Monday, September 26, 2011

The Voice

Worship leaders often have a lot of responsibility.  Depending on the size of a church, a leader may have to:

  • lead programming meetings
  • implement programming decisions
  • create stage designs 
  • design stage lighting - for multiple songs
  • facilitate projection of lyrics for all songs
  • chart & distribute music for band/vocals
  • schedule and rehearse music team
  • practice his/her instrument

With all of these responsibilities (and more!), there is a tendency to neglect what can be the most impactful part of their contribution to a service, THE VOICE!  Vocals will often be the last thing to be rehearsed because they seem easiest.  We rationalize that as long as we listen to the song enough times in the car that we'll have it for the weekend.

Three thoughts:

1. Work Out Your Voice - Practice your vocal outside of what you are preparing for a given weekend.  This means exercises that you can do regularly to keep your voice in shape, particularly connecting your breath to the tone you are producing.  So many worship leaders have vocal problems because of too little breath support.  I highly recommend Vocal Artistry for CDs with exercises you can do daily to grow your voice.

2. Record Yourself - So critical to listen yourself self sing, not just with the recording of a weekend, but to isolate your voice and listen for tone, pitch, style, etc.  Use a camera phone or a memo app to do this.  Find a karaoke version of a song and sing along.  Critique yourself as any judge would on "The Voice" or American Idol.

3. Practice Singing WITH Your Instrument - If you lead from an instrument there is a whole different set of brain functions happening that need to be practiced so that you can feel free to worship while you're up there.  Especially if you're trying to break bad vocal habits you'll need to do this because your instrument takes your mind away from the vocal.  You can also record this to critique as well.

Hope this is helpful.  Next, we'll take a look at the importance of song choices.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Teach Me Your Way

Going through some soul searching.  Asking God to "see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:24)  Wanting to be the man that Christ wants me to be.  To be the husband my wife needs.  The father my kids hope for.  The pastor my church/team longs for.

This requires some shedding of past frameworks of leadership.  Looking to release old impulses of what I think a situation needs and embrace a new way of interacting with those I lead.  I don't know where or how this will work itself out.  I am open.  I am listening.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Singing is Not Filler

This is a teaching that I did for a Worship in the Sticks conference in March.  We've got another event coming on November 5th in Greenwood, IN (south of Indy).  Hoping to equip teams and leaders of smaller churches to lead with confidence.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Right Song at the Right Time

Lately, we've been in some discussion about choosing worship songs for our weekend services.  We've been using an online music library called Spotify which allows us to make collaborative playlists.  As we find new songs that we like, we add them to the list.  This has been an amazing tool for us to find new songs that we all agree will work for our setting.

With any good thing, there can be a down side and it is this, now that we have a TON of new songs, several questions arise:

  1. How do we discern which songs to actually use? 
  2. How often do we introduce new songs?
  3. Is there such a thing as a right song at the wrong time?
We're wrestling a bit with this now.  I have a few filtering questions to consider when thinking about introducing a new song:

  1. Is it theologically sound? 
  2. Is it singable? (range, rhythm)
  3. Is it an expression of where we are as a church RIGHT NOW?
    • This particular point is important for discernment.  A great song at the wrong time can really lessen its impact.  If a church sings a song about being fully surrendered to Christ, when the base level of commitment is showing up on a weekend service 1-2 times per month, there is a disconnect between words and heart.
  4. How many new songs have we introduced lately?
    • If we introduce a new song every week for 5 weeks straight, we're going to leave our congregation in the dust.  Most worship leaders assume that their people know songs better than they actually do. Part of this can be the fact that the worship leaders and teams play through songs many times over a set of weekend services, when, in fact, the congregation only gets to hear the song once.  So, songs feel tired to a music team WAY EARLIER than they do to a congregation.  Don't be afraid to mix up the arrangement in order to keep the song fresh for your team. 
  5. Do we have a system of introducing new songs?
    • Our system of introducing a new song is 2 weeks in a row, then a break week, then on again.  After that, it's free reign to program whenever it is best needed.  We always evaluate the song after that rotation to make sure it's worth keeping in the pool of songs.  Sometimes a song stays, sometimes it just stays for a month or so.  That's okay.
Love to hear how others are introducing new songs to the mix.