Hand Position and the Plane

You should carefully consider the height of your arm and the position of your hand during song leading.

To find your hand position, let your hand hang loosely at your side, then bring it up, still in the position it hangs in naturally and at a roughly 30-degree angle. Notice that the arm is not too loose or too tight, with just a slight curve at the elbow. You should not flex the arm!

There may come a time when nerves seize you and a loose hand makes things harder. If this is the case, you can regain control of your hand by putting your thumb and first two fingers together. You should still hold the hand at a 30-degree angle.

The main thing the congregation will look at is not your hands—it’s your face. OK, actually, it’s the hymnal, but still, when the audience is looking at you, most people will naturally look at your face. This makes it critically important that you not make them choose between your hands and your face.

The plane is how high you hold your hands. You never want your hands to be lower than this level. Think of it like a piece of wood that you cannot drop below. If you do allow your hands to drop, it causes two problems:

  1. If you have a lectern, your hands disappear for either part or all of your pattern.

  2. If your lectern is low enough that your hands remain visible, dropping your hands still forces people to choose between your hands and your face. Most will choose your face.

All four beats lie on the plane. Beats 1 and 4 tap exactly the same spot.

As you determine how high the plane is, your personal height comes into account. Even if you’re a seven-foot tall basketball player, you still should keep your hands at chest height, so the congregation doesn’t have to choose between your hands and your head. If your vertical is barely above the lectern, you may very well need to keep your hands at head height.

Long story short, keep your hands loose and high!