TMM #004: The Secret has been in Plain Sight 👀

Read Time: 2.5 minutes

Hey friends – This week is going to be a little shorter with Thanksgiving and travel approaching, but still a very important one as we continue on our journey of how to better develop your shows & services through setlist planning.

At the beginning of this series we talked about the start of this process, rating your songs on a 1-5 scale. We called this The Setlist Number System and if you want to learn this simple system or want a refresher, you can find that newsletter here

Last newsletter we talked about how you should start off your setlist with a proper Introduction and compared it to the way it should mimic a real life greeting. It’s a chance for you to introduce yourself and giving the audience time to breathe, get to know you and settle in. Check it out here if you missed out.

In the near future, we are going to discuss the most important rule within this system. It’s seriously THE. MOST. IMPORTANT rule that you seriously CANNOT BREAK! But before I tell it to you, there’s one more concept you need to be aware of first…

You probably haven’t noticed this because I was trying to be sneaky about it, but if you go back and look through the previous 3 newsletters I’ve sent you, there’s one 1 word I’ve been intentionally using over and over. I wanted you to read it multiple times without initially realizing it. So, the secret word I’ve been writing to you is Moment and I’ve waited until this one to point it out to you because of its importance in crafting live shows and services.

Think about this with me – when you look back on your life and think about happy times, what is another word for the best memories that you’re probably recalling right now? Of course it’s Moments!! And when you think of those Moments are there any that have songs attached to them?

Maybe a better way to ask this is does a song ever play and it immediately transports you back to a specific moment in time? Or as we’re heading into a season of holidays and togetherness, have you ever thought about why we love hearing the same Christmas music every year? I believe it’s because it brings us back to our most important stored memories. We’re able to relive these moments again and again, think back on happier times, remember our loved ones and look ahead to when we’ll be together again.

So, what if we put together a setlist that was more about creating moments for our audience than putting our favorite songs all in a row? What if we took them on a journey and helped create powerful memories through song?

I can tell you that your audience will remember your show, your service and the moments you connected them to so much more than if you threw a setlist together. You see, the work of an artist is important and you have a real opportunity to create powerful moments through intentional planning.

If you want to learn more about this, I’d encourage you to sign up (below) to be notified when my Music Hacking Course releases in 2023 because we’re going to have further discussions & lessons like this one! I’ll be helping you create powerfully musical moments for your audience, providing you with tools to continually grow your musical skills, and meeting with you online to answer your most important questions. It’s going to be awesome and I wanted to personally invite you to sign up for more details that I’ll be providing in the coming weeks.

For this week, your assignment is to make a list of moments you could begin creating for your upcoming setlists. I have a whole notebook full and I’d encourage you to send me an idea or two; I’ll be happy to provide feedback – seriously! It’s so fun to plan these moments out and I’d love to be a resource for you.

One quick example before I close this week out… have you ever had a fun moment in your set? If not, what could you do to create this during your next service or show? Hit reply and tell me what you’d do.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week of creating memories and moments with those around you and thanks for being here – I sincerely appreciate you!


See you again next week! 👋

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Work with me 1:1 to double your musical skills and achieve your goals!

2. Join (or share) the Monday Musician weekly newsletter with 1 actionable tip on music and skill growth for your musical journey.

3 Music Hacking:a new music course that gives you the secrets for taking your musical skills to a higher level! Sign up here to be notified when it’s available (early 2023!) 🙌

TMM #003: Hello, my name is….

Read Time: 3 minutes

Happy Monday, you Musicians & Artists! How was your weekend? Did you have any services, shows, rehearsals or find some time to practice something new? I hope so and if not, today’s a great day to carve out 5-10 mins to play.

This weekend I was invited to play with my friend, Ben Shafer, at a local chapel on the campus of Boystown, here in Omaha, NE. This is a photo of my view before service started yesterday 😍
Boys Town Chambers Chapel

There were ~200 high schoolers and parents in attendance and it was the first time we’d been asked to lead at this particularly beautiful, reverb-rich church. One of the mistakes I would have made in the past when playing at a new place would have been to mess up the intro moment with the audience/congregation. Have you ever made this mistake?

You have a hot rehearsal or there’s a new song you’ve written or heard that you can’t wait to play so you put it as the first song in your set list without gauging how it will serve those you’re playing for. If you read last week’s newsletter, it would be like starting your set with a Level 5 or Level 1 song (from our Setlist Number System). You can sometimes overcome this but let’s compare it to meeting a new friend.

Imagine with me for a moment – you’re meeting this new person, but instead of looking them confidently in the eyes, smiling and giving them a solid handshake, you choose instead to grip their hand with as much strength as you possibly can while wildly shaking their arm and shouting your introduction “HELLO, MY NAME IS _______!”.

While this would be very memorable, it’s probably not a great first impression. It would also be awkward if you did almost the exact opposite and didn’t make eye contact, chose to duck your head and gave them a very weak handshake while mumbling “hi, i’m dan” (or you know, insert your own name here 😉).

These same scenarios are true with music…

Don’t start your set with a moment that’s difficult for people to join in and get to know you. Audiences decide quickly (seriously, in as little as ~30-45 seconds) if they’re going to join with you or not, so be intentional when you create your setlist and build in an Introduction Moment for them.

This week’s tip – Start your set with a song that is at a Level 3 for your Intro Moment.  A Level 3 song should be upbeat and will welcome people in, just like a nice solid handshake. Plus, they’ll be more open to getting to know you and joining in!

[Bonus Tip: to take your Intro Moment to the next level with a new audience, choose a song they know well. It may take some researching but they’ll appreciate it and jump in with you even quicker.]

There are perfect moments in your set list for quiet songs (Levels 1 & 2) and high energy songs (Levels 4 & 5) and in upcoming weeks we’ll uncover where you should consider placing those moments in your services & shows.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and let me know if this is providing value for you or if you have any questions!

See you again next week! 👋

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Work with me 1:1 to double your musical skills and achieve your goals!

2. Join (or share) the Monday Musician weekly newsletter with 1 actionable tip on music and skill growth for your musical journey.

3 Music Hacking:a new music course that gives you the secrets for taking your musical skills to a higher level! Sign up here to be notified when it’s available (early 2023!) 🙌

Visit Me Here:

TMM #002: What’s your Number?

Read Time: 3.5 minutes

Happy Monday and welcome back! I hope your practicing has been going well (remember the suggestion from 2 weeks ago?) 🙌

I’ve been out of town for the past few weekends visiting family and playing music with friends. It’s been really great and I’m thankful to have musical friends that invite me to hang out with them and play music together. Also, a quick thanks for your patience with me as this newsletter was supposed to go out last week. But, here we are now so let’s get started…

This week we’re going to jump right into a concept I paid to learn about years ago and that I believe you’ll really enjoy. This simple system can be very helpful when you’re planning out your setlist(s) and will make you more aware of your tendencies and how to change things up depending on the service, event, or show for which you’re playing.

If you’re not the person planning out the setlist for the group you play with, this will still be useful and with constructive conversations you can help your band navigate through this idea. If you’re not yet in a band or are a solo artist, this remains a great concept and will help you think about how you can shape your individual repertoire.

We’re going to start by calling this concept the Setlist Number System™. For those of you who know the Nashville Number System, we may work on that in a future newsletter, but those are not the numbers we’re going to be working with this week. Today, I want to walk you through a simple exercise using this Setlist Number System concept. To put this into practice we’ll be using one of your recent setlists as the example.

So step one is to find a recent-ish setlist you’ve either created or were provided as a band member. If you haven’t recently played or aren’t in a band, not to worry because YouTube is your friend. Go and lookup a live concert of any band that you love to listen to. Make a quick note of the first 4-5 songs that the band played in the concert you watched.

Once you find/listen to the setlist, write the songs down in the notebook/app of your choice and put them in the exact order they were played. Start by placing the first song at the top of the page until you have at least 4-5 songs listed out. You can write out more if your setlist was longer, but 4-5 is the minimum. Also, leave some space to the left side of each song title because we’re going to ‘rate’ these songs and here’s the criteria we’ll use:

Setlist Number System

1 – Super mellow, quiet song, when you finish this one no one claps

2 – A little more energy, but still less is more here. Could be really nice without much instrumentation.

3 – Similar to a radio pop song (in any genre), medium energy, it has some groove/rhythm to it.

4 –  This one has more emotion and more power; it’s one the band is excited to play because the response is always really good.

5 – This is a big song, it’s not a particular style but it absolutely rocks and always has a strong response from the audience – think lots of clapping along throughout and definitely at the end of the song.

Now, using this rating/number system, take a moment and write down the appropriate number from the Setlist Number System to the left side of each song in your setlist. When you finish you should have a setlist that has numbers you can easily see next to each song title.

The last step in this exercise (for today) is to look through your setlist and evaluate it. You might be wondering what the point of this is, but trust me, we’re building towards something important.

  • Are you seeing any patterns repeated in your setlist? For example, are you only playing songs from one energy level – all 3’s, 5’s or 1’s in your setlist? If so, is that a service, show, or concert you’d want to attend?
  • Is your setlist making drastic changes throughout? For example do you have any moments where you jump from a 5 song immediately to a 1? That’s a really big change, and not necessarily wrong but are you putting it in the correct place within your set? (if you’re unsure, we’ll discuss this more next week!)
  • Using this numbering system, are you seeing a particular number showing up more frequently that you enjoy playing? This isn’t bad, we all have preferences, but is that type of song showing up the most within your setlist(s)? Hint: you may want to go back and evaluate a couple previous setlists to see if any other patterns emerge.

I’d love to hear what you find in your setlist(s), so feel free to respond directly to this email and it will land right in my inbox where we can keep the conversation going.

Next week we’re going to build off of this exercise and talk about a great number to start your setlist from plus I have more setlist planning tips on the way.

Thanks so much for being here and I hope this provided value you to you today!

See you again next week! 👋

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Work with me 1:1 to double your musical skills and achieve your goals!

2. Join (or share) the Monday Musician weekly newsletter with 1 actionable tip on music and skill growth for your musical journey.

3 Music Hacking:a new music course that gives you the secrets for taking your musical skills to a higher level! Sign up here to be notified when it’s available (early 2023!) 🙌

Visit Me Here:

TMM #001: An Introduction

Read Time: 2 minutes

Hi friend! 👋

Welcome to the first Monday Musician Newsletter from me, Dan White! If you’re receiving this it’s because you decided to stay on board for this journey or perhaps someone sent you to this page to sign up. Either way, thanks for being here!

This first week together is a bit of an introductory newsletter and you might be wondering to yourself “what is the Monday Musician?”. That’s a solid question and I appreciate that you’re curious, but it’s not quite the right question. The better question to ask is “who is the Monday Musician?” and that’s an easy one to answer…. because it’s YOU!

You are the Monday Musician. You’re the one who is doing wondrous things with this one life you’ve been given. I’m sure you’re tackling creative endeavors, writing songs, playing your instrument, releasing projects out into the world and inspiring others to do the same, right?

If so, then this is the perfect newsletter for you and I’d love for you to respond and tell me your success stories! But, what if you’re not doing any of those things?

What if another week has gone by and you feel guilty for not sitting down once with your guitar because you were too tired from doing your actual job, or you lost yet another amazing melody to the abyss of busyness, or you’re not feeling that same creative spark like you used to?

Well then this is also the perfect newsletter for you and I’d love for you to tell me which things you need help with or the frustrations you’re having. I promise that we all have those days, weeks, months, and even years of not being able to pursue our creative and musical dreams, and you are not alone!

In the next few issues I’m going to start out with some great musical tips and I can’t wait to share those with you. I’m so excited! But before we get started, would you consider doing one thing for me? And really, it’s for you…

If you haven’t played your instrument (your voice counts here too!) this week, would you find 5 minutes to play or sing a song that you love? It doesn’t have to sound perfect, but find one moment this week to stop, play and enjoy the music.

I’ve got a list of ideas to share with you, but this first week the focus is on youthe Musician. So, find 5 minutes for yourself and put something beautiful out into the world.

See you again next week.

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Where have you been (for the past 10 yrs)?

Read Time: 2 minutes

Hey friend!

I’m sure you remember me because I definitely remember you! We used to do some sort of musical or creative endeavor together and we likely spent time playing music, singing, sharing stories, talking about faith, life, and family and I’m sure we laughed… A LOT!

One of the main things that has happened in the past ten years is it has been TEN YEARS since we talked! Or at least since I remembered to email you?! What was I doing? Well, you know raising kids, being married to the incredible Fe and working hard at a job I really enjoy. But it’s not a musical job (though sometimes it is… more on that another time) and I realized lately that I felt the drive to get some projects moving, and this one is at the top of my list.

While we’re counting the passage of time, it’s also been 7-8 years since I did anything with my Facebook Page or blog. I’m really not sure how relevant either of those two places are anymore but I’m going to be using them (and possibly a couple of other platforms) in the coming weeks and months to start putting out some musical ideas, so stay on the lookout there if that interests you. I’m not only putting out musical ideas but I’d also like to begin sharing the lessons I’ve learned over the past 3-4 decades in music. Whoa… that was a little difficult to type but it’s the truth, I’m older than I was a decade ago.

I’m 45 years old now, and one of the things I want to start doing this year is GIVING AWAY what I’ve learned. I’ve been “in the room” for some truly valuable lessons from folks much smarter than me on topics like:

  • how to intentionally craft setlists
  • successfully working in bands
  • recording tips/tricks
  • putting together live shows and worship experiences
  • becoming excellent on your instrument(s)
  • songwriting
  • …and a ton of other things, but this list is long enough

I do have quite a few piano ideas to share as well but before I start putting all of those videos & posts out into the world, I wanted to give you the chance to Unsubscribe from this list if none of those topics or ideas are of interest to you.

Hey, I get it and I sincerely mean it! We all grow and change and I’m the one who took 10 years off 😅 I can promise you that I won’t be offended if you want to unsubscribe and honestly, some of the emails on this list might not even exist out on the Interwebs any longer either so I’m expecting a few of you to bounce right back to me.

Alternatively, if you think this email list might be something you’d enjoy, the best compliment you could pay me would be to stay put AND share it with one person who you think would benefit from it. 

You have about 2 weeks to jump off this email list before I begin producing more regular content and I hope to see you on the other side!


p.s. – I’ll take any and all questions at this email address. You might even help me build some of the content we put out. And, I really do answer my email! Well, mostly I do 😉

(I’m quite a bit shorter than the last time we chatted, ha! This photo was taken this Summer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when we were on a school tour)

Visit Me Here:

Finish Line/Starting Line, Day 5

You made it – we’re all here cheering, rooting and believing in you!

I hope you take a moment to realize how uncommon your act of making music & art truly is. I also hope this is not just the finish line of this crazy 5in5 week for you, but the starting line of your songwriting & artistry.

If you’d like to talk more about this, or you need some next steps or ideas then feel free to leave a comment below or you can email me directly HERE.

Thank you for being a part of this awesome week and all the best to you!


Dig Deep, Day 4

You’ve made it this far and you might feel a little worn thin, but dig deep because you’re well on your way to having 5 new songs in one week! That’s seriously awesome and the time and effort you’re putting into this will be so worth it.

Now, while I am saying “Dig Deep” sometimes what you need to do is just pull on a simple little thread, and watch the mystery of the song unravel for you. So don’t stress out if you are finding it a little harder to write today. Go do something that refreshes your soul and don’t be surprised if that helps jog your creativity. If you need some ideas of things to do, hit me up, I’ve got a whole list.

Also, it may be worth reviewing a few of the reasons that you are doing this (see this post – Day 1) in the first place and that may help restore your drive to write.

As you’ve come to expect now, the form to submit your song is below. And please, let me know if you have any questions or if there’s something I can do to help. You can hit me up by either leaving a comment on the post or by emailing me HERE.