Tips for Special Music
Monday, March 23, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
Special music is an important part of the music program in most churches. Solos, duets, trios, quartets and other ensembles can really set the tone for the entire service. Normally, the special music occurs toward the last part of the worship service preliminaries, which should all point toward the preaching of God's Word. Special music is not merely entertainment nor a time filler. It is imperative that we consider how to make the special as distraction free as possible, to focus the audience's attention on the Lord and on the state of their own hearts. Here is a list of several important thoughts on how church musicians can make the special music truly special, heartfelt and meaningful.
- Don't use a hand held microphone if it is not necessary
- Don't cover your mouth with the microphone - part of your overall intelligibility consists in the audience being able to read your lips
- When holding a mic, hold it below your chin, pointed towards your mouth and sing over it, not at it
- Avoid using microphones with brightly colored pop filter foam covers - they make the singer look silly
- Don't use the microphone as a prop, gesturing with it, etc.
- Don't adjust your volume level with the mic by pushing it away from or pulling it towards your mouth
- Don't play with the mic cable while singing
- Don't make faces, gestures, or talk to the sound man while singing
- When using the pulpit mic, make sure it is adjusted, pointed toward your mouth (not too high or low), before the song begins
- Don't sing away from the mic when looking from side to side - either move the mic, or, better yet, move your head so it is always pointing towards the mic
- When using a mic on a stand, don't hold the stand or move it with your hand
- Consider purchasing good wireless mics - cords can get tangled easily and become a distraction
- Don't preach or jabber before your song - you are not the pastor
- If you get emotional and start crying, don't forget to breathe
- The singer's main focus should be on his own internal dialogue concerning the content of the song
- Don't stop and restart the song if you make a mistake, just keep going
- Only glance at the music when necessary - know the song well enough that you are not sight reading
- Make eye contact with at least one person in every section
- Don't look at the back wall or the ceiling - you are communicating with people
- Be conscious of your body language - sticking your nose up in the air makes you appear haughty, holding your face too low makes you appear timid, etc.
- Emphasize words that would normally be emphasized when speaking
- Make good use of "word color"
- Allow the rhythm to ebb and flow with the content of the song
- Don't focus on the "beauty" of your sound, only on the sincerity of your experience
- Never breathe in the middle of a word
- Never breathe in the middle of a thought
- Always sing in as relaxed a manner as possible, but with as much energy as possible
- Don't go for the high note if you can't sing it
- Make good use of dynamics - the whole song should never be sung as loud as you can muster
- Never try to imitate someone else - be yourself
- Move to the podium with purpose. Don't run, and don't wander
- If you make a mistake, don't look embarrassed, roll your eyes, grin, etc., just press on as if nothing happened
- If you forget the words, just make something up that makes sense at the moment and sing it with passion
- Wait until the song (including the accompaniment) is completely over before leaving the podium
- maintain eye contact until you turn to leave
- Don't tap your foot
- Don't scratch your head, face, nose, etc.
- Don't sway back and forth or from side to side
Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.