How To Create The “Perfect” Chart


…because we as worship leaders/directors/planners have not taken the proper amount of time to prepare our musicians (instrumentalists and singers) to be successful.  We desire excellence, but we inevitably are lacking in the preparation arena…extended staff meetings, time constraints, another hospital visit, sick kids at home, et cetera.  These are real life things that happen–and we all have to prioritize in life.  My suggestion is that if you can make this concept a part of your weekly preparation for rehearsing and leading worship–success will happen more frequently, team bonding will happen because of the success, and there will be an elevation in the excellence of presentation of worship (and that is most important–we are worshiping a risen Savior that is SO WORTHY of the most excellent offering of praise we can offer).


Worship chart preparation. That’s it. Simple. Yet. So complex and needed. When you take time to prepare charts that are more than lyrics and chords, you begin to allow your team to have an understanding of where the music will go…what will happen within a particular song/chorus/hymn and paramount to each individual will be the role that they play in leading this song. For me, it takes a tremendous about of time for one song because of the make-up of my team: I have charts for 4 out of 10 members, a full piano reduction for 1 member, 4 members desire lyrics only, and 1 team member want a lead sheet with chords, lyrics, and notated melody. Each item requires time, notes, highlights, and energy–however, when I have spent my time working for the team prior to rehearsal–we have had first run-through sound better than many songs we lead which have no notes.  It has changed my thinking: We need “perfect charts” for every song we lead.


There is no magical solution, but I will share what I have gleaned from nearly 15 years of worship leadership:

  1. The Road Map-if you are taking a trip from NY to LA by car but have no idea where you are stopping in the middle, you may run out of gas, or get hungry, or may have to use the restroom, but only to find that you are on I-80 in the middle of Nebraska with no exit in sight. ROADMAPThe same concept applies to worship charts–the people have to know where they are going.  We use a simple “box” on the right side of the page with abbreviations for the road map.
  2. The Intro-“the beginning is a very good place to start.” Be specific and tell the group what they are doing in the intro: “Band-Full In/4 on the Floor/Bkgd VOX-sing ooh.” And then, tell your team what those sayings mean.
  3. Entrances and Exits– let your team know who is playing in each section of a song by using simple “+” and “-” signs to indicate adding an instrument or removing an instrument.  For example, at “VERSE 1” after the intro to a song you may have “-elec. -bass, -drums” meaning the electric guitar, bass, and drums are out on verse 1. The same is used for adding instruments into different sections of the chart.
  4. Don’t Forget The Vocalists-I think that during rehearsals a lot of vocalists feel as though they are secondary to the band because they are not included as part of the team. Or, perhaps they have been told, “sing it like the recording.” DO NOT DO THAT! Instead, give them cues just like the band. For example, at the Bridge: “all VOX-parts” meaning all vocals are singing in harmony.  Again, explain to the team what all of the symbols mean.
  5. Add The Sparkle-there will be times where you will want the band and vocals to do some specific things–do not hesitate to add these to your charts: “BIG! Build” // “Diamonds” // “8th Note BUILD!” // VOX-only //”Breakdown-DRUMS ONLY”//”BIG! HITS” // “ALL OUT-synth only”//et cetera. SPARKLEThese are the items that allow your team to gel and become a unified group striving for excellence–because as we noted, Jesus is worthy of our very best.  However, once again, explain to your team what all of these terms mean.
  6. SOLI DEO GLORIA-this is a Latin term placed at the beginning or end of music by Johann Sebastian Bach–it means “Glory To God Alone.” I encourage you to place this, or a similar phrase on your charts to always be a reminder to you and your team. A reminder of why we are doing what we are doing!


So here is an example chart for you to see all of these items in action.  Of course, I have explained to my team what these symbols and terms mean. Give it a try-you will begin to see great results. The total time I spent on this chart was about 30 minutes–the time I expect to save in multiple rehearsals will be more than 30 minutes. (This is a generic chart–you can of course create specific charts for electric, or bass, keys, vox, et cetera).     

I do not own the rights to distribute this chart-it is for illustration and educational purposes only.

This Is Amazing Grace_CHART_FIN


Feel free to comment and share ideas with us.


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