Changing to New Key in Worship Piano

worship key pic

It almost always falls to the piano player to get the band from key to key. The main goal is to make it unnoticeable, or in other words, smooth. Here are a few things that have helped me over the years.

Video Notes

1. If you can, try and put the worship set together in a way that makes changing keys easier. Move to keys that are next to each other in the circle of 5ths. Move to a key that’s part of the current scale. Adjust songs to be all in the same key if possible. If you are going from the key of C to F, just move to the F chord and stay there. After enough time F will be established at the new key.

2. Find a common note to hold out to make a smooth transition from one key to the other. If you were going from the key of C to E, you could play a C chord, then hold out the E note alone, then slowly add in the other notes of an E chord.

3. Avoid using the “5 chord” of the new key…unless you want to make a statement that you are changing keys.

OTHER IDEAS/WAYS??? Add them in the comments below!

25 Comments on “Changing to New Key in Worship Piano”

  1. I never considered that playing the 5th chord of the new key and adding the 7th was a negative thing. It alerts the other instrumentalists and singers that we are about to begin a new song. Of course, if the new song is on the same theme and naturally flows right into the previous one, then this might be somewhat unnecessary. Thanks for the new ideas you presented.

    1. It’s for sure not a “negative thing”…it’s just not as sneaky most of the time. Or at least in my opinion. Keep worshipping! -wade

  2. I play piano at church, and I was struggling on how to change keys in the songs. I believe that God lead you into this lesson if, for no one else, it was for me. God is so good!!

    Thank you so very much.

  3. Can you make it simpler for me? Changing keys is a big challenge for me. The trend in Baptist churches is to do what is called, modulate; that is to go from say the Key of C to a half step; then next half step, etc. Are you saying if I am playing in the Key of C, i.e., CEG chord and I hold G note and make the chords for the key of G? Can you make it planer for me or refer me to a tutorial?

    Thanks, Wade. GRACE AND PEACE?

    1. Hey Dorris!! You are correct. C to G is pretty easy. You could hold out the G note (for a period of time) then play the G chord…then noodle around in the Key of G to establish the change.


      You could just go to the G chord (since it is a chord that is already in the key of C) and stay there. After time your ear tells you that the key has changed.

      Oh…and modulate and key change are the same thing.

      It’s a balance of getting there quickly without making it obvious. If there isn’t much time between songs then I would not worry as much…but when there is a transition/prayer time…that’s when you can really work this smooth sneaky change. Don’t hesitate to message me if you have more questions or examples you want to work through.


  4. Wade…thank you for making changing keys so simple. This has always been a struggle for me but now I think I’m going to be comfortable using your method. 5 chord…you’re out! Your keyboard sounds so nice. Do you mind sharing what keyboard you are playing?

    1. I play a Yamaha S90 ES. They don’t make them anymore (mainly so that they can sell “new” products). But the sounds are awesome!! A lot of churches are using a Nord Stage keyboard these days. They sound great! You also see a lot of people connect any keyboard to their computers and use a program (apple only) called Mainstage.

      Much love!!!

  5. I did everything I was suppose to do but did not get my pdf download on how to play by ear. Can you help me?

  6. Hi Wade,
    I have the same issue as Kathy. i also didn’t get the PDF download on how to play by ear. Thanks for helping me also. Blessings to you!

  7. Hi Wade,
    I have the same issue as Kathy and Vickie. i also didn’t get the PDF download on how to play by ear. Thanks for helping me also. Blessings to you!

    1. Exactly! The sustain is great. Just give it enough time before starting the notes for the next key.

      …but if all else fails…a short pause of sound then starting in a new key will also do the trick.

  8. Thanks, Wade. This opens a new world for me:-)
    I battle with this during the altar call. (I only play by ear and can read a little bit of music)
    Will practice the circle of 5ths.
    Is it possible to send me the PDF too, I don’t seem to find it?

    Kindest regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *