Voice In Ministry - Lift Your Voice!
I've been observing and singing on worship teams for over 20 years and I've noticed that there are some consistent mistakes that can adversely impact a worship set.
Here are 7 common vocal problems that I've seen kill a worship set stone dead.
Not Warming Up
Cold, unresponsive voices can affect the way singers sing on a Sunday morning. Lack of range, tightness in the throat, squeezing and reaching for notes can make your voice tire out really quickly, And if your voice gets tired mid-set, you start straining or you over compensate by shouting. and if you start shouting you're way through songs, you're definitely going to have an adverse impact on your worship set...and possibly lose the congregation.
Arrgh, nothing can kill a worship set stone dead than over-singing the songs. (Its high up on my list of pet peeves.) Apart from being very distracting, it can make the singer come across as showing off. Nothing wrong with embellishing with a few runs and riffs but surely not on every vowel or at the end of every line? I've watched people just stop and sit down during worship because the lead singer is oversinging, jumping around in the melody and cutting the longest riffs, that no one listening can actually follow, killing your worship set immediately.
Leading worship in front of hundreds of people already has its own challenges, so it's important to listen to what is going on around you. Failure to listen means you can miss the musical cues that help you to sing out. For example, if a song changes key and you haven't listened for the key change, you'll be singing in a different key to the music. This doesn't just affect you but also the congregation.
Most important is listening to yourself. Many worship leaders just. don't. listen. to themselves when singing. So they end up shouting at the top of their voice or out of sync with the music and backing singers. This can kill your set, especially if you have inexperienced singers/band, singing/playing and don't know how to make the musical adjustments to get you back on track.
Singing Off Pitch
Every note you sing does not have to be perfect. Its inevitable that as you flip between singing and speaking that one or two notes might not be right on key. After all, God is gracious and we are made 'whole' through the sacrifice of His Son. So, its ok to make a mistake.
However, missing a note here and there is completely different to singing out of key or flat. Completely different... and, yes, it's distracting!
I have seen people totally switch off or disconnect from worship because the singers are totally flat or off key. It happens. And as much as some worship leaders say that the congregation should be focused on God, its hard to focus when the singers are not singing properly through 50% of the song.
"Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song," Psalms 98:5 NLT
Lack of Band Practice
Apart from building relationship with your team, band practice helps you to figure out the vocal journey of a song before Sunday. Its where you discover if a song works for your voice or not. It helps you to assess if a song it too high or too low. If you need to tweak the key or rearrange the song to suit your vocal style. It's also the opportunity to communicate with the band about keys and vocal arrangement so they can follow you when leading.
You can always tell when a band hasn't practiced in ages because they are all over the place. The left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing! BV's don't know what parts they should be singing. Musicians are guessing the keys the leader has started in. The leader has started the song too high or too low for their voice to sustain. I've seen and heard this happen and Sunday worship can end up chaotic.
Songs to High - or Low - to Sing
This leads on nicely from band practice. Regular band practice can help singers work out if a song is too high or too low for sure. Lets address this from 3 points:
PA Set Up
Worship Teams who underestimate the power of the PA and its impact on their ability to sing and play, do so to their own detriment!
I'm just gonna be straight here: The PA dictates whether your band sounds good or not. You could have the best singers in the Kingdom on your team or the best musicians, if the PA set up is, well, rubbish it will adversely impact your worship set. Even if you have the most expensive PA equipment that the market has to offer but untrained, working-it-out-as-they-go-along technicians operating it, it can kill your worship set.
Through my many travels and visits to churches, I've seen and heard it happen over and over again.
The best way to manage how you sound via the PA is to get PA training yourself. Learn the language so you can communicate with the technicians about your team's Audio needs.
Another, is to practice singing without mics. Have regular a cappella singing sessions that help your singers get comfortable hearing their own voices without amplification.