5 Reasons Worship Bands Should Use Click Tracks

We started about 2 years ago to shift towards utilizing click tracks in our worship services.  It started during rehearsals for an Easter production and has been a staple ever since.  I have to admit it hasn’t been the easiest transition for us to make but looking back, it has been one of the best moves we have made as a worship band.  The click track is a humbling beast that makes the best musicians feel like rookies at times.  I remember sitting at my piano as a kid with that wooden triangle of doom clicking at me as I practiced for my recital.  We have not always had the greatest success with the click but it has become a comforting friend more than the nagging foe it use to be.  I have come to love the many benefits of playing with a click track.

5 Reasons Why Worship Bands Should Use Click Tracks

  1. It keeps the band together.  Worship bands – ususally – do not have the opportunity to play together as much as they might like.  And we all know the more you play together the tighter the band is.  But the click track can help this problem.  For the same reason a click i used in the studio, one should be used live.  If someone is slightly in front of or behind the beat, it can muddy up the mix – and remember a better mix starts at the stage.
  2. It controls the tempo.  You may say duh! That would be the definition of a click track.  But when a band becomes very familiar with a particular song, they can easily speed up the tempo of that song.  It can become less of a challenge or boring when you are so familiar with a song.  But after watching performances where tempo felt right, it was clear that it was way too fast. Remember the congregation, they need to be able to be comfortable with the song.
  3. The advent of Visual Worship.  As visual worship becomes more and more prevalent in churches, bands will need to be able to meet the call of technology.  Timing creative videos with live music is something that connects both aurally and visually thus allowing the worshipper to engage in a new and exciting ways.  If your band can stay with a click track, you can open up new possibilities for your worship service and congregation.
  4. It allows for loops, lo-fi drum samples, and if needed filler instruments to provide sounds you normally cannot provide with a live band.  If you are morally oppose to having instruments other than live (and I can understand that argument) then this is not the point for you.  But if you need pads, strings, horns, or even the occasional staple instrument then playing with a click enables you to do this with pre-recorded tracks and loops.
  5. It makes you better musicians.  We need to continually sharpen our skills and strive to be better at our craft.  Playing and practicing with a click will do just that, ask any studio musician.  It only benefits your ability to feel the beat and stick with it.  Again, remember the best musicians in the world can at times be humbled by a click track.

I hope you found this helpful.  There are some minor pitfalls and common misconceptions about playing with a click track.  I will address them in a later post.  For now I hope you are encourage to venture in to new areas of worship music or are encouraged in the  path you are already taking.  Playing with a click track is something I have come to view as vital to our worship services.  Do you play with a click?  If so was it a challenge getting your team to play with one?  What disadvantages do you see?

The tempo is the suitcase. If the suitcase is too small, everything is completely wrinkled. If the tempo is too fast, everything becomes so scrambled you can’t understand it. – Daniel Barenboim

God Bless

He's a nice guy

11 Comments

  1. Mike Mtz   •  

    I agree totally to the fact that click track can shift the gears in any worship team perfomance. I use it with my band since 2007 and It completely improved our playing. Aprt from the side benefit of being able to use loops and programmed instruments on top of our playing band. Now I can have a complete horn section or chamber strings on any song. Now Iam complementing this with the use of Logic´s Main Stage software on my macbook pro…and is….much easier and powerful…. give it a check!!! Thanks for your 5 points…I read them to my worship team and they were little reluctant at the beginning…but at the end they were amazed at the sound….. greetings form Cancun, Mexico!!!

  2. Bryan Nelson   •  

    Bryan from mymusicwriter.com here. Great post on use of click tracks in a worship environment. Your best points are it controls tempo (no arguments over…it’s too fast/slow from rehearsal)…and it allows for “filler” instrumentation. It can make the above-average worship band sound like Nashville studio when it has those additional strings, cymbal swells, and synth patches.

    One additional point with click tracks — using them takes aways the distracting count offs and transitions from song to song. There’s nothing more distracting than a drummer counting off stick clicks or someone saying, “Uno, doce, tres…” Click tracks gives the worshiper the same experience as listening to a concert/CD. There is the occasional time it’s good to shut the click off and give a raw feel count in — but more often than not…a click track solves this distracting problem.

    Coming from someone who eats, sleeps, and breaths this stuff – you are on target with your post.

    Bryan | mymusicwriter.com

  3. Evan Bartley   •  

    I have used clicks for some time now and greatly support the idea. Some people are a bit timid to commit. One major argument I hear as a con is a need to free flow the end of a song – however the spirit leads – but with a bit of experience and practice coming off a click can be as smooth(er) than not. Generally we hear pads and/or strings at the end of a song – a click can come to a tempo-less ending with pads holding the tonic or root and the music can go where needed. Not a great deal of enlightenment or anything but worth noting I think.

  4. Steve   •  

    What’s the best source for a click track if the band moves right from song to song? I tried a Boss metronome that allows you to go from one tempo to another with just one button-push, but the metronome click is annoying. I used GarageBand to create percussion loops, but it’s hard (when I’m leading from the keyboard) to quickly get from one loop to the next. Is there a device (or software) that allows me to easily create percussion loops and instantly move from loop to loop?

    • Kitezfly   •  

      What kind of keyboard do you use? I’m a band director and I spend most of my time behind a keyboard and rather then use my laptop I create all of my click tracks from a 61 key workstation by ear. I use the workstation for the sequencer and I play live synth, organ, pad or horn sounds on it as well and use and 88 key keyboard to play piano. All keyboard workstations have a sequencer on them. I first find the bpm and then I use my ear and produce the same click track that is being used on the song I am listening to and then I edit the timing so that it’s in perfect rhythm. It used to take me about 15-20 minutes to do this, BUT after about a week or two of using my ear to make the click tracks I was able to do one song in about 3-5 minutes. Hope this helps and God bless.

    • NathanSutliff   •     Author

      Steve, sorry for the like year between you comment and my response.. ha ha. I use a program call Ableton Live to set up and fire clicks and or loops. it’s an extremely powerful software that can allow you to easily switch songs, change the arrangement on the fly, and more. the downside is that it’s expensive and rather challenging to use at first – not user friendly either right off the bat. You might check out Apple MainStage, or the Ableton Live intro – which should do what you are looking to accomplish. Check out Loopcommunity.com as well as a place with great resources on how to accomplish what you are looking to do as well.

  5. John   •  

    Do you put click trac in vocalists’ in ears?

    • Kevin   •  

      I would not, only in intro of the arrangement. After that they should be using the drums, or shaker. Shaker tracks would be ok. Some keyboard players hate the click in their ear monitors, and prefer the drums.

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  8. Kevin   •  

    The use of the click has evolved over the years. Using the click is a great training aid, tool, but it can also be a detriment if other band members focus too much on the the click. It becomes very challenging for new players with the click to want to hone in so much on that click, and sacrifice the creativity that is available with playing just on the edge of just past the click or behind the click.

    I am of the opinion that until the musicians in the band are able to trust the tempo in their head, they will not be able to bring out to full capacity, the creativity that has been compromised because of relying 100% on the click. It is almost like that concept, “drums are felt not heard.” In the end, the band really has to feel what each other is doing so they are not running all over each other. By every musician focusing 100% on the click, you don’t get that same vibe from each other. The click has to be something that you know is there and are fully aware of , but are not being a click Nazi, and using it to police everyone in the band.

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