Worship Musician Magazine December 2022 | Page 33

songs intended for congregational singing , there seems to be two most-common yet very different approaches :
1 ) We should choose keys for songs so that the leading vocalist is able to sing the song as comfortably and confidently as possible . If we do that , the congregation responds to the leader ’ s vocal confidence and are most likely to sing along . - or -
2 ) We should choose song keys that allow the melody to fall within a comfortable vocal range for the highest proportion of the congregation as possible , even if that ’ s not the ideal key for the leading vocalist .
Which is best ? Well , I would say that ’ s all about context . I favor the first approach in certain situations and the second in others .
A few months back , my pastor asked me to form a youth band . We ’ d never had a youth band before ! One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding anyone from our small youth group - anyone at all ! - willing to sing in the band . Eventually I managed to convince three fifteen-year-old girls to fill the vocal role . None of them had ever sung publicly before . Never even used a microphone !
For them , I use approach number 1 . This has to be a great experience for them . I choose keys for the songs that allow all three girls to rely only on their more familiar chest register , even though I know that some men in the congregation will find the songs - or at least parts of the songs - too low for them . With this being so early in the young women ’ s experience as singers , this is not the time to challenge them with head register . They ’ re doing the best they can to cope with more than enough new things as it is . They don ’ t need another challenge … yet .
I would say that well-known female “ worship artists ” generally choose keys for songs using the first approach too . It ’ s apparent to me that many large churches - where the line between providing a concert-like experience and congregational singing seems intentionally blurred - do the same . Songs keys are chosen for the leading singer . I agree with and support that approach in those situations . There ’ s no way I would suggest that Kari Jobe or Jen Johnson should apply “ C to shining C ”.
But for the rest of us regular vocalists who lead congregational singing as an expression of worship in regular churches from one Sunday to the next , I strongly recommend the second approach . Choose keys for your congregation . “ C to shining C ” ( and maybe dipping as low as the A below or even the C # or D above ) is the way to go . More about why I believe this can be found in my article “‘ C TO SHINING C ’ - THE IDEAL VOCAL REGISTER ”.
I am convinced that every man woman and child in a congregation is most likely to sing any song we are leading if the melody falls from “ C to shining C ”. If we choose keys where the melody falls within the octave C to C - or as close to that as possible - the highest possible proportion of regular people will feel able to join in . This would be where the men - whether they be basses or tenors - could comfortably sing between C3 and C4 ( also known as middle C ) and the women - whether they be altos or sopranos - could sing from C4 to C5 .
So let ’ s sing - all of us together - as an expression of worship to Almighty God .
Grant Norsworthy founder of MoreThanMusicMentor . com
MoreThanMusicMentor . com
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