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Leading Music and Worship in a Changing Culture

This syllabus is for a course that deals with leading praise bands. Students will be introduced to contemporary worship of all styles, learn how to build quality congregational repertoire, build skills in worship planning, gain expertise in arranging music for contemporary worship ensembles, and develop skills in rehearsing and leading worship groups.

Course Syllabus

Course Objective:

Students will be introduced to contemporary worship of all styles, learn how to build quality congregational repertoire, build skills in worship planning, gain expertise in arranging music for contemporary worship ensembles, and develop skills in rehearsing and leading worship groups.

Required Texts:

Scheer, Greg. The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Complete Guide to Contemporary Worship Leadership . Working Draft.


• Reading Responses will be handed in for each reading assignment. They will include a synopsis of the material and any questions, critiques, or proofreading issues that arise. This is your chance to engage with the material and interact with me on the writing of the book. My hope is that the final book will benefit from your careful reading and thoughtful comments.

• Assignments are due at the beginning of the class. Those that are late will be marked down 10% every day. All assignments will be typed.

• The best source for contemporary worship music on campus is my office hymnal collection. You are encouraged to make use of the collection for your projects. Either drop by or call to arrange a time to when I’ll be there.


  1. CLASS 1
    Introduction (in class)
  2. CLASS 2
    Setting the Stage
  3. CLASS 3
    Assembling the Team
  4. CLASS 4
    Building Repertoire: Repertoire is Theology, Analyzing Repertoire,
    Evaluating Song Quality
    Due: “Setting the Stage” Church Interview
  5. CLASS 5
    Building Repertoire: Finding New Praise Songs, Introducing New Music
  6. CLASS 6
    Planning Worship: The Art of Worship, Understanding Service Structure,
    Adapting Structure and Style
  7. CLASS 7
    Planning Worship: Practical Worship Planning Techniques, Modulation Types
    Due: Song Evaluation
  8. CLASS 8
    Making Music: The Role of the Praise Team, Vocals and Vocal Harmony
  9. CLASS 9
    Making Music: Instruments
    Due: Praise Set: A. Song Search
  10. CLASS 10
    Making Music: pp 125-126
    Draft: Timeless Hymns in a Contemporary Context
    Due: Praise Set: B. Create Two Praise Sets
  11. CLASS 11
    Rehearsing and Leading: Preparing to Lead, Rehearsing the Team, Leading Worship
    Due: Praise Set: C. Final Praise Set
  12. CLASS 12   Dave Stuntz, guest lecture
    Due: Praise Set: D. Arrange Praise Set
  13. CLASS 13
    Reformed Worship: Mentoring Musicians
  14. CLASS 14
    Looking to the Future
  15. Final Exam time slot
    Due: Praise Set: E. Rehearse Praise Set


Note: All projects will be typed and double-spaced. Projects that ask for song lists must include a sentence or two explanation of why the song was chosen.

“Setting the Stage” Church Interview (2-3 pages)

Find a church that has made, or is planning to make, a transition to using some contemporary worship in their services. Using the chapter “Setting the Stage” as a starting point, interview a leader (or leaders) to find out about the transition. Do a thorough evaluation of the church’s situation–congregation, resources, and leadership. How did the church (or how will they) spread the vision for a new style of worship? What practical details did they (will they) have to take care of to successfully implement the new music? Have the interviewee assess the success of the transition and discuss things they would do differently. (For a church that is planning a transition, have them assess the process thus far and discuss areas of concern.) Conclude with your own assessment of the church’s transition.

Song Evaluation

  1. (1-2 pages) Using the guidelines found in the Building Repertoire chapter, evaluate three songs not listed in the repertoire lists below. Hand in copies of the music along with your evaluation.
  2. (1 page) Part A of the project will be given to one of your classmates, who will evaluate your evaluation.

PRAISE SET: A. Song Search and Rough Draft Praise Sets (2-3 pages)

Find at least 10 songs and three scriptures that would fit with the a theme I will give you. List them with keys, tempos, sources, and explanations.

PRAISE SET: B. Rough Draft Praise Sets (1-2 pages)

Using the songs you’ve gathered in the previous project, create two praise sets. In each one put three songs and one scripture together in a way that flows well.

PRAISE SET: C. Final Praise Set (1-2 pages)

Incorporating my comments from the previous project, create a final, detailed praise set. It should include information about introductions, transitions, modulations, etc.

PRAISE SET: D. Arrange Praise Set (1 page, with supporting material)

Using the praise set from the previous project, prepare the music for the rehearsal: work out the groove for each song, decide whether it is guitar or piano oriented, make changes to the chords, add harmonies, orchestrate for additional instruments, and work out modulations and segues. You will hand in a one page description of the praise set and any additional materials that you would need for the rehearsal. Include at least one non-rhythm section instrument (ie. flute, violin, etc) and vocal harmonies.

PRAISE SET: E. Rehearse Praise Set (1-2 pages, with video tape)

Find a group of musicians to play your praise set. The group must include at least two singers, guitar, piano or keyboard, bass, drums or percussion, and one melody instrument. Video tape the final praise set. Hand in the video tape and a one page description of your preparations, your rehearsal approach, and an evaluation of the success of the experience.


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