At the Worship Leading workshop, Annabel Soh, Alison Yap and Teo Poh Heng shared some helpful tips on becoming an effective worship leader in the church.
City Harvest Church’s three worship leaders, Annabel Soh, Alison Yap and Teo Poh Heng, shared their personal insights on leading worship in a church. To kickstart the session, Soh highlighted the importance of the voice; mentioning that it is an essential part of the leader. A worship leader also has to communicate the right emotions, learn to control breathing and vocal interpretation.
Soh also stressed the positive benefits of doing vocal warm-ups. Some examples of warm ups include lip trills where one lifts up the weight of the skin above the lips and blows air; proper breathing techniques where one has to breathe from the diaphragm, not from the lungs; and running vocal scales which help in pitching and vocal arpeggios. She added that warm-ups are especially important in the morning where the voice is fresh and raw.
The worship leader also has to know his or her songs well. Accents and emphasis on certain syllables and consonants are needed as it could express different feelings and emotions. Using two popular melodies, “Nothing is Impossible” by the Planetshakers and “Great is Our God” by Christian City Church as examples, Soh demonstrated the use of anticipated rhythms and accurate time measures to bring out the mood of the song. Another vital skill for a worship leader to have are giving clear hand signals; for example, using “1” to show verse, “2” to show Chorus, “3” to show the Bridge and a clenching of the fist to show the ending are also required.
Teo and Yap then exemplified a subset of worship leading—spontaneous worship. A common chord progression, the use of a “1645” or “6145”, was suggested for free worship. Yap had earlier shared that melancholic progressions are not advised as it is likley to convey a negative feel. To show the use of creative melodies to lead people into deep worship, the song “Sanctuary” by City Harvest Church was used.
“Instead of singing a few notes, we should express our love for God through beautiful melodies. One should also avoid repetition and have a good bank of fill-ins,” added Teo.
The form of a song and dynamics are also essential. An example of a well-planned form would be “Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus”. Yap said that such a plan can vary between churches, depending on the needs of the ministry, and added that this form is subject to change based on the mood and atmosphere of the service.
Coming to the crux of the session, the trio highlighted that capturing the “God-moment” in the middle of worship is the most important aspect of a song. Teo explained, “Pastor Kong sometimes mentions that the longest distance between two points is the line between our mind and our heart. Our mind sometimes moves so quickly that our heart cannot catch up; we need to find rest in God.”
A believer’s feelings also need to be engaged with God in worship, otherwise it would become a religious duty. In 2 Kings 3:5, Elisha called for a musician. Explaining that regardless of one’s gifts, talents and abilities; without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the best that one can do is impress people yet completely miss out on changing and impacting lives.
The session called for an informal Q&A session where pertinent questions included how to motivate an unresponsive congregation. In response, Yap shared that the anointing breaks the yoke and one must try his/her best to bring people into worship. Another question dealt with handling emotions on stage to which Soh mentioned that one has to be concerned about people rather than self when it comes to leading worship.
You Hyun Deok from South Korea, 27, currently enrolled in the School of Theology expressed his thoughts, “I was impacted by the quality of the praise and worship in CHC. I hope to use this opportunity to learn about worship leading and improve my skill.”