“ worship artists ”. When a song first grabs our attention and we consider whether we should add the song to our repertoire , the key is usually not suitable for congregational participation , but it is wonderful to listen to .
I know . This is a contentious issue . Some people disagree and fight fervently against the “ C to shining C ” approach to song key choice . I respect those people ’ s position . They have their reasons . But I believe most of those people who resist “ C to shining C ” have never really tried it .
Maybe they should . If you ’ re one of the people who hasn ’ t tried this yet , please do !
I have tried both approaches . I used to choose song keys for me - my voice . Then I tried choosing keys for every man , woman and child in the congregation and the change in their “ voice ” was unmistakable and immediate . I can ’ t go back now !
I ’ m so convinced by the effectiveness of “ C to shining C ” that I teach it when I give my More Than Music Mentor workshops . It ’ s why I ’ m writing this now !
Numerous times in a Rehearsal / Workshop situation - armed with my guitar and a capo - I have tested a song in various keys with a group of singers and instrumentalists . Those singers form a test group , representing their regular congregation . First , we test the key ( or keys ) they ’ ve been using for a given song . ( Usually this is more than one key because they have different keys depending on who the “ worship leader ” is and their gender ). Then we compare those keys with the “ C to shining C ” congregational key . The improvement in the sound of our combined “ voice ” is unmistakable .
But don ’ t just take my word for it . Check out these real testimonials from people who have applied “ C to shining C ” after they received training to do so :
“ Within 2-3 weeks of implementing Grant ’ s ideas , we saw and heard a huge difference in our congregational singing . The Church singing loudly together is a beautiful thing to behold !”
Pastor “ J ” Fayettville AR , USA
“ In the few weeks since Grant ’ s More Than Music Workshop - now with us applying the things he taught the team - our congregational participation is much better than I ’ ve ever seen before . We are very grateful !”
Instrumental Director “ F ” Mankato , MN , USA
“ Having our instrumentalists and singers use Grant ’ s techniques paid off instantly ! Our congregations were engaged and participating more than ever .”
Choral Music Minister “ R ” Orlando , FL , USA
“ We went from having a congregation that was just listening to the worship set to one that is fully engaged , singing , and connecting to what we are saying about God . It ’ s so great to hear everyone singing !”
Band Leader “ J ” Canyon Lake , CA , USA
“ It was amazing ! In over 30 years of running sound desks , I can ’ t remember such a high level of engagement from the congregation - worshipping God at the top of their lungs . I had to increase the volume from the PA to be heard above them ! This experience has left a lasting impact on my spirit , and I am sure the same is true for many others also .” FOH audio engineer “ R ” Motueka , New Zealand
But before you jump in and make this change , please be aware : Some female singers will struggle with “ C to shining C ”. Initially , it might even seem too difficult - impossible - for them .
In my last article , I unpacked what I believe is the main reason why some female singers resist the “ C to shining C ” approach to song key choice . You can read more about that here
but to summarize : Some women only feel comfortable singing in their chest register . They may be hesitant , afraid , maybe even unwilling , or feel unable to use their head register and , consequently , find the C5 note ( and possible a note or two either side of that ) “ too high ” for them .
So please don ’ t just force this change on them . Some gentle , loving encouragement to move towards this change will be required .
But how do we do that ? How do we help a female singer be willing to use their head register if they are hesitant or feel unable to do so ? Well , I am at the very beginning of my journey to work out how , but I have had some wonderfully encouraging breakthroughs during some recent onsite training workshops with female singers . I ’ m excited to share those stories with you in my next article . Stay tuned for that !
“ As a female singer in a contemporary worship band , the whole conversation about choosing the most universally helpful key for congregational singing has been fascinating but perplexing . The whole “ C to shining C ” seemed completely “ off ” yet hymn writers had been following it for years ! This article was SO illuminating , not only pointing out the flip zone for women but also the prevalence of using “ chest voice ” by well-known female leads . I am now more willing to sound a bit thin or light ( not really in keeping with the style of some of today ’ s songs ) in order to invite more women to join in . Excellent ! Excellent ! Thanks for really digging deep into this issue ”
Vocalist and leader of sung worship “ M ” Iowa , USA
I feel SUPER encouraged by that . I hope you do too .
Grant Norsworthy founder of MoreThanMusicMentor . com