Hey, Grace singers! Becky here. Let me start this by saying I’m anticipating huge things to happen for us in the next year, based on some of the shifts we're making for vocalists and what I heard from a few of you Tuesday night at Lab. There are exciting things ahead, and I encourage you to be praying about where the Lord has you serving and how He might want to challenge you and grow you. I want this next year to push you to the next level of excellence and heart—whatever that may look like!
After Tuesday’s lab, my eyes were opened to the value it brings to get us vocalists together and talk about where we’re at and how we define the roles that we’re in as worship leaders here at Grace. I would highly recommend coming to the next lab offered if you couldn’t make this one—our discussion turned out to be super fruitful and helpful to the four who came.
Below, you’ll see the points I covered. I’d encourage you to read them, write them down and take a few to heart. I’d love to discuss all of these with you individually at some point or in small groups to let it be an ongoing conversation.
Vocal Lab Discussion – 10.11.2016
As a singer leading worship, you use your voice to bring strength, excellence, and beauty while simultaneously inviting others to sing along with you. You get to usher people from the lives they live outside the church walls into an atmosphere where they can encounter God where they’re at corporately.
Lead & Background Vocals
Being lead for a song requires:
Finding Your Voice
Everyone has their own color, texture, uniqueness. Freedom will sound different for all of us. Then we adapt our sound to the style of song we’re singing (fast syncopation, legato with longer phrasing, etc.)
It’s about discovering your most natural voice and feeling free and comfortable
Adapting to Style (“Mighty Warrior” is a different style than “No One Higher”)
Our voice should embody what a song is doing stylistically
Songs that are wordier than others, stretched, slower
“The mind and emotions go ahead of the voice”
Before you even make a sound, there should be an emotion/thought that your voice knows you’re asking of it. We need to have an emotional connection with what we’re singing.
What will be your focal point as you prepare to sing to help you land a certain style, deliver the emotion that you want to? Is it an image, a word, a feeling?
Do you breathe in the middle of a phrase? It’s like public speaking. Be particular and intentional about where you breathe. You’re communicating a very important message.
Knowing Your Keys
Maybe you need a different key a certain week because you’ve been working on expanding your range, or you’re in the middle of a cold. You should never feel pressure to deliver a certain key because someone else sings it in that key usually. You need to lead in a key that is best to your voice and will set you up well.
Find your range. What’s the lowest / the highest you can go?
Take ownership to know your voice, look ahead at keys you’re scheduled for and let me know if it doesn’t work!
Being BGV for a song requires:
Singing BGV is one of the best ways to increase your musicianship
Figure out what you need to be successful. Figure out how you learn parts best. Each vocalist needs a different method to help train their ear to hear what a song needs for harmony.
Am I starting and ending my phrases with the lead or doing my own thing? BGV’s should listen to where the lead vocal is breathing and do the same.
Could beginning and ending consonants be softer/harder depending on who I’m singing behind? Try to blend with who is leading.
View yourself as another instrument, another layer to the band.
Your purpose is to elevate where the song is going, complementing the lead vocals quality/sound. What texture can I bring to this song with my part? When is my part overbearing, or not needed in a certain moment?
We have shifted from normally scheduling 4-5 vocalists to no more than 3 for most weekends. This means singers will have more opportunities to lead worship, be grown personally in that area, and be challenged both as a lead vocalist and BGV. This puts a little more pressure on singers so that when you’re “on” for a given weekend, you’re truly “on” and will have more opportunities to lead!
In-ear Monitor Mix
This topic can be super overwhelming, scary, and unapproachable sometimes to figure out during rehearsals. But I want to encourage you to give yourself time to figure out what you need, communicate what you know you’d like more/less of to the sound tech on that weekend (don’t worry, you won’t sound like a diva), and be particular about what you want to hear in your ears. Remember, this element often determines whether or not you will have a successful weekend in the band! Make sure you’re hearing what you need!
- Make sure you can hear yourself first and foremost. Your mix is your own!
- Can you hear the click well?
- Where do you like other instruments?
- What could maybe be left out of the mix? Don’t feel pressure to include every single instrument in your mix if you don’t need it.
- You definitely need keys/bass guitar for pitch, drums for energy, but electrics add texture/rhythm and aren’t always necessary if they make your mix difficult to hear yourself
- Make sure you can hear other BGV, or leader you’re singing with
- You shouldn’t feel like you’re competing with other vocals
Don’t try to lead a song until you believe it.
When you’re scheduled for a certain weekend, look at the songs we’re doing, spend time with them, sing them over and over and really take them to heart! Give yourself the challenge to NEVER lead a song until you believe it. Think about the words you’re singing; do you believe them to be true? It will help you communicate a song that much better to the congregation when you know deep down the words are true in your own life. Make it your song. We can't lead people somewhere we haven't been.
Find people to champion your dreams and encourage you but will give you honest feedback. (I’m happy to be this person, but also asking someone out in the congregation watching and hearing you lead from the stage may be even more helpful!)