How to actually play with a click

More and more worship teams are beginning to play with a click.

You might be scared that your leader will suggest it, are scared because your team suggested it, or are scared in thinking about how your team will react/has reacted to it if you suggest it.

Or you’re using it and loving it.

Or you think it’s the worst thing in the world and are sworn to never use it.

Here’s the thing: A click gives the team both a common pulse AND a common thing to follow.

See, what often happens is that some of the team is listening to and following the drummer, others the guitar player, others the lead singer, others are in their own world, just trying to keep up or just focused on what they're doing. The click removes all that and forces everyone to listen and follow the same, unchanging thing.

This involves submitting yourself to something outside of yourself. That requires emotional maturity as well as musical discipline.

I'm not trying to get all deep, but this is one thing that makes it such a challenge to integrate clicks.

One thing that holds worship teams back musically is this beautiful mutual submission and a lack of focus on self. Now that focus on self is usually just because we're not confident in what we're playing or singing. So a step toward confidence is improving our craft, hours of personal practice with a click, watching YouTube tutorials, taking lessons, and learning any way we can. But we need to take steps to have more energy to give to listening than we do to playing. (that's a huge statement)

When you force yourself to play to a click, it confronts the lack of discipline you have as a player or singer. Those may sound like strong words, and if you're a "naturalist" musician, you might push back. And that's ok!

In fact, I was coaching a team that was trying the click out for the first time, and two of the players we bobbing their heads like punk rockers. It seemed to be part mockery of the click and part annoyance of its throbbing in their heads. But know what? Bands that are really playing in the same groove often move their bodies in synchronicity. It's a good sign. In fact, whenever I see a band that's not moving, it usually sounds like they're not really together.

So if you want to move forward, here are a couple things to think about.

  • Practice with a click at home.
  • Expect starting to use a click to require lots of extra energy, but pay big dividends in time (that was a pun!)
  • The leader will need to be the one keeping the team on it. As the team fluctuates getting ahead and dragging behind, the leader needs to carry the extra weight to help the team stay on target
  • Until you've played with it for more than a year, it should be the loudest thing in your ears. And then it still needs to be present, although it should "disappear" when you're on it and only be noticeable when you get off of it.
  • Have a great hardware/software plan to fire (start/stop) the click. If the leader is firing it, be aware of the extra pressure it puts on him/her. If someone else is firing it, have a clear signal for the leader to use to stop it if the team gets off of it.

At the end of the day, we are simply trying to create spaces where people can meet with God. These are tools to help us remove distractions, increase beauty, and honor Him with our personal best.

ps. The most common click generator is to use Ableton. A simpler version would be to use's Prime app on an iPad (which also allows you to use tracks/loops and not just a click). You can do this with or without a Looptimus or Looptimus Mini pedal. You can also get apps that allow you to set up sets to go from one tempo to the next, like the free Worship Team Director. And the simplest might be using the built in click in Planning Center Online's Music Stand or OnSong. It switches tempos when you swipe to the next song (if you've set them up in PCO). If this all sounds like Slovenian, we can set up a time to help you get it set up at your church...all questions English (¡o en español, si prefieres!)