12 Keys to Improving Worship Keyboards

5. Should you use computer-based sounds?

Multitracks.com has great downloadable patches from most of the major worship recordings.  The patches are available for the all main computer based programs.

Mainstage ($30) is a comprehensive and inexpensive program from Apple that allows your computer to be your main source. Here is a great tutorial on how to use it. There is also a Facebook page that is a great way to stay current with great sounds: Mainstage Worship Sounds

Omnisphere ($500) is a next-level, computer-based program with a huge array of sounds and controls.

Ableton ($100-$950) is a very advanced sequencing and sound program that is great for live music. It is available at multiple price points.

Here is a great link to help you understand how to set-up your MIDI keyboard with your computer.

6. Think through the set

• What sounds do you need?

• When do you need to change sounds?

• When do you need to transition from one song to the next and what is the best way to do that?

• Make corrections to the charts

• What is the road map? Highlight repeats, D.S. and Coda.

• Highlight your parts—where do you sit out and where do you solo?

• Mark in the sounds you need.

7. Practice

• Use a click or metronome; playing in time is huge!

• Practice on the keyboard(s) you are using live (if possible).

• Don’t overplay. Again listen to the recording— how much is the original player actually playing?

• Play with the recordings. This will help you play in context.

8. Use strong voicing.

• Chord coloring: What is the best inversion and voicing for this song?

• Open 5ths, Add2 (9), add4 (11), sus 4, Major 7, Major 9, Inversions

• Develop your ear for new chords

9. Band rehearsal: Listen for your place in the song.

• Are you leading or supporting?

• Listen for the vocals. What do they need to help support them?

• Listen to the guitar players. Don’t get in the way if it’s a guitar tune.

• Don’t overplay the left hand; listen to what the bass player is doing.

• Find your place in the sonic spectrum.

10. Memorize the tunes

• Practice every day.

• Slowly wean yourself off the written music.

• Here are “9 Keys to Memorizing Music for Worship.”

• Put the song on a playlist for listening (or use the PlanningCenter Rehearse function).

• Use your music on your iPad as a back-up.

11. Work on your stage presence

• Sing along

• Smile

• Move

• Look at the audience.

12. Worship God

• Go from just playing music to actually worshiping! Get beyond the music! The most important thing you can do is worship God. 

• The “Actions of Worship” are singing, playing, standing, lifting hands, clapping, shouting, dancing, bowing down and giving your life. How are you incorporating these into your worship time (in private and public)?

Check out my new book: Leading Worship ~ Notes from a Grand Adventure. It is now available in Kindle or Soft Cover Editions. This is a great gift for the musician or worshiper in your life.

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Mark Cole
Jesus follower, Husband, Father, Worship Leader, Writer, Pastor, Church Consultant, Founding Arranger for Praisecharts.com, squash & tennis player, blogger & outdoor enthusiast.. (biking, hiking, skiing). Twitter: @MarkMCole Facebook: mmcole