How To Play Auxiliary Keys

Strategically Supportive Sounds

There’s more to being an auxiliary keyboard player than you think. All too often, keyboardists approach playing a secondary part like the primary, but if we’re not careful, this could be detrimental to what’s happening musically. So what should an aux keys player play? What sounds should they use? And what advice is there for playing ‘second fiddle?' Check it out here in this video blog.


Ryan is currently the Worship Director at The Church at Wills Creek in North Alabama. He has been the keyboardist for many Christian artists and has served with several churches including Christ Fellowship and Church of the Highlands. Ryan is the keyboard instructor for and also works as a producer, music educator, and studio musician. Ryan has two children, Josiah and Vivy, and they love spending time on their 100 acre farm.

How To Play Auxiliary Keys

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I really wanted these tips as I've started to play auxiliary keys at church.


I have to teach a couple keyboardist the art of aux keys. This helps tremendously! Thanks!

What app are you using to

What app are you using to change and layer parts? Thanks, great video!

He is using omnisphere

This is a program that you buy on your computer. The app he was using was OmniTR

What app are you using to

Hi Joe,

I'm using an app called Omni TR on my iPad. It's made by Spectrasonics and is a controller app for a piece of software called Omnisphere. Feel free to check out these vids:

Great ideas

I posted this on your Youtube channel, but thought I'd share them here...

There is a lot of great info in this video. The analogy I often give...keyboard players should remember that they have the entire "orchestra" at their fingertips. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with having that much tonal range available. You wouldn't (necessarily) invite two complete orchestras on stage to play full on...all the time, and singers, and a full band, and....????? Twenty fingers?

As you suggest.. the main player might be covering the a majority of the arrangement and the aux keyboardist just needs to supplement with two or three "woodwind voices", for example. (I'm not talking specific sounds here...just the number of voices). Working in and around other instruments in the arrangement.

When playing pads....take 6 or 7 of your fingers and tie them behind your back. Find common tones that work through chords, for example. Let the bass player cover the low end. Minimal is better. Be mindful of what octave the worship singers are in...and perhaps drop down one or go up an octave. Makes room for everyone.

Experiment with playing in the verses only. Or only in the B sections. Or stretch the intervals (open up) on the choruses, because the electric guitar player just started power chords and is filling that "middle space."

Those are my initial thoughts.

Aux. Keyboard

Ryan, how can I find lessons on playing Aux. keyboard ? This is what I do, however, I would like to learn tips on how to play the pads or what pads are used in the popular worship songs. Do you teach this as well? The greenroom tip was very helpful, but I would like to see the pads played on songs. Also what kind of keyboard are you using?

Aux. Keyboard

Hi Nancy,

As far as the actual pad sounds, you can find those in the Tone section of each song. We don't breakdown each song for primary and secondary keyboard players, but if you learn the lesson for each song and just simplify your playing by holding chords and not playing the melodies, that should get you close to where you want to be.

I'm using a Roland RD700sx, but just as a controller. All of my sounds are coming from my computer and I'm using an app on my iPad to control those.


Do you have congas?