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By Grant Norsworthy

Watch this short video. To understand the thought process behind the teaching video, read the blog post below it.

For those Church singers who find themselves in the privileged position of being given a microphone and a platform, vocal harmony offers an opportunity, but also the potential for disaster! Many singers love to sing harmony parts. It’s fun and gives scope for self expression. But if they are not well arranged and well prepared, harmony vocals can actually create a distraction for those we seek to lead (the congregation) and make it much tougher for them to be able to sing along.

As we choose when to use harmony vocals and what harmonies to sing, vocalists must keep several important consideration in their minds and hearts:

  1. We sing to guide the congregation to sing also, as an expression of worship through songs.
  2. We are not performers! This position on the platform is not my opportunity to show that I know how to sing harmony vocals. We should act as guides and as an audio and visual invitation to sing with us.
  3. To lead effectively, we must realize that the melody and the lyrics of the song are FAR more important than harmony.
  4. Harmony vocals must never crowd or disguise the melody for the musically uneducated median of the congregation.
  5. While harmony vocals can provide an excellent arrangement-enhancing technique, they must always be well arranged, well rehearsed and only used in a way that enhances the congregations ability to engage and sing with the melody and lyrics of the song. This is, after all, our primary role.

In short, our approach to vocal harmony must be disciplined and well controlled. The fun we have while singing harmony is not as important as the bigger purpose of our role as leading vocalists. Leading a group of people to connect more deeply with each other and with God through songs is MUCH more important (and fun!) than singing vocal harmony in the way that I want to.

In this instructional video for Church musicians, my team’s vocalists give a negative demonstration of haphazard, on the spot, “fly fishing” harmony vocals that are often distractingly heard from Church band vocalist.  We also demonstrate the positive use of well rehearsed, simple, vocal harmonies and their sparing application.

Watch Video#2 Vocalists: “Fly Fishing” for Harmony again here.

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