Tips to Lead Your Worship Vocalists and Background Vocalists Better

Leading vocalists to sing well together is a huge part of building a musically excellent worship ministry. So here are 14 quick and actionable tips that you can implement with your singers this week to improve the vocals in your worship ministry!

1) Warm them up

Send them a Spotify or Youtube warm-up they can use on the way to church. Or warm them up backstage 10 minutes before rehearsal / sound check! They’ll immediately sound better.

2) Know their ranges

Be aware of your singers’ ranges and schedule them accordingly. Don’t double up on 2 sopranos and leave the tenor part uncovered. Take this into account when you schedule your singers to get all your frequencies / harmonies covered!

3) Schedule the strong with the weak

If you have two good singers, schedule a third, not-so-great singer, with them. The two strong singers will LIFT the weaker singer up and help them improve. Don’t get this equation backwards! Two weak singers will pull down one stronger singer!

4) Make a ‘roadmap’ document

Using a Word Doc or Excel spreadsheet, type up the lyrics to each song in your set. Then in the margin type up which part comes in where (solo, unison, 2 parts, 3 parts, etc). Do this once for each song, and you’ll always have it on hand for future use! Send it to your singers early in the week!

5) Lump the singers together during rehearsal

Put them all in one area of the stage so they can hear each other, and communicate easier and more quickly. It’ll help them work out their parts more effectively.

6) Give them recordings of the harmony parts

This doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Take out your iphone and record yourself singing on top of the YouTube audio. Send the files to your singers early in the week so they can practice and show up prepared. Do this once and re-use these files each time you schedule that song.

7) Do a ‘talk through’ before rehearsing

Before rehearsing each song, simply talk through when you want each singer to exit and enter. Similar to the ‘roadmap document’ mentioned earlier, but done verbally instead.

8) Build the song through ‘layers’

Don’t have all the singers singing right at the top of the song. Slowly add and subtract layers and harmonies to help the song grow and build until it ultimately climaxes at its biggest point.

9) Use top and bottom ‘melody doubling’

In 2nd verses or quiet 1st choruses, try adding a second melody an octave above or below the lead singer. This also works in verses after the 1st chorus.

10) “Paint” key phrases with harmony

You don’t have to harmonize every word. Highlight certain words or phrases in a verse or bridge with harmony, and leave others untouched. This adds interest and helps key thoughts stand out.

11) Backstage vocal run-through

After a quick sound check with the band, separate the vocalists from the musicians. Hold a backstage vocal rehearsal in a quiet environment where everyone can hear each other. Go over choruses and bridges of songs. Tighten up parts and timing. Then head back out to do a second full run-through with the band.

12) Tighten up the blend

Kill vibrato. Soften consonants (T’s, K’s, Ch’s, S’s). Start and stop words together. Match tone and intensity. Active listening.

13) Encourage singing off-mic

When your singers don’t have a ‘part’, they should still sing. Just have them hold the mic down by their side, smile, sing, and demonstrate postures of worship (hands raised, eyes closed, etc).

14) Give direction!

Don’t be afraid to lead. You are the leader, and they need your direction to sound good. If something doesn’t sound right, or someone is off, kindly stop the rehearsal to work it out. They need your leadership!

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These 14 tips came from my Musical Excellence Course, which you can try for free for 10 days (along with 9 other in-depth video courses, and live monthly trainings)! Join us inside!