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5: Picking Songs and Phrasing

Kiley Hill

24:40 · Vocals

In this lesson, Kiley combines all of the vocal techniques and exercises shown in previous lessons and talks about how to apply it to songs and song selection.

5: Picking Songs and Phrasing

Kiley Hill

It is very common to find that worship songs are sung mostly in our chest voice and a little in our middle voice. So you need to choose songs that the rest of the congregation can join in with, not songs that are outside of a normal vocal range for most people.

All of the exercises Kiley has given you will be helping strengthen your vocalizing. If you’ve been practising regularly, you will have already noticed an improvement, just because you are repeatedly going over correct technique and strengthening your vocal chords.

You will find you feel more comfortable making certain vowel sounds as you’re practising. For example, the “gug” sound vs the “nay” sound. Kiley demonstrates how you can interchange a different vowel sound to put your stronger sound in the harder to sing range. Once your brain has made the association, you can blend it back out - flip flop the sounds.

The same thing can happen by doing this flip-flopping in a song. identify what parts of the song are chest, and what are middle voice for you? What parts of the melody lines can you push in your chest voice, or get a really strong part of your middle voice? Take your 5 favourite songs, or 5 songs you’ve sung recently and find the parts that are more intense musically? Where are the jumps? Where are the elevated parts? What parts do you have to jump from chest to middle (or head) voice? You can even take the vowel sounds that you have strength with and flip flop them into the song until you’re comfortable with how you’re singing it.

Kiley demonstrates using To Our God, I Will Exalt, Shepherd.

When you have the assistance of a microphone and in-ears it contributes to these choices where you can go in to either chest or middle voice and conserve energy. Listen for strain vs strength with real ease.

Theres not always a wrong or right between using chest or middle voice, but if you can use your middle voice wherever you feel your breaking point, your bridge, is for your chest voice you will be securing more longevity for your voice. And the more you rehearse those vocalizing techniques the seamless that’s going to be.

Picking your songs:
Consider the phrases we sing in worship songs. The longer the phrase the more air that’s required to sustain them. Some songs have punchier, faster phrasing, which usually require strong pronunciation. You need to ensure you have the right energy behind these songs.

Record yourself singing a worship song you like. Keep practising your exercises and come back and after a month or so re-record yourself singing the same worship song. When you listen back to both of your recordings you should hear improvement.

Also be aware of vowel shapes when you’re singing. Look in a mirror while you’re singing songs once in a awhile to ensure your placement is correct. If the mouth is too wide (smiling while you sing) it will contribute to a brassy tone.

Analyzing your 5 songs:
- Where is the song difficult for you?
- Where do you feel any pressure?
- Where are the spots that move from your chest to middle voice?
- Do you feel yourself on the verge of breaking at any part in the song?
- What parts of the song need most of your strength and stamina?

Its really important as a vocalist that you are building history with songs, not just technically and practically. There is emotion in your instrument and there is power in that. What songs have you spent time in, letting them minister to you? What songs are you connected to? What songs have had an impact on you consistently for a long while? Your effectiveness, both vocally and spiritually in leading a song comes from the fact that you’re already connected to it. New songs are great but most of your set should be made up of songs you have history with, that you are deeply connected to.

Look at songs you love leading. Are there similarities between them? Tempo, phrasing, are they all joy-based, slow and intimate? Ask yourself why? Kiley challenges you to explore some new territory with the songs you’re leading. You have a lot of tools now to try new things.