5 Tips to Learn and Teach New Songs to Your Congregation
As soon as the line-up is given by the worship director, ideally no later than a week before the service, you need to get yourself familiar with the song. Here are some things you can do to help with mastering a new song you are preparing to lead at your next service:
Read lyrics out loud:
Audibly read through the lyrics of the song from beginning to end. If you don’t have it already, you can download the lyrics of the song from the internet (make sure the website you are getting it from is a reliable source so words will be accurate). You can choose to print the copy or keep it in your computer or smartphone. Read aloud the words of the song from start to finish. Check for correct and comfortable pronunciation.
Understand the song:
Learn the Scriptural background of the song. Find out what the story is behind how the song was written. This will help you understand it better, and will allow you to instantly connect with the song. By connecting with the song in this way, you will often find it easier to memorize.
Know the melody and form:
Master the melody of the song. It is possible there are different versions of the song with melodic variations, and a completely different song form (verse, chorus, verse 2, chorus etc.). Make sure that you are learning the version your music director is intending for the group to learn. If you are not sure, do not be afraid to ask. A simple question to clarify concerns can save you having to relearn parts or struggling to unlearn an incorrect song form.
Memorize the lyrics of the song. Once you’ve done the steps above, I guarantee memorizing the words of the new song will be that much easier to do. Effort should be taken to commit the song to memory. It is hard to lead a song that you as a singer are struggling to sing. You can pay more attention to leading and less attention to trying not to sing the wrong words. If you rely on a screen prompter and it goes out, you will stumble, and if you have to constantly glance at a music stand with lyrics in front of you, it can be distracting for your congregation. More than likely you will sing the song for many months so take the time to learn the lyrics.
Teaching the song:
Now you are ready to introduce and teach the song to the congregation. Relax and smile. At this point, you know and have mastered the song by heart. It is always good to talk about the Biblical background of the song as you introduce it. You can play the song before the service formally starts so people are already hearing it and becoming familiar with it. Additionally, you can begin to use the new song as a special number a couple weeks in advance of formally introducing it. If the song is a cover, you can play it before and after services over the PA system as people arrive for and leave the service. Sing the melody confidently and enunciate the words clearly. It is also important that our emotions reflect the message of the song accurately.
It may be an intimidating experience to teach a new song, but as you do your best in the process and trust in God to guide you through the whole experience, watch how well the congregation will receive this great new addition to your worship service.
Psalm 96:1, “Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.”
Blog by: Cylynn Huyssen