Setting The Worship Leader’s Volume Level
You might only have the worship leader as the lead singer or it might vary from person to person. No matter who it is, you need to find a way to set a proper volume level.
There are three criteria I use when setting the lead singer’s volume level;
1) Out-front on new songs. Any time the worship team is singing a new song, the congregation needs to clearly hear the lead singer.
This isn’t to say the lead singer’s vocal line covers up everything else. It’s like walking through a crowded shopping mall and following someone else. They don’t have to be 20-feet tall but they need to be tall enough that you can easily follow wherever they lead you.
2) Lower on known songs. The church body should feel like they are collectively lifting their voice. Let’s stick with the crowded shopping mall analog. You don’t need worry about the location of the leader because you already know where you are going and how to get there.
But they are the leader, so if they divert into an unexpected shop, like the “Sing-the-Chorus-Once-More Store,” then you can still follow along.
3) Always rising above. This would be the “you’ll know it when you hear it” criteria. One of my favorite worship CDs is Yahweh (Live) by Hillsong.
It’s a live CD but I can hear the audience singing along. The lead singer’s voice rises above the unified voice of the congregation but it’s still a part of the overall sound.
Imagine worshiping in song, as being one with the congregation and the band. Imagine then that you stop singing and listen. You hear the voice of the congregation but just above that is the lead vocals.
The Take Away
The volume level of a singer can make or break a worship environment. You should keep in mind three criteria when setting their volume level; louder on new songs, lower on known songs, and always rising above.
If you have a good relationship with your worship leader, then take a page from my playbook: recommend new songs get a “special music” treatment wherein the band plays and the words are displayed on the screen, but the congregation isn’t asked to follow along.
Using this process, the first time the congregation is asked to sing along, they are comfortable with the flow of the song and much more likely to focus on worship rather than focusing on singing the melody the right way.
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.