3 Kinds Of Songs Every Group Must Have In their Repertoire

I know I’m stating the obvious here, but when it comes to our choirs and praise/worship teams, things are constantly changing from week to week. Despite our best efforts, the truth is you never know for sure if everyone you need will be there or not. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we just can’t think of ANYTHING we can pull off with the people we have present.

But regardless of who’s here or who isn’t, we must go on. We have to be on our post regardless. That said, it should also be obvious that we should have songs in our repertoire that we can do in any situation, no matter how temporarily crippled we are. Unfortunately it’s not something we think about until it’s Sunday morning and 80 percent of your choir is missing.

So today I’m going to give you 3 kinds of songs every choir and praise/worship team should have on their song list ready to sing at any time. They are as follows:

1. Songs In Unison

Many times it’s one section that’s crippled, making it tough to sing many of the songs on your group’s list because of the harmony challenges this scenario causes. Having songs on your list that you can sing in unison eliminates this concern. The obvious one we all think about in Gospel music of course, is I Need You To Survive, by Hezekiah Walker. But there are quite a few others that are either entirely in unison or mostly in unison. Even some songs that do have harmony can be done well in unison and sound good. Be creative!

2. Songs A Cappella

Sometimes it isn’t the group members that are missing, it’s the musician! But even if nobody shows up but the drummer, you can still go on and do a great job if you have a few good a cappella songs on your list. All you need is for someone in the group to know the key of the song.

3. Songs With No Leader

The third most common scenario we find ourselves in is when we have plenty of group members but none of our leaders are present. Having a few songs with no leader in your repertoire eliminates this one instantly. There are tons of songs that either have no leader or that do have one but can easily done without one. This one should be an easy one to fill.

Now, your first inclination might be to simply find one of each and be done with it. However, if you do that those songs will become known as crutch songs that you only do when you’re in a bind. Your group’s attitude towards these songs will soon change for the worst, trust me. That’s why I suggest having two or three really nice songs in each of these categories. That way you always have something fresh to sing and sound good singing, not matter what life is throwing at your group at the moment.

Do you have songs on your list that fit any of these categories already? Please share in the comments box below!
Get free vocal lessons for your group members! Have them sign up below for my free 5 day vocal training course.

Follow The Leader: How To Surrender To The Holy Spirit During Your Choir Performances

One thing I tend to stress often with you guys is the importance of really knowing your songs. I mean moving past that “I know it well enough to follow the director” stage we’re all content with. I mean really knowing the song. I’m talking about having the lyrics memorized, not this thing where we’re nervously depending on the director to feed us every line. I’m talking about really understanding the format of the song and how it moves from one section to another one.

But perhaps I haven’t really made a strong enough case for why that’s important and how it benefits your ministry as a whole. Quite simply, the more thoroughly you know a song the more powerfully you’ll minister that song. Something happens when everyone in the group is absolutely certain about every part of a song they’re about to sing.

There is this cohesiveness there. This sense of unity. Everyone is with one accord. And we know the Holy Spirit moves when we’re with one accord. So in moments like these powerful, anointed, spirit-led moments of music ministry tends to happen. But they only happen because we’ve eliminated all mental distractions that normally hinder our spirits from really surrendering completely to God.

When we’re unsure we’re really too distracted with the task of getting through the song without mistakes. So nobody can really follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The director can’t, the song leader can’t, the group members can’t. Because we’re all too busy nervously getting through one section after another.

We become locked into predefined repetitions and formats that we can’t deviate from because everyone is so unsure that if we do there will be some kind of mistake. But when everyone is absolutely on point with every part of the song, there is a freedom that takes place spiritually. In moments like these the Holy Spirit often takes over and leads the director or the song leader.

We did a song Sunday morning that we’ve done many times, called God Is Able. One of those churchy, hand-clapping, foot-stomping songs. So we know it very well. I was directing the choir. We came up to this one part in the song where we would normally repeat it a couple of times and go back to the chorus.

But this time the Holy Spirit started dealing with me and I just didn’t feel led to move from that spot. . So I just kept having them repeat that same two lines, right where we were:

“He’ll be there when you call Him/
He’ll be there when you need Him”

I just kept repeating it and it seemed like the more we repeated that phrase the higher the spirit got in the sanctuary, until everyone was just going in. Well, the whole format changed from there, because at that point everyone was following me, but I was following the leader. We never went to the real vamp of the song. That became the vamp and I just let God have His way right there; with me, the band, the leader and the choir.

We didn’t do anything that morning the way the song normally goes or the way we rehearsed it. But I had the freedom to allow God to just guide me in the direction He wanted the song to go because I know the choir and musicians knew it well enough to follow. I also knew the leader was skilled enough to just flow in the spirit right there, and would have no problem ad-libing as long as the Holy Spirit needed us to. So we all followed the leader. The ultimate leader.

Have a great week!
Ron
Ps. What if you were leading the spirit took over? Could you keep going as long as the spirit needed you to? Would you run out of words, or become anxious or irritated that the director got happy and won’t stop? If so, I have something I’d like you to see. Take a look here.

The Music Ministry Coach.com Releases A “Training Manual” For Praise Teams

Ever since I started this ministry in 2011 one topic has always gotten way more engagement, shares, likes and comments than any other topic I write about. That would be praise teams, or worship teams. Well after writing articles about them for a few years I’d accumulated quite a few of them. So I asked the fan page community one day if they thought having them in one place would be helpful. The response was unanimously yes.

So I decided to create an e-book compiling several of my most popular and useful articles on the subject of praise team ministry. One thing my followers told me I must do to make this book useful is to organize the articles into categories so they’d have some continuity and be easier to use. I listened intently, and after many hours and many hurdles, it’s here! Praise Team 101 is a reality and it’s available for purchase right now.

Praise Team 101 is a collection of articles offering practical advice for common challenges most all praise teams encounter. I’ve assembled the top 13 articles from my blog- 42 pages in all-into 3 main categories to help you take your ministry to the next level. In fact just to show you how much great content you’ll get in this book and how well organized it is I put together a short video for you that actually takes you inside the book and shows the entire table of contents.

So many of you have been asking for more help with this subject, and I’m really proud and excited to have it ready and available for you. I really believe this product has the ability to have one of the most profound ministry impacts of anything I’ve released so far. To watch the short video and pick up your copy, just click on the link below.

http://themusicministrycoach.com/introducing-praise-team-101/

10 Songs Your Choir/Praise Team Can Sing When You’re Short-Handed

Every group has them. Those times when you’re just short on people for whatever reason. Choirs and Praise Teams are organic. They’re constantly changing because the lives of their members are constantly changing. But regardless of how many people we have available on any given Sunday we must still be on our post. With that in mind every group needs songs you can do well no matter how short-handed you are.  And since the biggest deciding factor of how well your group can do a song is usually how well you can do the harmony with what you have, I thought it would be great to have a list of songs that are either completely sung in unison are mostly sung in unison with very few sections that need harmony.

So I put the question to the family over on the fan page. These are the 10 best entries they came up with.  Add several of these to your list and you’ll always have several songs to choose from that you know your group can do well no matter how short-handed any one section is. Some of these may be better for choir and some for praise team. For the most flexibility though I’d teach any song you choose to adopt to both groups if you have both. That way you’re never without a song you can sing no matter which group is short-handed.
Listed in no particular order, they are:

1. I Just Want To Praise You – Maurette Brown Clark
2. I need You To Survive       – Hezekiah Walker
3. Every Praise                        -Hezekiah Walker
4. Only You/How Great Is Our God -Jonathan Nelson (These can also be treated as two separate songs)
5. Not Forgotten                     -Isreal Houghton
6. Your Presence Is Heaven  -Isreal Houghton
7. The Reason Why I Sing     – Kirk Franklin
8. And We Are Glad                -Joe Pace
9. Precious Is The Blood        -Joe Pace
10. Press In Your Presence   -Shana Wilson

Be Blessed!

10 Places To Find New Music For Your Choir Or Praise Team

One of the things you MUST do to keep your music ministry fresh and interesting, both for the audience and the members, is introduce new music regularly. However many of us may not look beyond our local radio station for new material. And that’s fine if you happen to have a great local Gospel radio presence where you live. Many people don’t. In fact in a city as big as Dallas Tx you might be surprised to know that we don’t have a single 24 hour F.M radio station playing Gospel music.

So I asked my Fan Page family to share their main sources for finding new music for their choir. I took their best answers and added a couple of my own. Because I have an international audience I thought it was important that all of the resources on this list be available on-line so just about anyone can access them. Also keep in mind that all of these resources are great for finding material for your praise team too. That said, here is the list, in alphabetical order.

1. DonnieRadio.com

Donnie McClurkin has a nationally syndicated gospel radio show. You can listen to content from the show here.

2. Gospel Flava.com

This is kind of an “all things Gospel Music” magazine-type website. A great resource for industry news, new releases and charts.

3.IheartRadio.com

Iheart radio works a lot like Pandora. Both are listed because they do a great job of introducing you to new artists that may not have hit mainstream radio yet. Create an account and then usie the preferences to set up a gospel station.

4. Local Radio Station websites

Even if you do have a great local radio station playing Gospel music, it’s a great idea to simply jump online and do a search for gospel radio stations in other cities and states. Often different markets play different songs and artists. Sometimes music is released and in rotation in one market way before others. A great idea if you’re looking for something different than what’s hot in your area.

5. NuthinButGospel.com

This site definitely lives up to it’s name, in that you won’t find much there but Gospel music. It’s a pretty sparse, rather empty-looking page when you first hit it. But if you click on the little “boom box” icon on the right a little window will open up, and there in front of you will be lots and lots of Gospel songs, all listed with title and artist. Click the play button and go to town! I thought this one was one of the easiest to use that I visited, simply because many other radio station sites don’t give you that option. You kinda have to push play and just listen live. This one is great for speed, ease of use and readily available song title and artist info.

6. Pandora.com

Pandora works a lot like Iheartradio. Both are listed because they do a great job of introducing you to new artists that may not have hit mainstream radio yet. Create an account and then use the preferences to set up a gospel station. Both Pandora and Iheart can be accessed several other ways besides physically going to the website. Both have apps for most mobile devices, which make it possible for you to listen through your home or car stereo or portable boom box is that feature is available.

7. PraiseCharts.com

This site focuses more on Contemporary Christian Music. It’s a great resource for praise and worship teams, but it also includes much more than the other resources I visited on the list. Here you can not only download music, but you can actually find chord charts, lead sheets and orchestrations, all available for download and print-out.

8.TheJamesFortuneShow.com

The website for James Fortune’s gospel radio show.  If I’m not mistaken James’s show is a local show, not a nationally syndicated one. That could make it a good resource for finding great songs not being played in your area.

9. TheYolandaAdamsMorningShow.com

The Yolanda Adams Morning Show is nationally syndicated like Donnie McClurkin’s show, so you may find the play list similar. But it’s definitely worth having on your list of music resources.

10. YouTube.com

YouTube goes without saying. Not only is it a great resource for finding new music, it’s a great resource for getting music out to key personnel for learning purposes (rather than making illegal copies). YouTube does require a bit more work though, that’s for sure. But it’s the most vast resource on the list since pretty-much everything can be found there. You can type in search terms according to season, occasion, genre and pretty-much anything else you can think of. That’s something you can’t do with any other resource on the list.

How To Rock A Duet In 3 Easy Steps

In Gospel music, songs that are lead by two people aren’t as common as the traditional one-leader song. Unfortunately though, on those occasions when a song’s lead vocal does call for a duet it’s often done pretty badly.

You’re already hearing it in your mind, aren’t you? That place in the song where the leaders get to the vamp and the whole thing disintegrates into what sounds more like two people speaking really loudly at the same time than two people singing? Yeah. It’s not good, for the audience. And sadly, for many duet singers the whole thing morphs into something that feels more like dueling leaders, even though it isn’t always intentional.

The fact is many people who find themselves doing a duet with someone have never done one before and have no idea that it’s any different than doing lead vocals by themselves, minus the two part harmony. So that’s how most people approach a duet. The good news is you and your duet partner can absolutely rock a duet performance with nothing more than a little planning.

The important thing to remember, although it feels almost too obvious to state here, is the fact that a duet really is two people working together to deliver the message in a more interesting way than perhaps one person could. That’s primarily because two people can sing nice two-part harmony, which one person can’t do.

Aside from the harmony though, both singers in a duet must work together to deliver the message as one person. That means both singers must feed and balance off each other to deliver their lines in a clean,  easy to understand way. When you get to the vamp the last thing you want to do is that yelling-competing-everybody singing at once thing that happens with most duets.
You can avoid that and take your duet performance to a whole new level with just a few simple steps.

1. Practice Timing With Your Partner

You and your duet partner should get together and physically practice timing in the vamp. And really, it’s not all that important that you be as specific as “I’m going to say this, then you say that”.  You both should have the freedom to be led by the holy spirit, so you don’t necessarily want to plan out your vamp to that level of detail. What’s important is timing. Avoid singing over each other by working out visual signals that tell each  other “Ok I’m done, you go”. These can be a simple as turning to your partner or even pointing at them when you’re ready for them to take over.

2. Work Planned Harmony Into The Vamp

This is a little tip that really separates top level duets from those who are just two people singing at the same time. You and your partner should get together and plan at least one or two instances in the vamp where you suddenly come together and sing a line or two in harmony. This is always unexpected in the middle of a vamp where people only expect you both to be doing ad-libs. Unlike the first tip, you do need to plan what you’re going to say and work out the harmony. And you need some way of signaling each other so you know exactly when to do it. But the pay-off is definitely worth the extra effort. This little tip really puts your duet performance in another class from what people normally experience from a duet performance.

3. Work As A Team At All Times, Sharing Equally Every Aspect Of The Song

Remember too that a duet is just that. Two people sharing the lead vocals of a song together.  Make sure you are both giving the song the same level of energy without trying to outshine or out-sing each other. Feed off each other, balance off each other, look at each other and work together to make sure God gets all the glory!
Thinking about leading a song but you’re worried about the ad-libbing? Here’s something that might help.

Why Do I Get Dizzy When I Sing?

Today we’re going to talk about dizziness. Why do you get dizzy when you sing? Has this ever happened to you? You’re going for that really high note, or maybe you’re at the press/vamp of a song where you really have to stay high and you’re really pounding it in and pushing hard to stay up there, then suddenly you get dizzy? Well I’m going to try to explain that today.
I did some research on this subject just to see what other people were saying about it, and I was really surprised at how little information there is out there about it. And I really didn’t see anyone explain this the way I’m going to here, so let’s get right into it.

As a vocal coach you hear me talking about the larynx often. If you look at youtube videos or read articles about vocal technique you’ll hear other vocal coaches referring to the larynx often also, because your vocal cords are located. Just to be clear we’re speaking of that lump in your throat that is often referred to as your Adam’s Apple or Voice Box. Your vocal cords are located inside that “box”, so anything that affects your larynx affects your vocal cords, and thus affects your singing. In this video I’m going to explain in detail how some of the most common things we do as singers causes stress to your vocal cords and how that stress causes some people to become dizzy. You’ll definitely want to watch this free 10 minute vocal lesson!

Why I’m Worried About Your Praise Team

Some people call them “Praise Teams”, some call them “Worship Teams”. I even saw an article not long ago where the author’s sole purpose for writing it was to prove why they should be called one and not the other. I personally don’t think that’s nearly as important though, as understand and maintaining a certain level of integrity and standard in the songs that praise teams and worship teams choose to bring to the people.

It seems that as praise teams (that’s what we call them where I’m from) become more and more prominent- even completely replacing the traditional church choir altogether in some churches- they are exercising more and more “leeway” in their song selections. I suppose that’s coming from a perceived need to include more diversity because of the increased demand for more songs to sing. Some seem to be gradually becoming more interested in entertaining than really helping lead the audience in praise and worship and creating an atmosphere conducive to making that happen. Some have begun taking secular songs and just changing some of the lyrics, which I confess I find disturbing.  Others just take the secular song and sing it just like it is, which is another trend I’m concerned about.

More and more, songs are being sung by praise and worship teams that are neither praise nor worship. And while I feel like I’m really stating the obvious here, I thought if there was one rule everyone understood was the fact that praise teams and worship teams are supposed to sing praise songs and worship songs. But over the last few years of writing this blog and just talking to people serving in music ministries all over the world, I find that many praise teams- newly formed ones especially, seem to struggle with understanding what constitutes a praise song vs a worship song.

More importantly, some people struggle with identifying songs that don’t really fit either and thus aren’t really something a praise team should sing. Some people boil it down to something as simple as tempo: praise songs are fast, worship songs are slow. They do often tend to have that in common, but the difference between praise and worship is far deeper than that.

I think if praise teams better understood the difference between what praise is and what worship is they would at least have a more solid foundation to use as a guide when choosing appropriate songs for their teams.  The best place to go for that of course is the word of God. While searching the internet today I came across an article I felt really really explained that difference well. What I love about the article the most though, is that the author, whose name isn’t listed on the article, really does a great job of explaining clearly what makes praise praise and worship worship. But it’s all the scriptures included in the article that you’ll find an invaluable resource.

If we hold every song we’re considering to the scrutiny of scripture we can’t help but make better choices, simply because many of them won’t qualify when held to that standard. First getting a clear understanding about the difference between praise and worship and then understanding what scripture says about both will set your praise or worship team on the right path to choosing songs that are truly praise and worship songs and are scriptural in their lyrical content.

The article I mentioned can be found on GotQuestions.org and it’s called What Is The Difference Between Praise And Worship?

For even more articles to help you with your praise/worship team ministry check out Praise Team 101.