Worship Tips Wednesday: 5 Tips for Vocalists

Question: How can you tell a vocalist is at your door?

Answer: They can’t find the key and don’t know when to come in!

Of course I’m joking, but it’s good to poke fun at ourselves every once in a while.  All kidding aside, vocalists are one of, if not the most important members of the worship team.  At the end of the day I could lose all my other instrumentalists and still be able to lead a group in worship with just my voice.  Singing is the very heart of what we do in worship.

VocalistAnd yet, while vocals are essential to any worship team, they also present a particular challenge for worship leaders.  Singing is a purely intuitive exercise.  I can teach a guitarist how to finger a G chord, but I can’t show a vocalist how to manipulate their vocal chords to produce the right notes, vowels, and tones.  Because of that, it’s often hard to get singers to improve their skills and abilities.

With all that in mind here are 5 tips to help vocalists become better members of any worship team:

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Worship Tips Wednesday: 5 Tips for Worship Leaders

After my initial post last week on tips for all worship team members, it’s time to get specific.  And what better place to start than with the people in the spotlight, the worship leaders.

The_Vine_Band_Flyer_PhotoAs worship leaders we have a myriad of different responsibilities, from selecting songs and designing services, to running rehearsals and leading our congregations (and that doesn’t include all the admin work that I know we all love).  With so many things to do each week, self-improvement can easily get put on the back-burner.  But it doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be that way.

Here are 5 simple tips that can help us all be better worship leaders:

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Matt Maher Is Catholic, And No One Cares (But Everyone Should)

There’s no better way to start off the new year than with a controversial post, so here goes:

In July of 2007, just a couple of months after I had accepted the position as full time Worship Director at Christ Community Church, I attended the first annual National Worship Leader Conference in Austin, Texas.  A number of big name Christian musicians led worship that week, but there were also a few young, mostly unknown songwriters and worship leaders who taught various workshops and seminars.

tlib-coverOne of these was a guy named Matt Maher.  I had never heard of Maher before, but at the conference I found out he was the person who wrote the song, “Your Grace is Enough” which Chris Tomlin had recorded the previous year (yes many worship leaders record songs written by other people).  Maher intrigued me and I was anxious to hear more from him with the release of his new album the following year.  Needless to say I was not disappointed, and over the next few years (and albums) Maher quickly became one of my favorite worship songwriters.

Then I would stumble upon the Youtube video that would rock my worship world:

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Worship Tips Wednesday: 5 Tips for All Worship Team Members

2015_new_yearAs we enter the new year tomorrow, I’ve decided to start a new weekly post called “Worship Tips Wednesday” where I’ll share some helpful things I’ve learned while working with different team members.  The tips are meant to be practical, and some of them will probably be somewhat obvious but often neglected.

Think of these as life-hacks for worship, except they actually work and won’t get tomato juice all over you.  So without further ado…

5 Tips for All Worship Team Members

One thing that’s clear to anyone who has ever played on a worship team is that each person plays a different role.  Drummers, guitarists, keyboardists, vocalists and other instrumentalists (we currently have a harp player on our team) each fill a position that is unique in how it is approached and understood.  And if you consider your sound, lighting, and visual technicians part of the team (which I certainly do) then things become even more complicated.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be offering thoughts on helping people in each of these positions become more effective.  But for now I’d like to start with some tips that can help any member of a worship team, whether you are an instrumentalist, vocalist, AV technician or something else.  Here are 5 tips for all worship team members: Continue reading

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Album Review: “Wake Up the Wonder” by Elevation Worship

It’s rare for even the most prolific worship leaders and bands to release two original albums in one year. So when Elevation Worship released Wake Up the Wonder last month I was more than a little surprised.

Wake Up the WonderLast January, Elevation released Only King Forever which is one of my favorite worship albums of the year.  No only was the album filled with well written worship songs, including “Only King Forever” and “Grace So Glorious,” both of which I introduced to my congregation this year, but Elevation Worship is one of the few worship bands that provides free training resources to help local church musicians learn to play their songs well.  Their albums are a literal Godsend for worship pastors like me.

With all that in mind, the release of Wake Up the Wonder made me more than a little excited.  So does this new album live up to its recently released predecessor?  Read my review below.

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Christmas Musical Disaster Fun

First and foremost let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  For those of you who are fellow worship leaders, I know these couple of days are often stressful with complex preparations for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day services.  And rightfully so, as it is one of the most significant times of worship in the year.  Please know that your efforts are appreciated by your congregations (even if they don’t say it enough).

However, it’s also important to remember that Christmas is supposed to be fun, even in all the chaos.  With that spirit of fun in mind, I offer 3 hilarious musical disaster videos.  Hopefully they will bring some laughter to the craziness of Christmas.  Enjoy! Continue reading

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Music Set Apart: Choosing Worship Songs Part 4

One of the unique features of the CCM Worship world is the prevalence of live recordings.  In most contemporary music genres live concert recordings are a relative rarity.  Usually a well known artist will release a handful of studio albums and then make a live concert recording while on tour.  This allows fans to have the experience of attending their favorite band’s concert whenever they want.   A well known artist or band may only make 1 or 2 live recordings in their entire career.

IPlanetshakers_2005n contrast, many well known worship bands do the opposite.  Bands like Hillsong United, Elevation Worship, Gateway Worship, and others primarily release live recordings of worship concerts.  Only rarely do they release a studio recording.  Because worshiping in a crowd is part of the experience they wish to convey, having the voices of the concert attendees is an essential part of their recordings.

These live recordings can be especially helpful for worship leaders looking for new songs, because they demonstrate how the song works in an existing congregation.  That doesn’t necessarily mean all the songs on the album are right for every congregation, but it does add an extra dimension of credibility as the songs are already being sung in a local church.

Over the past several posts I’ve laid out my first 3 criteria for choosing new worship songs. Now we’ll complete the series with criteria 4:

The fourth criteria I use when picking new songs is particularity.

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