How often do you have the praise team sing together vs a soloist during congregational worship?
In other words, for a given song, would you direct your praise team to have perhaps one singer sing portions of the song, while others join in (either unison or harmonies) for other parts? Or does this risk the praise team from singing like backup singers?
What's wrong with that?Or does this risk the praise team from singing like backup singers?
I'm trying to get them to do that. Currently I'm meeting separately with our vocalists to work out parts and arrangements with them. Usually there will be one doing the verse (maybe with one other doubling) and then all of them on chorus, but it really depends on the song. Some songs need a solitary voice. Others are served well with having multiple singers.
This video by Paul Baloche is a great primer for the role of multiple singers in a group. Note that one of the "background" singers is Kari Jobe. I think if Kari can sing background, anyone can.
Another video by Sheri Gould is a little more technical, but covers a lot of the same area. Sheri has some great DVDs for all aspects of vocals.
One thing I always tell my team and sound guys, "No matter what happens make sure that the lead vocal melody is easily distinguishable." If any sound bleeds over potentially confusing that back it down whether that be the sound guy turning it down or a piano line jumping up or down a register, a singer coming off the mic etc. Now 9 times out of 10 I'm saying "Make sure my voice is heard over everything" which I was at first a little hesitant to ask as it could be misunderstood, as some ego thing. But like your other post I realized I had to risk being misunderstood.
YMMV, To put this in context: My thinking in that is 2 maybe 3 people in our congregation will sing with a harmonist. Everyone else will sing along with the melody. And I have a personal aversion to choirs. I normally want 3 voices 4 tops and that would be a male melody and higher female melody with one harmonist (In the even of a 4th I' prefer they only sing an emphasis during the chorus. See Kim Walker's "Your Love" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv0LsrTGuAE which makes the song sound great until you start focusing on it then it gets surreal and even annoying so don't focus too hard. )
Last edited by travisvwright; 08-01-2012 at 08:19 AM.
We will often have a single singer cover a part of a tune, but we often sing all together too. I do think that it often has a positive impact on the congregation's singing to see everyone singing together. What we usually do is have everybody sing all of the time, but back off of their mics during sections when we have a single lead vocal.
This is definitely a good practice. If nothing else, it adds a nice dynamic aspect to the song's arrangement. However, I'll add this one caution:
INSTRUCT THE OTHER SINGERS TO STILL SING OFF THE MIC!
I always encourage our singers to still be singing, just off-mic ... this helps give the congregation permission to sing. I've found that in our church, if you have one soloist sing a verse by themselves, and everyone else just watches, or stands there with eyes closed, the congregation is confused and wonders if they are supposed to sing along or just listen.
That being said - there's nothing wrong w/ having them just listen and meditate on the song, either ...
Bottom line --- lead them ...
I've had people come up to me COUNTLESS TIMES and ask "sometimes I'm confused if you want me to sing or not when one person is singing". So, people ARE thinking about it!
Good thoughts...I'd say vocalists need to be taught that when it comes to singing harmony parts into a mic, it's about what serves the needs of the song--not what serves the vocalist's need for prominence. The more you can help your team think like producer/arrangers the better. Default mode for untrained vocalists (and instrumentalists for that matter) seems to be "If it sounds good in this part of the song, it sounds good throughout." Generally speaking, lead by emphasizing the positives more than correcting the negatives. There is a time to say, "Yeah, let's not add in that harmony right there." But there is also a time to say, "You sound GREAT singing that part--I really want that to be a special moment in the song. If we wait till the second chorus to add that it is going to elevate the song to whole new level. Let's not give away everything right off the bat--if we nail it on the second chorus it's gonna pop...yeah, that'll be so cool."
ON a completely different note, I don't want to start a debate, but Travis, you mentioned that you "have a personal aversion to choir." Could you clarify that? Do you really dislike the sound of a group of good singers singing the same song together, or is there a particular "church choir" stereotype that turns you off? I'm asking because if you are a worship leader and don't like the notion of lots of voices singing together, then what is it you are asking your congregation to do during the worship time? If you DO, IN THEORY, enjoy the sound of lots of voices singing together and the issue is that you don't like certain music styles and methods of constructing harmonies, maybe it's time to answer the question: "Hmmm....how could I arrange vocals for a group of singers in a way that the result is fresh and appealing?" You might discover a fun creative challenge.
What our Praise Team does is have one person sing on the first verse, then all come in on the chorus (which is usually simpler than the verses). As a background singer, I am slowly learning to 'hold back' from harmonizing every single word, instead going for a phrase or even a single word - the goal is to foster worship and to enhance the lead singer's line.
We were rehearsing REVELATION SONG (new to us) and reached the agreement to have our Tenor sing the 1st verse and I would sing the 3rd (2nd got taken out due to its radical rhythmic differences w/the others), and all would sing the Chorus.
Oddly enough, even though our ministry is multicultural, we don't do a lot of call-and-response...
It's not a chorus of voices or large group of voices. To me the sound of the crowd singing the na-na-na's from Hey Jude is awesome. But imagining a church choir singing that same line makes me think of fingernails on a chalk board.
Luckily for me I only have to arrange for 3 voices.
Last edited by travisvwright; 08-03-2012 at 08:54 AM.