How to Lead Worship When You Don’t Play an Instrument

How to Lead Worship When You Don't Play an Instrument

For singers who don’t also play an instrument, it can be intimidating to lead worship. It’s done often enough that you know that it’s possible, and you don’t have to learn to play guitar or keyboard to lead worship, but it’s not always easy! Here are some tips for overcoming the common obstacles.

I feel like the other musicians know more than me and I shouldn’t expect them to accept my decisions. 

They definitely might know more than you in some areas. You need to be humble and listen to advice. They need to learn to accept that you’re the leader, even if your ability or your experience is less than theirs. The way that you earn this respect is when you feel strongly about going in a different direction than they suggest, just say, “Thanks for the suggestion. I’m going to go a different route.” Being humble and respectful yet firm should help your team members understand that you are the leader.

God has His reasons for putting who He does in leadership. We may not like it or agree with it, but whoever is in charge deserves our respect. Suggestions are helpful, but ultimately, the worship leader decides. Any team member who can’t accept this shouldn’t be serving on the worship team.

Sometimes the song is in the wrong key and I don’t know how to change it. 

This can be challenging for anyone. Read this post here to learn how to find the right key for your voice.

I know something’s wrong, but I can’t communicate what or how to fix it. 

Even musicians struggle with this sometimes. The issue is a basic lack of vocabulary. You need to find the words to describe musical situations that everyone understands. For example, maybe you know that something about the drums isn’t right, and in your head you can hear exactly what’s wrong, but you don’t know what it’s called. So when you tell your drummer that something is wrong, he gets frustrated and annoyed with you.

With the drummer it usually is either that his tempo is wrong (too fast or too slow), or that he’s playing a rhythm that doesn’t match the song, or he could even be in the wrong time signature. But you need to familiarize yourself with these terms before using them. That is why I created a glossary of musical terms for worship teams. You can see it at this page.

I have a hard time coming in at the right time.

This is a matter of practice and listening. You need to recognize the sound of the chord changes that are cueing your entrance, but sometimes you need to count the number of beats before you come in. A particularly challenging situation is when there are what we call pickup notes. These are notes that come before the first beat of the the chord progression. You may notice that sometimes you have to start singing before the musicians play the chord to a part of the song, instead of at the same time or after. Again, familiarize yourself with the song by listening to a recording of it, and this should help with any difficulty.

If you can have someone who plays an instrument practice with you from time to time, it should help quite a bit. Never shy away from the call God has on you because you feel like you aren’t good enough. Definitely make it a priority to learn an instrument, but don’t refrain from leading worship if you aren’t skilled on one yet.

This article originally appeared here.

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Susan Croox
Susan Croox was born and raised in Santa Maria, California, with three sisters. She has always loved music, reading, and spending time outdoors. Susan graduated from Wheaton College in 2003 with a B.A. in Music. After spending time on staff at the Prayer Furnace of Chicago and finishing the Intro to IHOP internship in Kansas City, MO, Susan married Jason Croox, who is also a worship leader.