Want your worship vocalists to sound better together? Would having a designated leader help your background vocalists improve their singing? Imagine having a volunteer vocal director who schedules your background vocalists, provides harmony parts, helps them improve their tone, pitch, and timing, helps them warm up their voice, and even confronts them about any awkward dress code issues!
In this live training, Mike Halverson from Bloom Church teaches how he has created Vocal Director positions on his team and how he trains them up to lead his vocalists to sound better across the board! I hope you are encouraged by this live training! If you know someone who needs to hear it, forward it to them.
And if you’d like more in-depth practical training, join the Worship Ministry Training Academy for just $1 to start.
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Alex | (00:00)
How can you better lead the worship vocalists at your church? In this live training session, you’re going to hear from one of our academy members how he at his church trains vocal directors who then lead vocal leaders, who then lead the vocalists on the team to help them sing better together, have better stage presence, be more unified, and a whole bunch of other benefits that you’re going to learn in this live training session. This was recorded live in our academy where every month we give you a practical topical training session live with the opportunity to ask questions. This is on top of our 10 depth courses and our live expert interviews, plus all of our done for you documents. So if you’re interested in getting practical biblical training and support and guidance to help you improve your ministry, check out the worship Ministry Training Academy for just $1 for 15 days. But let’s dive into this live training on how to utilize vocal directors.
Alex | (00:46)
At your church? I’ve been worship pastor here in Branson, Missouri for 10 years now. I have about 25 years of ministry experience. Started when I was age 13, actually, and started on drums like everybody does for the youth group and things like that.
Alex || (01:00)
Nice. Tell us about your church. Tell us about Bloom. Tell us about your worship team. What context? Even what style of worship? Describe what we’re diving into because you’re going to share how you lead your vocalist, but give us an overview of what type of ministry you have.
Alex | (01:21)
We’re in a non to non ministerial church here at Bloom. I’ve got about 60 on our team, something like that. I think there are 20 vocalists specifically and three going through onboarding, I think at the moment, to get onto the platform. There’s all different types of worship ministries and things like that. We’re probably across in between very straightforward worship where everything’s planned out. Then you have your other side, which is like your IHOP, like flow. We’re probably somewhere in the middle of that where we allow flow moments and things like that. Does that answer your question Alex?
Alex || (02:00)
And your church is like, I think you said it’s around 1,000 or more in size, right?
Alex | (02:06)
Yeah, around 1,000 people.
Alex || (02:08)
And so 60 people on your team, 20 vocalists, a few onboarding. We could get into a whole discussion about on reporting, but I will hold back my questions about that. Let’s talk about this vocal director origin. What’s the origin story of how vocal directors came to be? You’ve been there, you said how many years?
Alex | (02:29)
Alex || (02:30)
Ten years. At what point did you say, We need to put vocal directors over other singer. And by the way, can you just define what a vocal director is? Don’t overdo it because we’re going to dig into that more. But just what is a vocal director in a general sense?
Alex | (02:45)
So I’ll tell you, about six years ago, I was doing rehearsals. And if you guys are a musician, an instrumentalist, you’re mainly focused on the band. And I was noticing per usual, I’m focused on the band and dynamics and the number system. And the vocalists were just standing there, like, what’s going on? They’re just standing there. And one of them came up to me and they were very like, Why are we even here? You’re just focused on the band. Why are we even here? And that was a jarring moment for me. And she’s still on my team, actually. I began to think about how I can honor their time and honor them so much better. And so the vocalist just stood around for a half an hour and it was like, When is the time to sing? I don’t know what’s going on. T hey can listen to the song, but they don’t know exactly in my head because in my brain I’m like, I actually want you to come in here. But the album says come in here. And there’s all these different pieces here. And there was these notes that I would put in, but sometimes I would change them on the fly and things like that.
Alex | (04:01)
And so finally we just got to a point where I was like, I need someone to lead this team. I can’t do that. I can’t lead the band and I can’t lead these vocalists very well at the same exact time because I don’t know about your guys as churches, but we have seven vocalists on the platform at the same time. So I don’t have me and then two others. It’s me and then six others. So there’s a lot of just chitter chatter and all the things going around. So finally, we just decided to separate the vocalist out and say, Hey, I want one of you just over here. T his was before the vocal director piece. It was like, Hey, I want you to just take this team in the back and just go practice the songs yourself. Self. And what that developed and what that became was a place where they could ask questions. And then finally, I was like, Okay, so you’re really good at this. And this person, you’re really great at this. Would you like to just lead the vocalist? Could you just lead them? They can ask you questions and things like that.
Alex | (05:04)
So that’s the origin. That’s how it came because there was so much pressure that was happening between just trying to lead both groups at the same exact time. And the vocal director’s job is to lead those vocalists. They lead them on Thursday. They lead them before Thursdays, after Thursdays, Sunday morning sound check, all of those things. So they actually lead those vocalists not just on a Thursday on the platform. They actually lead them throughout the week.
Alex || (05:35)
I have so many questions, and I’m sure the people watching do as well. So, guys, feel free if you want to type in your questions into the chat, and I’ll just toss them over to Mike. I’m sure he can see them as well. And then again, like I said at the end, we will do an open conversation. But one of the questions I have is, if you’re sending your vocalist to the back, are they ever practicing with the band? Is it like first they do half a rehearsal in the back and they come back with the band? Or how is that working?
Alex | (06:03)
Yeah. So we have a midweek rehearsal. We have a team night every week at seven o’clock. So from seven to seven thirty, we call it team night and everybody comes together. And then from seven thirty to about eight, the vocalists are in a different room in the back. I have a whole set up on that room on how the vocal leader or vocal director can plug in their phone. I’ve got a spot for them to plug in their phone. I’ve got a place where they know how to work the speakers. It’s in our kids’ gathering room, essentially. It’s our kids’ space. And so, yes, their first half hour is just the vocalist asking any questions, clarifying things. And then specifically, I’ve already spoken to the vocal director that night or that day with any of their questions, so they already know my expectations going in. Hey, I want you to make sure you sing this, sing this, sing this. And then their job is just to communicate it during that half hour. And if there’s any questions, Hey, I really hurt the part in planning center, but I really just couldn’t figure out, Okay, cool.
Alex | (07:07)
Let’s go over that part. And they’ll run the songs probably a couple of times, and then they’ll come out and meet us at eight o’clock.
Alex || (07:14)
And then do a run through with the band.
Alex | (07:16)
Eight to nine, yeah.
Alex || (07:17)
Yeah. And sorry, I’m jumping ahead on some of the questions, but I think it’ll naturally just progress the way it should. As they practice in the back, are they going through the whole song or are they going through just parts of the songs to get the harmonies tight. And then the structure of the songs is then just get on stage and listen to where the band is going and listen to the little in your lady give you the structure. Or is it practice all the songs structured in the back the way that they’re going to be played on stage?
Alex | (07:45)
Practice them the way they’re going to be played on the platform because they already know my expectations going in. Sometimes they don’t need that, though. We’re doing more than able by elevation. That’s an interesting song when it comes to the vocal piece to be able to, hey, you sing here and you sing here, and what harmony part. And this is actually unison in this section, and then it’s two part and three and all of these things. So that can be a little bit difficult. But if you’re doing something like something from hill song that is in hot button topic, whatever, if you’re doing a song like that, you may not need as much coaching or whatever. And then you say, I just have a quick question on this part. And so it really depends on the songs and it depends on the vocal director. It really depends on that. And so it can vary from week to week.
Alex || (08:34)
And Joseph’s asking, and Joseph, feel free to hop off mute and clarify, but he’s asking, do you give training materials for your vocalist? And I’m guessing you mean, Joseph, like MP3s of what to sing? Is that what you mean?
Alex | (08:45)
Yeah, or just maybe even just like the general standard vocal parts, like harmony parts. I don’t know if you do three part harmonies or.
Alex || (08:53)
Alex | (08:54)
Yeah. So I’m going to clarify something really quick. So the vocal the origin of the vocal director has morphed into… I have now one vocal director and her name is Aloa, and now I have a bunch of vocal leaders. I’ve created a leadership umbrella, essentially. When I keep saying vocal leader and I’m changing it, it’s that I have a vocal director who is in charge of all of the other vocal leaders, if that makes sense. The vocal leaders are the ones who lead those teams on their week that they’re scheduled. So the vocal director, my top leadership position, she’s on my leadership team. I send her the song usually about a month or a month and a half or two months in advance. And what she’ll do is she’ll go in and she’ll listen to parts and she’ll start breaking down that song. And then what she’ll do is she’ll go in and record on top of the original recording, the part. Okay, she’ll say, This song is more than able. This is the tenor part. She’ll give a little bit of notes and she’s like, I’ll cue you along the way. S he’ll start the song more than able and she’ll just start talking through the song.
Alex | (10:07)
All right, guys, we’re making sure this is we’re not singing here on this first verse. Second verse. Okay, guys, here we go. Tenor part and she’ll start singing that tenor part on the chorus. Then she’ll come back and say, Hey, you know what? Mike doesn’t want us here on the second verse. Great. We’re going to stay out here. S he’ll just give notes as she does. T hat’s the resource that they’re getting for every single song. Now, it’s usually tenor and serpano and usually our altos because I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of songs where the Altos just melody these days. And so I don’t feel forced to put three part harmony in everything. It’s whatever my vocal director and whatever I’ve decided to say, Okay, you know what? This would be great with just Sopranos here. You’re not singing always. I’m never going to have people just blowing through the song. It’s very, very specific. And that’s all done through Planning Center and like I said, through recordings. And then also there’s a note section in Planning Center if you use Planning Center, and that’s all mapped out as well. So it would say verse 1 and it would say unison, verse 2, 2 part, verse 3, 3 part.
Alex | (11:14)
And so it’s all broken down for them. You just keep those saved per song on planning center?
Alex || (11:19)
Yeah. Thank you. Just to clarify, your vocal director, Aloa?
Alex | (11:26)
Aloa, yeah. She’s the service person on the planet.
Alex || (11:28)
I was going to say Aloa, but she’s not on staff, right? She’s a volunteer that you’ve raised up? Yeah. Yes. So just so that everybody hears that, listening after the fact as well, we don’t have to hire everybody. Mike has done a good job of imparting value to people and saying, I see this gift in you. Here’s a need in the church. You are so talented at this. Would you be interested in fulfilling this function and leading in this God given way? And ALOHA is doing it and people are blessed by it. And all of the vocal leaders under her are also volunteers. So I think that’s an inspiring thing because I think a lot of us in larger ish churches are like, I need to hire someone. And in smaller churches, we’re like, I can’t hire anyone. Well, look at Mike’s example and say, can I call somebody up into an opportunity? And I’m sure there are times where Aloha has vacation or this or that, and you just roll with it.
Alex | (12:23)
She’s a part of a pretty Southern gospel three part trio, and she’s gone in all of August this month. So there are times like that, but she always does everything she needs to do to get everyone prepared, even if she can’t sing on a Sunday. I’ll tell you, I don’t have anybody on a staff here. I have two people. I have a production and an audio person who are stipend every week, and that’s it. So your job as a pastor and especially worship pastor is to raise up people. Being in a smaller church, we’re not a smaller church, but we’re not a mega church either. One thing our pastors instilled is that you got to raise up leaders. We’re called to make disciples. Your calling is irrevocable, like you said. If you get somebody in that calling, it’s t doesn’t matter about the paycheck. No one’s ever come to me and said, Hey, I really need to get paid for what I’m doing. Maybe you’ve had that happen, but I haven’t had that happen because they have so much joy and so much purpose and so much passion for what they’re doing.
Alex || (13:29)
Yeah, thanks for sharing that. So let’s talk a little bit more about the vocal director’s role and what she’s doing on a regular basis for you. Before we talk about that, I do also want to mentally go back and say, one of the reasons why you’re able to have volunteers that are so capable is because you are equipping them with expectations and a clear system and software that they need to do their job. Basically, you’re making it easy for people to succeed by giving them a system to follow. It’s almost like, no offense to all of us humans, but it’s almost like we’re all robots or we’re all AI, and we need the algorithm. We need a programmer to tell us, do function A, B, C, and D. And if D is this, then do that. And you just train somebody on that, and then they can just execute their program. And I think you’ve probably set that up with some back and forth conversation, obviously. But you’ve given her a clear roadmap of what she needs to do each week. So with that said, what does she do every week?
Alex | (14:34)
So if you think about the vocal director as the umbrella, right there, the leadership team, and then you have all of the vocal directors underneath them, or the vocal leader, the vocal leader underneath them. I’ll tell you, the vocal leader every week… Well, there’s a couple of things I want to share. One thing when we did this was this now took a chaotic rehearsal to a structured rehearsal. Her job is to make sure that they have their own structured 30 minute rehearsal to make sure that they have any questions or anything like that. She’s also the point of contact. I am no longer the point of contact for any vocal questions, which is so freeing. I’m telling you, when you ve got somebody and they’re like, I’ll get a question one time and I’m like, I don’t know, ask the vocal director. Ask them the question. And then also there’s only one leader now. There’s one person that’s in charge of the vocalist every single week. Obviously me, myself, but that person, she also brings accountability to be excellent. So the awkward conversation sometimes of, hey, you didn’t learn your part and doesn’t necessarily have to fall every single time onto the worship leader.
Alex | (15:43)
It’s also you’re raising, you’re training up that vocal director to be able to have those New Life calls it courageous conversations, hard conversations with people like, Hey, I noticed you didn’t have your part done. They are able to do that and keep those people accountable. And then also it just takes pressure off of me. It takes pressure off the worship leader. It takes pressure off of the worship whoever’s leading that week. What they do specifically, though, I guess I can go into the specifics of what they do. Each vocal leader, so we’re talking about vocal leader. There’s one for every week on my team. I have my vocal director, and she’s also a vocal leader who will lead one week. Then I have another vocal leader, and then another vocal leader, another vocal leader. I have four right now and each one of them has a week that they’re assigned in the month. What they’ll do is before Thursday rehearsal, they will make sure any arrangements are correct in Planning Center. Anything we’ve talked about, they’ll go into Planning Center. I’ve given them access and the editor function and all that so they can go into Planning Center and make sure that those are correct, make sure the parts are correct.
Alex | (16:53)
So if a L oA may have misrecorded something on accident and somebody didn’t catch it, they’ll go make sure that that’s correct then rerecord that part if need be. They are the ones who put any notes in into planning center. So if there’s a note from me and I will say, Hey, I want to make sure that we’re going to double this bridge this week, they’ll go in and put in the notes so the vocalist can see those notes that week. And then they meet with the worship leader ahead of time. So we get a phone call usually every week with that person or if it’s right before the rehearsal or something like that. So that’s what they do before Thursday. And this is before midweek rehearsal. During the midweek rehearsal, they run the vocal rehearsal in that separate room on Thursday night. They run all the warmups and everything like that that comes to it. They answer any questions that may arrive. They also this is an interesting thing that we started doing. They also get with the audio engineer and figure out the stage plot. So where are people going to stand? I don’t know about you, but not all of my vocalists are jumpers and all excited and everything like that.
Alex | (18:01)
Sometimes I have a lot of those and sometimes I have a lot of those, and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes you’ve got stage presence training and things like that and onboarding and all that. But you got to spread that energy out. And if I’ve got seven vocalists and I have all my jumpers on one side and everything, and I’ve got all my, I call it high energy, medium energy, and low energy. If I’ve got my low energy people all together, then it looks really awkward. So they’ll get with the audio engineer and say, Hey, this person’s here, this person’s here, this person’s here, here’s Mike in the middle, this person, this person, this person. So that’s one thing that they do beforehand. And then after Thursday rehearsal, they send an encouraging text message. If there’s any notes or anything like that, they usually do that on Saturday and say, Hey, guys, we’re looking forward to Sunday. It’s going to be awesome. Really, really great. If you have any questions, reach out. Usually a little scripture or something like that to give to people. Then on Sunday morning, they deal with any dress code issues.
Alex || (19:00)
Alex | (19:00)
Any dress code issues. I had somebody show up in these super tight pants, and our platform sits on very high. And so anyway, it was just really inappropriate with the lights on and things like that. So she dealt with that. I didn’t have to. So they deal with any dress code issues. And then the other questions arrived, and then they do vocal warmups on Sunday morning. So they actually meet separately again. So the band comes in super early, about 7 AM. The vocals come in at 715, and we do a quick sound check. Any questions from 7 to 730? T hen those vocalists are together separately in the back from 715 to 730, and they’re warming up their vocals.
Alex || (19:42)
That’s amazing. T hey’re actually going together or whatever, right? Yeah. Do you have a set vocal warm up that you guys found that you like that you can recommend?
Alex | (19:53)
Yeah, there was one that Church of the Highlands put out. It’s on their Grow website.
Alex || (19:59)
Okay, I’ll check that out. We also have in the Academy, guys, if you didn’t know, we do have vocal warmups. I sometimes see some of you on that Wiki page. It’s like, I see some because it shows you guys’ faces and I’m like, yes, they’re warming up their voice. So just if you didn’t know, we do have vocal warmups in the academy, so check those out. But there was something you said, M ike, I’m trying to remember what it was. Oh, the jumpers. Yeah. That’s a really interesting concept that you’re actually thinking about how you’re placing people and spacing out the energy on the stage. I never heard that. I never would have thought that. But I think that’s really worth highlighting. Do you train people on stage presence when they’re coming on the team? And if so, what does that look like?
Alex | (20:43)
Yes. So our onboarding process is now, don’t jump, it’s 12 weeks. So we’ve got four weeks of essentially culture. So they’re doing their audition and then the next week is our team night. So we have auditions the fourth Thursday of every month. So from six o’clock to seven o’clock. And then that first week is actually just a all out team night where everyone who’s in development, who was in the onboarding, they’re the ones that are going to lead the team into worship. And it’s our big once a month big team night that goes really long until eight o’clock and we have to deal with all that. And then from there, they get one week of stage presence. They get one week of in your training, and then we have a touch point conversation and we say, Hey, you know what? You’ve been on the worship team for a long time. Great. Let’s move you forward. Perfect. Great. Let’s put you on the team. If they’re not ready, we highlight what they’re not ready. Let’s say they need more stage presence and they’re just really uncomfortable. I have someone right now who has an amazing voice.
Alex | (21:45)
She’s got the in ear piece, but she’s really uncomfortable on stage. We’ll spend the next four weeks working on stage presence specifically and have our team come in and coach to be like, hey, here’s what helped me. I was just like you. And we’ll find people that are on that onboarding team to be able to do that. And so it can be up to 12 weeks, essentially. But yes, very granular when it comes to it. I could say a lot about stage presence, and I’m not trying to make anybody robots or anything like that. I just want people to be comfortable in their own skin. And I always tell people, I say, Hey, I watch you worship out in the audience. How can we don’t do that on platform? Well, I just can’t get out of my head. Those are the things that we work on.
Alex || (22:31)
Yeah, it’s really good. And guys, if you have specific questions about what else they do or how he’s having them do it, please feel free to type those in the chat. So I do have a question You have ALOHA as your main worship director, but you’ve identified and trained up some vocal leaders. So what does it look like to identify? What are you looking for in a good vocal leader? And the reason I ask that is because people who are listening now, they’re probably in a small church and they’re only going to be able to get one vocal leader or vocal director. What do you look for? What should they look for? What are the qualities of a good vocal leader?
Alex | (23:15)
Character and competency. I’m looking for character and I’m looking for competency. It does not have to be your best vocalist who leads all the songs. It’s not your star. I have somebody who is very good on my team who I would never put as a vocal leader. But Aloha, who is just beautifully solid on all the parts, she’ll never lead a song. I don’t think unless something changes, she’ll never lead a song. She’s in her 50s and she just knows parts. She has character and she’s competent. She is someone who shows up on time. She’s consistent. She relationally invests into people and into the team. She comes in prepared and she knows everybody’s parts. She’s solid on parts. So if you can find someone who can know the tenor, know the Sopranos, know the Yacht or whatever those things are, as long as they know those parts and they love people, they can become a great vocal leader. And then be able to lead those vocalists with confidence. That’s one thing that I ran into with someone on my team is that I put her in a position she wasn’t ready for. And there were the higher Echelan vocalist, let’s say, that just ran over her because she didn’t have the confidence.
Alex | (24:33)
I didn’t give her, I didn’t resource her enough to give her the confidence to be able to lead those vocalists. So you got to be able to lead with confidence. And then you’ve also got to be a great follower. I’m also looking for people who are going to support me as the worship pastor. Someone who’s not going to always combat everything that I say. We just had a huddle last night where it was like, you want to respect your leaders and not question every single thing that you do across the way. So you’re looking for someone like that and then someone who is going to grow and then who is going to evaluate themselves musically and spiritually. So if you can have those qualities, that can be a great vocal leader or vocal director. I only had one vocal director, one vocal leader for a long time, and he was incredible. And he had all of those things. Now he was a great vocalist, but it doesn’t always have to be your star person.
Alex || (25:28)
One thing I don’t think really clarified is how does the vocal director determine who’s singing what? Because you said in Planning Center, you’re putting Altos in here, Sopranos in here, Tenors in here, whatever. How is that being assigned? Do people always sing the same part? Is it based on their range? Does the vocal director really have to do any assigning or tweaking or flipping people’s parts? What does the actual leadership of the musical part look like?
Alex | (25:58)
So they’re scheduled in planning center as the part that they’re going to sing. And to be honest with you, it doesn’t really change. There are a couple of people that can sing different parts, but I have people on my team who if I scheduled them as a Sopranos, they would really struggle. They’re an Alto through and through, and they’re going to be able to sing that great. So that’s really determined in auditions and making sure… Through auditions, we’re going to look them through the piano and see what their range is. Then, no, no, no, no, no, no. They just keep going up and up and figure out what their range is and say, Okay, I think you could be both. I think you could be an Alto. I think you could be a Sopranos. Probably not a tenor. I do have someone on my team who can sing all three. Her range is insane, and so I’m able to schedule her. But in the scheduling piece, I already know if you use tags in planning center, you already know if they’re an Alto Sopranos or a Tenor going in. And yes, there are times the vocal leader will have to flip.
Alex | (26:59)
I think I had an incident about a month ago where the person just could not get the Sopranos part. They tried their best and they have a great voice, but they just couldn’t get this part. So the vocal director or the vocal leader who knew the part flipped them and said, Hey, why don’t you sing my part? Why don’t you sing the melody and I’ll sing your part?
Alex || (27:21)
One last question about leading musically. On the stage after they’ve practiced in the back and they know their parts and they come out and meet with the band, are there ever any corrections or questions that need to happen on that second rehearsal with the band where your vocal director is huddling up with your singers and talking through stuff? Or is it pretty much just you guys know it, get up there, sing and ask questions at the end?
Alex | (27:49)
It’s a little bit of both. It depends on the group. But there will be times last night actually where they went in the back and they did their thing and then they came out. And then I had changed something on the platform in that 30 minutes span because I was like, you know what? This doesn’t sound the way that I thought it was going to sound when I built it in Ableton Live. So from there, I would change something and then direct that toward the vocal director, and then they communicate with those people. And there’s also something, Alex, I’m working on right now where I’m working on a background vocal music director. So somebody who’s a BVMD, essentially, and they’re able to talk to all the vocalists and things like that in their microphone. And yeah, anyway, it’s a whole another story.
Alex || (28:32)
Wow. That could be confusing. If you have the MD and the vocal director in your ears at the same time. Yeah, you’ll have to update us on that one for sure.
Alex | (28:42)
Alex || (28:44)
And Diego and Chester, do you guys have any specific questions for Mike? Pop off mute and go for it.
Alex | (28:51)
You hit it earlier. I just want some clarification on your rehearsal night. Could you run through again just the structure of your rehearsal times? Yeah. So I’ll start at the very, very beginning. So six o’clock is when onboarding is. So from six to seven. And then everybody who’s in onboarding stays for our seven o’clock team night huddle. Essentially, Alex, what I’ve been doing, which they love, I’ve been doing which they love. I’ve been doing the worship divos that you post. So we’ve been doing that. And I’ve actually been, because it’s on paper, which is awesome, I’ve been able to give it to other people ahead of time and say, hey, you lead this huddle, which has been a fantastic thing. But yes, we do a huddle there from about seven to seven thirty. It’s actually my favorite part about the rehearsal because Alex, those questions are so inviting. And last night we talked about it was week 30 and it was something about like, respecting your leaders or something like that. I can’t remember exactly. But there was a lot of different comments and a lot of different things that were really profound that people said.
Alex | (29:55)
And there was a lot of things where someone said, Man, this is exactly where I’m at. I work right now and I’m just having a hard time respecting this person and all of these things. Anyway, to answer your question, so it goes from six o’clock onboarding seven o’clock huddle, and then 730 is when the vocal is split into the back. And then from 730 to eight, we do either let the audio engineers do their thing. They pretty much have it dialed in at this point, but if there’s any changes, 730 to eight will be that sound check and then running the set list with the band before the vocals get out. Shameless plug.
Alex || (30:33)
Thank you for the Devo’s plug. But you guys have access to that as well in the academy, so please use those if you’re not already. I do think they’re really good as well. Obviously, I wouldn’t put out anything that I didn’t fully think was great, but it just really makes things so much easier for you guys to spiritually lead the team. So I’m glad just to hear that they’ve been beneficial. Mike, thanks.
Alex | (30:56)
Well, it makes it to where you can raise other people up in that on your team, giving them opportunity to be able to… There’s people that who I’m trying to raise up right now and I say, Hey, I want you to do the divo tonight. Here it is. And it’s so laid out. All I got to do is read it. All I got to do is ask the question and just facilitate it. And then you even give them a prayer at the end. All they got to do is read that prayer. And so it’s been a great way to raise up leaders as well.
Alex || (31:24)
Yeah. Any other questions, guys?
Speaker 4 (31:26)
I do. I do have a question. Mike, you said you have seven people on stage singing at the same time. Doing all the math, I think it’s the leader, two tenors, two sopranos, two autos.
Alex | (31:37)
Is it right? Yes.
Speaker 4 (31:38)
Alex || (31:39)
Speaker 4 (31:40)
Me singing here in my church and three more people every Sunday. But the group has been getting bigger. I have more people coming. I have more people onboarding, I’m more than more people. I just wanted to know how is these dynamics. I have seven people at once because I have never had this experience before. What else do you do on stage to make sure things work properly?
Alex | (32:04)
I think one of the things is with the seven people is it can feel too much, but you’ve got to get them both on the same page. So make sure that the tenor has the tenor in their ear and they’re following you each other. I’ll tell you this, too, is that it’s a great leadership opportunity as well. So what I’ll do sometimes is I’ll actually put somebody in onboarding who may not be right where they need to be yet and put them with a really strong vocalist, and they’re that secondary tenor or the secondary Sopranos or secondary Alto and things like that. And so resourcing them, being able to help them with that. The dynamic, it really depends. I struggle, guys. I have two guys on my team, me and another dude, and he’s a piano player. So with a lot of girls, it can be very, very a lot. And so I’ll throw some BGVs in the track sometimes to fill it out if I need to or whatever. But I think that it’s a way to train up your vocalist a little bit. And then also the dynamic of having the camaraderie on the stage as well.
Speaker 4 (33:17)
So I have just one more question. Can I Alex?
Alex || (33:20)
Yeah, of course. This is for you guys, for sure.
Speaker 4 (33:23)
Because here in Brazil, specifically my church, things are different from churches in America. Usually then in America, you have this lead vocalist, we’re singing all the melodies and the church is following this guy. And the other vocalists, they come as backup. They do the harmonies and they just flourish the whole thing. Here, we do different. Everybody sings the melody and then we just go to the harmonies while everybody is still singing.
Alex | (33:54)
Everyone’s singing all the time. Everyone’s singing all the time.
Speaker 4 (33:58)
Usually it may change, but usually everybody’s singing at the same time. That’s why I’m really thinking about this sounding too much.
Alex | (34:08)
Speaker 4 (34:09)
With having these seven people on stage.
Alex | (34:10)
Yeah. And seven may not work for you. I mean, if that’s the context of your church and if that’s what your pastor desires, like, hey, we want this to sound full the entire time. For me, I’ve got sections of songs where it’s just me singing. It’s just a solo. It’s just whoever’s leading. More than able. There’s a whole section on the bridge where it’s just a female solo and things like that. But it may not be work in the context of your church to have that many vocalists, and that’s okay. As long as you, Holy Spirit’s there. So I think it’s really about your context of what you’re doing and what your church is. Because yeah, you’re right. Seven can be a lot. Six other people besides me, and most of them are female, can seem like a lot. But I’ve spread it out to where not everyone’s going to sing the entire time.
Alex || (34:58)
Yeah, basically it’s like the same thing of having three electric guitars playing all at the same time the whole song. It doesn’t go anywhere. You have to build it and stack it. It’s like now you have more layers to play with, so you have to slowly add and subtract layers to make it meaningful. Otherwise, if it’s consistent the whole way through, it’s just noise. And you know that, Diego, you’re a music teacher, right? So if you’re going to have a lot of vocalists, you’re going to need to add and subtract layers as the song grows and or declines. Chester is asking, We don’t have a vocal director, but we have five vocalists. How do we work together better? Do you have any suggestions, M ike?
Speaker 3 (35:37)
Sorry. It’s a really big thing for me, especially. I feel that as a tenor, and I sing the same parts as an Alto, and we step over each other a lot. I mean, it’s okay to have that harmony happening, but at the same time, it would just have so much more dynamic if I knew what part to sing. And a vocal director, I believe, would be so much better to tell us, Hey, you should sing here. Stop here. Don’t sing there. Sing this. And exactly what you’re saying, I’m pretty much repeating what you’re saying. But then if we don’t have that, what would be the best thing for us? Should we say, Hey guys, after the musicians practice, should we take 20 minutes of our time to just practice vocals? Is that something that we should suggest to our worship pastor?
Alex | (36:28)
That could work. The reason I separate the time is because of exactly what you just said. So that you can ask questions and that you can get clarification and maybe you pull your worship pastor into it and say, Hey, is there any way that maybe after rehearsal, we could spend 20 minutes clarifying some things? Because I feel like I’m singing on top of this. But also for us, it’s like they already know what they’re going to sing because I’ve already given the resources for them to be able to know what the tenor part is and what the yalto part is. My vocal director, Aloa, has meticulously gone in to make sure that no one is singing anything on top of each other. S he’ll say, Oh, that doesn’t work. That clashes with this, so I’m not going to do that. And you may not have that, and that’s okay. And you can get to that next level. But I think it’s a great idea. I think, Chester, I think that’s an amazing idea to be able to… If you need to do that right after rehearsal and it’s like, Hey, let’s work on this. Alex, do you have any thoughts on that?
Alex || (37:30)
Well, I’m hearing two parts of the solution. One, they need to be resourced, so the leadership needs to give them the resources they need. I always say the resources they need with the time they need to succeed. So that’s the first half. And then the second half is, Chester, you probably have to have a conversation and ask, say, Hey, I really think we need to move in this direction, especially because the senior pastor’s vision is to have also 6, 7, 8, 9 vocalists up front every service. And that’s going to be a hot mess if one, they don’t have resources to know what to sing, and two, they don’t have anyone telling them what to do. It’s just going to be noise in a sense.
Speaker 3 (38:13)
And the cool thing is Pastor Dan is actually doing his best. He set aside Wednesdays for rehearsals, but unfortunately, we all are volunteers, and it’s really hard for us to break away from our responsibilities midway. And we run ministries outside of worship ministry, too. So it’s really hard for rehearsals. So it’s like we need more time, maybe on a Sunday or…
Alex || (38:39)
Maybe bring that up, though. And maybe God would use you to be a solution bringer and maybe even part of the solution. And then that will solve the problem long term, which will just make things better long term.
Alex | (38:54)
I’ll tell you this, there’s a lot of times where that midweek rehearsal gets canceled because we’ll do an off site team night or something like that. All those vocalists come in super early and they can come in with the band at seven o’clock and they’ll just work from seven to seven thirty by themselves. So if you can’t make that midweek rehearsal work, there’s opportunities there on your Sunday on the day of. I will tell you, the parts when the vocal director records the part, she’s not all on her own. So let’s clarify that. She’s amazing, but I’m not saying, Hey, go find the parts. It’s go listen to the album. Go grab, if you use Ableton Live, go download the multi track. Or if you use playback, go and use the playback app on an iPad and solo those background vocals and listen to what they’re singing as a resource to have a starting point at least. But most of the time, back when vocals within the multi tracks app will be soloed between an Alto or Sopranos. Sometimes there’s a BGV or choir track that you can pick out parts and things like that.
Alex | (40:00)
So I did want to clarify, she’s not all on her own on that.
Alex || (40:04)
Yeah. I’d love to get any closing remarks from you, Mike, on vocal directors or anything you think we haven’t covered that we should definitely hit on, and then we can begin wrapping it. If you guys still have questions, you can type them up in the thing, or maybe you guys can DM Mike in the academy or whatever. So do you have closing remarks, M ike?
Alex | (40:27)
Yeah. I think that one of the questions that I would want to know is how do you train and how do you equip those vocal directors and vocal leaders? So I have a handbook called the vocal director, and it has everything that we talked about, plus an eight week process on what it looks like to train up those vocal directors and vocal leaders and what all the shadowing looks like and all of those things. So that’s something I think that if I was on this call, I want to know, okay, so now you talked about it, how do I train them up? How do I equip? How do I lead them? Alex, I don’t know how you want me to get this to you. I can…
Alex || (41:06)
Yeah, you can email it to me and I can put it in the Academy underneath this replay. I love that. Thank you for offering your hard work.
Alex | (41:13)
Alex || (41:14)
Alex | (41:15)
Absolutely. But I think within that eight week process, I’m always looking just to make sure that I’m equipping them and resourcing them the best way possible and putting them specifically, if you’re going to start this process and you’ve got somebody in mind, them knowing down to the granular detail what they need to do. So for me, in my context and inside the book is a set up and teardown process inside that kid’s space. So how to connect your phone, how to turn on the speaker, how to do all of those things to make sure that they are prepared in those ways. I’ve also got down to how to listen, what to listen for. So the vocal leader for that week will go out in the house in the middle of our eight to nine session, and they’ll listen to make sure that they’re singing and hearing things correctly. And I’ve got all of that, what to listen for, blend tone, timing, vocal range dynamics, word phrasing, all that stuff. So it’s a little 16 page little training manual that I give to all of my vocal leaders in training and everything like that to make sure that they’re well equipped.
Alex || (42:26)
You’re a next level leader, M ike. This is why I asked you to come on. I think the number one thing we can give to people to help them succeed is clarity. Clarity is the key to being a good leader. And even this 16 page book that you’ve spent the time to think through each of these details and then you give it to someone and make sure that they understand it, that’s giving clarity, that’s creating clarity, which allows that person to know how to succeed. Again, I keep going back to training AI, but in a sense, we are intelligent beings. And it’s like we needed someone to give us the program that we’re supposed to run. And that’s what you’re doing in each of these instances?
Alex | (43:02)
Well, I think the most frustrating thing for a volunteer is to just not know how to do something. You’ve asked them. So for instance, with auditions, I have an auditions team, and so I don’t run auditions. I think that they see the worship pastor and then they get really intimidated by that. And so I have an auditions handbook and all that stuff, how to train people what to look for in auditions. So as you’re coming in the auditions team, there’s also a training manual to make sure that everything’s correct. Same thing with the music director, MD, and all of those things. I think just want to just make sure that our volunteers who are volunteering their time… And some people, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got people here that are volunteers that are here 30 hours a week, and they work hard at home and they work a job. My music director, who’s a volunteer, is so busy, he’s building out his own house. He works 40 hours a week job, yet he’s spending 20 hours a week with me. So very busy person. And it can be frustrating if you don’t resource and equip and train your people to make sure that they can do the best job that they can do.
Alex | (44:13)
My final thoughts are, if you’re going to do this process, make sure your vocal leader is connected to the team. You want to make sure someone is leading the team as a whole. You want to understand that this process is ultimately about making disciples. It’s about raising people up. Yes, there is the music piece of it, which is great. But if I’ve learned anything in the 25 years is that music is 20 % and 80 % is the people piece. And so being of good vocal ear is about people and Ministry is about people. And when you step into a leadership position, you’re bearing the weight and the responsibility that can be very heavy at times. And so if you’re looking for somebody in that way, those are the characteristics and the qualities. If I go back to that, that’s what I’m looking for. And so make sure they’re connected with the team and just take a step of faith. Trust God, trust them, correct along the way.
Alex || (45:06)
Yeah, it’s so good. This has been so good. I’m going to use this as a podcast episode in 2024, so if you’re cool with it. Joseph said he’d love to connect with you. Joseph, I’m going to show you, by the way, you guys live next to each other in Missouri, so that’s the cool thing about the academy. But I just want to quickly show you guys in the academy how you can connect with each other. I’d love for the academy just to become a central hub for worship leaders to make connections, make friendships, make accountability partners, all that stuff. Even, like I said, I’m starting to post job opportunities that people send to me. I’m posting those in the academy. I’d love for the academy just to become this huge network of worship leaders around America that know each other and love each other. But obviously, you guys know you can send direct messages to each other in the academy so that’s one way to do it. I’m sure Mike wouldn’t mind giving you his email address, Joseph, as well. But don’t forget that you can easily just contact each other right here. And I don’t know if you guys knew this, but you can actually create a Zoom room in the Academy by clicking voice room and just you can name it, I don’t know, T est.
Alex || (46:07)
And then you just invite Mike to the Zoom room by adding him here. And then we can have a Zoom inside the Academy and you don’t even have to have Zoom installed on your computer and it’s a video call. So yeah, the Academy is like, I’m really stoked on what God’s doing here. So I just wanted to show you guys some of these tools because I think what happens is there’s so many options in the academy that you don’t know about some of these things. The other thing, too, we talked about was in the Docs section in the template section, you have the team divos right here. So if you guys didn’t know where they are, that’s where you can get the years worth of team divos. Yeah, Mike, thank you for doing this. And guys, thanks for being with us today. Mike, thank you for dropping some mad wisdom, and I’m really grateful for your experience. All right, I hope this live training session was helpful to you. And if you’re interested in being part of the worship Ministry Training Academy, you can join for just $1 for 15 days to try it out.
Alex || (47:02)
You’ll get access to monthly live trainings like this one, live expert interviews with some of your favorite worship leaders, 10 in-depth courses on topics like set building, team building, musical excellence, running efficient rehearsals, group communication, and more. Plus a supportive and active community that’s going to give you the encouragement and support that you need to keep going in your ministry. So check it out, worshipminist training. Com, $1 to try. Hope to meet you inside the academy. Otherwise, I’ll see you in the next video. Bye.