Archives For Music

I was having a great chat to Rowan Kemp today about song leading with regards to song leading at EU Public Meetings (that’s right, we’ve been singing this semester). We had a short chat about song leading which turn into a great discussion about song leading. One of the things that I have thought for a while and have had confirmed through this discussion is that…

Song Leading is different to singing.

That is to say that song leading and singing are two different skills, very different skills. Let me explain.

Singing is the skill that some people have, and some people think they have. Everyone can sing, but not everyone can sing really well. Although it is important for somebody singing at church to be able to pitch a note and lead the congregation as a singer, they do not have to have the most amazing voice ever that is perfectly trained (although having a singer like that at church would by no means be a bad thing, in fact it would be incredibly awesome!). Rather it is much more important to possess the skill of song leading.

Song leading is everything that the singer at church does apart from singing, the main part of this is guiding the congregations emotions and energy through what you say and do, both before, during and after the song. This includes (but is not limited to) giving clear signals as to when to come in (read this), praying, reading relevant Bible passages, and giving good song introductions which lead the congregation into the song.

Singer

Could this singer be a song leader as well?

For people who are up the front at church, it is much more important for them to be good song leaders as opposed to being good singers. Ideally we want people who are excellent at both, but I think that it is important for people who sing up the front at church to work on their song leading before they work on their singing.

This discussion has spurred me to think about song leading once again, and I’ll have more thoughts coming on song leading in the coming weeks. so for now, 2 things.

  1. Stay tuned for the upcoming posts
  2. Let me know what you think about this stuff in the comments below.

This guy is awesome!

Tim FItz

Recently Alice and I moved churches to St Stephen’s Normanhurst, and one of the many great friends that I have made there is Tim Fitz. Not only is he an awesome Christian dude, but he is also an awesome musician!

Seriously.

Recently he released a 6-track EP called Infinite Space. As soon as I listened to the first track, Disposable Youth, I fell in love with it. When the synth came in towards the end, my heart jumped with joy. It’s a great folk/electronic/indie sound and he’s got a voice that suits what he plays perfectly, you should definitely go listen to it and throw him a dollar or two while you’re at it.

You can listen to and download Infinite Space here.

Another point to note, his music is so good that it has even been reviewed at a number of other websites. Check them out through these links.

Only an EarthlingEast to WestSound Doctrine

If you want to keep up to date with what Tim is doing (Which I’m sure you would want to) then you can on Facebook, Triple J Unearthed, or YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, here’s a video of a song that he wrote. As with all other music he does, it is incredible.

Check Out Shed Muzak

March 20, 2011 — 2 Comments

Have you heard/seen Shed Muzak yet? If you haven’t then you’re missing out.

These guys are doing some very cool covers of pop songs, and my bet is that they’re going to be a big YouTube hit. They’ve already been featured on Perez Hilton’s blog and I wouldn’t be surprised if there videos got many more views, and links from other sites.

Here is there cover of Blow by Kesha

Go and check out their YouTube channel. And like them on Facebook.

One of the most important jobs of a song leader in worship is to let the congregation know when to start singing. This is so as to ensure that the whole group sings together in unison which everyone will enjoy more than awkward moments where they ask “should I sing now?”.

Congregation Singing

As a song leader, I employ three main strategies to ensure that the congregation knows when to sing; eyebrows, big breath and holding up the microphone.

1. Hold Up

A few beats before the singing will start, it is helpful to hold the microphone to your mouth, this is an obvious sign to the people in your congregation that you are about to start singing, and they should start too.

2. Big Breath

Before anyone starts to sing, they need to breath in order to sustain notes. And taking a big breath is a sign that you’re about to start singing, and when I say a big breath, I mean a big and obvious breath. So movement of your whole body is helpful in starting to breath.

3. Eyebrows

This final strategy is helpful for every song leader, but especially for those who are holding an instrument and unable to use other methods to signal the congregation. In order to use your eyebrows, you need to lift them up and open your eyes wide in a way that says look at me and follow me because I’m about to do something.

So there you go, three strategies that you can use as a song leader in order to get your congregation to start singing at the same time as you, and by creating a habit of doing these things, you will stop your congregation from coming in too early as well.

Happy singing!

I was pretty amazed when I first viewed this in a tute at Uni.

It’s a really fun composition that has been matched to an animation, this animation is based on balls being shot out of pipes at various instruments. And from what I can tell it looks pretty phsyically accurate. But what do I know, watch it for yourself and you will soon be able to see.

This was another cool video that I saw in a tute.

The Dallas Brass Band puts down their instruments and performs a piece called “Hands” with nothing but their bodies. It is a really funny piece of music and includes AMAZING coordination. This would have taken so much rehersal and I’m sure they hit each other a few times in practice. Watch it and be amazed.

This is a really cool YouTube video I was shown in a tute recently at Uni.

It’s a group called Naturally 7 performing a song called Wall of Sound.

7 guys sound like a full band. Awesome.

Song Leading #2

April 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

After my last rant I have 1 coherent thought to present to you now.

I think that a large part of song leading is enhancing emotions.

Emotional Audience

This means trying to make the emotional highs higher, and making the mellow times more mellow.

When singing praises to our great God, it is inevitable that emotions will come into it, we as humans have been made as emotional beings, and our love for God has an emotional aspect. And as a song leader, part of your job is to help enhance emotional connections, help lead the congregation, not just in singing, but lead them emotionally.

For example, if your congregation (and by your congregation, I do not mean a congregation that you own) is standing there barely singing with their hands in their pockets. Then you should not be jumping around stage clapping your hands. You should be smiling and engaging with eye contact so as to lift them emotionally. The people with their hands in their pocket are telling you that they do not want to participate right now, and you have to level them up if you want them clapping.

However, if you are in the middle of “Mighty to Save” and most of your congregation is engrossed in the song, then join them in this, slow the song down, add a few extra bars before you sing the chorus again, go. acapella. Enhance their emotions.

So there’s a thought. Less coherent than I thought it would be. Please let me know if you disagree or agree with these thoughts. And maybe something coherent can come out of it.

As a side thought, a song leader does not “control” the congregation as I have alluded to, but a song leader does have the power to enhance emotions.

Song Leading #1

April 14, 2010 — 2 Comments

Song leading is the act of leading the singing during a church service (or the like). That’s at least how I’ve come to view it, please correct me if I’m wrong. I’ve heard it called many things before, worship leader, praise leader, singer, but I think song leading is the best description.

Applause Crowd

I’ve had a number of experiences of song leading, ranging from a church service of 20 through to a SUEU conference of 170, and I’ve been thinking about song leading for a while. Asking questions like…

  • What makes good song leading?
  • How to song lead well?
  • Is singing the most important part of song leading?
  • How expressive should you be when you song lead?
  • Are you there for yourself or the congregation?
  • Can you pray in the middle of the song?
  • Should the song leader be the communicator between the band and the congregation?
  • Can the song leader also lead the service?
  • How does a song leader engage with the congregation?
  • Should a song be introduced before it is sung?
  • And is this introduction actually the most important thing that a song leader can do?
  • How should a song leader hold the microphone?
  • When should the song leader put down the microphone?
  • How can the song leader show that he/she is about to start singing?
  • How much should the song leader perform to the congregation and how much should he/she sing with them?

So basically I’ve got a whole lot of thoughts on song leading, and I’ve been trying to compress them into nuggets of information, but as of yet I have been unsuccessful, so… I’m just going to give it a go. Over the next while I’m going to be spewing out thoughts, and they probably wont be as coherent as what I normally write, but I’m hoping that through doing this I can think through what it means to song lead well.

Join me if you dare…

Christmas Carols Rock!

December 18, 2009 — 3 Comments

I was recently at a singing practice for Christmas Carols. It was awesome, Christmas Carols are awesome.

There is so much to be happy about at Christmas, like the fact that we are celebrating the God of this universe becoming a human! That’s pretty incredible!

During the practice, there was some debate as to the fact that the music we had apparently left out a verse of Silent Night. I was pretty oblivious to this, and had no idea what this verse was, despite the fact that I have sung Christmas carols my whole life. This made me realise that I don’t normally pay much attention to the lyrics of Christmas carols. And there are some pretty awesome lyrics. So I thought that I would have a look at some great carols, and reconnect with the lyrics.

Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

O morning stars together, Proclaim the holy birth, And praises sing to God the King, And Peace to men on earth.

Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Saviour is born

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

It is amazing that God came to this world in human form! Let’s celebrate this Christmas!

P.S. You should read about Choosing Carols more Carefully over at sydneyanglicans.net