The reality is all worship leaders don’t have the luxury of full live bands backing them. Many of us play an instrument ourselves and lead worship alone or accompanied by maybe one 2other musician. No matter how skilled we are at singing or playing music, it wouldn’t hurt to achieve a fuller sound, right?
This is where Pads come in.
What are pads?
We could say pads are synthesized tones that complement the musical instruments you already have to enhance the overall ambiance when we lead worship.
Here’s an example of a worship song sung only with an acoustic guitar:
Now listen to the same song after adding a pad:
See how the pads stay in the background, do not interfere with the rest of the music and yet add significant value to the worship atmosphere?
And that’s not all, let’s look at 3 more benefits of using pads in worship:
You play a song and at the end you’re struggling with awkward musical silence while moving to the next song. Or you’re reading a scripture verse or saying a prayer or maybe just changing the fret position of your capo.
Pads can continue to play in the background during these spaces and can even be cross faded to move to the next song’s key (we’ll see how this can be done for FREE, keep reading!).
Easy to implement
All you need is a music player on your smartphone, tablet or laptop and pre-recorded pad sounds in different musical keys and you’re good to go! No need to buy pricey gear or software to use pads in worship.
Hands-free worship leading
Not everyone can pray or speak and play a musical instrument simultaneously. Even if you can, it’s easier to focus on what you’re saying or praying or reading without being tied down by your musical instrument at the same time.
When pads are playing continuously in the background, you can do just that—go hands-free and concentrate on leading worship during those moments of prayer, reflections, scripture reading and so on—the pads will maintain the worship atmosphere for you!
How to use pads in worship—the dead simple guide!
Step-1: Get some pre-recorded pads in different musical keys.
Here’s a free pack of pads to get you started. It includes 12 MP3 files of around 19 minutes each—one for every musical key.
Did I mention it’s FREE? Of course I did!
Step-2: Transfer the pads you just downloaded to your smartphone or tablet
Got the free pack? Great!
Now unzip the downloaded ZIP file and transfer all the files in it to your smartphone or tablet. You will need iTunes if you have an iPhone. It’s of course much simpler and easier if you’re using an Android device.
Step-3: Install a music player, which has a ‘cross-fade’ feature
Set up crossfading in the app. In Dub Music Player, it works like this:
- Tap the menu, then ‘Settings’
- Tap ‘Crossfade’
- Choose your preferred fade duration and lead time. Also select ‘Crossfade on next and previous’
Here are screen-shots if the steps were not clear enough:
What does crossfade do?
When a pad is playing and you tap ‘next’ to play the next pad file, it automatically fades out the current pad gently and gradually fades in the next pad without any silence in between. This makes your song transitions super seamless!
Other app options
- WorshipSongBand is a fabulous cross-platform app available for iOS (iPad only), Windows, MacOS, and Android. Apart from pads, you can also use it to integrate click-tracks or backing tracks for your worship sessions among other things.
- Altar the Atmosphere is another useful app to fill your worship environment with ambient pads. It’s available for Android and iOS platforms.
Step:4: Create a playlist in your music player
Let’s say your worship setlist has these 3 songs:
- ‘This is Amazing Grace’ (key of Bb)
- ‘You Alone Can Rescue’ (key of A)
- ‘10000 Reasons’ (key of E)
Create a new playlist in your music player using the pads you downloaded in the first step. So, for the above example set, your playlist would be
Step-5: Connect your smartphone / tablet to your sound system
Treat your smartphone / tablet like any other musical instrument—take the cable out from the headphone socket and plug the other end into your sound system using a “3.5mm to 6.5mm conversion cable” like this:
Now play your pad playlist, sing along and adjust the music player volume until the pads are in the background and not interfering with your vocal or guitar/piano.
Make sure your device is charged sufficiently and remember to put your device into ‘Airplane’ mode—you don’t want your worship to be disturbed by unwanted notification alert sounds!
Step-6: Lead worship!
Play your pad playlist and start the first song. When you’re ready to move to the next song, tap ‘next’ in your music player. The crossfade will smoothly transition to the next song’s key, during which time you can change your capo position, say your prayers, read scripture, talk to your congregation and so on.
If you need more pads, here are some links to download some for FREE:
- Churchfront (warm pads in all 12 keys, 10 minutes each in MP3 and WAV formats)
- Ambient Pads – I, Ambient Pad Bases and Ambient Pads – III by Karl Verkade (free, but a donation is encouraged)
- Ambience Vol. 10 and Ambience Vol. 11 from Church Media Drop
- Worship Tutorials (different pad sounds, but only in the key of ‘D’, each file is almost 20 minutes long)
- Coresound offers a free sample pack of pads in MP3 format (again, in key of ‘D’ only)
That’s it, now you know how to use pads to enhance your worship environment.
And don’t forget to download your free pad pack!