What Your Worship Pastor Expects: Piano/Keyboards

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What is the glue that holds a great band together? The keyboard of course!

What makes Hillsong so awesome? No, it isn’t the killer electric guitar octave riffs. And it isn’t the syncopated drum beats. Although, those are really cool.

It’s the ambient keyboard pads and the always on calming transitions between songs.

Magic or Humilty

It’s not magic or even exclusive to Hillsong. It’s just a simple shift in technique that may require a little humility on the keyboardist.

But it’s not just about transitions and buttery smooth pads. There’s also plenty of space for the classic grand piano too.

As worship pastors, what are we looking for from both of these styles? Let’s start with the Classic Grand Piano and then move onto the synthed up keyboard.

5 Ways to Play the Piano in Worship:

  • Not Always Classical – When it comes to modern worship music, generally speaking, the classical piano player will have a hard time fitting in. Modern worship music is more about chords and chord variations than playing Mozart. Be sure to ask what your worship leader is wanting.
  • Simple Chords – When playing the grand, many times, well played chords and inverted chords will really fit well and add the texture that we’re looking for.
  • Playing the Right Register – The keyboard has 88 keys that range from deep low ends to high highs. Depending on what other instruments are playing, you will have to determine where you should be playing in relation to the keyboard. There will be times when you’ll play low on the left, right in the middle, or high on the right.
  • Know When to Play – Just because you have the music in front of you, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be playing the entire time. Use your ears and instinct and find the places you should be playing.
  • Solid Tempo – Since technically the piano is a percussive instrument, make sure you are able to play consistently in time. Keep your tempo true, this will help pull everyone together.

5 Ways to Play Keyboards in Worship:

  • Find Your Sound – One of the most important things you can do when playing a solid pad or synth, is finding the right sound or tone. It may mean really tweaking your settings or even creating your own sound with some software like Ableton Live.
  • Simplicity Always Wins – When all else fails, keep it simple. This is so true in every part of the band, but especially with the keyboard. Don’t over complicate the keyboard, keep it simple. Also, keep your chording simple as well.
  • 1st’s and 5th’s – You may be a really talented pianist, classically trained. But that doesn’t always translate to worship music. One of the best things you can do while playing keyboard pads, is by using the first and fifth position. Simple and solid.
  • Always On – As the foundational, undertone of the worship team, you are always on. Don’t be afraid to keep playing when everyone else drops out. By staying in, you eliminate lots of the awkwardness that can happen when the music stops.
  • Anticipate and Follow – Be in tune with the worship leader. Anticipate where they are heading and be a great follower.
Worship Song Rotation Tips
Play Under Pastor – Beginner’s Guide to Worship Piano

Download a Free Underscore

Download a free underscore for worship: piano sheet music and MP3s in every key. There’s nothing like it on or off the Internet!

Find Hymns That Match Your Favorite Worship Songs

Which hymns go well with Bethel’s Goodness of God? Search at HYMNDEX.COM.

YouTube Worship Playlists!

From Worshipflow editor Don Chapman:

I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

I can’t find any! So I made my own on the Worshipflow Youtube channel!

You’ll find playlists for the top CCLI, Praisecharts and CCM radio hits updated every week.

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