Make Your Message Contagious! 5 Steps to

November 23, 2012 at 8:40 am | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Make Your Message Contagious!

5 Steps to Reaching Your Listener

If a singer says to me that he or she feels uncomfortable smiling while singing, my
response is, “I’d rather feel uncomfortable, than look uncomfortable!” The face and eyes
say it before anything comes out of the mouth! No matter how sincere the voice may
sound, the face and eyes must also reflect the message for believability.
Here are some practical ways to help singers cover up the “butterflies” inside to
effectively communicate the gospel and connect with the congregation.

1. A FRIENDLY FACE
To start, ask your singers to sit or stand in front of a large mirror or to face you. Explain
that they will be practicing to convey their songs with a worry-free face. Ask them to
think about what it feels like to open their front doors to invited friends and family into
their homes on a holiday. Next, ask your singers to relax their faces and close their
eyes. Cue them by saying, “Without saying a word, open your eyes and let your faces
say to me, “Welcome to my song. Welcome to my message. Welcome to my Lord!”
“Ready? Open!” Relaxing the face can be a real challenge for many so encourage your
singers to practice. For up tempo songs, a relaxed smile with the teeth showing
expresses excitement and joy. If the song is reflective, a pleasant sincere expression will support it. Portraying the message with the face and eyes will cause the congregation to “see and feel” what the singer is visualizing and feeling. Encourage your singers to practice on their own in front of a mirror!

2. EYES THAT SPARKLE
Eye to eye contact from the front of the platform is the best way to connect and
communicate while singing. Inexperienced singers may feel distracted by the audience
looking back and may prefer looking at the foreheads and hair instead. The audience
generally will not notice the difference and will love the connection.

3. GESTURES THAT HAVE PURPOSE
 Avoid clasping hands low in front of the body in the “fig leaf” position.
 Relax the fingers ahead of time by vigorously shaking both hands before going
out onto the platform.
 Relax the fingers on a hand-held microphone to avoid the stuck tarantula look.
 Need a safe “home base” for the hands? With elbows relaxed, press the inside of
the wrists against the sides of the legs keeping the fingers relaxed and dangling.
 Rehearsing with a rolled up magazine under each arm pit will help the singer
avoid the frozen statue look. Keeping arms and elbows slightly out looks more
comfortable and helps keep the ribcage lifted for better breathing.
 Purposeful hand gestures can energize and support an exciting up tempo songs
and tender heartfelt ballads. Wherever the hand points, the audience looks. (i.e.:
a hand lifted towards heaven) A hip-slapping hand will put the focus on the beat
and the hip but not on the message.

4. A CONFIDENT WALK
 Entering and exiting the platform with great posture and a pleasant confident
facial expression will heighten interest and help support the God-honoring song
that’s been prepared.
 The singer will have a better connection with the entire congregation by using
one-third to two-thirds of the platform space.
 When walking left, take the first step with the left foot. Start with the right foot
when walking to the right. When moving farther back (upstage) on the platform,
walk backwards as much as possible to continue engaging the audience.
 Graciously acknowledge applause as a praise offering to the Lord for all that He
has done. If the exit is on the side of the platform, walk backwards or sideways
facing the congregation. Turn away from them at the point of walking off.

5. CROWD PLEASING WHILE NOTE READING
Admittedly, it’s a challenge. A nose buried in the music does put up a barrier that makes
connecting with the congregation more difficult. Remind choir members that they will
look and sound their best when they hold the music with both hands so the top of the
folder is just below the chin….

Better Singing by Christmas! Six 15-minu

November 1, 2012 at 11:01 am | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Better Singing by Christmas!

Six 15-minute lessons to jump-start your rehearsals

Christmas is almost here and singing will play a central role in your church’s celebration.
Starting now, why not incorporate these challenging but fun, 15-minute warm-up lessons into your weekly rehearsals?

With the suggestion of improving singing techniques, also comes the consideration of putting too much pressure on your faithful volunteers. After all, isn’t choir supposed to be fun; a midweek break from work and family pressures; an outlet? Absolutely! All of those reasons apply but the foremost purpose for being in a church choir or worship team is to serve our Lord and effectively minister the gospel. Each “minister” can be blessed and be a blessing when he or she grows spiritually and in musical expertise.

Taking your singers to the next level requires that they re-think how they sing. The following lesson plans will help your singers to take a look at their vocal habits, improve their overall tone quality, and sing lyrics that are understood by the congregation.

Week One: Breathing

Filling up the lungs is comparable to filling up your car’s gas tank. The more air, the farther you go.

Practice 1: (Need an open floor space or carpeted area for this practice.) Lie down, relax, close eyes, and feel your abdomen rise and fall while breathing. Stand up and try to duplicate that feeling. If time, repeat the exercise and assign as “homework”.

Practice 2: Stand with a straight spine, ears positioned directly above the shoulders, and chin parallel to the floor. Place hands on each side of the rib cage and feel the lungs expand when taking in a deep breath of air. Re-position one hand in front of the mouth and blow a small steady stream of air onto the index finger for as long as possible.

Week Two: Relaxing the Jaw

Singing with tension comes naturally because of our tension-laden language, English. It’s natural to want to “bite down” on lyrics as they come out of the mouth. We do that when we ar-ti-cu-late speech. The difference is that in singing, biting down on words usually ruins a beautiful tone. The objective for this week is to introduce singers to the concept of relaxing the tongue, teeth, and jaw.

Try to keep this exercise fun and light-hearted. When a singer tries too hard or intensely
concentrates to get it right, the outcome is often counterproductive. The concept of relaxing the mouth and having the tongue seemingly float when singing offers a drastic change to most untrained singers. Asking singers to embrace this concept can create for them a mental brick wall that blocks their ability to get to the next level of proficiency. Make this important practice count but keep it light and non-threatening!

Practice 1: Place hands along the sides of the face, relax the jaw, and say “Ah”. Let the weight of the hands help to relax the jaw muscles, keep the jaw dropped, and the mouth open. Say a no tension, sighing “Ah” several times.

Practice 2: Speak the following words, “Hello ________”
(Make it personal, use a multi-syllable name in from someone in your group, a name with hard consonants in the middle, i.e. Harold)

1. Say it with normal speech, “Hello Harold”
Now, say it with a flabby tongue and a Novocain mouth, “Heh-woh Haa-wold.”
The purpose of this practice is to establish that SINGING IS NOT LIKE SPEAKING OR YELLING!

Week Three: Producing Resonance

In the front of our faces, we have sinus cavities. Though very irritating when infected, these spaces under the skin serve the fantastic purpose of giving the unique bell-like quality to the human voice. Acoustical guitars have sound boxes and we have sinus (resonating) cavities.

When the singer understands their presence and function, he or she can intentionally focus the tone in the front of the face and produce brilliant sounds. Doing so will also help keep the singer from: 1. producing dull and flat tones in the back of the throat and 2. becoming hoarse.

Those who…

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