Keys to Developing a Great Vocal Section

Featuring Mark Cole Posted on April 1, 2008

Investing time into your vocalists will pay off with rich rewards. As they are trained to sing with excellence, they will be more equipped to lead with confidence and sing from their hearts. When you work with the vocalist make sure they are doing the following things correctly.

  1. Singing in tune: Point out when singers are ‘out of tune’, don’t let them get away without listening. Most people can learn to sing in tune better. For the few that can’t, it is better to not have them singing on a microphone.
  2. Holding the notes the same length: If singers learn to hold their phrases and words to the same length it really cleans up the vocal sound. Nothing is more ragged than having some of the singers’ singings short notes and others holding it out longer.
  3. Singing the proper rhythm: Sometimes there is more than one way to rhythmically sing a phrase. Decide which is best for your situation and have everyone sing the same rhythm.
  4. Breathing in the same place: The singers need to think of themselves as one singing entity. If they all learn to breathe at the same points it really cleans up the overall sound.
  5. Memorizing the music: Singers sing much better when they have music memorized. It gives them one less thing to thing about so that can listen to themselves and the group better. It also helps them to worship and communicate with the congregation better.
  6. Enunciating the words correctly: There are often multiple ways to enunciate a word. If all the singers are clearly enunciating the same way it produces clearer communication.
  7. Singing the right harmonies and melody: There are often multiple notes that work for the melody and inner harmonies. This is especially true of alto parts. Work on the song until you figure out which is the best for your interpretation of the song. Make sure all the singers on each part are singing it the same way.
  8. Listening and adjusting to blend properly: Some singers sing louder than others and the higher a vocalist sings, the louder they tend to sing. Teach the singers to listen to each other and compensate by using their mikes and voices to increase and decrease their volume in relation to the overall sound.
  9. Not rushing the tempo or dragging: Some people do not have a great sense of rhythm. Like most musical areas, they can learn to improve. They really need to learn to listen to the drums. The leader should point out when people are rushing so they can be aware of their tendencies and learn to sing ‘in time’.
  10. Using proper microphone technique: Teach the singers to hold the microphone around 1-3 inches from their mouth, move it away when they have to sing louder and never point it at the monitors. Another important point is to comfortably hold the microphone and don’t grip it to hard.
  11. Smiling and using good body language on the platform: As much is communicated with a smile and good body language as with words. In fact, people often take more from your body language than what you’re saying. The importance of this area can’t be over emphasized. If your group communicates a passion and love for the Lord with their singing it will make all the difference in encouraging the congregation to be more involved.
  12. Remind the singers to worship as they sing: Sometimes singers are so occupied with all the mechanics of singing that they forget to focus on worshipping the Lord. Every singer in the group should be 110% focused on the Lord. One distracted singer can ruin the effectiveness of a group. People tend to notice the "odd man out".

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