As a vocal director, it is my goal each week to provide clear and organized materials that our singers can easily follow. These resources help our singers become confident in their parts so that they are free of distractions, allowing them to simply worship and lead during services.
Here are some of the resources that have been most helpful for our team.
Song Scan: Provides the lyrics of the song arrangement, notes who has leadership and when all vocals are singing.
Vocal Chart: Outlines the melody and harmonies of the song using the Nashville number system. We found that this was the next best solution for those who may not know how to read sheet music. If you’re a music theory nerd like I am, you’ll love this.
Vocal Isolations: An mp3 that lays out each vocal part over the track with piano or a live vocal. This comes in especially handy for those who learn best by ear.
Leading a team of vocalists is much more than having talented, exceptional singers. What I look for in our team members is HUMILITY, a TEACHABLE SPIRIT and FLEXIBILITY combined with a joyful attitude.
Humility: There is no room for pride in a healthy team. Remember that it’s not about you. There’s a greater purpose to what we’re doing. It’s all for the glory of God, not for the glory of (insert your name here).
Teachable Spirit: The ability to take direction and make the adjustment that is being requested.
Flexibility: Changes happen. Songs are added last minute or you may be asked to sing a different vocal part. It’s important to have a “yes” attitude partnered with, yes, I’m going to mention it again, JOY.
Finally, it is my desire to see vocal teams grow and succeed week to week. Here are some helpful tips as you lead and/or sing on your worship teams.
Blend: If there is a blending issue, it’s most likely a vowel issue. Who is leading the song and how are they shaping their vowels? Take note, have the singers face each other, sing the phrase again and challenge them to match the shape of the leader’s mouth. I know this may be awkward, but I promise it helps. This will most often correct minor pitch issues as well.
Power: Tell your testimony through your singing. I always encourage our vocalists to do this. This brings dynamics to your expression. Does what you’re singing mean something to you? Is the song a prayer? Pray it over your life, your situation. Pray it over the people you’re leading.
Simplify: Allow a song to breathe. Even if harmonies fit on a bridge, for example, it doesn’t mean they need to be there. Sometimes the words are more powerfully conveyed in prime unison.
Grow: Never stop learning. Take vocal lessons or attend a vocal workshop. Learn music theory. Keep getting better. There is always an area you can grow in.
Continue loving on your team and leading with strength! This is my prayer for you today:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shelley serves as one of the vocal directors at the Lake Forest Campus. She also regularly leads worship at Saddleback Los Angeles.
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