The subject of singing with emotion is a challenging one for all singers, but especially so for Gospel and Christian music singers. On the one hand, we want our singing have feeling, sincerity and heart-felt emotion. We want the audience to feel that and, because we want to be authentic in our service to God through music ministry, we want to feel it too. But there is a very fine line between singing with emotion and singing while emotional. The former you can certainly do, and you should. The latter though, is next to impossible to do. You can sing with emotion, but you can NOT sing while you’re emotional.
Have you ever tried to actually sing while you were crying? It’s just not gonna happen. Your voice gets all quivery and starts cracking, and who knows what else. You simply can’t hold your voice together and under control while you’re an emotional wreck. This though, is the ultimate dilemma for many singers. How do you give a song all the emotion it deserves without crossing that fine and becoming too emotional to even sing? I have 2 really simple tips I think might help.
1. Spend lots of time listening to the song.
Every once in a while I hear a song and it just wipes me out. And then it wipes me out again 2 days later when I hear it again. And again the 3rd time I hear it. But something starts to happen around the 4th time or so. The song still touches me and ministers to me deeply, but now I can hear it without crying. A similar process happens with all things that make you really emotional to the point of crying. Time and repetition doesn’t harden you or change your feelings. It just gets you to a point where you’re in much better control of them.
So when you’re scheduled to do a song that really takes you there emotionally, spend lots of time listening to the song. Practice singing it. After a few times through it you’ll get to a place where your emotions are more under control, even though you still feel the same way about the song and the message.
2. Open your eyes
Aside from the complete disconnect between you and your audience, there are other reasons why you should never sing entire songs with your eyes closed. Singing songs entirely with your eyes closed has a way of blocking out everything and focusing only on the lyrics and the message you’re singing. It becomes very, very personal and you’re almost sure to get the water works going. However, when you sing with your eyes open and actually look at people in your audience, you’ll find that you still have the freedom to sing with all the emotion you like. But you’re a lot less likely to get too emotional and start crying when you’re engaging the audience. Break your audience into 4 squares. Then pick someone in each square that seems to be with you and supporting you. As you sing, just move from square to square, looking at that one person briefly and then moving to the next square. Try these two tips the next time you’re faced with the difficult task of getting through a song that makes you really emotional. Remember, at home or in your car, when you listen to that song it is to, for and about you and only you. When you get up to sing it though, it becomes a message that is for, about and to the audience. Switching to that frame of mind allows you to sing with as much emotion as you like without becoming too emotional to sing.
And that would be a great last sentence for this blog. BUT!!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t stress that even in all of this, the Holy Spirit must be allowed to have His way. No matter how well you do all of the above, there will be times when the presence of God is so thick in the room you just can’t go on.. Forget about the song at that point. :O)
Are you ready to lead a song but you’re avoiding it because you don’t think you can do the ad-libbing part? If that’s all that’s holding you back I have something that will help. Check it out here.