12 Steps To Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry

If you’re a regular around here you know I try to share information that offers information to help take your music ministry to the next level. That’s really my only requirement for content here. It needs to teach something. Offer some advice, or some tips. Some kind of how to.

Many people who know they’re called to music ministry still find themselves searching for their specific calling within music ministry. I realized at an early age that mine was teaching and directing.  But if you’ve been struggling to really nail down what your specific calling is in music ministry you’ll love this great article I found on Churchleaders.com .

I really love articles that give specific steps. In his article “Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry” Minister Michael Dottin not only gives us 12 specific steps, he also includes specific scriptures related to each one.  This piece is a quick read, but full of great information I know will bless you if you find yourself in this place. Click the title or image below to read the full article.

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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?

How embracing technology can take your ministry to the next level

Moving onIt’s no secret we live in the information age. The entire world is literally at our finger tips now. And yet many people are hesitant to embrace technology. I suspect though, that it’s not  as much about fear as it is about that unwillingness we all have to embrace change. After all, doing something new comes with learning, and fumbling, and reading, and time spent having to think- all of which many of us have “switched off” by the time we’re around 30 or so, in favor of our nice, normal, comfortable lives.

But what if I told you that embracing technology is all a part of God’s plan? Have you ever thought of that? Sure it is. It HAS to be. Remember this scripture?

Matthew 24:14

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

I don’t think anyone would argue against the fact that it’s happening right now, and technology is a huge part of what’s making it possible. But what about YOUR message. YOUR ministry. What about what God put inside of YOU? The same technology that is right now sending the Gospel to all parts of the world has been made available for you to use to take your ministry to the next level. That means your singing. Your playing. Your teaching. Your coaching. Your encouraging words. Whatever that gift is that God has given you to bless others. We all have one, some more than one. And we all have them for a purpose

There’s no reason not to take advantage of every tool and resource God has made available to you in order to take your ministry to the next level. And now that we’re in the 21st Century, the time has come to stop resisting change and embrace this new technology that God is using to reach all parts of the world.

Did you know for example, that you can you get one-on-one coaching with me from anywhere in the country? Did you know that we can do live, face-to-face coaching via video, in real time via Skype? Oh, I see. You don’t know anything about Skype and don’t want to have to download something (even if it’s free). And you don’t have a webcam or a microphone so you don’t want the hassle and expense ($50 or less for both) of buying them and setting them up. I understand.

Well would it surprise you to know that you can also do it right from your Facebook profile? YES!! Still don’t trust it? Well, do you trust your cell phone? Because guess what, in the age we live in now, you can make calls all over the country without any long distance charges. So you can even take a lesson with me by phone! I’ve done it myself several times when I studied with a vocal coach out of California.

And the great thing is, there’s no need to stop with just voice lessons. As I type this there is a church music department preparing to install a web cam in their sanctuary so they can do a live praise team workshop with me over the internet. Another long-time reader is planning to take a lesson with me via phone. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve studied with me already, via my free video vocal training course. Still others have been taking vocal lessons with me for months in my new home study vocal training program Vocal Ministry Breakthough. The possibilities are endless now.

In the 21st Century you can study almost anything you want with anyone you want from anywhere you want. Think of the freedom that gives you. Think of the incredible levels of access you now have. God has literally erased all boundaries and limitations to you having everything you’ve been praying about for your ministry. It’s time you open up your heart and mind and start embracing all of the great and wonderful things God has put in place to get to us everything our heart has desired. It’s time to, as Kirk Franklin said, “Get Up And Live!”

  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

 

3 excuses you no longer have for not taking vocal lessons :)

 1.  Vocal Lessons Are Too Expensive!

I’m not even going to bother with that whole “you can’t afford not to” thing. True enough, taking vocal lessons live with an experienced vocal coach can get up there a little, depending on where you live. But today that’s no valid reason not to take some lessons. Home study courses can be purchased at a fraction of what it costs to study live. Many courses average somewhere between $100-$200 for enough training to last you several months. When I launched my  6 month home study vocal training course Vocal Ministry Breakthrough I took another step to make it even more affordable by delivering it via a simple membership site. Now you can have professional-level vocal training for under $25 a month.  How easy is it to come up with $25? Skip just 1 pizza night a month and you’ve done it. Take your lunch to work instead of buying it just once a week and you’ve saved enough to cover your monthly tuition for VMB.

2. There aren’t any vocal coaches in my area.  At least not a Christian/Gospel ones like you

Welcome to the 21st Century! We live in the internet age now. We’re all connected. Now you can take live, face-to-face lessons with a coach across the country just by using video chat, VOIP options like Skype. Many vocal coaches, myself included, now offer vocal lessons this way.  So distance no longer has to discourage you from taking voice lessons.

3. I don’t have time! 

We have time for the things that are most important. Because we make the time. As I mentioned above, you can now study from the comfort of your own home via Skype or home study course. With my home study course you can take your lessons whenever you like. No specific time to take them, no driving to the lesson. With Skype you will in fact have an appointed time for your lesson, but you can save up to 2 hours of drive time in some cases by taking your lessons on-line or at home.

Listen, if you’re a regular reader you know I’m going to keep encouraging and pushing you about this until you do it. EVEN IF YOU DON’T DO IT WITH ME.  Few things you can do will make as big of an impact on your ministry than taking lessons.

So come on. You’re pretty-much out of excuses now, my friend. I want you to make a commitment to yourself and your ministry right now and take the step to get the training you know you need. I’m waiting for you!

Get Started Now!

Take care,
Ron

 

For a stronger singing voice, do this exercise!

Singer with microphoneOne thing most singers want is a more powerful singing voice. Once that is sharp, full and cuts through the music easily. Unfortunately most of us go about achieving that by simply pushing and forcing our way through notes, phrases and melodies. Today I’ll talk a little bit about what causes a weak, airy voice and give you one exercise you can do to help improve it.

The most important thing to develop in order to strengthen your voice and get rid of airiness is something we vocal coaches call “cord closure”. Cord closure refers to how well your vocal cords come together when you’re singing or speaking. For most people who have never done any kind of training to develop them, the vocal cords do come together, but they’re not very strong so that “seal” is not very good. As a result, much of the air you send up to produce the sound you’re trying to make goes unused.  This produces the airy, weak sound we hear when we sing or speak.

But then a domino effect of sorts starts to happen. You see, when your cords aren’t using air efficiently you run out of air much faster. As a result most singers start compensating by gasping for more and pushing harder. All of this wears the vocal cords out much faster and makes singing much harder. To improve this condition we have to strengthen those small, thin edges of the vocal folds that come together to produce sound. We want them to produce a much tighter seal when they’re together, so more of the air you’re sending up to produce sound actually gets used.

One example I like to use is a car window. If you’ve ever been driving down the street with your windows up, but you could still hear wind coming into the car, you understood that even though the window was up all the way, it hadn’t made a complete seal with the top of the door. So you reach over, give the button one more hit and the window moves just that small fraction it needs to make a good seal and stop the escaping air.

This is what we want to do with our vocal cords, and that’s really what “cord closure” exercises are all about. But because everything is so amazingly and wonderfully connected to everything else in our body, improving cord closure will not only give you a stronger voice. It will improve breathing, increase your range, overall vocal tone, make high notes easier….I mean, wow!  There are several such cord closure exercises you can use, but today I’ll show you just one.

The Exercise

Today we’re going to use the sound we make when speaking the word “AT”, as in “at the store”, or “at the cross”. Only we’ll get rid of the T on the end.

To start out, let’s use the same 5 tone scale we used in this lesson .  We’re going to sing this Aaa-aaa-aaa sound “Staccato”, which means very short and detatched. You’ll do it right if you simply focus on attacking the “A every time. Avoid slurrring through the notes like this: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. Rather, attack each note of the 5 tone scale like this: Aaa-Aaa-Aaaa-Aaaa-Aaa.

Remember to take your 5 tone scale up and then back down, then move up a half step to the next note and do it again. Keep going until you reach the highest place you can do this COMFORTABLY.

You should NOT be getting any louder as you do this. Allow that edgy, choppy, closing feeling that creates the sharp “A” for you to do all the work. Don’t use any kind of force or reach for notes in any way.

After you’re used to this exercise, I want you to try using it in a song. This is actually a great way to train when you’re singing a song that has just one note you’re having trouble reaching. The idea is to take the actual words of the song and substitute them with this Aaa-Aaa-Aaaa sound. But you must always do this “Staccato”- meaning, very short, detached and choppy. Doing it this way is what exercises the edges of your vocal folds and helps them get stronger.

If you do this on a regular basis along with the “low larynx” exercises we learned in my previous article you’re going to start hearing and feeling some amazing changes very quickly. If, like me, you’re a more visual person, this may be hard for you to grasp on paper. Most people need to see and hear it demonstrated.

That’s why I created Vocal Ministry Breakthough, my full length home study vocal training course. Vocal Ministry Breakthrough includes over 20 video vocal lessons with yours truly, taking you through powerful vocal workouts that feature exercises like these and many more. And for a limited time it’s 40% off for the holidays. Get started on your path to a stronger, more powerful singing voice now while the price is still discounted.

 

Till Next time,

Ron

 

 

A vocal exercise that makes high notes easier

I was thinking over the last several blog posts I’ve done and I realized I haven’t done anything on vocal technique in quite some time. So today I thought I’d get back to basics and talk a bit about one of the most common things we singers struggle with- strain when singing in the upper part of our ranges. Now, I could get really technical here, and if I did it would get really long and really boring. So I’m going to focus only on one element of making high notes easier.

There are several things that need to work together in order to make accessing the higher parts of your range feel easier and less straining. But at the center of all of those things-the hub that holds all the spokes on the wheel in place- is your larynx. The larynx is more commonly referred to as your “Adam’s Apple”. It’s that lump in your throat that goes up and down. In a nutshell, a higher larynx equals more strain when you sing higher notes. A lower, more stable larynx means more relaxed, easier singing in your upper range.

Today I want to give you one simple vocal exercise that will help train your larynx to be lower and more stable. This will help you feel much less strain in the choir stand singing those demanding Gospel songs, or on the praise team belting it out on Sunday morning.

These exercises engage muscles that pull your larynx down, thus helping to train your larynx not to jump up high in your throat when you start to approach higher notes in your range. I’m going to have you do this exercise two ways. Both of them will use the vowel “U”.  For the first exercise we’ll combine that U vowel with what we call a “hard consonant”.  For the second one will use a “soft consonant”. This refers to the amount of air stoppage a consonant causes in your mouth when you pronounce it.

First Exercise:

For the first exercise we’ll use the sound “GUH”. For the right pronunciation, think of the word “guppy” or “gutter”. Just leave off everything after the U. Try using this sound on a simple 5 tone scale. You remember the Major Scale we all learned that uses the words “Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti Do”, right?  Well for this exercise we’ll sing the first 5 notes of that scale forward and backwards, using the word “GUH”. In other words, it would sound like “Do Re Me Fa So Fa Me Re Do”. Only we’ll be singing those notes using “Guh”.

Start out in a comfortable place in your range and do the 5 tone scale forward and backward, singing “GUH”. Then move up a half step and do it again. Keep doing that until you’ve reached the highest place in your range you can sing COMFORTABLY. Then simple start going back down one half note at a time.

Second Exercise:

Exercise #2 is exactly the same, only we’ll substitute the “G” for an “N”. Now we’ll sing “NUH NUH NUH”, as in the word “nothing” or “nugget”.

Do this exercise exactly the same way you did the first one, doing the 5 tone scale forward and backward, then moving up a half-step and doing it again until you reach the highest place in your range you can sing comfortably.

An added twist:

After you’ve done this a couple of days and you’re pretty comfortable with the exercises, I want you to add a new element. Instead of doing the exercises in your normal singing voice, do it in what we call a “dopey” sound. Think “Sylvester Stalone….Adrian!!! Another example of the dopey sound (and where it gets it’s name) is that sound you make when someone says something that’s really so obvious it’s almost stupid..and you go “DUUUH!”. It’s an exagerated, throaty sound. Using this with your GUH GUH and NUH NUH NUH exercises makes them even more effective because they cause this “friendly compression” that helps force the larynx down even further. Try these for a few minutes a day-5-10 minutes tops. Do them daily for a week or so and tell me what you think. Remember though, don’t overdo it and don’t do anything painful!

I’ve explained this stuff as clearly as I can, but let’s face it: It’s hard to really get the full understanding of a vocal exercise looking at printed text. If you’d like to actually see and hear vocal exercises demonstrated, try my free 5 day vocal training course!