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10 Tips to Create Great Worship Vocals

7. Proper microphone technique. An inexperienced singer on the worship team tends to hold the microphone away from their mouth. It’s important that they hold the mic at chin level, at an angle suitable for capturing the voice, but not directly in front of the mouth (the area between the chin and the bottom lip is a good place to start). It’s important for the audience to see the singer’s facial expressions and articulation of the lyrics. Most microphones used in live-music settings are “dynamic” (utilizing a moving coil—kind of like a speaker in reverse—to deliver quality, consistency and durability, and to reject bleed from other sources with a high resistance to feedback). Therefore, since a dynamic mic is best positioned close to the sound source, encourage the vocalists to keep the mic as close to their mouths as possible whenever they sing.

8. Matching chords. Be sure that the vocalists are aware of the chord changes in a song for correct harmonization. Pay attention to embellished chords like minor-sevenths, major-sevenths and major-ninths, and be sure to add the definition to each chord when necessary. Make note of chords like suspended-seconds and fourths, and see that the vocal team is matching the chord movements with the band. These little details will make or break a vocal sound.

9. Let the congregation take a solo. Build a time in the worship set for the congregation to sing all by themselves. It may be helpful for the worship leader to sing along softly, and for the band to lower their volume, but the congregation will appreciate it. They may seem reluctant the first few times, but soon they’ll learn to jump in and sing with passion. After all, in worship the congregation is the lead singer, and God is the audience!

10. To fill or not to fill. So many of our favorite worship songs are recorded in live settings, where it’s characteristic for the worship leader, or an assortment of soloists, to add “fills” (using certain words from the lyric for dynamic and emotional impact, or nonword vocalizations such as “ooh” or an “aah”) between phrases. This helps create excitement and helps the congregation to anticipate the subsequent lyric. When it’s overdone, though, doing fills or vocal licks can get annoying (depending on the musical style … ). It’s best to figure out where and who will do licks beforehand in rehearsal to avoid confusion. Less is more, so make sure that a fill or any kind of talking between song sections is necessary to advance the song. If it’s not, then let the song speak for itself.

I hope these hints are helpful for you and your team. Let me know some of your thoughts so we all can learn to be better worshipers. 

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I am a native of southern California and grew up in the shadow of Disney, Fender guitars, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. I am best known for writing worship songs such as Ancient of Days, Firm Foundation and Because We Believe. Now I live near Nashville, TN, where I continue to write songs, play guitar and lead worship at a wonderful church.