Hi. I know this has been talked about before and I have read all the posts I could find on the subject. I thought I had a handle on this issue. I've been rekeying songs down to make them more singable by our congregation for years and we seem to get a high level of participation and energy from our congregation during worship. I, my team, and people in the congregation that I talk with regularly thought things were going pretty good.
Our church rotated pastors this year. The new pastor is great and his wife is also very involved with his ministries. She is telling me that most of our songs are keyed too high. She has the vocal range most females in any congregation has and she finds our songs unsingable. She is telling me that it's also making it hard for my female praise team vocalist to sing and most of the women in the congregation. Since more women than men normally sing I need to key everything to their vocal range. I'm being told that's why more people aren't singing. When I look out on Sunday morning I see many lips moving and hear a strong voice form the congregation.
I've been trying very hard the past month to work on my key selections and have been trying to lower everything to never go above a C note so as not to wander into her (and all the other women's) voice break area. She is telling me that we can never have a C# or above at all. Some songs have to be lowered many steps to get them to never, ever, reach above a C note and those just sound dead now when they were high energy songs.
My female vocalist and other team members are telling me they like things where they were before and they are having a hard time recently when I've tried to drop the key from what we have been doing. I'm also getting feedback from the congregation that "something is off" recently and the energy isn't there that there was before.
Hmm.... this sounds like I have an issue with the pastor's wife. That's not the case at all. I am working with her on a lot of things and she has a lot of great ideas that are working well. I just can't wrap my head around this key issue to get it right where we are pitching things low enough for the congregation but not mess everyone up on the praise team and in the congregation.
One thing that would help is if anyone does any of the following songs, what key do you do them in?
Doxology (Praise God from whom all blessings flow)
Grace Like Rain
Not To Us
Sing Sing Sing
Give You Glory
These are a few that have given us problems trying to adjust the past few weeks.
I want to do the right thing but it feels like we are going overboard to never, ever, have a note run above C to maybe C# or D occasionally and some of the key adjustments to accomplish this are kind of extreme and make the songs just sound wrong or dead.
I don't want to be judgemental but I kind of agree with you. The pastor's wife seems like she is either a bit rigid, not as knowledable as she may think or unaware that she is making things difficult. Sometimes change is good when a fresh set of eyes comes in and recognizes something that can improve but this seems like an area that was working. Change for the sake of change is not healthy and if it is done for the sake of control it is even more unhealthy.
Umm.. once i hit send I realized I could have worded my response better. It sounded like I was saying that your comment was judgemental and that's not what I meant. Ooooops! Sorry.
No worries. Same here. I just happen to think she needs to loosen up a bit.
The world would be a happier place if we all loosened up a little more (at least in the area of control).
I tunes will offer a high, medium, and low key for A Capella songs... my advice would be to do a medley of sorts and do three of the same sounding in the same key range songs but change each one drastically (high, medium, low) maybe do this a couple of times and see how the audience responds and then tell the pastor's wife you've been experimenting tell her the experiment and perform it again.
On a side note when I saw Chris Tomlin at the Anaheim stadium for the Harvest Crusade last year all you could hear were the women singing with him because he sings so high... Can you imagine the men complaining that they can't sing in the right key?
If you can get men to sing in any key you are doing a great thing!
In contemporary music, normal-voiced men (baritones whose top note is middle C seem to realize that they have found their "place" allotted to them -- to sing as high as they can go, than switch to an octave down, bobbing back and forth that way until the song is over.
I agree that our goal is to get people to worship, not just sing. And clearly singing doesn't necessarily equal worship (heart worship vs. art worship). I just struggle with how to accomplish that from on stage. I can't make people worship, but I can be an example. Beyond that, I'm still searching for what more we can do. It is somewhat upon the individual to truly worship during the service, but I certainly don't want to be one to discourage it by playing poorly or having a negative attitude. People will land in our auditoriums in many different states.
But too high or too low? That seems pretty important. While singing doesn't necessarily equal worship, no singing = no worship. So if you put it out of range, people will be sitting there not singing. And before someone says "you can worship without singing", the whole point of the activity is to have musical/singing worship. We are there to encourage singing first and hopefully that singing eventually equates to worship. And since our purpose for being up there is to encourage musical worship, killing the musical part kind of ruins the whole idea.
So I would say that there is generally a common range that a large group of people can hang with and that includes the worship leaders. Choosing a key for the congregation will also include the worship leaders. But choosing a key for the worship leaders may exclude the congregation. So I like to encourage people to be aware of the typical limitations that large groups of people have when choosing a key.
For instance, if you choose the original key for some of Chris Tomlin's music, you'll have a very quiet congregation. In fact, you'll have some quiet worship leaders as well! But if you put it in a key that most everyone can sing, you've just encouraged more people to participate.
Insensitive? Careless? Don't think so! Achieving the purpose of singing is way beyond the mere act! Finding the Scripture to be alive is way beyond making the words sound pretty!
Who are you conversing with?
Stevo - if that's at me, JORN.
Nah, it was at Andy.
What? I meant in this thread.