Click Track Philosophy

Are you ready to take the next step in the quality of your worship music? I’ve seen firsthand how a click track can take an average group of amateurs and turn them into something special.

Any time changes are tried in ministry, even for the better, you’ll be met with attitudes. Here are some things to expect:

Drummers: You’ll probably get the most resistance from the drummer. You’ll hear things like “I never play with a click because it destroys the feel” (which being interpreted is “I have no internal rhythm and a click track will make that glaringly obvious.”)

Pianists: Classically trained church pianists are notorious for having zero rhythm. I was classically trained and, out of college, my rocker friends would laugh at me when I tried to play with them – I simply could not keep in time with the drummer.

As pianists we’re taught not to follow a steady rhythm (except using a metronome when practicing a Bach fugue.) One of the first things I did when I graduated was to buy a drum machine to knock myself out of the classical mentality (anyone remember the Alesis HR-16? It’s in the picture at the top of this post.) I’d play along with a drum pattern, get lost in myself and be off the beat within 10 seconds. But after time I learned to lock in.

[quote_left]And that’s what any drummer or pianist must do to learn to play with a click: practice. Get used to hearing that sound boring into your brain and start obeying it.[/quote_left] And that’s what any drummer or pianist must do to learn to play with a click: practice. Get used to hearing that sound boring into your brain and start obeying it. And once you do amazing things can happen: the band’s groove will improve, you can sync to video and add drum loops and other sweetening.

Quality means balance. I talked in a recent article about my experience at Lifechurch where the entire set was programmed to a strict click. This either/or mentality is rampant in churches – you’ll either see only programmed perfection or a wandering free for all. Why not have both: a mature music ministry should have moments of tight rocking as well as tender moments where the Spirit leads.

I got into a debate over this when planning our Christmas Eve service. A member of our team insisted the entire service be on a click. But one of worship leader Steve Smith’s strengths is facilitating that moment of ministry when the programmed praise set settles down, he talks a bit then leads into a worship ballad – and those moments can’t be programmed.

Plan a hole or two in your set where the pianist/keyboardist can exercise his or her talents by noodling under a prayer then flowing into a piano worship ballad without the click. This gives your worship experience a chance to breathe. If you make room to let the Spirit move, maybe He will.


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


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