One of the main jobs of a worship leader is to decide what keys to do the songs in each time their team plays. Picking keys may not seem like a huge deal, but in actuality, picking a keys will make a big difference in the worship service.

So, how are we supposed to pick keys that work well for our church? Here are three questions to ask yourself when selecting keys:

Can the majority of the congregation sing along?

When you are picking keys, always have the congregation in mind. The job of a worship leader is to lead people in worship, and one of our goals should be to have participation from the congregation. Whether male or female, worship leaders tend to have a big range, while the average person in the congregation has a medium range. At times worship leaders make it a goal to play in the original key of the recording. This can be a good method for deciding keys, but this can also be counter productive to engaging the congregation. Many times recordings by professional musicians and worship leaders are in keys that are far too high for the average person to sing in, and were recorded in a concert setting. We should make it a goal to pick keys that will be singable for the majority of the congregation, which means we may have to drop the key from the original recording.

Can the worship leader sing comfortably?

The congregation is important to consider, but you as the worship leader must also consider your abilities and strengths, as well as your blending vocalists abilities. While you may have to sacrifice singing higher, do not sacrifice to the point of not being able to operate effectively. You still need to be able to comfortably and confidently sing in a key that works for you. Seek to find a key that will work for both the congregation and you as song leader.

How does the key work for your instrumentalists?

This last thing to consider in picking keys is specific to the members on your worship team. The key you select will most likely affect your instrumentalists more than anyone. If you, as the leader, decide to do a song in the key of C#, that will be very difficult for your instrumentalists. The solution to this would be to either put the song in the key of C or D. C# has seven sharps, while C has no sharps and D only has two sharps. Generally, the less sharps/flats, the easier it will be to play for your instrumentalists, especially pianists and guitarists.

If you follow these guidelines when picking keys, you will notice that the worship participation in your congregation will grow, as well as the quality of musicianship on your team.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this article? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Have you ever been apart of a church service where you struggled to sing? For what reasons?
  4. Why is it important to pick keys that people in the congregation can sing along with?
  5. Order these three points from most important to least important. Justify your answer.
  6. Name any other things you think people need to consider when selecting keys. Why?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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