Category Archives: Lead Worship

Vocal Tip: Blending Backup Vocals

Photo: Musicademy

Photo: Musicademy

“Coordination of the vocal cords takes a sense of awareness of how your voice works, vocal mechanics, and an ability to identify, isolate and control vocal function. Most singers have no idea what their voices are doing apart from training and would benefit from a few good lessons to help them on their way.

Blending in with other vocalists is a balance of lyric, tonal quality, timing, dynamic and sensitivity. Not only does a vocalist need to be flexible vocally but they must be flexible when it comes to following and mimicking genre and stylistics. Each group or band has their own style that is developed through the preferences and style of the leader or type of group such as a classical choir, barbershop singers or rock band as well as all that the individuals bring to the group as a whole. Learning to sing in a number of styles makes the backup vocalist a valuable part of the team. Any backup vocalist should know it’s important to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and be willing to devote themselves to always be improving their talent so they can be the best fit in any situation. Good luck, God bless and Sing On!”

(reposted by Cosima on an earlier post)

Visit Musicademy for more on BGV

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Filed under Lead Worship, Singing, Speech Level Singing, Vocal Lessons, Vocal Tips

What a voice lesson looks like!

Ever wonder what your voice lesson might be like? Here’s a sample of my lesson notes from a 60 min free mini-lesson given this week. Have you set yours up yet?

NAME: xxxxxx
3/13 Vocal Evaluation & mini-lesson:
Vocal Evaluation determined beginning range to be: Undetermined at this time.
Possible Choral Alto/Choral Mezzo Soprano
Range at first lesson : C3 – G5

Lesson Goals:

  • Intro to vocal mechanics 
  • The vocal registers and range
  • Chest voice, head voice, whistle voice, falsetto, vocal fry
  • Breathing for singing
  • Recognizing and dealing with tension

Foundational exercises 

  1. Isolating outer muscles of the larynx to gain control and free the vocal cords 
    1. Bubble exercise – placing finders on cheeks where teeth join to produce a loose lip pucker. Sing through the low end of your range to the high end with minimal effort without tripping over the ‘breaks’ in your range. Remember to control breath support. Avoid letting all the air escape all at once.
    2. This foundational exercise should become a daily routine. The action of the lips frees up the vocal cords by releasing unwanted outer larynx muscles and setting the larynx up for correct speech-level position. Paying close attention to all the sensations in the vocal apparatus will help you isolate the healthy vocal function needed for beautiful, free singing.
    3. What to remember – learn to recognize vocal cord adjustments by how they feel. 
  2. Working towards Pure Tone
    1. Vocal fry – vocal cord vibration with no tone.
    2. Positions the vocal cords for optimum connection thereby producing a pure clear tone with minimal effort. Also foundational. While most exercises such as the Bubble, are only part of a vocal workout or warm up routine the vocal fry will remain part of how you sing.
    3. What to remember – expect progress over time with good practice habits.
  3. Good breathing for singing
    1. Diaphragmatic breathing – using the diaphragm to draw air into the lungs rather than ‘filling up the lungs’ from the top down.
    2. Making this part of a daily practice routine will build the support you need to move you toward controlled phrasing and support steady well placed tone while maintaining pitch control.
    3. What to Remember – Breathing for singing is different than breathing for speech. 
  4. Tension busters
    1. Relaxing in the jaw and mouth. (see blog for exercises to release jaw and tongue tension)
    2. Open relaxed jaw and mouth for better volume/diction

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Filed under Lead Worship, Music Education, musician, Singing, Speech Level Singing, Vocal Lessons, Vocal Tips

Every Sunday morning, worship leaders all over the world will step up to the mic

Every Sunday morning worship leaders all over the world will step up to the mic…. but will their voices be ready? Here’s a few steps a singer can do before that first song calls the people to “Come Worship The King!”

1. Avoid coffee, dairy, (do I need to mention alcohol, smoking?) or other forms of irritants to the vocal cords.

2. A hydrated voice is much more responsive so drink plenty of water the night before and again in the morning before stepping up to the mic.

3. Slowly and gently warm up the voice at least 15 minutes before stepping up to the mic. ( have a good warm-up routine)

4. Sound check is not your warm-up routine. A singer wants to be warmed up before sound check in order to sing as they do during a “performance.” This ensures your sound tech will dial you in accurately.Remember, careful preparation of the voice will give any worship leader confidence when they open their mouth to sing that first note and a voice that has been warmed up properly will be more likely to sing with vocal freedom and less likely to experience strain or other problems during and after worship sets.

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October 20, 2012 · 11:02 PM

“Will taking voice lessons make me into an opera singer?”

Not all people who love to sing, love opera. While I may enjoy singing Die Fledermaus or Phantom of the Opera My singing goals aren’t set in becoming an opera singer. I enjoy opera, rock, country, jazz, and contemporary Christian styles as well, and I want to be a flexible singer. That means I need work on having the vocal control it takes to sing different genres. I may not be at the top in all styles but I can learn and practice enough to do it well enough that I won’t sing opera on a Sunday morning with the worship team.

So how does one learn to sing different styles? I know a fantastic classical singer but she can’t do anything else. She gets frustrated because she cant blend with worship team singers and she really would like to sing other styles but feels stuck. Just the other day I heard a soprano at a worship leaders conference say she was a backup singer but her classical training made it hard for her to fit into the team at her church. It’s not uncommon for singers to be stuck in bad vocal habits but singers can get stuck with good habits too, limiting themselves because they haven’t explored what is called “vocal placement.”

So how can someone who is “stuck” in a vocal style break out of the vocal habits they have been practicing for years? Or, how can a vocal student avoid getting stuck in the first place?

We each are blessed with one voice and with training we can learn that there are different places physically where the voice can resonate, creating different sounds that lead to various vocal placements. These vocal placements are found in chest voice, mask, head voice, and falsetto.

Just for fun here’s a link to an article discussing vocal placement that will get you thinking. Although the article discusses voice over characterization for animated characters like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd the basic concept is the same for singers. For now just begin exploring the idea that you can produce the same pitch with different tonal qualities. How those qualities are produced are up to you. Remember you have 1 voice but you can choose to use it safely in many ways as long as you maintain healthy, free vocal production.

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Filed under Lead Worship, Singing, Speech Level Singing, Vocal Lessons, Vocal Tips

Worship Leader on a Mission~ Sri Lanka and Back

ggtr

Sri Lanka isn’t a big country, about 25,332 sq mi compared to California at about 163,696 sq mi.  The population about 21,128,773 with less than 10% Christian according to Gospel For Asia.  My husband and I were guests of friends, Rob and Heidi Douglass, who live in Colombo, the Capital City.  They were gracious and made us feel very welcome and comfortable in between our jaunts into the jungle and across country .

Rob and Heidi Douglass

Rob, Heidi and little Lilah Douglass

After arriving in Colombo on March 21, and treated to some cool air and sweet fellowship we settled in and prepared for some serious ministry.  My husband, Bob, would visit the Gospel For Asia Bible College in Colombo with Dan Finfrock to teach the Inductive Bible Study Method.  I, on the other hand, was scheduled to travel to, Habarana, a small village in the jungle about 4-1/2 hours into the Sri Lanka interior, north-east of Colombo to teach at a Gospel for Asia satellite bible campus for two days.  My pre-visit impressions were a quaint little campus in a small town but I got a big surprise. (travel tip I: reset your expectations, study the culture, climate and living conditions)

I arrived in Habarana after an early start and a long, bumpy ride.  We discovered that the satellite campus was a short drive, about 1/2 mi. on a dirt road, into the jungle after which we completed the distance on foot for another 1/4 mi. (travel tip II: heels in the jungle…. NOT!)

It’s a jungle out there! Habarana is a favorite elephant safari spot for tourists.  I saw monkeys and heard wild peacocks in between all the other unusual sounds of animals and birds.  It was dense and beautiful and I couldn’t see into it more than a few feet.

We passed a communications building hidden behind a wall and a few simple dwellings along the road as we walked…. and there we were, Habarana GFA Satellite Campus.  A small compound really, which seemed to consist of two or three small brick and block buildings, tin roofs with bare windows and fabric hung in door openings for shade and privacy.

Students sat on grass mats on the rough concrete floor in the chapel which was swept clean with walls white washed all over to catch the light coming in the glass-less windows that allowed flies to stumble in and out lazily.

The main building housed the chapel/classroom and the pastors residence, consisting of what looked like two rooms.  I met the pastors wife, a young woman with a sweet, tender spirit.  She was noticeably concerned as she reported that her husband had been quite ill, unable to eat or drink.  He would be transported to a hospital later the next day. (good reports trickled in later that week)

Satellite buildings in Habarana

Satellite buildings in Habarana

satellite interior Habarana

satellite chapel interior, Habarana

I wish I could have gotten some pics of the students but my phone/camera went dead so I only got the few I’ll share here.  I  apologize for the lousy quality.

translator-and-student-habarana

a student with her son and my GFA translator, Tusi

more students, Habarana

Tusi in the doorway with more students, Habarana. notice the international gesture of friendship? yep, they get phone reception even in the jungle.... amazing!

Habarana was my first experience ministering in a jungle setting.  With no electricity, fans or air-conditioning, and no running water…. it was very hot and humid, which at first was a distraction, but once I got busy teaching from His Word things were as they should be.

God is so good and had been preparing me and the students long before He sent me there to share what I have learned about worshipping Him.  Around mid day we broke for a lunch of white rice, a lentil paste with a bit of egg and other simple foods.  Later in the afternoon, our hosts were gracious and served very hot, very sweet, cream tea which would have been more welcome had it been cooler weather but it was a nice treat even in the heat if the day.

These students were so genuine and hungry to hear and learn.  They recieved the Word with gladness and we shared the common bond of fellowship in spite of language and culture barriers.

two wonderful little "guitar students" I spent some time bonding with

two wonderful little "guitar students" we learned chords and spent some time bonding... precious!

An unusual thing happened on this trip.  At least it was unusual for me.  On the long drive down I had time to ponder, pray and get to know my translator, Tusi.  During one of our quiet stretches, she had fallen asleep.  I distinctly heard the Lord speak to my heart that I would be praying for someone demon possessed.  I promptly thanked the Lord for the fore-warning seeing as how I’d never been in that situation before and began to pray for His Spirit to empower me and Tusi and go before us.

I had no idea what would occur but what could I do?  Just go with it and trust my Jesus.  🙂    At the end of the first day of teaching I asked the students if any of them wanted prayer.  Tusi and I prayed for several, maybe 20, students.  It was a sweet time and I discovered that their prayer requests were much the same as those I hear in the states; “please pray for my sick mother,” Please pray for my unsaved family,” one needed healing, another needed a place to stay.  All the usual requests except for a common request to pray for restoration of families as Buddhist and Hindu parents will disown their children for becoming Christians.

Then a young man, maybe in his late teens, was brought to us by some friends or family members, I wasn’t sure which.  I found out that he was not a student at the bible college.

It was explained that “he was possessed with a demon.”  I declared to Tusi that this had been what the Spirit had foretold me.   We set our hearts to pray and all the students began praying out loud in their own language.

I wont go into detail except to note that he displayed biblical demonic possession behavior as we prayed for him.  After about 10 minutes he began to call out to the Lord and fell quiet and was delivered.  The next day he was sitting with the students studying the Word and smiling from ear to ear.  Later that day I saw him running with the other boys and so full of life.  It was glorious!

We returned to the Douglass home in Colombo and I was reunited with my husband and Dan who shared their own adventures, enjoyed a cool night in air-conditioned luxury with a new assignment ahead.

That mostly describes my first 3 days in Sri Lanka….. The balance of the trip included teaching at another GFA campus.  I praise my Lord for His mercy and grace to fulfill what He had given me to do and for glorifying Himself in my life.

Peace in Jesus Christ!

Cosima

PS  Thanks to all those who were praying for this trip.  Your prayers were felt and much appreciated.

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Filed under Check it Out!, Lead Worship, prayer, travel tips, Worship Leaders, Worship Leaders Speak

Good Reading

bks

I’m not a reader.  That is to say,  you wont find me by the fire devouring the latest releases.  I enjoy reading the Word of God and material that leads me into a deeper relationship with Him although I’m choosy within that topic.  

I believe that the Word of God is my best teacher on the subject of worship but I do love to glean, now and then, from those who have something especially meaty to say on the subject.

I have read several books on worship that I recomend highly:

  • Face Down/ Matt Redman
  • Living a Life of True Worship/ Kay Arthur
  • Planted by the Water/ Chris Falson
  • Worship and Music Ministry/ Rick Ryan, Dave Newton/Chuck Smith (out of print)
  • The Ultimate Priority/ John MacArthur, Jr.
  • Worship Rediscovering the Missing Jewel / Allen and Borror
  • Real Worship/ Wiersbe

I’d have to say that none and all of these are my favorite books on worship.  None, because I couldn’t just pick one and say that it’s the best.  All, because I believe that each one contributes something eternal and imparts a tremendous gift to the reader.

So,… what are some of the worship books in your library?


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Giving Thanks

 

thlpr


Luke 17:14-16

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,  and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 

 

Ten lepers went to the priests.  Ten lepers were healed on the way.  Only one leper returned to give thanks.  

Here is a contrast of two types of people.  Those who recognize they are in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy and those who take the gifts of God for granted.  

We have received something wonderful and undeserved from the Lord, a precious gift, the sweetness of justification that has cleansed us, making us presentable before the God of the universe.  We can be like the nine who went on their way, about their business.  Or, we can choose to be like the one who recognized the work of Christ and returned to Him, glorifying God with praise and thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, we have the privilege of taking the time to stop and turn our faces to God, glorifying Him and giving praise and thanksgiving for all His wonderful work in our lives….  for the precious and wonderful gift of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

SDG

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