Lessons from Leading Praise

Since this is my first post on our praiseband blog, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ander and besides being a member of the Gracepoint Fellowship Church praiseband, I’m also serving on staff in Acts2Fellowship Gold, one of our UC Berkeley campus fellowships, and also lead the a2f gold praise band.

Contrary to what most people think, I’ve never had any dreams or ambitions of being a leading praise. I know that most of you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking “suuuure” but its the truth. I’ve always enjoyed singing but never did I ever dream of being on stage  doing in it in front of a few hundred people. In any case, I’m up there now and leading praise has taught me some things.

Here’s a couple…

1. It ain’t easy: I led praise for acts2fellowship gold this past year and like I told James, our worship director, I appreciate what he does so much more now that I know how much goes into putting together a praise set. I hope you guys don’t think we[praise leaders] just pick songs that we like and sing them. I always apologize to my band because I’m always late in sending them the set. The reason is because I want the words of each song to have meaning and to reflect a message of who God is.

2. You mess up: We had plenty of these this past school year. I can look back at them and laugh it now but at the time it’s nerve racking. I remember it like yesterday: there I was, standing in a dark room of 100 GPB with just the lights on me surrounded by silence. We had just finished a fast song and the band was transitioning into a slower song but which required the keyboardist to change effects on her keyboard. Since this was only our second time, she hadn’t figured out how to program it yet and so she had to scroll through the different effects looking for the one she wanted. Let me tell you, even though it was 30 seconds, it felt like an eternity! I remember thinking to myself “What if i just walked off stage?” Well I didnt, instead I just stood there feeling and looking nervous. Well, she finally did find the effect and we finished the set without any problems but boy was that a traumatic.

James’ response to this story when I told him…

Me: (I finish the story)
James: Hahahaha!

Thanks James, thanks.

    • Wesley
    • April 28th, 2009

    Ander, thank you so much for leading our praise band! No matter how bad you are (JK!), you still taught us the most important thing: to try and live out the lofty words we lead and sing.

    • James
    • April 29th, 2009

    For the record, I didn’t simply laugh… ok, well, I did laugh, but it was well after the story was over. While Ander was telling me the story, I was saying, “Oh no!… Oh my!… That’s not good…”

    Lest you all think that I feel vindicated by instances like this.

    Ander, thanks for taking on leading the a2f band! Your band has made some awesome progress! Keep it up!

    • kaitlyn
    • April 29th, 2009

    yeah ander, we loved it when you led praise during the Tainan SMT 🙂 hehe, it kind of has a similiar effect on me as when tony sun leads priase, for some reason it really makes me want to laugh (i mean experience a lot of joy during praise) ….. i also really like it when moon oppa leads praise, he has a lot of, you know, presence.

    • Hartie
    • April 30th, 2009

    Hahaha! I know exactly how you feel!

  1. It’s a great idea, I want to know more about this, I like music a lot.

    • Albert Youn
    • May 2nd, 2009

    Ander, thank you for answering the call to lead praise! I know that you take your responsibilities seriously, and it’s fun to sing praises along with you and the band.

    • Susan
    • May 4th, 2009

    Ander! I can fully relate with you except I’m the one leading praise waiting for the keyboardist to be ready AND I’m the keyboardist who’s trying to figure out what in the world I’m supposed to be playing… Nerve-racking is an understatement! In only 3 months, I already have so many stories…

    One of them is when we were ending a song and I had written in the final chord to play. But since I’m leading, we often lower the songs so I can sing them. But at the last minute, I wasn’t sure if I had written the chord down in the original key or in the new key. I didn’t have much time, so instead of trying to figure out which it was, I just didn’t play anything and the song ended in awkward, unresolved silence… I can laugh about it.. now… =)

  2. Lessons from leading praise? I think there should be a whole post — nay, a whole blog — devoted to lessons from mixing praise. My one and only time mixing was our senior year (which, by the way, was Ander’s first time leading praise), when all of young adult left for the Praxis Retreat. After making sure everything sounds alright, I took a sigh of relief and sat down… only to hit the power button that was located near my knee. When all the heads started turning around, I wanted to Usain Bolt out of there. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got the sound back up.

    I’ve never mixed since then.

    (I actually have a video clip of this.. maybe I should have Ander upload it one of these days. It’s pretty hilarious.)

  3. Abe…
    I’m afraid to go down that path of uploading clips, video or audio or otherwise. That’s just opening up a whole new can of worms. (But if we start, I have a few I’ll contribute to the pile! It’s amazing, how they never get old.)

    • Dom
    • May 5th, 2009

    Nerve-wracking is definitely an understatement. It took me about 3-4 years to be semi-comfortable on stage, and even then it was still challenging. To all keyboardists out there, keep it up! Trust me, it will get better as you learn from experience.

    • tinar
    • May 5th, 2009

    I think this post really captures last semester! In the beginning, you kept mentioning how shocked you were to be leading praise that I started to think that you were tone deaf or something. haha, jk. But it will definitely be hard to forget how you instilled in us to lessen the gap between what we sing and how we live 🙂

  4. picking sets ..it takes a long time. i have the pleasure of picking sets for TFN and SWS and with a band that is still learning how to play our instruments and how to sing the right notes.. it feels like it’s the same 15 songs to choose from…but there have been many many times where i really experienced genuine worship despite the mess-ups or singing the same song 4 times in 3 months.

    one funny moment was when someone had to be my page turner because we were short on music stands. she turned the wrong page. on the inside…? panic. all of a sudden the familiar words of “from the inside out” weren’t so familiar. on the outside….? “uh…… i’m sorry..let’s try that again from the top” — probably in the book of what NOT to do as a praise leader 101. .

    • Del
    • May 11th, 2009

    I feel u bro. I had many stories like that during my stint with SF praise. Also, as I lead the austin band, their was one sunday where john lin was leading and we were getting ready to do our closing song which was a new one. During invitation time one of his students comes to the front and he goes to pray with him. P.manny then tells everyone that we’d be closing w/ a final song. John is still praying and ppl are looking at me waiting for me to start the song. I’m standing there with my guitar and start strumming the intro when I realize that I forgot how the song goes; so I stop, walk over to dom and ask him how the song goes and he gives me a blank stare as if to say “ur on ur own”. Finally, john walks to the front and we resume after much laughter. Luckily henry wasn’t recording.

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