Hello, Song Leaders!
Here are some answers to some of your most frequently-asked questions.
Q. What if I’m scheduled as a trainee but I really don’t feel ready to sing?
A. No problem at all. We will have you paired with a veteran Song Leader (and we have many veterans on standby). As a trainee, you are free to ease into the role at a pace that feels right for you. You can ask for all of the help you need, and if you don’t feel ready to lead song, you can ask the rehearsal leader to assign the singing to your Song-Leader partner. You can observe and take on song leadership when you feel ready.
Q. What happens at rehearsal and how much preparation is expected?
A. Rehearsals are a time when the Song Leaders, Deacon(s), Shruti-box Player, and Percussionist work through their various roles under the guidance of the Rehearsal Leader. The service has lots of moving parts, and rehearsals allow us to practice various points in the service so that they flow as well as possible. “Okay, let’s rehearse the beginning of the service through the end of the gathering hymn.”
It’s a fun, no-pressure environment, and you’ll quickly get a sense of the support all around you. You can help your teammates by putting in whatever preparation you can ahead of time. You’ll get more out of rehearsal that way. If you haven’t had time to prepare, no worries. Come to rehearsal, and the Rehearsal Leader will work with you and depending on how it goes, she might assign you a minimal role or ask you to observe during the service.
Song leaders and Deacons have reported that rehearsals have awakened a deeper sense of intentionality within them. They discover how leadership that holds the group’s learning lovingly, invites all to participate, and models shared authority makes the service into a deeply spiritual experience. The skills we practice during rehearsal are skills we take out into the world. For a more detailed picture, see What Song Leaders Work on During Rehearsal.
Q. What are those meetings that the Rehearsal Leader and Song Leaders, Deacons, and Shruti-box Players have after the service?
A. After the service, the Rehearsal Leader gathers the team for a quick “What did you notice?” session. These last seven minutes (and we usually use a stop watch to make sure we don’t go over the allotted time).
By asking, “What did you notice? What did you learn?” we cultivate a mindful attention to all of the things that happen during a service, big and small.
Here are the kinds of things we might notice:
“I noticed that I had no idea what pitch to start the prayer song on, but that another Song Leader nearby leaned over and helped me out. It was nice to be reminded of all the support I have around me.”
“I notice that this is not the greatest shirt to wear when song leading because it restricts the range of my arm motions.”
“I noticed that it might have helped to repeat the song a few times before splitting the congregation into halves and starting a round.”
“I noticed, when it was too late to stop, that I started the procession into the dining room before everyone had a lit candle. So I’m going to remember that next time.”
“I noticed that I had to sing louder when we got into a big circle because there were people on the far side of the room who seemed to be struggling to hear me.”
“I noticed how the group really loves to sing!”
Q. What if I make a mistake or space out when I’m leading a song?
A. It happens to all of us, so don’t worry. Mistakes are actually great moments for modeling grace for the whole congregation.
One thing that helps is to know that you can take things at your own pace. “Okay, hold on. I started on the wrong note. What is it? Can someone help me? Thanks! Let’s try again.” To speak those words with a loving and graceful self-forgiveness tells everyone, especially newcomers, that Saint Lydia’s is a place of mutual learning and support, not a competition where everything must be executed perfectly. By modeling grace and learning, we make a broad invitation to all.
Q. I love singing, but I don’t think I have the greatest voice. What should I do?
A. Song leading only requires singing the songs so that the words and melody are clear to the congregation. Furthermore, by offering your voice in leadership, you are saying something important to the group. “Everyone belongs here. It’s a place of learning, not an American Idol competition.”
Your Rehearsal Leader will help you feel more confident in your singing. Let your voice be heard and you will encourage and empower others!
Q. One of the Rehearsal Leaders has a gap between his front teeth.
A. That was not formed as a question, so we will not dignify it with a response!
Q. I have a song I want to teach the congregation (one that’s not on the menu of options). May I bring it in to teach?
A. See our special page on this: Songs for Saint Lydia’s — How We Choose Our Repertoire.
Find more Resources for Song Leaders and Song-leader trainees here!