Singing and Prompting

It’s the little things that make a big difference when you’re leading worship. One of those little things is whether or not you keep your volume consistent when you’re singing and when you’re prompting the congregation.

I’ve heard some worship leaders who sing at a good volume, but then when they give direction (i.e. “let’s sing that again” or “from age to age he stands”) you can’t hear what they’re saying. They back off the mic, they speak softly, and they confuse more than they help.

More often than prompting too quietly, worship leaders really crank up the volume when it comes time to give some direction. They sing at a certain volume but then all of the sudden they loudly interject. Of course this is distracting to the congregation, not to mention frustrating for your sound engineer, and it’s something that many worship leaders don’t realize they do.

Your sound engineer can help you maintain a steady volume between singing and prompting by making sure you’re using good mic technique and also utilizing compression at the board. But worship leaders still have a responsibility to avoid changing their volume on a whim and suddenly either dropping out of the mix or jumping in really loudly.

This might not be such a big thing to worry about if you’re leading in a room that has a good sound system with a skilled sound engineer who knows how to dial in compression to help the worship leader’s voice be heard, not too loud, and not too quiet.

But oftentimes worship leaders are leading in small rooms, and the “sound system” might either consist of a microphone, some speakers in the ceiling, and a mixer designed circa-1983, or maybe no sound system at all. It’s all the more essential in these kinds of settings that you make sure you’re singing at a good strong volume, and then when you prompt the congregation, they can hear what you say without having to strain to hear you, or without feeling like you’re barking at them.

Every human voice is unique, every room in which you’ll lead worship is unique, and every church has a unique combination of sound engineers (paid or volunteer) and equipment. Combine all of these factors, and worship leaders have to take a lot into account when they step in front of a group of people on an any given morning or evening.

Regardless of the setting, always be mindful of the little things, the basic things, that make a big difference. Having a consistent volume and being easy to follow is essential to effective worship leading. 

One thought on “Singing and Prompting

  1. paschott July 11, 2011 / 12:32 pm

    We just dealt with something like this recently. The lead singer would randomly change from melody to some harmony or other non-melodic tangent. Somehow, his voice got louder when he did that, making following the melody more difficult. He’s not a bad singer and the harmonies worked, but distracted because they were notably louder than the melody. He’s young and may realize this at some point, but it was still distracting.

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