All Development Vocals

Essentials of Harmony

February 20, 2020

By: Haley Fenley

There are multiple necessary skills that go into leading worship, but one of the most impactful, in my opinion, is harmony! Every worship leader and vocalist should be able to sing harmony, in some capacity, in order to best shepherd their congregation.

Why is harmony important?

Harmony, at its core, adds depth to any song. Music has always been a great tool used to tug on people’s emotions and to cut through to the heart. The depth that harmony brings to a song helps to achieve an incredible emotional response. Imagine if the instruments in your absolute favorite song didn’t play chords, but played individual notes. Would that change your feelings as you listen to it again? It would for me! Harmony is an avenue for vocalists to add that depth/feeling that people search for as they listen to music, and in our world, as they worship. 

However, not only does harmony add depth, but it helps include more people by creating additional ranges for people to sing. This is especially helpful when a male and female are leading together. If a female is leading, there is a good chance that the males in the room are not able to comfortably sing the notes she is hitting; but if the male on the other side of the stage is providing lower notes that the other males in the room can follow, then everyone can be included and given the optimum opportunity to participate. 

How can I maximize my usage of harmony?

Know what to sing and when to sing it! The best way to learn this is to listen to the recordings associated with the song you are singing, focusing on which intervals are chosen when, as well as how often and where the backup vocalist chose to sing. This will help you utilize this skill while not overdoing it, which in turn, would make it less effective. 

An additional way you can utilize this skill, is to make sure you are not overpowering your worship leader or the lead vocalists. This entails having a good in-ear mix, intentionally following the lead vocalist, and having good mic technique. 

Harmony does not come naturally to everyone, and if you are one of those people, just keep practicing! Listen to songs on repeat, focusing on the harmony and trying to sing along and replicate it as the song plays. Pull out your instrument of choice and practice your scales, jumping from the first, to the third, to the fifth note and trying to predict the note that’s coming next. Harmony can be one of the most difficult skills to perfect, but it can also be one of the most impactful components of a worship set. So move this skill up on your priority list and practice until you’ve achieved your goal!