5 Misbeliefs When Running Tracks (ft. Worship Together)

Loop Community Founder Matt McCoy sat down with Terryl Padilla from Worship Together to talk about the five misbeliefs & misconceptions that many people have about running tracks, and tips for how to solve them.

1. “The click is making me worse.”

Terryl: “When I first started using tracks I thought that the click made me worse and I think we hear this from people all the time when they first get started. My tip to address this, is don’t put the pressure on yourself right away to use tracks and a click. Start implementing it with your team in rehearsals. It can be fun when you don’t have the pressure. If you get off the tracks, just cut it and know that there’s no pressure for this Sunday. Then next week at rehearsal bring it back. The click is our guide, and if we’re all chasing the same guide we become tighter and better as a team.”

2. “Clicks and tracks don’t allow flow.”

Terryl: “Lots of people can feel like the click and tracks makes you formulaic and follow a system, and not be able to worship well. The solution to this is having a way to take the tracks where God is leading you. With the Prime App it’s so easy to jump between sections, repeat a section, use a MIDI controller to do that. It’s as easy as having your worship team follow you. Also, to believe that the flow of God is only spontaneous is a bit of a box for God. As I’m building out our setlists, I’m also asking God where do you want me to take this service? That helps me to think into that flow of the service and now the tracks aren’t stifling us.”

Matt: “When you and I first started using tracks you did just have to play to the tracks. But now with technology, it’s about the operator. When the operator of the tracks refuses to be flexible, then it can be stifling. But now, you can loop a chorus, jump to a different section and be flexible.”

3. “My team should learn the parts.”

Terryl: “I don’t think we should use tracks as a crutch. If you’re working with a guitar player and he’s struggling with a part, don’t go to him and say ‘never mind, just play the chords.” Still pastor, still coach, still train your team. Then all of the additional stuff that they can’t do, have tracks do that. I want someone who comes into our church to hear the same excellence that they hear in music outside of our church. Now you look at a worship song and there’s 12 synths. So in order to have that, you can use tracks. Don’t let it be an ‘and/or’ thing. Let it work together. Work with your team and use tracks to fill in the gaps. It frees you up to focus on what you need to focus on.”

4. “I feel like we’re faking it.”

Terryl: “This one is similar to the last misbelief, but I think it comes from a different place. I hear from people that they think using tracks is inauthentic. But the world of music is so different now. If you go to a concert, they’re running click, running tracks, and their vocals are being tuned live. And there’s nothing wrong with it. I think when you present tracks to a team that hasn’t done this before, it feels like you’re asking them to lip sync the song. But that’s not the case. Understanding that this is a benefit and not meant to replace or be fake. No one is sitting there questioning if they hear a shaker in the background and don’t see someone with a shaker on stage. We don’t want to think about ourselves, but the excellence of the worship as a whole. It’s okay to use tracks.”

Matt: “I hear this a lot from team members who are in a band that’s starting to implement tracks. Which is usually a warning sign to me that the vision of tracks wasn’t properly set up by the worship leader, or they’re using tracks wrong. Like if a worship leader starts using tracks and uses all of the piano, organ and keys parts. Then the keys player feels like they’re being replaced. But that’s the worship leader not leading correctly. Pick a part the piano player is going to play and mute that in the tracks.”

5. “This is so complicated.”

Terryl: “A lot of people start thinking through it all and they feel like it’s too complicated. Their audio person is a volunteer, their band can’t do it, how can they incorporate tracks? People will ask other churches and hear they need an Ableton Pro that’s been running tracks for years. But most churches don’t have those resources, and you don’t need to do that. It takes practice. Practice leading by yourself with tracks. This is where I’m a huge fan of Prime, Track Rig and Looptimus. It’s a good way to start and easy to use. The Prime App can be on your phone so you can mess with it at home and practice using it. If you feel like it’s complicated, it does not have to be. Find out what the next steps you can take are right now to implement tracks. You don’t have to have an MD or playback person. What would it look like for your next rehearsal if you downloaded one song and tried it with your team?”

Matt: “This is exactly why our slogan at Loop Community is Tracks Made Easy. When we first started, using tracks wasn’t that easy. But it’s come a long way.”

If you’re just getting started using tracks, check out Loop Community’s free Running Tracks for Beginners Workshop! Watch the full interview below with Terryl and Matt.