You’ve just heard a new worship song and you’re so excited to sing it at your church. You get some charts for the song, teach it to your band, and make sure it sounds just like the original. Your congregation will love it, right?
Usually, the typical artist recording is not in the most desirable key for a congregation. Artists are trying to make the best recording possible, and part of that process is choosing a key that suits the strengths of their voice. Of course, there are exceptions, and sometimes the recorded key is the best key for your congregation.
With all of this in mind, here are some factors you should consider when choosing an appropriate key.
There’s an old adage “From C to Shining C.” However, if that methodology were applied to the songs you currently sing, you might only have 2 songs left in your rotation. As a general rule, a congregation is most comfortable between a low A and a high D. Its okay to occasionally go outside these notes, but generally you want the majority of the song to fall within this range.
If a song is fast, you’ll want to keep it in the higher part of the range listed above so the song doesn’t lose energy. Conversely, if a song is slow with a smaller range, its easier to sing on the lower end.
Listen and Observe
Is there a particular section of a song where the congregation doesn’t sing as loud or stops singing altogether? If yes, its probably because that part of the song is either too low or too high. If possible, consider changing the key a step or two.
The factors listed above are a few things to consider in key selection, but remember that even these recommendations are not a one-size-fits-all. Each congregation is unique, so make informed decisions based upon the singers in your church. Choosing the best key for your congregation is a great way to serve them as a Worship Leader.