Making A Song “Yours”

by | Sep 3, 2020

Raise your hand if your church has a full time staff songwriter. Yeah, didn’t think so.

There are a few churches that have that luxury, and they are blessed to have it. The rest of us however, are forced to use the great songs written by songwriters from near and far, old and new.

Some of those songs are very personal in the stories they tell. Most of the time, they’re about the writers’ or the artists’ life experiences. But we all want to sing those songs. But how do we make a song like that “ours”? After all, we’ve all seen enough people just getting up on stage and singing a song. They rarely put any emphasis in it. They don’t worship along with the song. I’m not talking about nerves. That’s something that can be worked through. I’m talking about simply parroting what someone has heard. I was so guilty of this for years. I would hear a demo and because I could play by ear, I could pretty much replicate almost exactly what I heard in the song. But I wasn’t making that song mine. So how do we reach deep, and own the lyrics and music that someone else has been gifted to write for the church?

1. Find content that you identify with.
The tell tale sign that you’re singing the wrong song can sometimes come from simply looking at your face. Do you believe what you’re singing? Just as importantly, Do you LOOK like you believe what you’re singing? Other times, it becomes more practical. You don’t often hear a male vocal on a song about being “Daddy’s Little Girl”. Some songs are clearly written with a specific vocal in mind. Finding content you identify with can be as simple as a line in a chorus, or a verse that hits home with you. When it makes a difference in you, it can make a difference in someone else THROUGH you.

2. Arrange the song to fit your voice.
This happened a couple of weeks ago for me. I was singing a song in church, and the bridge of the song just simply went a little bit out of my range. Let me remind you that we have two morning services on Sunday mornings, the earliest one beginning at 9AM sharp. 9AM is a little early to be singing period, much less singing a song that jumps out of your range. So, what did I do? I simply adjusted the melody on the bridge a little bit. It’s taking some liberty for yourself to make the song work for you. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing the melody; other times it may require completely singing in a different key. This happens all the time in studio settings. An artist will take a demo that they’re going to record, and nearly every time there are some changes that get made to the song. You have the ability to make the song fit you.

Look at it like this: you go to a store, looking to buy a new suit. Now, 9 times out of 10 there are alterations to be done. The pants need to be taken up some to fit your height. The jacket needs to be altered to complement your build. The same principle applies when you take a song and prepare it to be sung. Don’t compare yourself simply to the demo artist that’s singing it. If you’re picking a song for church, identify with the content of the song, and if you’re committed to singing it, find some easy ways to make the song fit your voice even better.

Just like a suit, there’s a basic makeup to all songs; it’s the chording. The key may change, the melody may change, but those chords are the foundation of the song. How do you learn to adjust on the fly and change keys, chords, and still play proficiently? Take a look at and take the next step in your playing today!

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