Our Top Chord Chart and Music Apps for Worship Leaders

by Rob Hampton March 11, 2019

Go Paperless with Planning Center Online

We’re currently living in a technological revolution. It’s amazing how much technology we have even compared to just 10 years ago. Think about what serving on a worship team on Sundays looked like before the iPad was released. Here’s what it looked like for me:

We were sent the music a couple weeks in advance, typically on a CD or some digital format over e-mail. Mix tapes basically. We also got a set list with paper sheet music or chord charts, and we practiced to a stereo.

There was no option to change keys on the audio file. No other files to reference for arrangement changes. And we managed piles of paper charts with hand written notes (remember the master worship chart binders with the page protector sleeves?!). In other words, the dark ages.

Yet still today we print and carry song charts, scatter them on the floor or on a music stand, even though we have easily accessible technology (on devices most of us already own!).

The Renaissance

As a worship leader, you have a big responsibility. It’s not just the whole worship leading thing. You’re also a scheduler. You have to manage resources (people), choose the best songs for the players you have that week, make sure they’re in friendly keys, and deal with last minutes changes. Every. Week.

So you probably use a planning software, more specifically Planning Center Online (PCO).

I’ve been using PCO for years, even before I was using an iPad on stage. For someone who leads a worship team, it’s a must have. But you already know this.

I very specifically mentioned the iPad. There are several good tablets out there, but this whole renaissance started with the iPad. Once the PCO app was released in the Apple store, you had the ability to go completely paperless as a worship leader.

Now you can download Planning Center on basically any tablet, including iOS, Android, and Windows. With tablet affordability, and a large portion of the population currently owning one, your worship team can also go completely paperless.

Here's why you should.

Complete Flexibility

As much as we try to be prepared, we have to be open for changes during rehearsal. Key changes are the most common.

Your very experienced musicians can do this on the fly. But your less experienced ones will need new charts. With Planning Center, once you create the chart, you can change the key on the fly. Everyone just needs to refresh the chart to see it.

What if a song isn’t working with the band? Swap it out for one that does. Again, because everyone is using a tablet, you’re not wasting paper or time with the changes. You can re-order the set, add in sermons and announcements, and the musicians have detailed notes of what you want them to play.

A Much Cleaner Stage

I’ve never been at a church that outright banned music stands, but they’re often not encouraged. There’s much debate over whether they should be on the stage or not, but at the very least they can be a distraction. Visually or audibly when everyone changes charts when the music stops.

If you’re using a tablet and the Planning Center app, you can clean up a lot of the clutter. The guitar player doesn’t need to have 5-8 chord charts strewn about on the floor. Chart changes are discreet. And you can actually read the charts in dimmer lighting much easier.

With the Music Stand accompanying app, you can pull up all charts for the set (each user picks what they need, be it lyrics, chords, or capo chords), and scroll through them as you go. You can even link them so they all change at the same time.

Pro tip: utilize your existing mic stands and stage hardware with a magnetic tablet mount.

Better For The Musicians (And The Environment)

Let’s face it, we all know we need to be good stewards and do our part to prevent waste. Even if you recycle every single chart you print, it’s still an unnecessary waste in our age. We have all of the tools we need right at our fingertips. That’s not to mention the financial cost of single use paper.

Your musicians will be much happier too!

For one, they’ll be able to practice in the right key. To the actual audio track. Planning Center has surprisingly good audio quality on the key change function. They’ll have all of the audio files, additional reference files if needed, clear direction notes, and all the charts they need. All of which they take to rehearsals and services on their tablet.

If you have the hot-shot song memorizer on your team who doesn’t use charts on Sundays, they can just pull up the set list and order of service on their phones.

Planning Center Online + STOMP

When you’re leading worship, that’s all you want to focus on. You don’t need distractions or anything taking your hands off your instrument. Even with paperless chord charts and lyric sheets, the “pages” still need to be turned.

So do that hands-free.

STOMP is compatible with almost every charting app, including Planning Center and Music Stand. With STOMP you don’t have to take your hands off your instrument, or even stop playing when changing charts.

As musicians, everything we use are tools. That effect pedal, wireless unit, keyboard synth pack. And so it is with Planning Center Online and STOMP. Tools to give you time back during rehearsals so you can smooth over the rough edges of the set. Tools to keep the set flowing on Sunday morning.

Tools to keep you focused on what you’re doing; leading worship.

Do you know a worship leader who desperately needs to go paperless? Share this article with them as a not-so-subtle hint!

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Rob Hampton
Rob Hampton