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 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


Why you should NEVER sing entire songs with your eyes closed (part 1)

It’s a very common thing to see Gospel singers do their entire selection with their eyes closed. And honestly, most have very good reason for doing so.  After all, Gospel music is ministry. As such, many well-meaning singers simply want to completely lose themselves in the song and it’s meaning. Their thinking is if they close their eyes and focus completely on God and the message, God will use them to bless the audience. Some others though, close their eyes simply out of fear, nerves or stage fright.

Either way though, singing with your eyes closed the entire time is something every singer should avoid. Ironically the very reason many singers close their eyes is the most important reason they should STOP doing it. Have you ever been in a social setting with two or more people who are having this intense conversation and not involving or addressing you at all? It’s as if you’re not there!
Singing with your eyes closed has a similar effect on your audience. Even though every sincere Gospel singer wants to have a powerful, effective ministry that really speaks to people, closing your eyes cuts your audience out of that conversation and makes it a private conversation between just you and God. The audience, even though many may be enjoying the performance, is robbed of a much deeper connection with you because you’ve made them an outsider “looking in”.

But when you sing with your eyes open- and sorry guys, starring at the ceiling or the clock on the back wall doesn’t count either- I’m talking about making eye contact with members of the audience- people feel a much deeper spiritual connection with not only you but the message you’re portraying in the song. Imagine for a moment that you’re in the audience watching a performer sing. He’s great, and clearly fully invested emotionally and spiritually in the song he’s rendering. His eyes are closed the whole time. You hear him sing “sometimes you have to encourage yourself”, and you nod in agreement as you sway back in forth.

NOW: Imagine the same artist is doing the same song. He sounds great and the spirit is high. He’s engaging and looking at members of the audience as he sings. Just as he comes to the line “no matter how you feel, speak a Word and you will be healed”, his eyes make contact with yours and he points at you. This time tears begin to flow because you KNOW God is delivering a Word directly to you through this artist.

That’s the difference. When you engage with the audience while you’re singing, your message is much more powerful because you allow God to speak directly to them through you. And that’s the whole point of it all, isn’t it?

Now let me just clarify something really quickly. When I say you shouldn’t sing with your eyes closed, I mean just what I said above; that is, not for the entire song. There are moments in a song where it’s perfectly normal to close your eyes for a moment during a high energy or emotionally charged point in the message. Worship songs are also a bit of an exception to this rule of thumb. Typically when you’re singing a worship song it’s being done in an atmosphere or time of corporate worship. As such, most of the audience will also have their eyes closed… a perfect world. But we all know that’s not often the case even during worship songs.

Worship songs are different in that they’re really designed to set an atmosphere for worship and communion with God. It’s a lot like the background music at a really nice restaurant. Even so, while it’s maybe more acceptable to close your eyes longer or more often in a worship song, it’s still just as important to be sure to make eye contact with members of the audience from time to time.

Ok so we’ve established that it’s not a good idea to sing entire songs (or even most of a song) with your eyes closed. But singing with your eyes open comes with its own challenges. In part 2  I’m going to share a really neat performance tip you can use to make it easier to and highly effective.

See you then!

Image courtesy of “imagerymajestic”


2 simple tricks to automatically sing with less strain

Kay on blackYou know by now if you’ve been a regular reader that there is simply no substitute for vocal training when it comes to reaching your goals as a singer. However there are many small changes you can make that make a big difference, and I try to talk about those often in my blogs.

Almost all Gospel singers struggle with straining in the upper parts of their range. That’s because almost everybody sings much harder than they really need to most of the time. This “over-singing” causes a lot of the vocal strain we feel in the higher parts. One very simple thing you can do to almost instantly feel more comfortable and eliminate some of that excess pushing is to simply make sure you can hear yourself really well.
Continue reading

Singing with a cold

No273 13 Oct 2009 SneezeI’ve tackled this subject briefly in a video blog a few years ago, but it’s a subject we singers need to talk about often; especially this time of year. I went looking for some additional information to share this time around, simply because I thought my video blog years ago was informative but pretty generic in it’s detail.

One of the most informative articles I found on the subject was written by a vocal coach I’ve known about for some time. His name is Mark Baxter. Rather than copy and paste his great article here, I’d like you to do me a favor and check it out on his site. While you’re there check out what else he has to offer and book-mark his site.
Continue reading

High notes can be too much of a good thing (or bad thing)

High notes can be too much of a good thing (or bad thing)


Aaaahhh yes,The high notes. It’s the thing we all want more than anything else, isn’t it ? Certainly, extended range is really important for a singer to have. The more the better. The more notes you have access to the more versatile you are as a vocalist. It is indeed very, very important as a singer to be able to take your song to a climax by nailing that high note. And I mean really nailing it, not screaming it.But when it comes you your upper range, there is definitely truth in the phrase “too much of a good thing.” High notes are a lot like riffs and runs. They’re not easy to do, so people who find themselves blessed with that ability often to do way too much of it.
You’ve heard the singer who goes way up into the upper range for that high note, and you think “go head, SANG!!!” But then they spend the rest of the song up there and never really come back down (turn to yo neighbor and say ‘he right!’) Five minutes later all you want them to do is STOP singing.Why is that? Because like everything else in singing when it’s overdone, high notes become very tiring to the ears when given in massive doses for extended periods of time. After a while even the clearest highs will sound like not much more than yelling to the audience.

Highs, like riffs and runs, are most effective when they are used as exciting moments where you build your audience up into a frenzy. But you must also allow them to come back down. Otherwise high notes can very quickly become very monotonous for the listener if not tempered with lower register singing.

We’ve all had that instance where someone is talking to you, then their voice gradually starts to fade into the background noise. You don’t even realize you’re not listening anymore. The same thing happens in a way, when you stay in your upper register too long. For Gospel singers this tends to happen in the “vamp”, or “press” of the song. That’s when the singer goes to that high note and kinda sings everything on that note from that point on through to the end. Aside from getting monotonous to the listener, it’s also quite a strain on your voice.

Instead, try moving around a bit more in the press. Don’t go that high note and stay there. Use it more as an accent, making your delivery more like conversation.

Take Care!



So you want a full time music ministry? 2 things you’d better learn quick

So you want a full time music ministry? 2 things you’d better learn quick

You’re passionate about your gift. Nothing makes you feel like ministering to God’s people in song. You feel like it’s what you were placed on this earth to do. And you believe that God wants you to do it full time. Sound about right? You’re not alone. There must be thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people just like you. And yet dispite being incredibly gifted and anointed, the vast majority of singers and musicians who have a dream to one day do it full time never achieve that goal.

There are many, many variables, reasons, obstacles that keep people from achieving this goal. I suspect there are as many of them as there are people. But two of them are so common that I believe they affect the vast majority of well-meaning talented believers. This blog isnt’ meant to be an exhaustive study on the subject, but I do want to touch on them both enough to perhaps make you think.
So let’s start with the obvious. In order for one to do anything full time one has to make a full time income from it. Which brings us to the first thing you MUST learn to do if you ever hope to be full time in your music ministry.

Charge a fee.

First of all, I already know every one of the 10 or 20 things that just ran through your mind when I said that. I know the culture in our churches and the unwillingness some people have to pay. I know that many people still see it as wrong for a believer to even ask. I’m not here to defend or debate any of that, only to point out a few things that I hope will give you a different perspective.

1. Love offerings does not a full time income make. You can’t live off love offerings. Besides, if we’re going to get technical here, love offerings are against the law last I heard. But that’s another subject.

2.If you believe God is calling you to full time ministry, then you must believe He has thousands of people earmarked for your gift to bless. If you believe that, then you have a moral obligation to charge for your services. As obvious as this may sound, if you don’t charge for your services you can never expect to grow your ministry past occasional engagements for love tokens. That means that you’ll never walk into what you believe God has called you to do.

Treat it like a business.

Another one sure to leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, but no less true. Contrary to popular belief, a ministry can be a business. And a successful one has to be. And any business owner will tell you that no business will ever be a success without investing money into it. You must invest first in yourself. Your craft. So that when you do charge you don’t have to do it in some shy, apologetic way. Every serious singer should be taking vocal lessons. Every serious musician should be constantly honing his craft.

But it goes way beyond that. Every business needs paying customers. And to get them the business owner must do marketing. I had to learn myself though, that marketing is a learned skill. Too many of us just throw ideas against the wall and see if anything sticks. I did it for years. But I finally had to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

When I set out to find that out, things started coming to me that seemed to be just what I need. I heard one business coach say “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. And I certainly found that to be true.

Look, I know the thought of all this is overwhelming. It is for most believers who want to do something real with their ministry. To touch more lives on a bigger scale and still keep it all about God. After all, that’s the real reason most Christian artists avoid doing those two things, isn’t it? And that’s why many of us hesitate to ask for a fee or market ourselves. True enough, you can’t go out there as an unknown just starting out and expect to command a fee. You definitely will need to do many free engagements, participate in local events that invite local artists, build a reputation and a following.

But the first step to growth in your ministry is to get rid of the belief that it is somehow wrong for you to promote yourself and treat your ministry as a business. You need to understand that this is not only ok but something you MUST do in order to achieve your primary goal, which is to minister to God’s people on a bigger scale. If you really feel called to this then failing to do so is really depriving many people of your ministry that may have otherwise been touched by it.

Growth on that scale will come with operating costs that must be met regularly, or you can’t continue to minister. This simply can’t be done depending on the occasional love offering.

I won’t pretend the process is easy though. Or immediate. You’ll need to really do some research and learn a lot about marketing. You’ll need to be out there in front of people performing a lot more often; many times for free as you build a reputation and a following. You’ll need to find groups and organizations that help people like you with the process of growing their ministry.

But the first step to doing anything full time in ministry is to get rid of old beliefs we’ve all grown up hearing and accepting as truth. Ministry, in order to be effective and reach the masses, must incur expenses, and those expenses must be paid in order for you to continue to minister to more and more of God’s people. Ministry and business can and must co-exist.  And if you want to do ministry full time you’ll need to get very good at finding a healthy balance between both.