Are We Becoming “Too Professional” With Our Worship?

I came across this article on davidsantistevan.com recently, and I was instantly intrigued by the title. The article was a thought-provoking read for me personally, because I believe we often fall short of making the effort to give God our best in the service and presentation of our ministries to His people.

In fact one of my biggest pet peeves over the years has been that thing we have a tendency to say when a a bit more effort is required to perfect a song? Or when a piece is more challenging than usual? When we’re having to press through frustration to get the parts right, memorize the lyrics or just understand how a song flows? You know that bail-out phrase “We ain’t no professionals”.

But there’s a flip-side to that mentality. The other extreme, where we get so obsessed with perfection that we lose sight of what (and whom) this is really about. This article does a great job of really challenging that thin line that separates the two. This one will challenge your thinking on some levels. Click the image below to go to the article. Give it a read and let’s talk about it on the Fan Page.

Are we becoming too professional?

7 Biblical Purposes For Music In The Church

I think one of the main purposes God pushed me into this direction with my business/ministry is to help people understand that music ministry is so much more important than just a spot on the program for entertainment. It’s so much bigger than us, our feelings and what we want or don’t want to do or sing.

As often as possible I try to use scripture to illustrate the importance of music ministry in the bible. I believe the more you read about music ministry and it’s role in the bible the more you come to understand how important this calling is, for all of us. So when I came across this article I really appreciated that it included not only 7 Biblical purposes for music but references for all seven purposes that it covers: Worship, Thanks, Rejoicing, Consecration, Edification, Evangelism and Preservation of Faith.  The article was written by Paul Chappel and you can find it on his website, PaulChappel.com . Just click below to go directly to the article.

7 Biblical Purposes for Music

February 8, 2010 by Paul Chappell

 

 

How To Identify Keys On A Piano (every singer should know this)

You’ve heard me say it before if you’re a regular reader, but every singer should at a minimum be able to tell the musician what key they sing a certain song in. Especially in Gospel churches where most music is done on the fly and you often don’t know who’s playing for you. Knowing what key you’re going to sing in insures that you won’t start in a key that’s too high or one that you haven’t been practicing in. We’ve all seen that happen and it ain’t pretty!

Even if you’re not interested in learning to actually play, learning your keys on the piano is easier than you think. In fact if you can say your ABC’s (you don’t even need all of them, just the first 7) and recognize a very simple, very repetitive pattern, you can learn the keys on a piano in minutes. Look at this graphic of a piano keyboard. piano-notes-and_keys

The first thing I want you to notice is that, as I said, we’re only using the first 7 letters of the alphabet, A thru G. Now look at the black keys. See the pattern? All the way up the keyboard, you’ll see groups of 2 black keys and then 3 black keys. Now let’s look at the key of C. Notice how the key of C is the first white key to the left of the 2 black keys. Because this pattern repeats the entire length of the keyboard, every time you see 2 black keys the first white key to the left of them will be the key of C.

Once you know where the key of C is, it’s as simple as pressing down the next white key and saying the next letter in the alphabet. Look at the graph again: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. We started over at A when we got to G because in America these are the only letters we use in music.

So what about the black keys?? The black keys represent the sharps and flats in music. This can get involved if you’re actually studying music theory, but that’s not our purpose here. We’re just learning how to identify what key we’re singing in. For that we can use this simple rule: The first black key to the RIGHT of a white key is it’s sharp. The first black key to the LEFT of a white key is it’s flat.

So let’s look at the key of C again. Where is C located? First white key to the left of the group of 2 black keys. So if we look at the key of C, what’s that black key to the right of it? It’s C Sharp! Or, you could call it D Flat, since it’s the first black key to the left of the D key. This also works all the way up the keyboard. For example what is the black key to the right of the A key? You could say “A sharp”, but it’s more commonly referred to as B flat. Either way, if you said it to a musician he’d know where to put you.

If you have a pretty good ear- meaning you can listing to music and find that key on a piano, then now you know how to identify what that key is so you can tell a musician. But if you can do that, then why not take it one step further and just learn how to play! Learning to play keyboard will absolutely transform your singing, and you can learn it on line.

By far my top resource on-line for learning about piano, no matter what level you’re on, is HearAndPlay. These guys have a ton of free information that will help anyone at any level understand more than you ever thought you could about playing the piano. It’s really a good thing to be on their mailing list if you’re someone who is serious about learning how to play. You can get some free lessons just by visiting this link. Check it out!
Free Piano Lessons

The Real Reason All Gospel Singers Should Take Vocal Lessons (It’s Not What You Think)

By far the biggest challenge I face daily in this ministry is convincing naturally gifted singers that they too need to invest in vocal lessons.

But that’s because so many people think vocal lessons are about teaching you how to sing. Well if I already know how to sing, and I was born into a family of singers, why would I need lessons, right?

But let me ask you for a moment to think about the last time you sang. Probably last Sunday. Whether you sang lead or background doesn’t matter. What matters is how you felt. Think back. Was there ever a time your attention shifted from the message you were singing about to the task of singing itself?

Think back. Did you at any time start to feel discomfort? Did you find yourself at any point just kinda wanting the song to be over?  If you did, you must understand that in moments like those your mind, heart and spirit are no longer available to God.

Physical and mental limitations become a hindrance to your ministry when they take your focus away from the message. You really can’t be a proper conduit for the Holy Spirit to flow through if the connection is broken.

That is the real reason all singers who proclaim the Gospel through music should invest in vocal training. It’s not so you can hold a note until the audience starts clapping in celebration of how long you’re holding the note. That’s about YOU. It’s not about being able to sing notes so high that they become almost irritating to the listener. That is also about you.

The real reason it’s important for Christian/Gospel singers should take lessons is to remove any physical limitations that distract you from the message. Physical limitations lead to mental distractions. Now your mind is somewhere other than focused on what you’re singing about.

Training your instrument simply makes you a better instrument for for God. It frees you from things that distract you. Things that keep you from being able to go when doors open. Makes you unable to focus your heart and mind on what you’re singing about. So when you take lessons you are taking steps to eliminate those things so that you can be more effective when you minister in song. Not by holding notes longer or singing notes higher, but by eliminating anything that breaks that spiritual connection to the message that you need to really move from performing to ministering. And that’s about God, not about you.

Listen, I can definitely understand the hesitation many people have to spending the money to take vocal lessons when they aren’t really sure they’ll benefit at all from them. You may have even been told as much by someone who took lessons. But you really can’t rely completely on someone elses’ opinion on things like this. There are too many variables.

Many people sign up but they quit after one lesson. Some continue to take lessons but they don’t practice at home so they don’t see results. So only you can decide if they’ll really improve your ministry, and you can only decide that by trying them.

I know that’s a scary thought for many people though. So I wanted every singer to have an opportunity to try vocal training for themselves without fear or reservation. To do that I created a free 5 day vocal training course. You can get this course by simply signing up for my mailing list. You won’t need a credit card, you will never be charged. It’s simply an opportunity for you to see for yourself what some training can do for your ministry.

You’ll be introduced to some simple, basic vocal lessons and concepts. If you take them seriously and actually do them, in a few days you’ll notice changes. At the end I’ll give you an opportunity to continue your training at a deeply discounted rate. Completely optional, of course. Some people go on to up-grade to the full home study course, but many more simply enjoy the free lessons and go their own way, more educated. Whether they upgraded or not though, thousands of people all over the world have taken this course and raved about it. You’ll see hundreds of testimonials below the video lessons when you join.

So take the the step right now by filling out the simple form below. If you do the exercises I’m going to show you in this course you will fill different by the very next time you sing. The next step will be up to you.

How To Get Your Choir Members To Sing Louder

One thing I love about the fan page is that I get to interact with so many people all over the world. I got a question the other day from one of the members, who asked:

Hey Coach Ron, I have a question. How do I get my choir to sing louder? They have great harmony but they have a hard time pushing out volume. What technique would work?

I decided to answer her question with a video. Watch it now!

One very important point I made in the video that everyone should remember, is that singing loudly can and will cause vocal damage over time. The only way to get the volume and fullness you want safely is to take vocal lessons. Get 5 free video vocal lessons when you join my mailing list below.

40 New Year’s Eve Songs For Your Choir Or Praise Team

If your church is holding watch meeting on New Year’s Eve the music ministry is likely on deck. Wouldn’t it be great to have some really great New Year’s Eve-type songs for your choir and praise team? I thought so too, so I asked the community over on the Fan Page to give me some great songs for New Year’s Eve. As usual they came through big time.

The graphic below is the actual conversation where we added all the songs. Just  click on the little “comment” box at the bottom to go to the actual post and see all the songs.  If you don’t see it, give it a couple of seconds to load. This is an embed of the actual post. If it doesn’t work for you in Google Chrome try viewing it in I.E or Firefox. Add your own songs to the list if you like!

Ron

50 Choir And Praise Team Songs For Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving is upon us already! And if your music department is anything like ours you must be thinking “isn’t there anything else we can do for Thanksgiving besides Thank You by Walter Hawkins?? I’m glad you asked! The family over on the Fan Page has done it again, creating yet another fantastic list of great songs.

This time I asked for songs great for Thanksgiving. You’ll see songs tagged as good for choirs, praise teams or both. As usual I like to embed the actual post here in the article, because these lists have a tendency to keep growing over the next couple of days.

So click on the like button of you’re not connected yet, then click on the comment button below to go straight to the live post on the Fan Page. If you don’t see the post below right away give it a couple of seconds to load. May not work in Google Chrome.

Facing Mean Faces: How To Deal With Unkind Looks From The Audience

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big advocate of making eye contact with the audience when you sing. In fact a while back I wrote an article spelling out specifically why you should never sing entire songs with your eyes closed.

But let’s face it, there’s a reason why many people would rather close their eyes than look at the audience. The fact is, not every face you see in the audience is kind. And it’s already hard enough for some people to get up there in the first place. Now you want me to open my eyes too Ron?!

Well, yes I do. And if you think about your performances as mini-messages, or conversations with the audience it should become obvious why you’d want to look at the person you’re conversing with or delivering a message to once in a while. But the reality is no matter how well you’re doing there will always be people in the audience who seem less than enthusiastic about you. They may be looking at you with a blank expression, a mean expression or maybe not looking at you at all. There may be people in the audience who are completely immersed in some mundane activity like rumbling through their purse, or looking at their cell phone.

But audiences are a lot like life. They both have good and bad, positive and negative elements. So the best thing to do with an audience is the same thing we do with life. We avoid focusing entirely on the negative aspects and instead focus on the positive. Because you see just like there will always be people in every audience who aren’t feeling you, there will always be people in the audience who are.

You won’t be reaching or blessing everybody. That’s life. So the best thing to do is simply focus your attention on the ones you are blessing and reaching. A simple way to do both- increase your eye contact while also avoiding as much as possible those faces that may discourage you is a performance technique called the “Four Square” method.

To do this, you mentally divide the audience in to 4 square sections. As you sing, you simply move your eyes from one square to the next, then the next, and so on. But here’s the key! Most of the time there will be at least one or more people in each one of those sections who are with you all the way. They are enjoying you, being blessed, smiling or praising God, standing , whatever they do when they’re being blessed.

Your job is to find and focus on those people in every one of those sections. Look at the first section, make eye contact with the people being blessed. Move your eyes to the next section, do the same thing. Just keep your eyes moving from one “square” to the next, making contact with the people in that section that are being blessed by what God is giving them through you. You’ll be encouraged by them and they’ll get an even deeper connection with the song because of your direct eye contact with them.