How To Help Your Background Vocalists Sing Better

Many of us under-utilize our background vocalists. We fail to equip them for this vital role. What are some things we worship leaders can do to help our background singers thrive and succeed? What are the tools, tips, and resources we can give them to help them sing better?

This question came from our Worship Leader Mentorship.  APPLY for our Feb 2021 Session


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Alex Enfiedjian 00:00 Hey everyone, Alex Enfiedjian here at worship ministry training. One of the ways that we train worship leaders besides the podcast is in a live 10 week mentorship program online, of course, where I take a small group of worship leaders through all the necessary skills and mindsets that they need in order to have a healthy and thriving ministry. And if you’re interested in finding out more about the mentorship, you can visit worship ministry training, comm slash mentor and see what’s included there. But one of the fun things about the mentorship is the interaction. And so as I’m teaching my lessons, we often stop along the way to answer questions, or have discussion. And I thought some of those discussions would be helpful for you to hear. And so I’m going to share them as bonus episodes for you here on the podcast, because I found them to be very fruitful and helpful. And I think you will, too. And so this question comes from Andrew Miller, who serves at a church in Missouri, and he wants to know how to improve his background vocalists, what are some tools? What are some tricks? What can we do as worship leaders to resource our background vocalist, so that they do a better job when they’re singing on the stage? So that’s the question, let’s take a listen and see what we can learn.

Unknown Speaker 01:08 Alex, I do have a question on kind of going back to some of the musical stuff we were talking about earlier. And maybe this would be for you, or for Lauren, just like on the vocal side, cuz more and it was really cool hearing how you’re recording and like sending out the different vocal parts. I feel like in our church, most of the people who have been on worship staff had been kind of like band focus people. And that’s definitely true of me. And we just actually got another staff guy who’s really good at vocals, which is awesome. But we’re kind of just trying to strengthen like the vocal side of our ministry as a whole. And because we focus so much on band, we’re just not as strong there. But like, Is there anything just process wise or resource wise that you guys could go into more specifics about of how to like up the game like vocally and get better there?

Alex Enfiedjian 01:56 Let me start first and then if Lauren has anything to add, because I just want to be really honest, and Lauren will agree, we are not good at utilizing our vocalists the best that we could start there because so I did an interview with the church out in Austin, Texas called celebration church, it’s called like achieving musical excellence or something like that. You can check that out, but their singers are all assigned to their range. So when they come, they’re assigned, they have like five vocalists, three of them lead songs, and like in their Planning Center, they tell you where to sing vocal person one sings at verse one, vocal person two sings verse one and verse two, you know, I mean, like the map out the entire song, we don’t do that. I literally like I’m like, I look at the vocals, I’m like, just go sing, here we go, you know. And occasionally I’ll be like, hey, Can one of you sing a top melody there? Hey, Can one of you save the harmony for later, I’ll say those things occasionally, while we’re practicing. But I don’t map it out in advance. But I know some churches, they have like a spreadsheet with all the lyrics. And then like, next to each lyric, they have like, vocal one in vocal one and two unison, you know, they like get really, really advanced on that we don’t do that. We’re just like running gun kind of thing. And then I’ll just tell them what I want. while we’re gone. We did for a while, have a backstage vocal. So Anthony, that guy was talking about, we would do a full run through with the band and the vocalist. And then he would take the vocalist backstage with an acoustic guitar, and he would sing just with them, and they would tighten up the vocals back there. Because we do two run throughs. On our rehearsal, we’re going to talk about rehearsals in a couple of weeks. But we do two RUN RUN throughs on our rehearsal. One is like all the songs individually kind of chopped up. And then the next run through is like with all the transitions ironed out, all the speaking parts put in there and everything like that. And he would take them during the second run through into the back, and he would do a run through with them. We also tried right before COVID started, we had started using vocal directors, these were volunteers that were really gifted, and they would sit out in the first row and give advice to the two singers who were scheduled. And then they would hop on stage during the second run through and sing through the full service with them. And they would also give coaching on stage presence. It was kind of awkward, just to be honest, it was a little awkward, but we were trying to figure it out, we knew we needed to do something, because our vocals a lot of times they just stare and like look at the back screen, you know, the lyric screen. So we were trying to like get them to be more engaging. And so yeah, so those were some things that we did. And one of the roles of the vocal director was to do vocal warm ups with the vocalist before rehearsal started. So those are some of the things that we did for our vocalists and like I said, honestly, it’s pretty running gun for us now. And I have singers who they know because I’ve asked them enough like don’t sing here sitting here. They kind of know what I want and how to build a song. So I don’t really have to give much coaching anymore but anything else you would add learn

Unknown Speaker 05:00 Yeah, I think vocalists are very, very important to the team. Because they’re the ones that kind of like, set the stage presence along with like, the band, but also like encouraging you’re really just worship and to be like, really like, into worship into the words that they’re singing. Because they’re in the front, that’s what the people see. First off, and those are who the people of the congregation can relate. Because they’re also singing, you know, and if they’re honest and genuine with their worship, it will encourage the congregation to do the same. And also like okay, this can be very distracting if they’re not singing the proper thing or if they’re not seeing at the right time, and give them specific parts to learn and when to come in and really directing them and not being shy because does like a vocalist myself when I first came in, I was like, I don’t know what to do, like, do you want me to saying like, what do I sing? So being like very specific is the best way to help your vocalist and being like really picky, honestly. just telling them exactly what you want when you want them to sing. And

Alex Enfiedjian 06:04 yeah, alright, well, I hope that was helpful to you and you can begin taking some of those tips and using them with your background vocalists to improve them. If being part of the mentorship sounds like it would be helpful to you and beneficial to your ministry. You can sign up today at worship ministry training comm slash mentor that’s worship ministry training comm slash mentor m e n t o r. Alright, I will see you on the first of the month for another helpful episode and God bless