What does it mean to master something? To most people it means having a great amount of knowledge or expertise in a certain area. A variation of the definition that I think is perfect for vocalists is: to be complete in every detail¹. Let’s look at a few details that can often be overlooked as worship vocalists and see how attention to detail can take our skills to the next level, to ultimately glorify God to the best of our abilities!
Maintaining Good Vocal Health
Vocal health can frequently be overlooked! Our vocal cords are something we can tangibly take care of, so if we neglect them, there are repercussions. Maintaining good vocal health starts with hydration. Like any other muscle or tendon in your body, your vocal cords need adequate hydration to function at their best! Being properly hydrated does not mean starting the day before you are going to sing, but it means starting multiple days before you are going to use your voice. In tandem, moderating your caffeine intake can help with hydration since caffeine is a dehydrant!
The Importance of Warming Up
I can’t tell you enough how crucial it is to warm up regularly. Most of the time, we exercise our voice with vocal warm ups before we lead, which is great, but I bet you’ve never thought of warming up on a normal Tuesday or Friday. We use our voices constantly, everyday. Just because we aren’t singing doesn’t mean our voices can’t be strained. Regularly exercising our voices through vocal warm ups is an imperative detail that will ultimately lead to stronger and healthier vocals.
A Controlled Vibrato
A developed and controlled vibrato is a clear indicator that you are headed to vocal mastery! To control your vibrato, you must first have one! This comes from good vocal techniques of diaphragmatic breath and a raised soft palate. It is also something you can work towards with specific vocal exercises. When a vocalist has a strong vibrato they can then work towards controlling when and where they add or emphasize it. The little details of smoothing out your vibrato on a quiet part or letting your vibrato shine through on a larger build can change the feel of an entire song!
Leading Within A Song
Our leadership can be taken to the next level by shepherding our congregation within each song. This detail is BIG. This can include exhorting in open moments or interludes as well as expressive countenance and leading through our posture. If we are to lead well within a song through speaking moments, our words must not be empty. They must include depth and meaning, not just foretelling the next words to sing. In addition to this, everyone can lead through expressive countenance. If your people don’t see that you actually believe what you are singing, portraying conviction or joy on your face, you lose credibility. Lastly, raising your hands in worship can be the most effective way to lead within a song and, honestly, just in general when worshiping. Take a look at how leading with your posture can be a detail you don’t want to miss in “Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Hands in Worship – It’s Biblical.”
Paying attention to details can take us from good to great and from a level of performing and engaging to a level of leading and convicting. The journey to vocal mastery is one we will be on for our entire lives. So why not start now?! There is always something more to learn or a certain skill to improve on, but continuing to lead and learn from a heart of humility and one that is ultimately striving to be used by God is crucial. The Lord first and foremost cares about your heart, not your achievements, so remember to always strive to be a man or woman of Godly character first, and an expert vocalist second.
¹“Mastery.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mastery). Accessed 9 December 2019.