I love the fact that in each issue we get a chance to talk about problems. Why? Because I tend to see most of the problems we encounter as opportunities to strengthen our teams in the process of making Sunday a better experience for all. Although sound problems might not go away overnight, they tend to be pretty similar from church to church, as are the solutions. At the risk of over-simplifying things, if your team only used in-ears monitors, electronic drums and eliminated all amps from the platform… chances are that many of your sound problems on Sunday would be solved. While this might not be the most musical solution, I would like to believe that most of us could see the obvious benefits.

Unlike sound problems, chart-related challenges are pervasive in that they affect teams at home, during rehearsal, and on Sundays.

Like sound problems, chart-related challenges are multi-faceted. Unlike sound problems, chart-related challenges are pervasive in that they affect teams at home, during rehearsal, and on Sundays. They also tend to get far too little attention, hence this column.

COMMON CHART PROBLEMS
Besides the all-too-frequent wrong chords and musicians who are not yet “chart-friendly”, we also face the challenge of getting everyone on the same page when it comes to arrangements. “New Wine” from Hillsong Worship’s new disc is a great example. Most of us are not going to go the full eight minutes of the original recording, and if we do, chances are we’re not going to play the form exactly as the Hillsong team does. Big problem? Not necessarily!

EASY SOLUTIONS
Appoint a Chart Master
Chances are there is someone on your team who is skilled enough to walk through your charts and catch any mistakes before your team has a chance to memorize them. Buying them a gift card at your local coffee house is a great way to reward their good deeds!

Producer Nathan Nockels organizing charts

Boil It Down
Last month, Gabe Bondoc, the Creative Director at my church shared how he likes to boil EDM (Electronic Dance Music) songs like “This Is Living” down to the chords and lyrics, the essence of a great song. Keep in mind that you don’t need a bank of synths to bring these songs to life… even with just an acoustic guitar and one vocalist these songs work!

Dumb It Down
And if by chance your team isn’t able to play through a somewhat complex arrangement, that’s OK too. Coming back to the “New Wine” example, next to no one is going to play the exact Hillsong arrangement, so the concept of dumbing things down, even just a bit will go a long way toward getting everyone on the same page – tech and sound team included!

PICKING GOOD KEYS
Appoint a Vocal Director
Many if not most Worship Pastors/Creative Directors have busy lives and a pretty full plate. Appointing a Vocal Director is a great way to solve the whole key problem. Have them sing with each of the worship leaders to document their range, and then pow wow with the Chart Master to find keys that are complimentary to their voices.

Ditch the Octave Jumps
Many worship leaders dread attempting octave jumps in the melodies, and guess what – they aren’t any easier for your congregation to sing either. Again, find a key that works for your worship leaders.

Ditch the Flat Keys
Truth be told, I loathe playing in flat keys on guitar, or bass for that matter. Given the prevalence of guitars in worship music, if at all possible find keys that are guitar friendly. This will also avert most of the capo-driven meltdowns that we’ve all experienced!

ARRANGEMENTS AREN’T JUST FOR THE WORSHIP TEAM
Musicians tend to forget that the media team also have to be able to track your arrangement, given the fact that they are responsible for the congregation seeing the right words at the right time. And while we’re at it, let’s not fail to recognize that most sound techs are musicians, and they too will benefit from having an articulate chart in front of them.

PLANNING CENTER ONLINE TO THE RESCUE
As noted in the video below, PCO enables you to import lyrics and chords so you can easily fix wrong chords, transpose keys and add arrangements via the Sequence tab in the Lyrics and Chords window. Then when you’re done, simply share the PDFs with your worship, sound, and media teams to eliminate most every chart problem!

33 COMMENTS

  1. While it’s important to get the right key for the worship leader, is it not more important to ensure a song is in the right key to enable the congregation to sing it. You rightly say octave leaps are usually impossible for the average congregation. And after all we are about encouraging worship from all, Hopefully not performing!

    • Hey John! Thanks for your message. You know its funny, not really actually, octave jumps aside, no worship team I’ve ever been on actually tracked the best keys for the congregation. It is a blind spot. And if I’m totally truthful, when Im not rostered, I”m the guy in the congregation singing up the octave in falsetto if I’m not paying attention. Not sure why I do it, just kind of happens. I guess that means the key is too low for my voice. GREAT food for thought. Thanks again for your post – MUCH appreciated – it is great to put a face (typeface technically) to what we do. Love it! God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

    • I am more than a little adamant about the key suiting the song leader thing. It’s about the congregation, not the person up front. How in the world did we ever get by for centuries with just an organist playing a hymn time after time in the same, singable key? We shouldn’t be adjusting things to make the person up front sound good. We should be making the congregation sound good as they sing to Jesus. And when they do, the musicians have done their job well.

      • Go back and look at some hymnals, there are many classic songs whose melodies in the original key did not suit the average vocal range for males or females. The various alto, tenor and bass parts might provide a more comfortable part for someone, but only if they knew all those parts. I am totally on board with doing our best as leaders to pick keys that are more or less singable for the average person in the congregation, but please don’t romanticize hymns as if they were always perfectly suited for everyone’s voice.

  2. Good article and thanks for the tips. I will take issue with “ditch the flat keys”. I play both bass and guitar, with bass being my primary instrument. My voice tends to fall in that ‘flat key range’. Weird, yes. My advice: don’t shy away from the flat keys, rather learn to play bar chords and/or alternate chord positions; it’ll minimize the capo problem. Thoroughly learn your fret board on both bass and guitar and the issue with playing in different keys mostly goes away. You should be able to play with minimal looking at the frets.

    • Hey Bob! Thanks for your message – appreciated. In my “other life” I make students play diatonic triad chords for each mode started at G (Major, Dorian, Phrygian etc.). Your point about not shying away from things is really spot on, and as much as it was a suggestion, in a sense I may have perpetuated a problem that needs fixing! Excellent advice, and yes, I even make my student play the triads (voiced 1, 3, 5 on the D, G & B strings without looking at the neck so they can hear and feel them shapes without looking. Sound advice. Thanks again for your message – I LOVE this part of what we get to do:) God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

    • Yes, I would also recommend not shying away from sharp and flat keys. It is a good way for band members to learn their fretboard and be able to play with more musicians. After playing guitar for a southern gospel quartet for many years, I had to play in every key, often doing 2 or 3 key changes in a song. Talk about a learning experience. When I went to a praise band with less experienced guitar players, we made chord sheets in the open keys, like G, C, D, then they used a capo where needed to fit the vocal range. Either way is fine, but learning all your flats and sharps really pays off. Good article.

      • Hey W.J. – thanks for your message an kind words – appreciated! Curious to know a couple of things – where did you pick up your modulation / changes skill set? Was it school, a teacher, keyboardist in the band, flying by the seat of your pants etc.? With your capo’d colleagues, were you the one making sure they knew where to apply the capo, or did the charts just say something like Capo 3 for the key of Bb per a “G-centric” chart? Thanks and God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  3. Very helpful; however, if you have a sax or trumpet player they will not thank you for “ditching the flat keys”. E major is great for guitars, but it means that Tenor sax and trumpet are playing in F#, about the hardest key possible, and alto sax is in C#, which is worse!

    • Hey Ewen! Awesome, thanks, and noted. Yeah, the flat key thing. A bit more detail would be a help. Keys, natural, flat or sharp should ideally be chosen for more reasons than they are not good for guitars. That said, I’ve watched enough capos crash and burns, that this is a suggestion, but I perhaps was not clear enough about that bit. Excellent point about horns, which is kind of the same thing that can happen to guitarists when *some* (learning) keyboardists pick keys. The more intelligent response to your point might be is finding the lowest and highest note of the worship leader’s register and find the best key and then see what the other implications are, be it guitar, bass, horns, or keys. Thanks again for your post, getting a chance to interact here is one of my favorite things. Thanks again God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  4. Thanks Dog for the insights. I will challenge one point though. Contemporary worship teams all too often “dumb down” arrangements, harmonic structures and keys. Challenge guitarists to learn the complete instrument and ditch the capo. One will find a much broader harmonic palette than we see in contemporary Christian worship music today.

    • Hey Ken!

      Thanks for your posts, and yes, the first one was a bit “ruff”! Between the “Dumb It Down” and “Ditch the Flat Keys” I struck a few nerves. One of my FAVORITE things is that people are posting here organically which means that my replies are part of the “getting to know you” process – fun stuff! So I have NEVER used a capo for worship, loathe the idea, so I feel you there. I’m also a Diatonic Theory and Harmony nut, so as we at the magazine move forward we will try and come along side teams and raise the bar so that people have a resource to turn to. The team at my Church is actually quite good, but we do dumb some things down here and there not because we can’t do it, but it actually makes it easier to just enjoy the worship. Not everyone is on the same page and between who can make a mid-week rehearsal and who can’t, it is a solution that can work for some – not global. Point taken, and in the future I’ll be a bit more clear about things being suggestions.Sometimes I get so excited about writing the pieces I forget that my intent and my words are not always the same thing. Thanks again for making it fun:) God Bess ~ Doug // [WM]

  5. This is great! I remap out every single song to make it our own given the instruments we have, get rid of all the unnecessary stuff, and put them into keys a normal congregation can sing and that work with a guitar. Makes it soooo much easier than trying to mimic a recording. Chords and words – that’s all you need. And then we make it our own. Thanks for the good read!

    • Hey Leah! Thanks for your post! All the feedback is great stuff, and i’m really glad to hear those things are working for you. Chords and words – just love that – and the make it your own! Awesome! Thanks and God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  6. I do have to laugh at “just chords and words” is all you need. I do realize that most worship teams are made up of keyboards and guitarists but then you are really leaving out any wind instruments that another church may incorporate. A sax player, trumpet player and a bunch of others don’t use chords, so that literally means they have to memorize everything or play everything by ear! And don’t get me started on the flats and sharps! LOL So while a chord chart is good for some, it certainly isn’t good for all. I played clarinet in our church band for years, but since I was also the music assistant, I found my own lead music so I could at least learn the new music. 🙂 I learned from a young age to transpose music from a lead sheet but using a chord chart was useless for me. A good music director helps get what ever music and helps are needed for their particular band. And a lead sheet is good for vocalists learning the song also as they don’t have to listen to the recording over and over and over again to learn it. So we scan and upload both chord charts, lead sheets (when available), lyrics and the Nashville Numbering chord chart to PCO so that everyone has something that can work for them

    • Hey Michelle – thanks for your post – appreciated. First of all – absolutely love that you and your team are doing a great job on asset collection in terms of chord charts AND lead sheets in PCO – my favorite app for worship, pretty much ever. Since I touched a few nerves here, I want to clarify a few things per your really good points…
      Lead Sheets – most teams don’t provide them and this is a problem that we collectively face…
      Flat Keys – was but a mere suggestion to help many of the teams out there that do not have the depth of field in terms of their musicianship or someone to train up the musicians. This is something that we will be working on VERY hard here at the magazine to help changes…
      Horn Players etc. – I am very grateful that my instruments are guitar and bass. It is a total bummer that there is not a more diverse range of instruments used for “modern” worship:(
      Chords and Words – Pretty much everybody I know who plays on a team has some sort of hill they have to climb. The comment about chords and music was *intended* to address the many teams out there who are freaked out by how to play these EDM arrangements with a just an acoustic guitar, and a really effective answer is to just realize there is a chord movement that support lyrics and melodies. At this point I will also gently push back and say that like you I don’t have a resource that notates the 4+ guitar parts that are on many of these recordings, and that translates to doing the heavy lifting of listening to the recording and lifting the parts. While this is something I actually love doing, I was introduced to ear training at an early age, so these are muscles I know how to use, and enjoy using them. I’m a bit of a musical jock if that makes sense:)
      The MD – there are a lot of teams out there – totally serious that do not know what an MD actually is – truth. Again, I had a long conversation with my boss yesterday about this thread and the GREAT comments here and what we’re going to do to help solve some of the disparity out there. That starts with my listening and being reminded how different our situations are, and not forgetting that. In some senses the goal is to go after the 99, but at the same time, Jesus also went after the one. While I’m in no way saying that you are one of the ones, readers with your understanding of music should not be separated from the benefits of being part of the mix of resources we’re working on putting together. My biggest frustration in most of the team situations I’ve played in is the lack of training. That comes down to curriculum, teaching skill, and time. Your comments are hopefully falling on fertile ground, but I’ll warn you now that we may specifically ask the people who have your depth of field come along side us as we try and solve “The Training Problem” that so many of use face:)
      Nashville and Diatonic Numbers – yes and amen!

      Thanks again and God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  7. Great article! We use no capo’s. I print our chord charts, check them for errors, remove any unnecessary “extra” chords and as the person before me said, we play it through once and see what we come up with. I don’t remove them because we can’t play them, I remove them because our guitarists are going to play the lead riffs in their style. We are not striving to be like Hillsong or Jesus Culture, we are our church worship team and God put us together to help usher in the Holy Spirit with the talents we have. It’s never perfect, but it always works. God Bless

    • I love the idea of tweaking things to be your team’s own style, that’s definitely a great approach in comparison to always doing things exactly like a recording. That being said, sometimes doing things your own way is code for people being either too lazy or arrogant to learn the part that was arranged for that song. In many cases, a music director, producer or session musician created a part with care and intention that may be a characteristic part for the song that works better than just making your own thing up. I’m not saying that’s the case for your team, but I’ve heard enough teams that just noodled and dumbed things down rather than taking the extra effort to learn the parts more precisely (no necessarily note for note though). Trust me, there’s plenty of songs where I don’t think the drum part or guitar part in a recording was what we needed to do, and as an arranger myself I’m comfortable coming up with something new, but I also find that a lot of recordings have a great foundation to build off of, if not mimic exactly.

      Also, check out Anderson’s comment below, they are spot on in regards to capos.

      Not picking on you, just trying to bring a different perspective. Blessings to you and your team as you seek to lead you community in praise.

  8. Thanks for the comments Doug. Good to read and challenge ones own preconceptions.
    I’m a muso of very limited training and academic qualification but find myself with responsibilities within our small rural West Australian church. I totally concur with Johns comments regarding pitching for the congregations vocal range. I’ve been playing for worship long enough ( 44 years) to know what that generally is and I am amazed at how many vocalists (and musicians) are not aware of their own range or that of the congregation but rather carelessly go on how they feel at the time. This is a wholly unsatisfactory situation. A bad start to a rehearsal can leave singers arguing that something is outside their range when I know it’s well within their capability and the problem is their attitude or feeling at that moment. The key is not the only consideration, the range and melody will greatly affect the singability of any song as well.
    I also take issue with the “ditch the capo” mentality. Like many, I for years learned every barre chord and would pride myself on not ever needing a capo. In my pride (and ignorance) I thought I was hot stuff because of that. Years later I got into using it simply to get a different sound. It’s opened up a whole new level of guitar for me. “Come People of the Risen King” is easy to play in C as is often presented but I use capo on 5 and it give a whole different timbre to the accompaniment. If the great Tommy Emmanuel is happy to often use a capo then that’s about as good a recommendation as you can get.
    In the end our calling is serve God’s people, to facilitate their expression through song of their worship, their wonder and awe of Him and gratitude to Him for what He has done so that we might know Him. Everything we do should reflect that. If using a capo assists that end then go for it. If you stuff it up every time and put it on 3 instead of 4 then I guess you better learn those barre chords pretty well! In the interests of our brothers and sisters on sax and all number of other instruments we can do no less.

    • Hey Anderson – thanks for your message – great stuff there – 44 years – love it! With my old team, I worked with share the songs via PCO with the vocalists who would test them against their range and come back with a preferred key which I would note inside PCO so that when I was rostering a vocalist to lead I could see their name when choosing the key/s – huge help. And yes, wrong keys are not only frustrating they can damage your voice if the band is loud. As you pointed out, we are in the “servanthood business”, be it our pastor/s, the team, and/or the congregation!

      In case you’re a Journey fan, Neal Schon played in a band with John Waite called Bad English and had to capo because of how high John’s voice is – kind of the antithesis of male vocalists who get older and lose range because they did not care for their voice as well as the fact that our bodies do change as we get older. Point being, I loved hearing Neal play with a capo in that band – as you pointed out there is a wonderful quality that happens with a capo…

      And when it comes to acoustic, as you pointed out, if Tommy does is, it is well worth trying:)

      Thanks again God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  9. When you husband and I prepare worship together, we tend to get it right for the congregation. when we ‘marry’ our pitches it works for most people

    • Hey Crystal – thanks for your post – appreciated! Curious to know if there are common male and female keys you tend to end up in. Thanks again and God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  10. I take minor issue to all the “capo shaming” going on in the comments… I have arthritis and tendonitis in my wrists/hands and cannot physically do barre chords, so I use a capo. I’ve also met many others who dont have enough strength in thier grip to do barre chords but are otherwise great guitar players. I had another guitar player slam me for being “too lazy to learn to play properly with barre chords” so this is a sore spot. Never judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in thier shoes…

    • Hey Crystal – thanks for your message – appreciate! MY big takeaway is not being clear enough in the articles about being sure that the suggestions are intended to be suggestions for people who think those options are good ones for their teams. You comment about walking in others’ shoes is well taken. As a music teacher I’ve worked with two students who had a condition called Dystonia which affects people’s ability a number of tasks that guitar players “normally” do, so your comment is not falling on deaf ears and much appreciated. While I’ve never use a capo during worship I will say that I LOVE the sound of a blended capo’d guitar and one that’s not. Chords become much fuller and “lute-ish” the further the capo goes up the neck…
      MIDDLE GROUND…
      I think the one thing we could all agree on is that all teams and the people on them are not created equal when it comes to musical skill and/or training, and that’s totally OK. The last thing I want to do with this column (something I’m REALLY passionate about writing) is have it become yet another point that divides rather than unites people. Truth be told, most of the ideas for this column stem for the fails that I witness at my home Church of about 150. I always ask if I can share before doing so. A chart and capo incident was the impetus of this article, and like everyone else here we know that progress comes with time and dedication!
      I really appreciate your comment and the time you took to post it – and will apologize that it hit a sore spot. Our magazine is a ministry which means we need to the best job we can to see things that we’re blind too in our own perspective. Your comment reminded me that I’m not there yet, and I appreciate that!

      God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  11. Great article! Thank you so much. I lead worship at a small congregation in a small town. Even so, many of the issues you addressed are ones that we experience, too. Being a worship leader (I’m also an associate pastor) is challenging, and it’s encouraging to know that I’m not alone and not experiencing anything unusual. Thanks again!

    • Hey Randy – many thanks for your message and kind words. You and your team are a great example of where a lot of teams are at, which is to say you are in really good company, and as you pointed out, whether it is church, career, or a combination thereof, people are busier than ever. It is a joy for me to hear that you found the article encouraging – while we use the word “problem” in the title/s, it is about finding some solutions for teams to think about trying and/or affirm what people are doing. Again, thanks for your message – appreciated! God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  12. Good article, Thanks.

    ps: the man in the phot isn’t James Duke… it’s a photo that James Duke shot of… Nathan Nockels sorting the music sheets.

  13. Not everyone serving in a worship band is a professional musician. I started playing very late in life compared to most. I practice diligently and approach the platform every Sunday with an air of humility, knowing I’m trying to bring to the Lord my very best. I also know I don’t have the tool set that many other guitarists have, and a capo is an essential tool for me. I have spent many an evening studying videos by and playing along with Paul Baloche and Steven Curtis Chapman, who both frequently use a capo. I figure if guys with their ability and experience find a capo to be a valuable tool, then I’m in good company.

    As for charts, we use them, but I try to memorize as much of them as I can. That’s hard when some songs are only used once or twice a year. Many of our songs I can play without ever glancing at the sheet; others, I peek here and there. I’m trying to expand my repertoire, but I’m certainly not going to be ashamed because I use the available tools to serve.

    • Hey Tony! There is one way to heaven, but lots of ways to worship. Love what you wrote, and starting with this month’s ‘fail’, I’m making extra sure that my columns come across as suggestions, and not a ‘be all, end all’ which was never the heart. I started this column to offer some outside input to the problems that many of us share. I was, and perhaps justly so, accused of capo-shaming, which was not my heart. This has been a great learning experience for me, and a constant joy to be able to share some of the things that have worked for me over the years. I love what you’re doing and the heart behind it!

      God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  14. Late to the party here, but great article meant for a very broad base.
    I’m a professional musician, which just means someone at some point in time decided to pay for my services;), but it also means I interact with allot of less experienced musicians and singers in our church worship team. I’ll stop here and say my worship is by no means any better or worse then theirs. GOD wants our hearts and if we aren’t worshiping in our daily lives, at work, with our kids, in the grind of everyday, our talking about worship on Sunday only is a mute point.
    I only state that because I don’t want it to seem like I’m coming from a place of authority or pride. GOD’S ultimate authority and I’m blessed to be a part of the ride through the work of Jesus Christ. Period.

    I use capos… some times I don’t. Depends on tone and if it compliments what the other musicians are doing.
    I’ve also played with people who are dependent on them, outside of health reasons, that can become a problem when a guitar player choices a song purely based on how he “can” capo when maybe he or she shouldn’t.
    It’s a tool not a crutch.
    Doug was raising awareness so we as readers might have a breakthrough it our own thinking.
    It’s important to have awareness when choosing songs and keys that we try our best to give everyone an opportunity for success. That involves easy keys to sing, play, read…
    Included in that would be setting up a guitar player for success so he or she doesn’t get nervous and accidently put the capo in the wrong spot. Seems silly but I’ve done it in the past and watched others do it too. Nerves

    For singing I’ve found it that folks have difficulty investing themselves in a lyric, for example “we cry out”, if they aren’t actually crying out.
    Setting the right key to push our selves to do more then speak or monotonely sing songs leaves some thing lacking.
    There’s a time and a place for everything. Hopefully THAT is ruled by the Holy Spirit hitting our hearts from the beginning planning stages to the actual worship time together.

    I can sing some stratosphere notes but that doesnt help the congregation. Alternatively I could sing very low and lose the emotion that SO many of these beautifully written worship songs we’ve been given call for.
    That also leads into the other topic of playing or not playing the song as written. I think we should identify key parts of what makes a song great and play those, the filler is up for interpretation. The music as well as the lyrics are put together for a reason. We don’t have to play it as written, but saying as a rule we either do or don’t play what’s written I think lessons the power of the songs and the leading of the Spirit.

    Balance and awareness to be open minded and think through song planning from different perspectives is I think what Doug hit on and mostly succeeded when dealing with your average worship team.

    Keeo showing the love of Jesus and giving your skillful gifts of music back to the Lord who us always deserving of everything we have… It’s all His after all, right?

    Thank you for blessing me with all your insights and oppinions. So very valuable.

    • Dear Mike – MANY thanks for sharing your thoughts, sensitivity, and insights about the nuance of all of this – skillfully said – and MUCH appreciated:)

      Thanks, warmest regards, best wishes, and God Bless ~ Doug // [WM]

  15. Great article. Thanks Doug!

    We supply charts and lead sheets to our team for all songs. My issue with chord charts, coming from a musical theory background, is that they don’t provide enough detail on timing and arrangements. So many times we have discussions mid-rehearsal about extra bars, or where the chord falls in the bar etc. Which can all be answered quickly by referencing the lead sheet, information the chord/word chart cannot supply. It’s less of an issue with experienced musicians, who are well familiar with the song and arrangement from the recording. But put newer musicians, or leaders who are less able to learn/remember arrangements, or prefer to be more free-form in their arrangement during the service, and you can run into trouble.

    On the topic of octave jumps…this is a tough one. So many artists are using these in current (last 5-7 years) worship. We constantly play with the keys to try and balance these jumps. And like most people we err on the side of singing the low octave a bit lower to make the high octave more comfortable to sing. We generally work on a rule that the average person, in our multi-generation congregation, can sing to a C-D above middle C (in their respective register). If the odd note pushes above that in the peak moments of the song, that’ll be okay, unless all the songs do that. Fortunately for us, most of our singers don’t really exceed that range. So, can you give a practical example of how to ditch the octave jump in a song like Glorious Day? What key would you do it in? Regardless, I assume the premise is to bring the verses up an octave, so that you don’t have the jump from the end of the verse into the chorus. But then you end up singing the verse higher than the chorus.

    Pitch is definitely one of the trickiest elements of our arrangements. We don’t have super talented musicians, so we try to pick (mainly) musician friendly keys (C, D, G) where possible. But regardless of the key, we’ll alienate some of the singers (either it’s too high or too low). Too high and it sounds horrible and damages your voice, or people just don’t sing. Too low and it sounds like mud and has no power/passion/emotion, and people don’t sing. With many ‘mainstream’ worship artists writing songs that have ranges of one and a half octaves, what can you do? Fortunately, there are a growing number of artists writing more congregationally friendly songs again now.

    On the topic of boil it down / dumb it down… If a song needs all the synth arps and EDM, we’ll pass on it. If the song cannot be simplified to be played by a single guitar or piano/keys and a vocalist, it’s not the right song for our congregation. It takes some experience, but a trained ear can listen to an album or live recording of a new song and easily judge how it would work in a simple acoustic setting. More credit to the writer when it can be arranged in a vast spectrum of ways.

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