3 Ways for a Church Choir to Minister When They Don’t Have a Musician

This is a photo of me directing the New Hope Gospel Choir.

This is a photo of me directing the New Hope Gospel Choir.

“Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” — Hebrews 13:5

If you don’t have a church musician, it can feel like there is a missing piece in your choir ministry. But for whatever period of time you have to deal with this situation, here are three ways to make the most of what your choir presents.



The three strategies for choirs that don’t have an instrument player

#1: A Cappella Songs

#2: Super Easy Songs to Play

#3: Instrumental tracks

I recommend that you try a combination of all three of these strategies. You’ll have much more variety in your choir presentations.


Strategy #1: A Cappella Songs

“A cappella” means singing without instruments

The best musical instrument of all is the human voice. When a choir does a good rendition of a great a cappella song, no one will even miss the instruments.

To do a cappella music well, your choir needs to be very strong on keeping their pitch and staying on their parts. Give the songs plenty of rehearsal time to make sure you’re ready to sing with confidence

These are some nice a cappella gospel songs for choirs. I’ve rated them for difficulty on a scale of 5.

God Is Good (Regina Belle)

Tempo: Moderate
Key: Bb
Difficulty level: 2 / 5

Lead singer required? You could do it without, but it’s better with the lead.

King Jesus Is A-Listening (L. A. Mass Choir)

Tempo: Moderate
Key of Eb
Difficulty level: 3 / 5
Lead singer required? No

Lily in the Valley (John P. Kee)

Tempo: Moderate

Key of C

Difficulty level: 3 / 5

Lead singer required? You could do it without, but it’s better with the lead.

A Testimony (Rodnie Bryant)

Tempo: Slow, but with a strong beat

Starts in the key of B, then goes to C, then Db, then D

Difficulty level: 2.5 / 5

Lead singer required? Probably so, if you do all the verses

The recording includes some instruments, but the instruments really just hit some accents in a few places. The song would go just fine without them.

When My choir sang “A Testimony”, we didn’t use the same lead verses they have on the recording. We made up our own verses based on real-life testimonies of some of the choir members.

Video: New Hope Choir singing an a cappella song

The New Hope Gospel Choir has wonderful musicians, but this particular song is a cappella — “King Jesus Is A-Listening”.


Leave a comment at the bottom if you have suggestions for other good a cappella songs for gospel choirs!

Strategy #2: Super Easy Songs to Play

Even if you don’t have any musicians in your church, there are some songs that could be easy enough for a non-musician to play (even a child!).

I know several songs that have a pattern of a few chords that just repeat over and over all the way through the song. If somebody learns that one progression, you’ve got an accompaniment for the song.

You may be able to find chord charts for some of these on the internet, or perhaps you can ask a musician from another church to write out a little chart that your designated person could play from. And who knows, maybe it will be a stepping stone toward someone really learning to play!

Some member of your choir could probably learn to play songs like one of these. The difficulty ratings are for the singers, not the musician.

Oh Lord, We Praise You (originally by Hezekiah Walker)

Tempo: Fast

The song starts in the key of Db. Of course, it’s usually done with lots of key changes, but you don’t have to do that.

Difficulty level: 1.5 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes


Holy Spirit (New Jersey Mass Choir)

I’ve written a web page with the exact instructions for how to play this song! Check it out: You can play “Holy Spirit”.

Tempo: Slow
Key of Eb minor

Difficulty level: 3.5 / 5
Lead singer required? Optional

I’ll Make It (Hezekiah Walker)

I’ve written an instruction page for this one, too: You can play “I’ll Make It”.

Tempo: Fast
Key of Ab

Difficulty level: 2 / 5
Lead singer required? Yes

Awesome (Charles Jenkins)

Tempo: Moderately slow
Key of E

Difficulty level: 2 / 5
Lead singer required? No


Strategy #3: Instrumental tracks

Another popular alternative is using pre-recorded instrumental tracks. These are made specifically for singers and choirs to use for accompaniment.

An advantage to these is that, of course, you get a very nice, professional sounding instrumental backup. One disadvantage is that you have no flexibility. You have to sing the song in exactly the same key, at the same speed, and with the same sequence as the accompaniment track. You can’t do one more reprise if you feel led to.

There are many tracks available in MP3 format from Fruition Music.

Soulful Sounds Gospel also makes accompaniment tracks that they sell in CD format.

You can do it!

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1 comment

  1. Speaking from experience, I’ve found that not having a musician can stretch and cause a choir director and members to grow. For a long time I directed without a musician. A cappella music helped my both myself and the choir to grow with regard to ear training. Having to rely on tracks helped me to learn to pay close attention to the in the individual voices that made up the group. Made me more careful to pay attention to the overall range, blend and care of the voices that sang in the choir.

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