Section 2 - Musical Skills

Remember from our scripture lesson in the last section; 8 To determine the assignment of duties they all drew lots, whether they were young or old, experts or beginners.  If you don’t think your musical skills are good enough keep this passage in mind.  Don’t be afraid because this was and is God’s way; He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies those He calls.  Experts and beginners alike were both called (by drawing lots) to worship duties.

Beginners and experts should remember and adhere to two basic Biblical principles for the sake of improving worship music.  Beginners should seek wise council.  The wise councilors are the experts.  And I’ll tell you that if you ask someone, “How did you do that,” they will usually be thrilled with the opportunity to assist you.  And you experts please remember the principle of providing correction with love and kindness.  There was a time when you struggled too, so be patient with the beginner.  Additionally, experts should consider a philosophy of my former martial arts instructor; “We learn by teaching.”  Going over the basics with a beginner is an opportunity to refresh your own basic skills.

Directing Music

cartoon conductor.jpg

Regardless of a musician’s level of expertise, being able to take direction from the leader (if there is one) is vital to the overall success of presenting the music.  Leaders and conductors are essential for keeping the group together in the correct tempo, and getting the whole band back into the right part of the song if things start falling apart.  Janis Joplin would spin her hand around to signal to her band that she wanted to extend a part in the song, like repeating a chorus an extra time.  This kind of direction is often referred to as a “cue.”  Praise bands do extra choruses frequently so it is important for the band to learn how the leaders style of signals and cues, and pay close attention to them.

Below are examples of how a leader directs the group.  The first example is the most basic form of conductor motions for setting, keeping, or changing the tempo of a song.  Whether leading or following all of us musicians need to be familiar with these signals.

See the source image


Other Director Signals

Other signals include the director raising their hand signaling the band to play louder (crescendo), or lowering their hand signaling the band to play softer (decrescendo).  When the leader also plays an instrument you will need to become acquainted with how they make such a volume signal while they play.  If you are the leader and play an instrument you will need to develop your own style for this, but you must be consistent.

The last note of a song can also be signaled in a variety of ways, either the conductor making a definitive down stroke with their hands or baton.  A pianist can usually free up one of their hands to make this signal.  I use the neck of my guitar to make these signals; I raise my guitar to signal the end is coming and drop down to signal the last note, or even jump up and my feet hitting the ground is the last note signal.  Click on the link below to see some more hand signals commonly used by directors.

The top 5 most used choir director hand signals (

Note that none of these signals mean anything if the musicians are not paying attention!

Listen to these songs and take note of how the singers frequently say the first words of the part that is coming next.  This is a great way to keep the band and the congregation in the correct place of the song.  (And notice the choir behind Michael W Smith.)

Love Never Fails – Jesus Culture

Mighty to Save - Michael W Smith

Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 12:59 PM