Introducing New Songs

20 09 2011

Worship ought to be expressed in fresh words new melodies in each generation.  There is certainly no reason to abandon old songs just because they are old.  It is a challenge to bring new songs to the church.  Often people resist them because they cannot yet sing them.  Bringing fresh songs to the worship time must be done carefully.

There is something about having to concentrate on learning the music that detracts from our ability to fully worship.  So you don’t want to have too many unfamiliar songs in one setting.  People will stop worshiping to learn.  You can get by with a new song in the service if you work it in to a grouping of familiar ones.

As a worship leader in an a capella assembly you can’t depend on instruments to carry the melody and harmony for you.  To overcome that challenge you have to teach the song to at least one person per part who can carry the parts while you lead the melody.   Better yet get a group together at sometime other than the assembly to teach the song to a larger group that can carry the parts in the assembly.

When teaching a new song to a group in a smaller session I do the following things.

  1. Seat singers in parts.
  2. Everyone listen to the melody a few times, while they read through the sheet music.
  3. Everyone sing the melody until they have a feeling of how the song goes.  (Most harmony singers will already have a feel for where there part will fit with the melody).
  4. Have one or two people sing the melody while you teach all the males the Bass part.
  5. Have a couple people sing melody while all males sing the Tenor part.
  6. Repeat this with the alto parts.
  7. Now try to put all the parts together.

This format really helps singers to get to know the song.  This group can then help you in the assembly teach the song to the entire body.

Another helpful way is to get a group together to record the song and make it available to the congregation.  Learning CD’s of several new songs can be a great help to the church.  It is getting less expensive all the time to record.  When making learning CD’s it is a good idea to pan Soprano and Tenor hard Right and the Alto Bass hard left.  This allows easy isolation of each part.  Be sure your recording is accurate to the sheet music or you will have to reteach parts.

Once you’ve introduced a new song to your congregation repeat it often.  It is really a good idea to repeat it at least twice in the first service it is introduced.  Use it several times in the following weeks so people begin to recognize it and can start singing without having to concentrate on learning the music and word.

Joe Chase


Teaching New Songs

21 10 2009

Every song was new at some point. It seems that introducing new songs is a source of controversy for some congregations. Getting a new song into the cue at your congregation may be difficult for you. Here are a few things to help make it easier.

Invite people to a special singing night either at the building or in your home. The good singers who like to sing will usually be willing to come out and sing. These people will become the base for teaching a new song to the congregation. It is best to introduce new songs just one or two at a time until people know them. It is easy to frustrate people who want to sing if there are no songs they know.

Make certain that you have enough copies of the new song for every person. For some reason people learning a new song like to have a hard copy they can hold in their hand.

The easiest process is to have everyone sing the melody several times. This helps people know where the song is going and they will have a pretty good idea of the timing and rhythm from leaning the melody.

Once people know the melody you can have the basses drop down and start learning their part. You should know the part so you can guide them through the song until they are comfortable with it.

Now you can let the altos or tenors break into learning their parts. Having the foundation of the bass and the strength of the melody going along will help them fill in these middle voices. Again, you should sing with them as they learn their part.

Don’t wear out the singers. You may have to just do the melody and bass parts one meeting and then the inner voices in the next meeting. Remember that people thrive on compliments and accomplishment. If you are free with this type of encouragement people will enjoy learning new music. This will go a long way in getting your congregation to accept new music on a regular basis.

Once this small group is comfortable with the new song it is time to introduce the song to the whole assembly. Sunday morning worship is probably not the best time to introduce this new song if you can avoid it. Use it a few times in succession and then repeat its use once a month or so. This way people won’t forget the song. Soon the new song will become a part of the cue of songs your congregation uses on a regular basis.

There are bound to be some people who don’t read music but want to teach new songs to people. That is notfinale2009fr an insurmountable problem. There are free or nearly free music notation programs that will allow you to transcribe the music into your computer and save them as midi files. You can save each voice as a different file and another file with all the voices together. Midi files are tiny and can be given to your singers to take home and listen to their parts.

If your church uses SongSelect they offer a service that allows you to download sheet music or midi files of many of the newer songs. These are great tools to use in teaching newer songs to a few folks at a time.

audacityIf you you can read music and can sing all the parts you can use your computer to record each part and save them as mp3 to distribute. Audacity is a multi-track recorder that will allow you to record the various parts to the song.

On learning tracts either midi or vocal I will pan the soprano about 2/3 left with tenor part, the alto and bass 2/3 to the right. This will help the singers adjust the balance on playback to emphasize their part.

These are suggestions and you can for sure improve upon these ideas to fit your particular situation. I’d love to hear from you on how you introduce new music to your congregation. Please drop me an email at to share with me your ideas.