There's no question that worship pads do a great job of giving you an ambient, full sound during your worship songs.
But what about the moments in between your songs? You have the opportunity to really use the space between one song (or other worship service element) and the next to its fullest. You also have the opportunity to "poorly steward" that time and potentially disrupt the focus or flow of the worship service.
So how can pad loops help? Let's walk through a few, tutorial style.
If you started a pad loop at the beginning of the song, it will continue to play as the song ends, filling the perfect amount of your sound for you to do several things over it. Here are a few ideas.
1. Extend the song ending.
When the song ends (and the pad continues to play), ask yourself (or the Lord) if there's a section of the song you just sang that's worth repeating. This can be easily led on just your lead instrument plus pads (you can certainly signal your team in to play as well, but spontaneous moments like this do just fine with light instrumentation, too!). Bonus: since it's a spontaneous moment (and if you introduce it as such - "Why don't we sing [insert part of song here] again"), the congregation isn't likely to be alarmed if you don't show the lyrics on the screen. Simply enjoy!
2. Create an "in-between" song.
During rehearsal, decide on a simple chord progression that you can repeat multiple times as a worship team. I usually repeat this progression this lightly with light cymbal taps from the drummer, the bassist playing simple notes up an octave, and everyone else simply doing much less than during the song. The pads will add the perfect amount of atmosphere, and you'll be set to improv as long (or as short) as you'd like to. At this point, you can share Scripture, pray, simply enjoy the musical interlude, spontaneously sing, etc. - the sky's the limit!
3. Decide on a few "prayer progressions".
I like to pray after a song if the moment is right, and without an ambient pad filling the space, I usually (and subconsciously) start playing more notes on my guitar to try to fill that missing space. The problem is, I'm also praying at that moment as well, and can't concentrate on both without one of the two suffering.
So what I do is this: decide on a few simple "prayer progressions" you can pull out at any given moment (1 4 m6 4, 4 1/3 m2 5, etc.), and don't have any other team member play at that moment. It's just you, your lead instrument, the pads, and your prayer. If you've decided on the progression, you don't have to think about that. The pads fill a nice space so you can finger-pick without having to be precisely on the tempo (it can ebb and flow as your prayer ebbs and flows). At this point, you can provide a beautiful musical atmosphere that you're able to mold & shape around the pacing and length of your prayer.
Transitions can be intimidating, but some beautiful pad loops and some proactive work will prepare you for being more "in the moment" when it comes.
How about you? What ways do you navigate your transitions well? Do you have any transition nightmare stories? Comment below!