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Tip #5: Make chord charts and related resources easily accessible

One of the issues that our worship team had back in the day was ensuring everyone was playing to the same sheet of music. We were using paper copies of everything back then and so people who had been in the band a while had huge binders of music that they'd accumulated over the years. There would be like five different versions of the same song in various keys. Any newcomers had to go through several iterations of "I don't think I have that song" as they slowly built up their own chord chart library. It was often the case that each member of the band would somehow end up with different versions of a particular song. It made practice quite interesting when we all started playing different arrangements of the same song concurrently. Inevitably someone would state that the song "didn't sound quite right" and we would start a deductive reasoning process which finally led us to realize one or more of us was playing to a chart that was different than what other band members were playing to. It was a huge time waster and often had us leaving practice late and waking up tired the next day. At some point our church decided to sign up for Planning Center Online (http://get.planningcenteronline.com/). For years our church just used it for  planning services and scheduling people for various ministries. The worship team did not use it at all. Then one day I happened to notice that one of the features was the ability to create a maintain a catalogue of chord charts. I immediately saw the value of having a single repository for all of the worship team songs. In addition, the tool is capable of transposing songs into whatever key is desired. The only hurdle was the task of getting our fairly sizable collection of paper version chord charts into Planning Center. My wife and I did our best to migrate the songs into the tool, but I have to admit it was kind of tedious. I tackled the songs in order of frequency of play so that most of our go-to songs ended up in Planning Center pretty quickly. Migrating the songs into Planning Center also forced us to identify songs that hadn't been played in years and likely wouldn't be played any time soon. In those cases, we just didn't enter them into Planning Center. Once we got a base line song library in place, we just started adding new songs as they were introduced. The advantages of having this easily accessible song library far outweigh the tedium required to create it. Everyone has exactly the same music. Key changes are done in a few seconds. New band members can go into any song and see what the arrangement is. Planning Center also allows us to associate youtube videos or mp3s to each song. This is great because we can attach a link to a particular recording that captures the nuances of song dynamics and nifty lead lines. Since ChordMaestro interfaces with planning center, we can easily grab any song from the song library and have it up on the screen very quickly. All in, all it feels like we spend very little time doing administrative tasks and a lot more time practicing. We still occasionally get out of practice late, but it's usually because a particular band member has a tendency to go on tangents. 

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