Today’s guest blog comes from long-time user of Power Music Alun McCarthy. Alun leads worship at St Peter’s Shared Church in Guildford and has been previously featured in this blog as a featured musician. Here, Alun shares some tips and tricks he’s learned using Power Music:
As a musician and worship leader, what I’m doing is far more important than how I’m doing it. If a congregation is distracted by the machinery of the music group this can defeat the purpose of a service. I’ve found several ways of using technology and software (Power Music) that help me to achieve a flow of worship without being noticeable to a congregation.
There may be a time that I’ll want to refer to a particular aspect of a sermon in a worship set. Having the ability to search out a word or phrase, either in a title of a song or the whole lyric, is really useful for this. Many songbooks provide indexed categories, which are useful, but only provide a reference to a song title. Being able to dig deeper into the lyric brings a whole new dynamic to selecting a song “on the fly”.
Another advantage of searching for a song electronically is that it’s silent – no rustling pages, which is often a distraction for the person delivering the sermon as well as for the congregation.
Effective communication is also essential; if the rest of the group and the lyric projection team don’t know where you’re going then the moment will be lost. This is where I would use a “moment of reflection”, often referring to the first line of the song – which gives the tech desk time to sort the projection out. Those moments also allow the congregation time to turn to worship as well.
Sometimes, background working isn’t all about the dynamics of leading. There are occasions when a service is more reflective and may have a lower lighting arrangement, such as a Cristingle Service or an evening Remembrance Service. On these occasions it’s definitely an advantage to be able to read chord charts from a screen, however a distraction may be the white glow that the laptop gives out. For these occasions I change the settings in Power Music so the background is black and the text is white. This cuts down the glow nicely.
Setting a black background is also useful if you don’t have a projection team. I’ve run a laptop out to an lcd screen, duplicating the display and setting a black background with yellow lyrics and a brown/red chord line. As long as you explain to the congregation what’s going on it’s surprising how quickly they focus only on the parts of the display they need to.
Always make sure your laptop is firmly attached to a stand, preferably a specific laptop stand. There’s nothing worse than leading a praise worship song and ending up with a laptop on the floor. This is all the more important when the song involves children and flags!
Finally, it’s really important that you keep your laptop plugged into the mains when using it to lead worship. There is nothing more distracting for a worship leader that to be on the second verse of a good old hymn than to have the “low battery” warning pop up. The two thoughts that cross your mind in very quick succession are: “how do I press “OK” to close that dialogue box?” and “how do I stop playing and plug the mains lead in without anyone noticing?”