Should Women Worship Leaders Sing in Male Keys?

This is a good topic to write about. In so many churches you find that the female worship leaders are having to push their voices to try and hit notes that are difficult, this is not because they can’t sing very well. It is because the Key of the song is too high for a woman.  My vocal coach says that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, meaning that if you don’t have the full picture you can find yourself tied up in knots  (I’m explaining because I didn’t really understand the saying until I met her).

We are given a natural vocal ability, we can move past our natural ability but that will take time and training.  Some of the songs that we sing at church are complex which means that they won’t always fit into our natural range, this is where technical singing comes into play.

So lets talk about our natural voice, you know that place where what you’re singing is neither too high or too low.  I struggled with this one for years. I felt that I couldn’t sing because I couldn’t hit the high notes or any notes sometimes!

I discovered that the reason I was struggling to sing was because everything was pitched so high. I think that is mainly because the worship scene is dominated by male worship leaders, bless them, naturally they are going to sing within their vocal range and so they should.

Women are typically divided into three groups: soprano, mezzzo-soprano and alto.

  • Soprano -The soprano is the highest female voice.
  • Mezzo-soprano-The mezzo-soprano is the most common female voice.
  • Alto-The alto voice is the lowest female voice.

(I have generalised here as there are many sub-categories to the three categories above and I encourage you to find out for yourself where your voice fits in)

The most common female voice is not the highest  in the female range so why are we (women) singing in uncomfortable keys?

Girls if you are leading worship at church transpose the keys to keys that you can sing in comfortably.  Make sure you give new chord charts to the band, unless they are used to working with women because they will be used to playing the songs in male keys and it won’t feel like a comfortable set piece for them.  If you don’t know how to transpose enlist the help of someone who does.

When you are singing in a vocal range that suits your voice you will feel more confident about what you are doing and you will have vocals in reserve for the highs in the service when you want to push into the heavens.

Finally when you choose your keys make sure that you pitch the songs as high as possible, you are called to lead men and women in worship so try your best to include both sexes, this is honouring to God and to our congregations.  Guys I challenge you to do the same, pitch songs as low as you can so that you are including everyone to the best of your ability.

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