The rule is: If you are going to lead the congregation in a song that may not be their normal fare, only use a tune that you feel comfortable singing in its entirety by yourself. Do not depend on members of the congregation to join in.
I picked the slow Carlebach tune, Shifchi KaMayim, and I did not know it as well as I thought I did. The tune did not come to me. I tried in vain to sing it for a few painful minutes, while some brave souls occasionally tried to help me. I'm sure there were a few people there who would be able to sing along on this simple melody, myself included, if there was only one capable person who both knew the melody and could carry a tune. Being familiar with the melody is not knowing it.
Another caveat: the second part (also called "the high part") of a Jewish song is usually catchy. The first part might not be. You have to get through the first part to get to the second part. Make sure you know both parts.He's pledging to learn three tunes solidly for the next go round.
Our suggestion:try a different melody for Shifchi, like the one that can be heard here.