What does Murphy's law state? Oh yes: "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong", or stated another way: "If something can go wrong, eventually it will." The too often experienced expanded version of this adage also points out that: "Bad things happen at the most inopportune time." In the case of a song leader up directing singing, inopportune means that he has not prepared for it and has not worked out a way around it, whatever "it" may be.
Most of us using The Paperless Hymnal® are using PowerPoint® to display our slides. PowerPoint® isn't perfect and is actually an immature product when compared to many other presentation software options. But those of you using other programs like EasyWorship and MediaShout, are not off the Microsoft hook either, because most presentation programs use PowerPoint® to actually handle the PowerPoint® files. Some of the "its" are:
(1) the person running the PC failing to advance the slides on time,
(2) lack of communication between the song leader and the person who puts the presentation together,
(3) the song leader not paying attention to which stanzas were selected for the presentation,
(4) the wrong song file used in the presentation,
(5) the PC (PowerPoint®) hanging up,
(6) the power going out,
(7) the song leader is advancing the slides and something happens to distract him from the singing, or
(8) _________ fill in the blank.
The fact is, if you've been using a PC to display songs for any time at all, one or more of the aforementioned have happened to you. But let's face it. We are song leaders. We probably make more mistakes than anyone else in our worship services. If you have thin skin, you shouldn't pick up a songbook and walk up to the front anyway. Of all the people involved in our services, we are the ones who should expect glitches to happen and already have a work around planned.
Some helpful remedies for the above situations:
(1) I remember that it didn't take me long to figure out I needed a copy of the song in my hand that was being projected. When you have that copy AND you have made the appropriate notes on it to remind you how the song will be sung, you know what should be happening next. When the PC fails to advance the slide in time, the singing will not come to a halt until the next slide shows up, but since you have been looking at your copy, you never quit singing. It would be good to point out here that you shouldn't become too tied to a monitor (if you have one), but use your sheet as your reference. Only use the monitor to reference what the audience is seeing.
(2 & 4) If your congregation has someone else put the presentation together, make sure you at least get a copy of the outline printout of the slides BEFORE services AND check it over. If you have enough time, you can make any necessary corrections or at least you can change to match the slide order. It would be best if you can have a copy of the actual presentation emailed to you in time for you to check it over, incase a wrong file has been included. Also, I know of some congregations who do this to make song sheets for the song leader for each service and make sure they have them in time to look them over.
(3) Make notes on your printout. I use Stickit® notes, big bright one's that even I can't overlook. I make sure I list the stanzas to be sung and if the choruses are to be sung after each stanza. I also make sure to remind myself of any other information important to singing each song and any unusual transition between songs.
(5 & 6) I write the song number from the hymnal in the pews on each song. If something happens to disable or delay showing slides, I just ask folks to pick up the songbook and we proceed. Do it quickly and don't wait to see if the problem with the PC will be resolved in short order. The person running the PC should blank the projector screen, do what they have to do to catch up, then start showing the appropriate slide. You don't want a bunch of erroneous slide flipping going on while you are trying to get on with the service.
(7) This is a good argument for the song leader NOT advancing the slides. If something happens, his attention is diverted from the singing to the PC. Now he can no longer lead singing AND tend to the PC at the same time. Someone else should be flipping the slides, whose job is to tend the PC while the song leader leads the singing.
Now, what do you do with all those song sheets you have printed out?
I have heard from some of you about your method of keeping up with them. Some churches and individuals have printed out all the songs from The Paperless Hymnal® FullSong directory. With 1041 individual songs (can you believe it?), it would take more than two reams of paper to print them all. One good customer told me that he bought the biggest binder he could find (5 1/2 inches) at his friendly big box office supply store and proceeded to fill it up. Over the years, my binder has grown but I stopped at 4 1/2 inches. I don't print out the songs I don't use. That includes the songs I do not care to sing, those songs that I know our congregation cannot sing, and those song versions that are incompatible with songs in our songbook. I had another good customer tell me that once he uses a song, he puts it in a different binder to remind him that he has used that song recently, then every so often he files them back in the big folder. You might find that one binder is too large for you to handle easily. Two or three might suit you well. That can be a lot easier than shuffling all those songs back and forth in one big binder.