expressive worship

A Fine Meal or Goulash

I want to give my audience what they came for – and they came to experience moments!

As musicians, we assume the audience is there to hear some good music. We have some great musical moments for them, and some cool lyrical things going on. In one song there’s this awesome bass lick, and in another song the lead guitar is stellar.

But audiences can’t discern that stuff because they’re not musicians! It’s like a big plate of goulash to them. So we need to make it more obvious – more like a filet mignon, baked potato, salad, and key lime pie. It would be a pretty bad chef that would take all those things and stir them together until you couldn’t recognize what you were eating.

In this video from my DVD Turn It Up to 11, I explain the difference between “moments” and “just playing songs”:

That’s why when someone tells me they’re going to be playing an hour show, and immediately everyone says “how many songs is that,” and they all think a set list of 13, 14 songs. And I want to say “hold it! – what if we just create 7 great moments?”

The artists say, “no, I could sing more songs.” But that’s not what the audience wants. Just playing song after song after song is fast food to them; it’s goulash. So what we want to do is find the cool things about our songs. We need to take a breath and listen to the song from a new perspective.

One group I worked with had a cool bagpipe melody going on in the background of a song. It was nice, but really short. So when we got to that part in rehearsal, I stopped it, and we developed that little section into a 2-minute bagpipe thing. We pointed it out to the audience so they could hear it and enjoy it. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t even have known it was even there, because it went by so quickly.

Oftentimes, to help an artist create moments, I’ll listen to their songs with headphones on, but I’ll only use one side of the headphones. In other words, I’ll get rid of one side of the stereo track. I do this in order to hear the song in a different way, to isolate certain things that might not be heard otherwise.

You see, when you mix the song, you’ve got a great little background here, or an instrumental lick there. Certain things that you, the musician, know are there. But it goes right by the audience.

Those are the things that are inside the song that are cool musically, lyrically, vocally, whatever-ly – and they need to be developed. Maybe they’re developed rhythmically, vocally, message-wise, movement-wise, visually – that’s what the audience sinks its teeth into.

It’s the take-away (the “carry-out” of the meal). And I’d much rather “carry-out” a 7-course dinner than goulash!

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Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson, world renowned Live Music Producer, helps musicians and worship teams develop songs into “unique worship moments.” His Live Music Methods help create freedom in the room so your congregation can express their worship more freely and passionately than ever before! Tom has worked with nearly every genre from rock to pop to Christian Gospel, impacting major artists and worship leaders such as Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns, NewSong, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Todd Agnew, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Parachute Band, The Martins, plus a multitude of independent artists.

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