Confidence is really crucial in effective vocals performance. When we are under confident we tend not to breathe as well as we should and also not to really nail the notes that strongly, so it all comes out a bit mushy. Now at Musicademy we’ve taken a fairly in-depth approach to helping worship vocalists through our vocals DVDs, so of course we would recommend going through them or alternatively getting some private lessons to help you on your specific issues, but here are some brief tips:
1. Learn to breathe properly so that your breath is constantly and consistently supporting your singing voice. Take some time to do breathing exercises before you perform – this will not only improve your breath support but aid in relaxing you also.
2. Get your posture right so that your legs, hips, back and abs are supporting you.
3. Open your mouth wider, particularly on the high notes, and project your voice as much as possible. Use diaphragm pushes for more support.
4. Warm up properly so your voice is in top form. Do stretches as well to relieve any tension your body may be carrying.
5. Practice using vocal warm up exercises. If you want to be good at a sport you need to practice it and your voice will significantly improve if you’ve put it through its paces regularly in terms of vocalization exercises. Regular use of these exercises will also help you improve your tone, range and power and prevent long term damage.
6. Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water before and during singing. Avoid milk and dairy foods which will clog up your throat, and try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as well which tend to dry up the vocal chords.
7. Practice singing in front of other people – in our live courses we get people to take it in turns to sing a verse of a song. Its terrifying to begin with but you gradually learn to control your nerves, remember to breathe properly again and try differently the next time. Get some honest feedback on what others think you can do to improve as well. It’s also worth “practising confidence” when you are alone – try to break through the fear barrier by singing louder and being more daring and creative with vocal inflections without the added pressure of an audience. Test yourself in the privacy of your own home and believe in yourself! This will eventually follow you on stage…
8. If you are the worship leader but don’t feel too confident vocally (and so many guitarists or keyboard players find themselves in this position regularly) then ask a good confident singer to back you up holding the melody line rather than doing a lot of harmonies.
9. Again if you are leading worship and struggle to communicate where you are going next with those lovely ad libs that great singers seem to pull off with ease, then just speak the first few words of the next line before its sung – like that we all know that we’re repeating the chorus or going back to the first verse and you’re not left singing it by yourself while the congregation catch up.
Its also worth considering the ‘fight or flight’ mentality. Rather than fleeing from the challenge of singing, face it with positive thinking, risk taking and jumping at every opportunity to grow and develop gifting. People are mostly singing because they choose to – not because they are forced to!! You need to remind yourself to enjoy sharing your voice with people, rather than let nerves rob you of an enjoyable experience.
This article first appeared on the Musicademy blog.