Take your worship ministry to the next level in 6 steps

You know we’re all about next level ministry here. In fact I wrote a blog a while back called “How To Develop Next Level Mentality For Your Music Ministry” . Last night I came across another great article on taking your music ministry to the next level that I thought you should see. The Author Maurice Overholt lists 6 steps for taking your worship ministry to the next level. I really enjoyed the article because he approached it from an entirely different angle than I did and really did a nice job of explaining each step.  It’s a nice quick read that’s sure to be a blessing to you. I’ve included a link to Maurice’s blog as well as his website below. Surf on over and check it out. Be sure to leave a comment for him and tell him you heard about him here at The Music Ministry Coach.com!


Six Steps for Taking Your Worship Ministry to the Next Level


Trying to understand how to grow your church’s worship ministry can be challenging and overwhelming. Anyone, however, can discover how to take What kinds of new music should we introduce? What kinds of physical

My top 10 must-read music ministry articles of 2012

We are already a week into the new year, can you believe that? By the grace of God I have been able to post 2 blogs a week every week since I started back in July of 2011. Last year was my first full year of blogging about the music ministry, and God really gave me some things that were a blessing to ministries all over. Many many people have joined the “family” of people connected to this ministry in some way since I started. The fan page alone has grown to over 1100 followers. So I thought it would be nice to do a post compiling 10 of what I consider to be my most powerful music ministry blog posts of 2012. Many music ministry articles I did last year were very helpful to people seeking to improve their personal music ministry. I chose these 10 because I felt they have the most potential to impact both personal music ministries and church music ministries as a whole. Listed in no particular order, they are as follows:

1. 3 ways to develop a “next level” mentality for your music ministry

2. How to put the “ministry” back in your music ministry

3.  Music Ministry auto-pilot- 6 signs you may be losing your passion

4. The “5 Second Rule” of music ministry

5. The one unpleasant thing every every music ministry must have

6.  The one thing that must be your reason for EVERYTHING

7. How your musical gift is like a Sweet Potato Pie

8. 3 powerful steps to an anointed music ministry

9.  The one drawback about passion

10. 5 steps to effective, productive rehearsals

I went back and took a look at every article I did in 2012, and I have hand-picked this collection as the 10 absolute must-read music ministry blog posts of 2012. So definitely save this to your favorites folder so you can refer back to them. And if you haven’t already, please check the box below the comment section to subscribe to my newsletter so you can receive my blog in your in-box twice a week. Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The one big drawback about passion

I suspect this will resonate with groups of all sizes and types, but I think choirs and praise teams will relate most. One of the most frustrating things about group music ministry is the unfortunate task of dealing with all the different personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies of people. To call it challenging would be an understatement, wouldn’t it?

But if you’re a part of a choir, praise team or other group music ministry, you know exactly what I mean. The lack of enthusiasm. Tardiness. Absenteeism. A less than positive attitude. In a word, Apathy. The sad truth is not everyone that is a part of any given group is necessarily there for the right reasons. But I think that’s a lot less common than perhaps we think. Many people join the music ministry because they love it, but have simply been there so long that they aren’t excited about it anymore, as I described in Music Ministry Auto-Pilot, it’s a routine that has become routine.

We must also understand that not everything is as obvious as it seems. We often don’t know why a person is constantly late, missing rehearsals, generally apathetic, or whatever the problem may be.  And I’ve found over the years when you have such things happening across the group as a whole it’s a sign of a bigger issue or issues. The group as a whole may not be happy with some aspect of the way the ministry is administrated.

I’ve been talking about passion and love for ministry here lately and how they both intertwine. It is the life-blood of every ministry. Without it a ministry can’t be effective or, in my opinion, anointed. But here’s something I want you to really pay close attention to and understand, especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Passion cannot be mandated.

Let me explain what I mean by that. You see, the typical reaction to wide-spread apathy in a group is one of frustration. After all, this stuff should be obvious by now. This is music ministry. We know this.  Right? So leaders who find themselves dealing with these kinds of issues can sometimes react in a rather scolding manner. We start addressing the issues at rehearsals. And even though we often use all the right language, scripture and teaching, often it all comes across rather combative. Sometimes it even comes across like scolding. I’ve been guilty of this a lot, I won’t pretend otherwise.

It’s hard not to. Believe me I get it.  But the thing is, you can never get someone passionate about something by forcing it down their throats or beating them over the heads with it. Your motivation for doing so may be absolutely born out of passion, but the approach is often all wrong. Passion cannot be mandated. It can’t be forced upon people. It can’t be an ultimatum. That doesn’t negate the need for boundaries and established rules by far. But we’re talking something that goes beyond just showing up when you’re supposed to and doing what you’re supposed to do. We’re talking about enthusiastic, passionate participation in a ministry.
That kind of passion can only be shared. Shown. Lived outwardly in front of people. When it is experienced that way it is felt. Seen. Understood. And eventually, caught. I’ve come to understand over the years that the more passionate I am about my own service, my own position, my own ministry- about everything I do related to music ministry- the more it changes people’s attitudes around me.

I’ve always been known around my church for my love of the music ministry. Being passionate about it. But it seems here lately that reputation has grown even more. Not because I go around saying it though. I just am. It shows in the way I play, the way I sing, the way I direct. I can’t help but show it, because it’s just in me. And so these days when I speak to the choir or praise team about issues or challenges, the conversation is different. My tone is different.

It’s still deliberate, still one of authority, still adamant. But nowadays when I talk to my praise team about the importance of perfecting our sound, it’s coming less from that place of frustration and more from a place of  “I so want you to feel the way I feel”, or “when you begin to really understand this the way God gave it to me it’s going to transform this whole experience for you”.

I talk about how powerful and anointed our ministry can be. I talk about the importance of knowing our songs,  just like I always have. But now instead of negative language about “not sounding a mess” or “getting up there messing up” or “half-doing it”….you get the idea….I find myself instead talking about how powerful it is to be absolutely sure of every note and every word of a song. I talk about how freeing it is to sing without any fear or doubts. How it frees you to really worship God and feel His presence in a much more powerful way. I talk about how it affects the audience, and changes the atmosphere, and makes the people more receptive to the word of God.

But these days I don’t just say “we have to do it, it’s important”. I talk about what a wonderful feeling it is when God uses us mightily that way. I speak from a place of love and passion that they can see, and hear, and feel. Passion  expressed, shared, lived outwardly, is caught. It’s embraced. I’ve been doing this a very long time, so I know how all this sounds. I know it’s easier said than done, and I wouldn’t sit here and try to convince you that I always get it right.

But I do know that the more passionately I approach ministry from every angle-especially conversations about it- the more of it I see creeping into others around me.


How to put the “ministry” back in your music ministry

How to put the “ministry” back in your music ministry

A few hours ago as I started preparing myself to write today’s blog article, I started by doing what I always do. Thinking about the various facets of music ministry and wondering which one I’d focus on as my topic. But for some reason this time I found myself starting to think  about the word “ministry” itself. The word “ministry” is used so often in the church that I wonder sometimes if we really think about it’s real meaning any more.

Ministry, for many of us, has simply become that word we attach to the end of the title of any group doing anything in an organized way in a church. It’s music. We’re doing it in church. So that makes it “The Music Ministry”. We all refer to that large musical group we participate in at church as “the music ministry”. But I wonder if we really understand what that implies.

So I thought today it would be interesting to actually look at the word ministry separately and just get a good solid definition. In an article on the subject I found on GotQuestions.org the author wrote:

“Ministry” is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve” or douleuo, meaning “to serve as a slave.” In the New Testament, ministry is seen as service to God and to other people in His name. Jesus provided the pattern for Christian ministry—He came, not to receive service, but to give it (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17).

In another article I found on Kruse Kronicle the author defined it very simply this way:

ANYTHING done in service to God is ministry…….Ministry is ANY work done in response to God’s call

Taking the essence of what the word Ministry means then, and applying it to music ministry, we start to get a better understanding of the gravity of what we’re called to do. I spoke at a choir annual one year and I talked about the fact that even though only one person wears the official title of “Minister Of Music” in most music departments, every person that is a part of the music ministry is in fact a “minister of music”.

Think about that for a minute. Think about yourself as a “music minister”. Not in the sense that you’re in charge of anything, or that you play an instrument, teach, or direct. Only that you serve God and others in His name, through music. Yours is an individual ministry that is part of a larger ministry (the choir, praise team, band), who is part of an even bigger ministry (the church you attend).

That means everything you do, say and think in relationship to your service to the music department encompasses what you now think of as “your ministry”. It changes your thinking in some pretty profound ways, doesn’t it?

And yet the truth is, if we really honestly consider the real meaning of the word Ministry, we understand that as believers we are all called to be ministers. That’s true in every facet of our lives, in everything we involve ourselves in; inside the walls of the church or outside. My very life is my ministry. My service to God and to other people in His name.

It’s a pretty powerful way to think of yourself. Maybe even a stretch in some cases. But I can tell you from experience that every time you think of anything you’re doing that way, it automatically causes you to adjust your thoughts. To set your own bar higher. To strive for a higher level of excellence. Suddenly it’s very difficult to think about just you anymore.

Acknowledging your ministry support system

Acknowledging your ministry support system

There are people in this world who, by just being in your life, make you a better version of yourself. They may do that in any number of ways, but for the most part they just have a way of making it possible for you to be better at what you do. Many people have such friends, family or co-workers in their circle somewhere, whether they know it or not.

I happen to have 3 such people in my life. And even though I think about them all the time, during this time of year when we are faced with the demanding-sometimes overwhelming task of preparing for our Family And Friends musical, I realize just how much they mean to me and how much of an important role they play in my ability to do what I do.

I’d like you to meet 3 dear friends of mine; Justin Norton, our drummer. Cory Norton, our Bass Guitarist. And Monica Hines, our organist and minister of music. Along with myself on keys, this is the group that makes the band at our church. I’ve been blessed to work with these guys for many, many years. Over those years we have developed a special bond and a “gel” that many bands simply don’t have.

But it’s during these mass choir rehearsals that I really understand how just having the right people around you can make you instantly better at whatever it is you do. You see, before I ever got trained to become a professional vocal coach, I was a song teacher for my choir. I was a director for a while, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that my real calling and special gift was teaching choir.

During Family & Friends I have to perform at the highest level I do all year. I have a large amount of material to learn. I need to be ready each rehearsal to teach every note of every song that we’ll be singing- 7, this year. Not only do I need to come prepared to do that, I need to execute at a high level. I must keep the choir engaged, interested and energized. I must keep the rehearsal moving at a fast pace in order cover such a large amount of material in a decent time.

God blesses me to do that every year, and it’s in large part because of Justin, Cory, and Monica. My band. My support system. My friends and co-laborers in ministry. You see I teach on my feet, in front of my choir. I like to walk around, interact with the different sections, talk to them, pull it out of them. I stand in front of my choir and for an hour and a half, go at it.

In the process of teaching songs, I start songs, stop at any time, start back up wherever I need to, repeat things several times and then keep going when I think they have it. During all of this time, I’m fully engaged with my choir. I never look behind me to see if my band is ready, or if they know where to start. I say to my choir, let’s start here. I count it off, and the music is right there, exactly where I wanted to start.


I give instructions often without any hand gestures at all. Many times just by shouting it out loud to the choir. And every time, from behind me, the band is right there. When I do give a hand gesture, I still don’t look around to see if they saw it. Because I know that if I gave it high enough for them to see it, they’ll be exactly where I want them to be. In fact I posted a little video montage featuring rehearsal footage of 3 songs we did this year. Even in the footage you can see this happening.

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Don’t get me wrong, teaching is my gift. I go other places and I do well at teaching. But I’m never as fast, or efficient, or at that pinnacle of performance as I am when I’m with my band. When I’m somewhere else I look at the musicians a lot more Cues get missed. I have to make sure others see me. I have to adjust where I start and stop. Songs take a little longer to teach.

But my band? My band simply knows. I speak what I want to the choir, my band is there. I raise a hand and from behind me, they stop. I simply don’t perform on quite this level with anyone else. And I definitely don’t play the same when I’m not with them. I guess it would be easy to chalk that up to simply time spent working together, and to a large degree that’s absolutely true. But it’s more than that. These guys are the sharpest, most musically aware musicians I’ve ever worked with. I am a better musician myself when I play with them. I’m a better director when they’re behind me. And I’m the best teacher I can be when they’re backing me.

It’s always been my desire to stand up at some point and tell the choir at Family & Friends about these guys, what they mean to me and how they make it possible to do what I do. But I’m too passionate about it. My choir messed up once and ask me to speak about the choir at one of our Annuals. I was up 20 minutes before I realized it. But I know Monica will see today’s blog, and I hope she’ll pass it along to Cory and Justin.

Everyone needs someone in their life like that. Someone that, by virtue of simply being so awesome in their own right, makes you better at what you do. Who is that person or persons for you? I challenge you to think about it today. Identify them and find a way to let them know.

Monica, Justin and Cory, I love you guys. I do what I do at New Comforter only because you do what you do.

The Resonators: Your Built-in P.A System

Electro VoiceHey gang,

Shena Crane here. I want to change gears for this blog and focus on how your body enhances the sound you produce when singing. There are seven resonators in singing, unfortunately only three of them are really effective. But first we need to know what resonation is; it is the process of phonation enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way out. Personally I think of resonators as an inside microphone. It is a proven fact that a singer’s voice can be heard over an unamplified orchestra. How is this done, you ask? Well with the three main resonators that we are about to talk about.

The first most important resonator is the pharynx, this resonator is effective simply because of its position. It is the first cavity that the vibrations from the vocal folds pass through, and the other cavities have to accept what the pharynx passes on to them. The pharynx is broken down into three parts; laryngopharynx, oropharynx nasopharynx. This resonator is the most flexible and can be adjusted in size vertically and horizontally. The laryngopharynx is the first space that the larynx opens into. The oropharynx acts as the primary resonator for the vocal folds. And the nasopharynx is the highest part of the pharynx.

The next resonator is the oral cavity, which is second most important. The size and shape of the oral cavity can be adjusted with the tongue, soft palate, jaws and lips. This is why it is vitally important for singers to have good diction. It is important to articulate words without altering the sound created by the larynx and resonated by the pharynx.

The third most important resonator is the nasal cavity. This cavity cannot be adjusted in size or shape, it is pretty much set in stone. In the English language there are three sounds that require nasal resonance (m, n, ng). This resonator has the capability to be switched on and off. And if you feel vibrations in your nose and roof of your mouth when you sing, then that is a sign of good vocal tone.

So looking back on what we have learned so far singing can seem a lot more difficult then we realized. We have to think about posture, breathing, diction and tone quality. My question to you is, can you feel the vibration? Which should be felt in what is referred to as your “mask”. The vibration is felt in the teeth, lips, cheekbone and nasal cavity. Feeling the vibration is the result of good tone quality. If you sing with a upside down smile it will force your larynx to stay low, which will place your tone in the right place to cause vibration. So the point is to keep your larynx low when you sing.

Until next time,


In The Dallas Ft. Worth Area? Why not Book Shena for a private lesson!

Using good Diction, part 2: Diphthongs

Using good Diction, part 2: Diphthongs

MicIn my last blog on diction I discussed the three rules for omitting r when singing. If you have been implementing the rules in your singing then you should notice a change in your sound and how clear your words are. In this blog I want to focus on diphthongs. This word is derived from the Greek di – twice and phthongs- sound. A diphthong is a word consisting of two consecutive vowels in the same syllable. An example of a diphthong is the word fight. You have the first vowel sound ah and then I as in it at the end. So the first vowel sound is sustained the second one follows at the end. In reading this keep in mind that we are talking about being understood clearly when you sing. As a singer it is your job to tell a story through your voice. In order for the story to be conveyed is has to be understood.
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How simply using good diction can make singing easier

Hello Mic...Many singers do not really understand diction and the affect it has on their singing. Have you ever heard someone sing and you question in your mind “ what did they say”? Or even “ why do they sound flat or sharp”? Well guess what? Diction plays apart in all of that. If you are a singer you have to put focus on the way you are saying your words. Diction is vitally important in large group settings such as choirs and praise teams. When you have several people singing the same words at the same time, everyone needs to be saying the words the same way.

Let us pause for a second and give a definition to the word “diction”. The meaning of diction is a saying, expression or word. It is the art of speaking clearly so that every word is plainly understood. This word is often used in conjunction with enunciation or its synonym articulation. When it comes to English diction there are a plethora of rules that might surprise you when it comes to everyday singing.

Many English words include letters that are spelled but not sounded. We also have words with consonants that are sounded but not spelled. We know about silent letters, but what about those consonants that are sounded but we do not see them? Take the word “one” for example. It’s spelled with an “O”, but It’s pronounced, “won”. The w is not there but we say it.

Think back to my previous blogs where I talked about having an open throat. When it comes to diction clear singing equals easy singing. As a singer once you adjust the way you sing words singing will be a breeze and tone production will be improved.
I want to start this series off by talking about the rules for omitting the letter R in English diction when it comes to singing. There are three basic rules for omitting and sounding the letter R. I like these three simple rules because it helps singers control their sound.

  1. Never sing the letter R before a consonant:

I want you to say the word charm in two ways- first the way you normally say it, then with no r (chahm). Now if you sing the word without the r with an open throat, it comes out easier.

  1. Do not sing the letter R before a pause:

A pause would be considered as a spot that you would breathe or come to a stop. Omitting the r before a pause results in good tone and naturalness. Try saying the phrase “ when life is over,” with and without the r (ovah). Try singing the phrase, does it feel different at all? There is one exception to this rule and that is when a diphthong or triphthong is followed by a pause. An example of a diphthong is “dear” and of triphthong is “fire”. Oh, by the way I will discuss those two words in a future blog.

  1. Always sing the letter R before a Vowel

This rule is pretty much self-explanatory. Some examples are “spirit” and “for us”, if these words were said or sung without the r they would not be understood. Without the r these words would be totally different: “spit” and “fo us”, now you see why this rule speaks for itself.

Start implementing these rules in your singing while also applying everything I discussed in previous blogs. You will feel and hear your singing change.. Remember to always keep your throat open, larynx low and support every note as if it were your only one.



Shena Crane is a Classically trained professional vocal coach. She graduated from University Of Texas At Arlington. Shena holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Education as well as an Associates Degree in Music/Performance. Book Shena for private vocal training through The Music Ministry Coach.com