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How To Build A Set List

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Building your set list can be a challenging task. Kim gives us simple steps to making and maintaining a master songpool. Using this songpool, you and your team can be strategic in building out set lists, introducing new songs, and creating a dynamic worship experience for your congregation.

What's In This Session?
  • Making a Master Songpool (0:03)

  • Introducing New Songs (1:32)

  • Thinking Through Your Theme (2:27)

  • Building Your List Based Around Relative Keys (3:48)

The Full Transcript
"Today we're talking about how to build a set list. So here's where I would start. We actually build a master song pool. So I would just take an excel, and I would have you choose 30 songs, okay. Maybe do 10 fast, mid-tempo, so something that is above 80 beats per minute, and another 20 slower songs. So typically, say you're only doing 4 to 5 songs in a setlist, we would choose 2 sort of faster songs and 3 slower songs. There’s something that's going to be below 80 bpm. So what I would have you do: get your Excel spreadsheet, choose 30 songs, or like I said the 10 fast and the 20 slower. And in your different columns, put the song title and you can put the song beats per minute. This gives you a quick reference of how quick a song is. And then, over here I would also put the keys that are suggested to do those songs in. And then on another column, put the theme. So something like this would be, "is this a good song for communion, or baptisms, or joy, or Easter.” So you can have a good, quick easy reference. When you're coming to build a song set, not having to just imagine in the osmos somewhere, where these amazing songs are coming from. So probably every three to six months, I would review this master song pool. This also eliminates us teaching new songs or over teaching new songs over a short period of time. So you can take your promptly introducing three songs in a month, it's probably going to be your maximum. How we do it, when we're introducing a new song we will have it sang one week, the second week give it a break, on week three, and then rehash it one more time on the fourth week. So within the song list there, we’re doing that new song, so it's repeated and you're giving that song a chance for the congregation to actually take hold of it: was this the right key, are they really worshipping to it, is it too syncopated, is the range sort of funny. So it gives you time to actually introduce a new song and hopefully the congregation can take a hold of that song, and then you've learnt it with your teams, and it gives you longevity. Another place to think through is, all right you've got your master song pool and you're thinking through your new songs. You're introducing them, thinking through the theme. So, say you have a month's worth of worship lists, you write within that month. You might have four to five Sundays, so do you do communion at your church once a month, do you do baptisms at your church once a month. So try to think of the natural rhythm of your church, of your flow and you can use those themes to then build a list. So then, we have something that's a little bit different. We actually start from the end of the list and work our way back to the start. So let's take for example: we write our song lists a month ahead of time. Just saying that we write four consecutive lists at the same time. So we choose our new fast song, put it on week one, two, and four. And we choose a new slow song we're also doing, say one, two, and week four. And in there we have a communion weekend, so that to me would be a themed worship list. So within your five song set, say I would put a song for great communion song we run. Here at worship solutions, they've done a couple of different songs that you can check out for communion. So you're doing Forever by Kari Jobe is your big communion song. I would, then, build the rest of the list based around the relative key. So basically a relative key is just something that has common chords within it. So say you come out of a song in the key of A as your third song and then knowing that you’re going to the key of D, it's somewhat relative because it shares some of the same chords. So that's one thing that we do: we choose what is the big song, song before and what key is that in, and then we actually build. We do the relative keys over here, and then we also do what is most familiar at the book ends of the list. So your first song and your last song a really awesome, crowd favorites that everybody knows and you experiment in the middle. So if you're going to do a new song, you sort of do it more in the middle of the list rather than at the beginning, or right at the very end. So hopefully this has been helpful for you and how to build set lists"