praise team for a day or an evening. Sometimes the advice seems quite basic, like how to get a rhythm section working well together. Often, less-experienced musicians have never really thought about how to play “as a unit”—some of them may have only played their instruments at home before and need help with integrating into a band context. It’s surprising how only a few hours of input on the practical side of playing together can really help a team to sound cohesive.”

You constructed an audio CD resource kit for bands called “Working with a Band.” How did that come to fruition and who is the intended audience.

“Prior to working with praise teams on location, Phatfish would offer seminars, sometimes as part of a worship event. As a band we would setup and play through a worship song, then break it down for the audience. We would go through each section of the song (chorus, verse, bridge, etc.) and each instrument in the band, and we would explain the how and why. We would discuss how to put together a straight-forward arrangement, talk about transitioning between songs, and discuss the flow of a worship set. It was amazing the amount of positive feedback the band would receive. We recorded that material in a studio and offered it as the “Working as a Band” package. It also has rehearsal tracks with instruments removed so people can play along with it. It’s now a few years old but still quite popular.

“There is a danger that in our western world we are getting a very narrow view of what worship is. We can think it’s all about playing certain types of songs on a Sunday morning. But our God is a transcending, amazing God. I have an enormous passion for Him. I want something of the splendor and majesty to be reflected in what we do. I just don’t want to see it all boiled down to the details of whether drums and bass players are tight and if the keyboard player is doing something tastefully, etc. I don’t want it to ever get that small. Those things are important, but they are just a tiny sliver of what worship is really about. We serve an amazing God, and I want people to get the big picture of who He is; that’s my main passion. It’s more than these nitty-gritty details. But within that, we should work hard to be as good as we can be, play as well as we can, and do it for the glory of God.”

Please visit Phatfish at www.phatfish.net and show your support!