Podcast: Listen Here
How Do I Lead Worship If I Don’t Play an Instrument?
In this episode of the podcast I talk about ways in which you can lead worship even if you don’t play an instrument.
First of all, it is important to eventually learn an instrument. Check out Episode 2. I talk about how many more opportunities you’ll have to lead worship — both as the singing leader and a band member — if you play.
But for now, let’s say you just want to start leading while you learn an instrument over the coming months and years. Here are the best 4 ways of doing that.
1. Find a friend or relative
This is the easiest way to get accompaniment. A friend or relative is approachable and would probably love to help you out.
Look for someone who plays guitar or piano and can provide the entire accompaniment. This will simplify things so that you don’t have to coordinate a lot of schedules for rehearsals.
2. Form a band
If you want a full sound when you lead worship, you’ll want to put together a band.
But this depends on how many musicians you have around you. In a big church, you might have a lot of musicians available to ask. In a small church or small town, you might be the only musical person in your congregation or for miles around. But below I explain how to find musicians even in this situation.
Look for a bassist, guitarist, and a drummer. This is a full band. Sure, it might be nice to have two guitarists or percussion, but you can certainly have a huge sound with just three musicians.
Find people who play less common instruments, too, like banjo, hand-drum, ukelele or violin. You might put together a very unique band that sounds great.
Ask around your church, school, or sports team. You might find someone who has never told anyone that they play an instrument. You’d be surprised to see how many people would love an opportunity to play but they are just waiting for someone to ask them.
You might think that you’ll never find enough people, but look outside the box.
Post an ad on Craigslist. Look around in Facebook groups for local musicians. I’ve found decent musicians by posting an ad on Craigslist.
But be safe here. Make sure you always meet in a public place. These are strangers after all.
They might not even be Christians. You have to decide if that’s okay with you. I’ve personally had non-Christians play an instrument for my worship bands. Sometimes it’s been great and the musician eventually accepted Christ. Other times, it didn’t work out. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here, but don’t disregard the possibility.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about starting to lead worship, check out my book, “Learn to Lead Worship in 14 Days.” It will guide you through the process of working up to your first worship session even if you’ve never led worship before. And the best part is that it’s going to take you 14 days to do it.
Or, if you lead a worship ministry and you’re looking for a how-to guide to hand every new worship leader, this book is for you.
So what happens if you can’t find a band?
3. Find pre-recorded tracks
Backing tracks from multitracks.com are recorded musical accompaniment to support your lead vocals.
You can download an iOS app for iPad called Playback. With this too, you can mix the tracks you need to provide full accompaniment when you lead worship.
These tracks contain it all — drums, bass, guitars, keys, pads, background vocals, etc. You may want to play only essential tracks like the keys and soft drum loop. It might sound strange if you have a full band playing when it’s just you singing.
Whatever you choose, you can select the instruments you want to hear and adjust volume levels.
The drawback is that the nice ones are expensive, about $20-$40 per song. So it could be around $100 for a single worship set. But there are alternatives if you can’t afford tracks yet.
Midi files: There are a few sites out there that provide less expensive solutions. They won’t sound quite as good, but they’ll get the job done.
Worship-downloads.com provides midi files that you can edit and arrange. Midi files are just computerized music. The site even has its own midi file player and editor so you don’t have to run a separate computer program. I’m not in love with the sound of these tracks, but they might work for you.
The saying that you can find anything on YouTube is really true.
You can find popular worship songs with no vocals that you can simply sing over.
Anyone with a smartphone or computer can run the backing tracks. You might just have to find a friend to cue the music.
This is a fast and free option if you simply have no musicians available to you.
You might want to download the YouTube file, though, so that you can play it from a hard drive instead of streaming. You don’t want annoying ads or buffering to ruin your worship time.
The Bottom Line
Check out the podcast for a more detailed explanation of all these alternatives. With some creativity, you can lead worship even if you don’t play an instrument if you:
- Find a friend or relative who plays guitar or piano
- Form a band by looking around your church, school, or online
- Find backing tracks from high-end sources or free sources like YouTube.
Learn To Lead Worship Better
Are you looking for a resource that will help you get started leading worship or improving your skills?
Check out the book “Learn To Lead Worship In 14 Days.” It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day handbook that can launch your worship leading journey in as little as two weeks.