Music Directing Pro Tips to Make Your Worship Team Sound Better with Tyler Wester

Having a great music director can really take your worship ministry to the next level when it comes to musical excellence. In this episode I talk with Tyler Wester from Highlands Worship about how to be a great music director, what key qualities are necessary, what to look for in potential trainees, and some pro-tips on how to make your worship team sound great musically! Whether you have a music director yet or not, this episode is a must-listen. And if you DO have a music director, then be sure to send this episode on to them! 

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AlexHello and welcome back to another episode of the Worship Ministry Training Podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex and Fierce and your host, and I am so grateful to spend this time learning and growing with you. As you grow. As a worship leader, your team gets better, your Church gets stronger, everybody wins. So thank you for investing in yourself and your development. Today I am talking with Tyler Wester from Highlands Worship, a gigantic Church out in Alabama, and he is their central music director.

AlexNow, if you don’t know what a music director is, it is what it sounds like. It’s a person who directs the band and keeps everybody on the same page and makes things sound great. And if you don’t have a music director on your team, I would highly encourage you to develop one and raise one up and train one up so that your team can be stronger and more unified as you guys lead worship together. So we’re going to be talking all about how to be a great music director, some super pro tips, how to raise up and develop a music director or what to look for in a potential music director.

AlexSo lots of helpful information here. You’re going to be very encouraged by the conversation. And I will put links in the show notes for everything that Tyler and I talk about. So check out the show notes. And I also have a previous podcast episode that I did about music directing that will also be in the show notes. So check those out. Lastly, I’ll say this I am working currently on a course about musical excellence to help you and your teams be musically excellent. So look for that in the coming months.

AlexAnd if you haven’t checked out all of my other courses, you can do so by going to worshipministrytraining. Comcourses. We have courses on set building on team building, worship leader foundations and a few others. And there are some free courses as well. You can go to Worship Ministrytraining. Comcurses to check all of those out.

AlexAll right.

AlexI hope that helps. And let’s dive into the conversation with Tyler Wester, and I will see you on the back end. Hey, everybody, I am here with Tyler Wester, who is the central music director at Church of the Highlands in Alabama. Welcome back, Tyler.

TylerHey, How’s it going?

AlexIt’s going good. Dude, this is your second time back in a short time, even though I’m not sure when these episodes will air, but maybe back to back, maybe people will get a double dose of Tyler.

TylerThat’s exactly what people need, right?

AlexYes. Last time we talked about, I think the systems and structures that are in place at Church of the Highlands to bring about health. But you’re the music director, and I really want to dig into this topic because a lot of churches have recently introduced music directors to their bands to their teams, especially with the advent of in your monitors a decade or so ago, you can now have somebody talking to your band while worship is happening. So you’re the master, you’re the guru. And that’s why you’re on the podcast today.

AlexSo tell our listeners a little bit about your role as the central music director at Church of the Highlands.

TylerYes. Absolutely. So on Sundays, I play keys. And like you said, I’m the music director, MD. So what that means for us a lot of times is that depending on the campus, depending on the relationship between the music director and the worship director, I generally will kind of work with the worship director to kind of help shape the service as well, meaning shaping the worship side of the service. And then once we have a plan, I’ll just make sure that the band knows where we’re going, the vocals know where we’re going, and that’s maybe calling chords.

TylerThat’s calling where we’re going in the song, that’s calling what the pastor is asking for, maybe even on the front row or as he comes on stage. So it’s all kind of adapted to whatever the service is calling for. But in essence, you’re another guide to everybody on stage. And here we actually have it to where production is hearing as well. So that makes it to where song lyrics know where we’re going as well, which is great, because then everything feels like one cohesive experience.

AlexThat’s good. So that’s, like a broad overview of your role. I would love to know because you’re a full time music director. There are some churches who have part time who are only on the weekends or even volunteer music directors. But as a full time music director, what is your full job entail, like Monday through Sunday? What are you doing every day of the week to be a great music director?

TylerOkay. So that’s the interesting thing. The music director side really is mostly Sunday. And I would even say Saturday and preparing for Sunday. But during the week, I’m actually producing music, mixing music, creating that. And I’m over the Ableton sets of the Church. But we actually have another guy on staff who loves making the Abelson sets. And I’m just not going to hold him back because, you know what? It gets pretty tedious. And so he makes them for everything from our Highlands College to Sundays to first Wednesdays to all of our services.

TylerHe creates a set. And what I’ll do is for us at Grants Mill. I’ll then take what he does and then tweak it to whatever we want to do for that service. So mostly during the week, I’m not actually doing music director role per se. It’s actually more of a creative role. And then the weekend is more of the nitty gritty.

AlexSo what about your rehearsals? Do you guys have a rehearsal in the middle of the week that you are involved in.

TylerYou know, we haven’t been doing them for a while because of that. And sometimes our set actually doesn’t. It changes on Friday and different things. And that’s just working with the pastoral staff to make sure it’s like, fitting of the message. We did do rehearsals for a long time, and just recently, we’ve kind of fallen off that train. I think we’re probably getting back to it at some point soon.

AlexActually, back in the day, I could never have imagined doing a service without having a midweek rehearsal. There is so much good that comes from midweek rehearsals. I have an article about it on my website. Actually, I’ll link it in the show notes, but we don’t have a midweek rehearsal either because we have a midweek service. So I had to get used to this idea of, like, everybody comes prepared and we just jammed through the songs and make sure it sounds good enough. And then now we’re at the point where everybody’s really excellent at what they do, and it actually comes together just fine without a rehearsal.

AlexBut yeah, it’s like, Whoa, that’s insane.

TylerBut in the past.

AlexYou were involved in the rehearsals, right? Yeah, for sure.

TylerGenerally, it’s what you’re saying. Everybody is coming prepared. And then if we want to do something differently, sometimes I’ll even send out a voice memo to the band and then talk to the worship director, and we can already kind of go ahead and say, hey, be prepared for this little change on the song. And then everybody can practice that. And then we have a rehearsal in the morning rehearsal. Sound check. Whatever you want to call. It starts at 630, like, downbeat, and then we’re done by 725 and the services at eight.

TylerSo within that time, we only have three song sets and an offering song. So you set 17 minutes or shorter so you can run through the whole set twice and hit the offering song a couple of times. And that still gives you a little bit of time to be able to create something that might be a little bit different than the norm. But, yeah, having a rehearsal allows you to do a whole lot more because it lends you more time to be creative and do whatever.

TylerBut like you said, sometimes I just don’t happen.

AlexYeah. And I think you and I are very similar in that little come prepared for this, but also be aware that we might try this like, hey, guys, I might tack on a tag of how great is our God chorus at the end of this song. Or, for example, this week, I send out my set notes. I call them sent notes to my team on Mondays. It’s kind of just like a reminder that, hey, guys, you’re scheduled and excited to worship with you, and all the resources are in planning center.

AlexSo make sure you practice. And this is what I said this week. I said, hey, we’re going to do goodness of God. I want you to prepare like it is recorded, but I might just try to do, like, acoustic guitar only all the way up to the bridge. And then we start building the bridge. So just come prepared for that. We’ll try it out. If it sounds lame, we’ll just go back to the original average. Sure. Yeah.

TylerThat’s great. So it’s stuff like that. And that’s where having a music director really helps, because sometimes we’ll throw in a song that maybe no one knows, and we had to figure it out in ten minutes. So that’s where I can be really helpful, because generally I’m able to figure it out pretty quickly. And then I can help communicate all those changes to the band. And even when we get to the service, I can be calling out the chords and calling out the changes to where no one in the crowd would ever know that the people don’t actually know the song that well, but it’s almost like a rudder to a ship.

TylerYou’re just kind of helping steer the ship.

AlexI was interested to hear that your teams don’t really have their sets built until Saturday night, some Friday night.

TylerThat is not always the case. But yes, sometimes that happens. It’s just part of Church world generally. So we’re creating the set, but there might be a set change. So maybe the set is made tomorrow. And so that’s Wednesday. Sorry, nobody knows what day it is today’s, Tuesday. So maybe it’s made on Wednesday and it’s uploaded and everybody has the Ableton session ready to go. But then something happens and we change it. And now it’s Thursday night or Friday or sometimes even Saturday. And then everybody has to communicate that with their teams.

AlexGot it. Yes. What I’m hearing in all of this so far is just that you guys have a system, you have structure, and that structure is for the good of everybody. But then everybody also knows to flex when flexing is needed.

TylerEverybody has to be crazy adaptable, because as you even said before, Highlands is known for structures and systems and everything. And we have all those in place. And we have a way of getting the set out and making sure everything happens. But then ultimately, it’s still Church world, which means that everything’s going to change based on different messages or even prayer and stuff happens. And you’re like, I really feel like we should do this song. And even though you already picked a different one, you should go with that change.

AlexYeah. So you kind of described the role of a music director during service. You’re like the rudder, you’re the guide, you’re the bus driver, you’re keeping the band in check. You’re keeping the vocalists in check. You’re keeping everybody on the same page, right? Communicating constantly. Would you like to add to that at all? What is your main objective as the music director? During a live service, like, it’s happening right now. People are in the room. What’s your role? How do you view that?

TylerI just want to make it feel good. I want to make the service feel like an experience. You want there to be space, but you don’t want there to be lulls and where it feels awkward. You want to make sure that everybody’s hitting it like they’re actually playing it correctly. And we’re all on the same page. But you also don’t want to be so rigid. That just because you plan something, that that’s the only thing that can happen. So if the worship director is feeling something in the moment and they’re kind of holding you off, like, tell the band to pull it back or they’re telling the band to bring it up, we may not have practiced that, but you know what?

TylerThat’s what we need to do. And that’s where we’re going to go. It’s this constant, like, head on a swivel, especially when you’re playing, too, because you got to make sure that what you’re doing is still good. But then you got to make sure that you’re following them and then make sure everybody else is following as well. So it’s a lot of fun. It can be stressful sometimes, but it’s really great. And the more you’ve done it, the easier it gets and the less stressful it gets.

AlexIt sounds like you have to have so much command over your instrument that you can play exactly what you need to and what you want to without thinking about it, because you’re actually analyzing what’s happening on the stage, analyzing the pastor in the front row, the Church, how they’re engaging. So you have to be really musically proficient to be a good music director, right? Yeah.

TylerWe just need to be comfortable. And sometimes that means I’m not going to play something that maybe I would have played if I wasn’t directing. So if I’m not able to talk and play this at the same time, I might need to simplify it that’s good.

AlexBesides musical proficiency, what are some of the other traits of a good music director? So if worship pastor is listening and he’s like, Man, I would love to get one of my team members trained up to be a music director, what should they look for in that person?

TylerThey should look for somebody who’s hopefully humble and is teachable, because I think if anybody’s teachable, they’ll learn it. They need to look for somebody who is a good musician who is proficient, because ultimately, you don’t want somebody that’s not proficient in their instrument leading the rest of the band. You know what I’m saying. But yeah, I mean, just look for somebody and then I think the worship director and the music director really need to be tight and have a good relationship and be able to work together well, because ultimately, the worship director is for lack of a better way of saying it commanding that service, and they’re kind of in charge.

TylerSo you need to come alongside of them and make sure that you’re supporting their vision. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer anything as well to that vision. But if you get shot down and that’s not where we’re going, that’s okay. And you just need to be able to come alongside and help make the service feel the best it can. And if you’re at odds with the other person, then it’s going to create a rift and you’ll be able to feel that.

AlexSo you have to be good friends or at least good colleagues off stage.

TylerSo that yeah, at least able to work together and respect each other. But yeah. Look, for somebody who’s able to be taught, who’s teachable and who hopefully shows some proficiency in their instrument to where they’re able to multitask and do multiple things at the same time. Yeah.

AlexSounds like you have to keep a cool head under pressure. What about communication? Like, I’ve worked with different music directors, and some of them are timid to speak up or give clear direction to the band, or they don’t want to say too much. But it seems like somebody to be a good music director needs to be confident to clearly communicate. Is that right?

TylerYes. I would say communication needs to be clear and concise, and it needs to be. This is an interesting thing. This is where it kind of comes down to feel and learning it over time. But what you need to be able to do is communicate early enough, but not too early. That like you don’t need to be saying at the beginning of the song, like, what needs to happen at the bridge. But in that course, before the bridge, you kind of have to be always thinking ahead.

TylerAnd that’s where you can now communicate to your drummer. Say, hey, this is what I need you to do when we get here.

AlexYeah. So talk more about that. What are some of the things you’ve learned about directing a band during a service? Like he said, don’t say it too early, but don’t say it too late, because if it’s too late, it doesn’t matter like they did anyway. But if it’s too early, they’re going to be like, Wait, he said, go to the four right now.


AlexSo Besides timing, what are some other things you learned about communicating to a team live?

TylerWell, one of the best things you can do is we’re talking about music directing. Obviously, you have to have any ears for that. So you’re running some kind of Im system. You need to make sure you can hear everybody, especially the band, making sure that you have everybody up to be able to hear what they’re doing and then instructor them for lack of a better way of saying that or work with them. You need to make sure you have all the worship leaders up.


TylerSo I can go with a real example. The other day, our drummer got sick after the first service. In fact, we sent him home and had another drummer play. We had about a ten minute sound check with just in ears with the other drummer. So what we did is we kind of hit the beginning and ends of songs and the things we had changed for that set. And then when we got to the actual service, I called him through everything. I knew he knew the songs, but there are different things.

TylerWe had changed. So I’m calling him even on the simple things of like, hey, I need you to play eight notes on the ride, like, clear and concise, but we get there and I’m like, hey, Kyle, quarter notes right here. All right. Hey, when you bring it in, swell it up. And now I’m going to need you to go two and four on the kick. So that was the whole service. And it was basically I knew the band was fine, but I knew that he hadn’t played that service before that he didn’t even have a full rehearsal.

TylerSo it was calling all the different stuff like that. Does that kind of answer the question?

AlexYeah. And even as you’re answering that, going back to my previous question about what to look for in a good potential music director, the music director needs to be able to understand basic music theory and how certain instruments work, like two and four, or I just want the snare on four. Like, what is that? If they don’t know what that means, then they can’t communicate that to the drummer.

TylerThat’s very important. And that might be one of the harder things that I had to learn was communicating with a drummer. Because when I first started, I don’t think I understood drums at all.

AlexSo how did you learn it?

TylerJust being around it and talking to people. So originally, I don’t think I ever wanted to do music directing. I had a friend in one of our campuses that made me do it. So we got to the services, and he told me, hey, you’re going to be the music director for this? I’m like, okay, I didn’t know the songs. I didn’t learn them. I was horrible, but I kept learning from him. And then I realized I actually think this is really cool and really enjoyed it. And then just over time, you kind of pick up more of the terminology and you start picking up, okay.

TylerAnd then obviously producing music really helped in that, because then you’re kind of being able to see what each piece of the picture is doing. So then you can help kind of craft that for an actual service as well. It’s very similar.

AlexYes. I was going to say that, too. Music production is where you learn how to layer things and how to build a song dynamically and where players need to simplify or complexify, if that’s even a word.


AlexOne of the things that you said was being able to hear everybody and what they’re playing. So how well do you know all of the musicians parts, like what they’re supposed to play? Or do you just kind of, like, generically know, like, I know the main guitar line and the main drum rhythms. What amount of specificity are you?

TylerYes, it probably depends on the song, but I would say you need to know them well enough to tell if they’re not right or if you’re missing something. Obviously, I don’t know what every guitar part does, but I can tell you when something doesn’t feel right or when we maybe need to add something. I don’t remember what our second song was on Sunday, but after the intro, the guitar player was kind of laying out. They were tuning, getting ready. But because we had just come out of, like, a big, fast first song, instead of dropping out, we asked him to play, like, 16th note, just like, single note kind of thing.

TylerAnd then he would drop out on the chorus just to kind of keep that energy up between the songs. So that wasn’t the part that wasn’t a guitar part. So we’re asking him to add that. So it’s basically just following the chords of the song, which we’re assuming he knows right. But it all depends on the song. Obviously, certain songs have much more signature guitar parts. So if you notice that something is not there and you’re listening, then you would ask the person to play it, and then maybe you mouth what the part is that you’re talking about?

AlexSo that’s the music director’s job is like, hey, guitar player, like, here’s how the lion and the Lamarck is supposed to go. Please, can you figure that out before the next run through? Do you guys have specific language or, like, hand signs to communicate? I know, like, certain churches use two symbols. What are those?

TylerMy handouts. So this means and.

AlexFor the audio only podcast listeners, it’s a fist. Yeah.

TylerAnd then this is funny. Chorus is big C bridge is any form of three fingers interest, which is a little different. A lot of times verse gets interesting and ends up somebody just pointing their finger down.

AlexHow funny.

TylerBut tag is very similar to the end, but it’s like that. But spinning.

AlexSo you guys actually teach your worship directors and music directors those symbols? Yes. Okay. And how often are they actually utilizing those?

TylerQuite a bit, depending on which part of the service it is. But also Sunday. Caitlyn, who is the worst director here at Grantsville. She just wanted to keep going. So she was doing a moment and she just wanted me and the rest of the band just kind of keep playing. She just stuck her hand behind her back. And like you said, for all the audio only listeners. She just stuck her hand down and kind of spun her finger around. And it was just like, hey, keep going a lot of times to bring it down.

TylerObviously, you’re holding your hand out and just pushing it down. And if you want more, the band to kind of build it up, it’s like the opposite of that. And almost like, I didn’t know how to say, but that is kind of like waving people on. They’re pretty self explanatory other than bridge, I guess. Yeah.

AlexAll of them kind of which it means that your band is very much watching the music director and in tune with not the music director, but the worship director. Yeah.

TylerBut then I will be making sure that generally if I’m seeing that, I’m calling that as well. So if none of the band even had their head up, they can still know where we’re going, because I’m not going to expect that they saw that. And I think that’s one of the biggest things, even in speaking, I wanted to say this earlier is like, you need to be clear and concise, but you need to pretend that no one heard you the first time. So maybe we’re about to go into a bridge and we’re in the last four bars, and I’m like, okay, here we go.

TylerLet’s do a two bar build right here. We’re going to go into the bridge. All right. Here we go into the bridge. On the bridge. Two, three. Here we go to the bridge. I mean, it’s kind of annoying if you just soloed me out, but no one is going to think that we’re going to anywhere other than the bridge.

AlexYeah, that’s so helpful. One of our music directors, like, whispers into the mic, and I’m like, Bro, please, we need to hear you loud and clear, please. But you’re saying loud and clear plus multiple times. Yeah.

TylerBecause I could have said, hey, we’re going to go to the bridge, and then it just sits and we get to the end of that. And the person singing is thinking about words, and they just like, what did he say, right? It’s going to be absolutely obvious. And then sometimes, actually, I’ll call out the lyrics of the next part of the song. All right. We’re going to go to the bridge. And then I’ll say the lyrics of the bridge, right. Which I think is really helpful because it’s always just making sure it’s, like, the least common denominator.

TylerYou just don’t want anybody to be confused, including the lyrics because I feel like if the people running lyrics know where we’re going and they’ve heard me, that means probably everybody on stage really knows where we’re going.

AlexYes. That’s so cool. So it sounds like you guys have a lot of flexibility in your arrangements, but I also know you guys use tracks. So what does that look like for you guys? How are you guys using tracks? And then giving your worship directors so much flexibility, how do you have it set up? How are you triggering that? And are you doing it? As a music director.

TylerIt’S not going to be as fun of an answer, but yes, I am triggering Ableton. Generally, it’s the keys player at the campuses. And a lot of times keys player is also the MD. We kind of set in stone and arrangement on the actual tracks. And then almost all flow is just on a click track.

AlexOkay. So you’re running through the whole song, then after the song, if the worship director feels like it’s time to linger a little bit, how do you trigger up the click track or what are you doing there to make sure that you’re still flowing on the same tempo as the previous song?

TylerSo generally I run it maybe a little bit different than a lot of people at the Church, but generally the click track actually just keeps going at the end of songs. For most of the people, I really don’t like that, because especially if we’re going to do, like, retard the ending and crash it out. I’d rather the click track go away.


TylerSo I make it stop. Probably like beat two or beat three of that last bar. But then I use a Tamarythm watch Metronome that I have literally on the right side of my keys. So it’s a Nord, and there’s a little space where it says Nord in the top right. And I just have that thing ready to go. And you can use tap tempo or it’s really easy. It has a little spin dial, and I never said it to have accents, which means that I can set it to any tempo, whether it’s six, eight or four, four, because that’s basically all we do, right.

TylerAnd it’s the same. And then what happens is I will hit it. And if we’re in six eight, I’ll hear that first click and go 23456 and then it’s really quick so I can hit it. And then four, four. Since I know that I’m hitting it triggering it, it’s really easy to count it in quickly because you don’t have to catch it. You know, when you hit it, you just start counting on beat two.

AlexYeah. That’s a great point about when you hit the trigger to start the click, you feel it in your body because you are the one to initiate. Right now we have our drummers triggering our tracks because it’s like we like them to feel the one and then they can do their interest. But we’ve been talking about moving our tracks over to the keys, and that’s the one downside that we see is now the drummer has to catch the tempo and the start of the song.

TylerYeah, totally.

AlexSo in your flow moments, you’re just not using tracks and you’re just building the band around that and you’re leading them through that. And if the listeners are interested. I found a really amazing video of you music directing a moment at the end of service, and they can hear you talking to your band and you’re even singing. So the band knows where you are as your pastor’s, like sharing the altar call or whatever. It’s really cool. So I’m going to link that in the show notes for the listeners to check out, because it’s really helpful to see in action all the different things you’ve been describing to us today.

TylerYeah. And we recorded another one. I was talking to you about a minute ago with Kyle, the drummer who hopped on. We actually have a multi track recording of that service that I could probably send to you if you want to just listen to what an actual service felt like going through. It’s like, 17 minutes. So, I mean, it’s a little bit of a lesson, but, yeah, I can give you a link to that.

AlexYeah, we can put that in the show notes. I can download that and put it in my personal Dropbox forever and ever and ever. For all the podcast listeners in 2035, whenever they’re listening to this, that’s hilarious.


AlexHey, what goes on? The Internet stays forever. One thing you said was transitions. Like you said, you want the service to feel really good. You don’t want it to be so tightly wound together that there’s no sense of space. So what are some things that you’ve done to help the team improve the transitions between songs?

TylerSo something that helps is figuring out almost like, let’s go with a crash out. So say, you’re crashing out the song. It’s like, big on the kick, big on the symbols. So one thing that really helps, actually, is as soon as you can kind of call them through that and you’re like, hey, keep crashing out. Let’s make it big. Let’s make it big. Let’s ready to bring it down, but keep staying on the symbols. So the symbols are still rolling and you can kind of decrescendo and then crescendo back up into the transition.

TylerSo then you just crashed out, and now the symbols kind of came down, but they’re still kind of going. And then you have to click for the next song, and you get one, two, three. And then everybody kind of hits that next downbeat, and you feel like the other song came through a resolution and it stopped. But now you felt like something was kind of compelling you into that transition also helps when you have really bad key changes.

AlexDo you guys not map out your key changes to be relative keys?

TylerNow that’s the goal. But that doesn’t mean that always happens. There’s times where it’s a TRITone key change, and it’s just part of it. You know what? You’re going to make it great, which means about the time that I hit the click, I lay off playing the keys and let the pad kind of trail off, and we tell the rest of the band to do that, and then we let the symbols carry the transition.

AlexGot it.

TylerThey cover a multitude of transitional Sims.

AlexI love that. That’s so good. One of the things that I plan on doing a podcast episode about, but I’ll give a little sneak peek to the listeners is like there’s transitions between songs, but the best bands also understand that within the parts of songs, each instrument can do certain things to help the parts transition. So whether it’s a symbol swell to go from the verse to the prechorus or like, the guitar line slides down on the four count of the previous bar, going into the actual line on the one count or the base guy slides down on the four count.

AlexAll those little transitions, those micro transitions between parts of songs or segments of songs really caused the song to like, it leads the ear on this journey of progression from one part to the other part. So I’ll probably do a podcast episode about that. But anything else that you would like to share just in terms of making bands sound great. Any other things you’ve learned? Yeah.

TylerI think it’s just always making sure that everybody is working together, and none of the instruments are really fighting each other. And it’s figuring out even, like times where, hey, the acoustic guitar right here, it would probably really feel better if instead of them, like finger picking if they were strumming, because nothing else is in there. And I’m playing piano and pad, and I’m basically just blocking that’s kind of what this needs. It doesn’t need me, kind of like doing too much, but it does need something that’s kind of keeping the pace.

TylerAnd then sometimes it’s just like, hey, can you not play on this course with where we are and what everything has been going on in the service? It just feels like it’s too much and the song needs a break. I know that’s what the original song did, but I think if you just didn’t play on this chorus and then you kind of came in on the next verse, it’ll feel better. So it’s always just like thinking of the service as a whole and thinking of, like because it’s just thinking of, like, kind of the journey of the music.

TylerYou want a little bit of a roller coaster, but you don’t want it to be straight up and down, up and down, up and down. And you also don’t want it to be all up and all down. I mean, it’s kind of a feeling, if that makes sense.

AlexYeah. This episode that we’re doing right now is probably not going to release for a long time, but I just released a podcast about the pros and cons of backing tracks and worship. And one of the biggest cons. There’s a lot of cons, but we still use tracks, but there’s a lot of cons. But one of the cons is that people, if they’re not careful, they don’t think about their set as a cohesive whole, and they just drop songs in and execute the songs as they were originally recorded.

AlexBut what you’re saying is and what I would love for my listeners to get is just like, how you perform a song and how you execute a song should depend on the songs before and after it. So you can’t always do it exactly the same. That’s not the point of music. It’s supposed to be a journey. It’s supposed to be beautiful. And so, like, really understanding what changes need to happen within the dynamics of a song, depending on the context of where it falls within a set and how loud the song was before and where you’re going next.

AlexYeah. So I love that.

TylerSure. That even includes tweaking the tracks. Like, maybe that’s deleting that keys line or deleting that silly tambourine that goes and like, throughout the whole verse. I just need that to go away for a minute. I just need a break. I need us to bring it down and make this feel more intimate and less like in your face.


TylerWe end up tweaking tracks all the time, like a couple of weeks ago. We did worthy, and I think it depends on how you call it, but it does six times through that bridge. We call it three, because, like, two is kind of one. It’s be exalted now in the super long.


TylerSo we cut that down to really, like, four passes of that lyric. But if we had just cut it out, the tracks would have just slammed in. But we needed it to kind of grow as we went along. So I had to go in and make fades and make all these different cuts for the tracks to naturally grow, because that’s not what they did on their record. And maybe that means you have to cut things or turn things up and then just make sure that it feels like a band is growing along with it, because if you’re turning up the tracks and they just Slam in out of nowhere, that is distracting as well.

AlexYes. These are pro tips, everybody pro tips from the master here. Do you think there’s anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to share with music directors or with churches that are thinking about introducing music directors, any kind of final words or encouragements?

TylerYeah. You just got to try and then just be gracious with people, especially volunteers, who are learning, because it does take some time. It takes some time to figure out what needs to be said. And I think it’s kind of like the journey of playing in playing. You’re going to start by either not playing enough or playing too much, and then you’ll end up like, say, if you’re playing way too much, then you’ll swing the pendulum and then maybe you’re not playing enough, and then you kind of meet in this happy ground of, like, finally you’re playing a little extra, but you’re not playing busy.

TylerIt’s the same thing with music directing. You may start off by calling everything, and no one really needs to know that because you’re still playing with tracks and you have a guide, and then you end up bringing that back down and finding this middle ground of what needs to be said. And I think the most important thing is music directing towards your team because I’m going to talk differently based on who’s there. If, like, the band all knows what they’re doing. The vocalists all know you don’t have to talk as much.

TylerI mean, you’re talking basically through the transitions. You’re not really talking much during the song, but if somebody is a little less seasoned and maybe they’re not as comfortable on their instrument, you may have to call more, and you may have to cater it towards them, but at the same time, you don’t want to make them feel like you’re only doing it to them and that they’re kind of ostracizing them. You know what I mean? So it’s always just trying to make it the best service possible, but also respecting your team and respecting your worship director and just making sure that the experience feels good even for the people on stage.

TylerThey feel good about what they’re doing and they feel comfortable and feel respected and feel like you’re loving them. You know what I mean? That’s a lot.

AlexBut no, it’s good. Tyler, you are a gem of a human being. And Church of the Highlands is super blessed to have you as their music director. So is there anywhere that people can follow you online if they want to contact you or connect with you?

TylerYeah, absolutely. I think Chris is telling me to get out of his office. Yes, my Instagram is at Tylerwester.


TylerThat or where I was going to say my email, and then I decided not to.

AlexYeah, don’t. Awesome, dude. Well, thanks so much for the time, and it’s been a blessing. It’s been an encouragement to me and many others. I’m sure. So. God bless you, bro.

TylerAll right. Thanks, man. All right.

AlexWell, that’s all we have time for today. I hope this episode helped you again. You can check all the links out in the show notes and click on whatever you will be helped by. And if you were encouraged and helped and built up and blessed by this episode, then please do me a favor and leave a rating and review on Apple podcast that helps me and other people see the podcast and to learn the this information as well. So thank you guys for being a part of this journey with me.

AlexGod bless you. And I will see you next month for another helpful episode.