HOP IT: Keyboard Misadventures In Worship

Train Wreck

So, what’s your biggest train-wreck worship story?

Mine happened a couple years ago. I was playing keyboards at a church that’s not my regular church, though it was one where I filled-in once a month or so. I was well connected with one of their worship leaders, but I happened to be playing with a different worship leader that morning. (Now that I think about it, I haven’t played with that worship leader since. Hmmmm.)

Here’s what happened. The opening set went great. We finished up, and I set my in-ear monitors down on the keyboard like I usually do. Somehow, I must’ve accidentally hit a wayward button in a bank of keyboard sounds that I didn’t even know existed.

The message was wonderful, and of course it built up to this tender moment that was supposed to segue into this equally tender ending song. I thought I’d left the keyboard set to my typical piano/pad sound that I use 90% of the time. So when I came back up, and re-wired myself with my in-ear monitors, I didn’t bother to look down at the keyboard LED screen. I just hit the opening “C” chord, expecting that nice, warm emotional piano/pad sound that would begin to melt the congregation’s collective hearts.

What came out was the loudest, gnarliest, nastiest, most club-ready hip-hop beat I’ve ever heard. Panicked, I look down at the LED screen, and I saw the name of this audio nightmare: HOP IT. Arrrrgh!

Keyboard players, you know that when you activate a loop sound on a keyboard, it doesn’t just stop once you lift your fingers off the keys. It keeps going. And going. And it sure did that morning. You know how panic freezes your brain for awhile? Yeah, it did. So the HOP IT loop just kept on going. I finally remembered that the way to stop it is to change the sound settings. So I quickly changed back to my nice, safe piano pad sound. Whew. Nightmare over. But damage done.

Then I became aware of what else was happening on stage, and the ripple effect was just as bad. Maybe worse.

  • Once the gnarly hip-hop beat kicked in, the worship leader whirled around to give the drummer the “stare-of-death,” wondering if he’s lost his mind and why on earth is he starting this tender song so aggressively?
  • The drummer panics, wondering if he’s activated some unknown demon loop in his metronome/click track/beat box thing that he’s responsible for…
  • So Mr Drummer frantically pushes any button he can find while praying MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!
  • The rest of the team has no idea what had just happened and everyone looks slightly crazed

Fortunately or unfortunately, it took everyone quite awhile to realize that it was actually my fault. The point is,

I wonder if God sometimes allows our plans to go awry, to remind us Who’s really in charge. To remind us Who’s really responsible for doing the inner work in someone’s soul.

Yes, our music touches those places, but it’s God’s Spirit that truly does the work that endures.

Despite my bumbling, worship happened that morning. God smiled on us. I think He also smiled with us and at us. And we all lived to worship another day.


We’re all friends here: feel free to share your “worship train-wreck” stories in the comments below.

As a songwriter, worship leader and a member of the marketing team, Paul is connected to CCLI in every possible way. Paul serves as CCLI’s Content Creator in the U.S. Service Center in Vancouver, Washington. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from George Fox University and has served as a marketing/communications specialist and a worship leader for a number of churches and ministries.


  1. One of my favorite stories I MAKE you tell ALL the time (sorry, dude)! Nice to finally have it in print. And… an insight-fully added lesson at the end; your embarrassment is our gain. :>)


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