The Difference Between Rehearsals & Run Throughs

9 min read

One major thing I have learned over the past 13 years in live production is the more time I spend preparing for an event/service, the greater chance I have to respond well to issues that arise during the event/service. That may sound a little odd, but let me explain.

There have been four different elements over the years that I have been apart of when it comes to event preparation. Those four elements are: 1) Planning Meeting, 2) Pre-Production Meeting, 3) Rehearsal, & 4) Run Through (dry run). In our time here I will be focusing on the last element, but I do want to briefly describe the first three. Planning Meeting is the dreaming and brainstorm meeting. During this time plan what will actually go down during your event. The Pre-Production Meeting is where the tech team and music team gather to find out the best way to deliver on the decided event elements.

Up next is the Rehearsal. For my general experience this element consist of mainly the band and audio engineers. We could go on for pages on the best and different ways to conduct a good Rehearsal, but for now we will focus on one key item. That item is a recording of the set list in the exact order with the exact arrangements that will be played for the upcoming event. This can adjusted at any point if needed, but the general rule is practice what you 99% sure you will be doing. That recording is to include intros, transitions, and any speaking parts by the worship leaders. The recording is then uploaded to Planning Center Online to be distributed to the entire production team.

Ok, now that those three have been established it’s time to move to the Run Through element. The run through for me has happened the same day of the event and usually a few hours before the event begins. The following order of events are “simple”, but if done well can make for a great day.

1. Systems On

Length: 15–45 mins (depends on your system)

As a staff member or lead volunteer be sure you are the first one in the venue to turn everything on and make sure that everything is ready to go for run through. This includes all gear in place and on, setlist printed out, production areas cleaned up, stage cleared, etc. There is nothing that will slow down the start of a run through and begin to frustrat others than when someone is still looking for a camera, importing videos or moving a lift off stage. This is a huge step in setting the team up for success from when they first walk through the doors.

2. IEM Check

Length: 10–20 mins

If your band has already rehearsed earlier in the week this is the time to run through a few verses to just verify no bugs have shown up since that rehearsal. Spend some time here with your band to get that last 10% of their in ear mix just right for them. Also this is the time do double check on fresh batteries for all wireless mics and IEM packs.

3. Pre Production Meeting

Length: 15–20 mins

Use this time to gather all your volunteers, and band if possible depending on IEM check. This is a short meeting to place a set list in each team members hand and review each and every step on the sheet. This doesn’t take too long, but don’t skip over it. Be very detailed with your set list by documenting different video routing, stage movements, mic changes, stage clocks, etc. The goal here is to all be on the same page and answer as many questions you can before everyone gets into position. I also encourage you to use this time to pray for the day and each other.

4. Run Through

Length: 40–60 mins (depends on your service length)

So if everything up to this point has been done with attention to detail this should go well. Maybe not smoothly, but well. This is where everyone and everything come together for the very first time. The goal here is to replicate as close to the actually service as possible. So start with your pre-service audio/video and move through every single element of your service.

This is in no particular order, but here are a few different elements:

Welcome – Be sure to have your welcome host there for run through and deliver his portion as if the room were full. This is hard to do at times and may seem pointless, but if done right it helps with timing as well as GFX cues.

Songs – From top to bottom along with transitions. Don’t start and stop between each song here, but instead use this time to nail those transitions one last time. Also just like the welcome segment, any speaking done by the worship leaders over intros or instrumental breaks should be done here.

Videos – Roll all videos and watch them in their entirety. Do not fast forward to the end because this is your chance to verify one last time that audio/video is in sync and correct. This is an easy portion to skip ahead on. Fight the tension here.

Message – This will be the element that will not run in full length. I have never expected a communicator to deliver their entire talk during a run through. So what I have done in the past is to practice the transition into the message element. Checked their mic placement and level. Then had them go through each talking point/slide with us on screen to verify they are all correct. Make any changes necessary and this portion is done.

Openers/Specials – This usually comes up front or at the end of a service. This is to be treated just like a song, but plan to possibly run it one or two more times after you complete the full run through. Over the years openers/specials have come with extra production elements or media elements. Since these are outside of the normal we tend to spend a little extra time on them during run through. The first time through is usually a chance to get the entire team familiar with the element. The second or third time is to knock it out of the park.

5. Evaluate

Length: 5–10 mins

Meet with your production staff and any team leads (Producer, Director, Audio, Stage Manager, Lighting) briefly after run through to evaluate how run through went. Use this time to discuss any small changes you believe you should make before the first service begins. And do your best to make changes that you know your team can correct and do not need to rehearse.

6. Team Meeting & Prayer

Length: 15–20 mins (depends on your schedule)

This is usually the last thing I do before we take our positions for the first service. Gather your team in the green room, hallway or outside. Greenroom’s are nice if your fortunate to have one because it gives the place for the volunteers and band to gather during a long day of services. But anyplace will do as long as your together and it’s quiet. Take the time here to review any changes that have been decided after run through and then spend some time encouraging the team. This is a time to help give vision to the day and to get focused. A few things we have done over the years is take prayer request and pray for people specifically. We have had volunteers and staff share their story of coming to know Jesus.


So lot’s of information here to take in, but I believe information that is simple to implement. The key to everything above is to get with your team and all get on the same page. Do not try to implement anything above with the rest of your team understand the vision behind it and why it can help to create an amazing experience. You should feel free to change what has been said here and make it your own. But over the years I have found this foundation and order has been very beneficial for the teams I have been blessed to lead.

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