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Integrating Uncommon Instruments


The world of instrumentation is vast and wide. Yet, our current church culture’s trend for worship, is a band set-up. It’s very common to see drums, a bass, keys, and a couple of guitars up on stage. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a place for some other fun instruments from time to time.

Let’s talk about how we, as worship leaders, can incorporate these other instruments intelligently, tastefully, and artistically.

Listen. Really listen to the music

The good news is there are all types of worship music out there for us to choose from. When you are listening to new music and choosing new worship songs for your church, take a closer listen to the style of each song. If you’re picking any Kings Kaleidoscope songs, that’s an awesome opportunity to add some horns. They often use a horn section and it really compliments their style. Maybe you have a new worship song that offers a hint of blues. Try out a harmonica on that song.

The point is to listen to your music with a little more intention. Really think about how different instruments flow and fit into different styles of music.

Take advantage of a special occasion

A great way to use a variety of instruments is to plan ahead and use special occasions. Maybe it’s Christmas, a night of worship, or even an intentional acoustic set. These are great opportunities to add different instrumentation.

I love to throw in my ukulele when we have an acoustic set coming up. One of my lead guitar players switches over to his mandolin as well. These two instruments really suit an acoustic set up while also adding a little extra flavor to our sound.
Holiday music is usually screaming for added instrumentation. Christmas is a great time to try and incorporate some strings, a saxophone, or even hand bells.

Give it a try in your practice environment first

This is a huge step in the process of trying anything new. Adding these different and unusual instruments to your worship can take some time. Set a standard on your team to try it out for a few practices so you can give it some time to gel. Remember, these instruments should complement your sound as a worship team. Take the time needed to do it well so you avoid the distraction of that new sound sticking out.

Teach your team about the body of Christ

We all need to be taught and reminded of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where Paul talks about the different parts of the body. This is not just something your “new, weird instrument player” needs to hear. This is for every member of our team, including ourselves. The drum part is not more important than the rhythm guitar. The lead guitar player should not be in a volume battle with the bass. Just because a sax player wants to be on the worship team, doesn’t mean they should play all the time.

It starts with the heart. Each instrumentalist should be working together to make one, complete sound. Worship leaders, it begins with us. Do you contribute or dominate? Speak vision to your team and encourage a true attitude of oneness.


Let some creativity flow into your worship space with the addition of new instruments. Remember to think about the style of the song and don’t be afraid to move slowly. Christmas is right around the corner; an opportunity for you to experiment a little. Do you have any other ideas on how to integrate these uncommon worship instruments?

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2 Responses to “Integrating Uncommon Instruments”

  1. We’ve got a sax player in our regular rotation. He’ll usually take some of the lead guitar or synth lines but he’s also a pretty sick improv player.

  2. Laura Blankenship October 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm Reply

    Tim, that’s awesome! Skill level definitely matters.

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