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.
Wow, some very good advice and discussions. I've been off the board for a while and thought I would give an update. God always has a plan it seems. I made the decision to leave the songs we've done for years alone. Our congregation likes them there, our praise team leads with confidence in those keys. Having the team stumbling around musically because the key changed doesn't help lead our congregation. New songs we evaluate to see where we need to place it.
Now the God's plan part. In the midst of all of this chaos, one of my guitar players had been feeling a calling to step up into more of a leadership role. He is the quietest person on our team. He helped me work through some of this. As he was stepping up his involvement, things started falling apart at my day job that I am a shareholder/partner in taking more time and focus. He started leading once a month and doing a fantastic job! Then my parents had some health issues and I needed to spend more time out-of-town on weekends. He and the team stepped things up even more to take more responsibilities off my back. Parents are fine now, but that led to us spending more time in general around family more often. Our kids have moved off to college and all my other family is 5 hours away. So things worked out for us to spend more time with them. At this point I stepped down as leader and put my guitarist in that role. I filled in on the team as needed. Still giving support and guidance as needed. Now my day job has taken me to Holland for a short project. I've been here for a month and no end in sight yet. Which is good for my business. And my sanity. I didn't realize how much this had all been getting to me until I backed away from it. Now in Holland, a guy from the firm here I am working with invited me to his church. A very small startup that has a service that mixes Dutch and English. They have such a passion for worship and God here that is inspiring. None of these issues exist and they just worship. They have a very small team and congregation but they all participate totally in everything. Service runs over 2 hours. Last week they invited me to participate on the praise team. I played backing guitar and vocals. I think God has me in Worship Leader Burnout recovery and it's amazing. I'm still connected to my pastor, praise team, and Church in Florida via email, facebook, Planning Center Online, chat, etc. and they are doing very well. Key is still an issue for them occasionally. But they are working it out. I also think all of this gave everyone something more to focus on than vocal keys. God is good!
Peter, that is such great stuff! God has a way of taking the every-changing pieces and fitting them together perfectly! What a blessing! It sounds to me like you are right where you belong. Saw a talk given by Israel Houton (spelling?) and he was talking about worship. He was driving down the highway and got a phone call inviting him to some social gathering. His response was "no I can't come I gotta' lead worship". He said it struck him.. He had always been eager to worship so when did it go from "I wanna'" to "I gotta'". Leading worship should feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Blessings to you!
Thank you Jorn. Israel is a wise man that I have always admired. Yes, it should feel that way. And sometimes the logistics of it all can sneak in and quietly steal away the awe and excitement. It's always so much easier to see God's hand at work in hindsight. This vocal key impasse was the key (slight pun intended) to getting me to start re-evaluating things and letting go. It also turned out to expose a great new worship leader in my introverted guitar player. His passion and energy for leading worship and dealing with all the other issues is amazing. He is much better at both than I was. And now I'm in a place 6 timezones away from home in a church and worship team that is re-teaching me about the "heart of worship". We sang that last week and it made me tear up. Turns out another person at the place I am working here plays guitar and leads worship part time at his church all in Dutch. So the three of us are having some very deep and health discussions about God and worship. God does have me, and others, where we belong right now.
I know you are on the forum from tome to time so it would be neat to hear more about your journey. I love to hear what God is doing in the lives of others. Please update us from time to time :-)