Get in Click with the Spirit

I had this nagging feeling that the "fad" of using clicks and multitracks might just be something I’d better learn to use. So rather than standing in judgement of those who relied on such tomfoolery, I hired someone to teach me how to use them.

My motivation? I just don’t ever want to be one of those leaders that stops learning, stops adapting, starts longing for the "simpler" past, and gets left in the dust.

So, I embraced it.

Cautiously at first, but when I began experiencing the value of using clicks and tracks, I was hooked.

See, when you don’t play with a click, everyone on the team is getting their timing from different sources - their own heads, the drummer, the worship leader, the guitar/piano player, their own playing style, the tempo on the recording…see how this is a problem?

But when you play with a click, your whole team HAS to agree to follow the same timing. Or you experience what’s known as a massive train wreck.

Years into playing with clicks, I miss them so much when they aren’t there. I have such a sense of steadiness, stability, and energy with them.

And loops (whether it’s "filling-in" for a player you don’t have that week or just adding sweetening to the sound), having a full sound "like the recording" can be really energizing for those of us with high Artist or Producer faders.

But you can’t ignore the downsides to using all tracks, all clicks, all the time.

Granted that if you use tracks for every song, it’s likely that you do all your creative planning BEFORE Sunday, not DURING Sunday. So there’s still creativity at play, but the way each song goes is already determined. (Yes, there are ways around this - to be dynamic in real time - but for most of us…)

But what I started noticing is something WAY more important than a perceived lack of creativity in a service.

I noticed that I stopped asking God for direction in real time.
 (Where’s that little Hershey’s kiss-like emoji when you need it!?)

See, when I’m not in the structure of a track, I’m assessing my own heart’s engagement, watching the congregation, and asking the LORD if I should do something different from the plan. When I get to the end of the song, I linger and see if there’s a truth that God wants to highlight in a spontaneous song, if we need to repeat a part of the song, or if there’s another responsive choice we are being prompted to make.

But when I use tracks for every song, I literally found myself turning that off.

Now, of course, you 
can still do that, but I think there are traps in tracks (just like with everything).

To help myself, I aim to not use tracks for more than half the songs. And even then only if they really, really help.

Clicks, on the other hand, I tend to use for everything. But I will say this: even with clicks, it’s great to "go old school" and freewheel it for a song every other Sunday with something that’s more natural and unadorned.

I don’t think you can persuade me to drop loops and clicks altogether, because of how helpful they are to the team. But here’s the point of all of this, since so many of us are using clicks and loops.

Follow the Spirit more than the click.

Maybe put that on your music stand (or at the top of your iPads).

How have you learned to manage this tension?