3 Powers Of Downbeat Time (Starting Rehearsals On Time Is A New Phrase Away)

It’s Sunday morning, and rehearsal was supposed to begin at 8:00 am. Your electric guitar player shows up, as requested, at 8 on the dot – but then takes 20 minutes to set up his gear. Is there a better way to start rehearsal on time?

You bet there is, and strangely enough, I didn’t discover it until I had already been leading worship for 15 years. It’s called Downbeat Time, and the phrase is revolutionizing worship rehearsals everywhere.

The Phrase “Downbeat Time” In Context

I still meet many worship leaders and musicians who have never heard of this phrase, and it is such a helpful solution to how your bands think about start times.

Downbeat Time means “the time we’ll begin to play music together.”

Here is the phrase used in a sentence:

“See you Wednesday night for rehearsal. Remember, downbeat time on rehearsal is 7:00 pm, so if you have gear to set up, you’ll need to be there earlier.”

In short form, once your band learns the term, you’d just say:

“Downbeat is at 7 pm. See you there.”

What can this simple change in language about rehearsal do?

The 3 Powers Of Downbeat Time

Simple as this seems, I’ve watched this phrase create a new culture in worship bands, dissolving endless amounts of stress related to time constraints on rehearsals.

Pastors and other leaders also use the phrase, in order to express what time they want something to get started.

1. Downbeat Time helps everyone judge their own needs accordingly.

A vocalist can walk onto the stage, plug-in their IEMs, and be ready to roll. But a drummer, electric guitar player, and sound tech need much more time to be ready to make the music happen at a certain time.

They just have to show up earlier.

2. Downbeat Time helps everyone feel like their time is honored by others.

There is nothing more frustrating for a worship leader than having a short window of time to rehearse, as the gear set-up of  musicians eats the rehearsal down to nothing.

Sometimes, things happen; people are late, or gear issues arise. But if everyone is trying to hit the musical downbeat moment, there is a much better relational vibe overall.

3. Downbeat Time helps you end rehearsal on time.

You can more accurately judge how much time a rehearsal will take if you know when you’ll be starting.

A solid, 4-5 song rehearsal takes about 1.25-1.5 hours in my world.

But if we don’t use downbeat time as our anchor, we have no grid for how long a rehearsal will take.

Try It For A Few Months

Teach your band the phrase, what it means, and why it’s important, by sending them this blog post by the email button above. See if you can begin to create a culture together that uses downbeat time to enhance your rehearsals – and your relationships.


Covid Additions:

“Downbeat Time” works in a live environment, or as a phrase you use generally in team life. Ex. “Downbeat time for the Zoom is at 6:00 pm Saturday. See you then.” The phrase then gets in the vocabulary of the team.


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Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

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