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Help with "being myself" when leading church music

When I lead worship and music at church, pastor and fiancé say that the content of what I say and my songleading is great, but I need to be more myself when I am up on the stage. They say I am too serious (which is not my personalty) when I am on the platform.  
I find it hard to combine my more laidback, fun-loving personality with the more serious nature of worship leading. 
I would love some tips to help me be myself, yet not be too laidback while leading worship on stage.
Thanks a lot! 
on January 7, 2014 1:18pm
I was a worship leader for 10 years in the United Methodist Church, helping to create the modern service in my home church back in 2001.  You neglected to tell us what worship style you're leading.  If it's a traditional worship setting then your demeanor is probably appropriate.  If it's a modern style then you can relax and allow yourself the freedom to have your personality shine forth.  But in any case don't  get so hung up on the solemnity of worship that you come across as not yourself.  Part of the authenticity needed in worship is to have the congregation see the truth behind the person down front.  RELAX and let who you are be seen.  Remember, God also created our sense of humor so don't be afraid to let them see the "laid back, fun-loving" individual at times, even in traditional worship.  Blessings on your ministry!
Applauded by an audience of 4
on January 8, 2014 7:19am
Thank you for your help! It is a more traditional worship service. 
on January 8, 2014 7:46am
I don't think David could have put it any better. Bravo!
Phil Micheal
on January 8, 2014 8:52am
I applaud what David said about authenticity, and humor.  One of my favorite pastors was always pointing out that "God has a sense of humor."  Some traditions actually have a "Hilarity Sunday" - this goes way back.  Apparently they understood that it is healthy.
Though, David, this might not be what you meant, I do not agree that the worship-music genres  should dictate anything about our facial expressions, basic demeanor, and suchlike.  The "somber-ness" could well be what has kept many people out of churches!
Maybe it would help to focus your "jokes" toward the meaning of the words, message of the day, etc.  There's a reason that most pastors start with a cute anecdote.
Talk to the mirror; practice what you say on Sunday morning there.  Most of us only check our appearance, and whisk off to work, but the mirror is a wonderful teacher!  It can help us observe and release tension in our face, neck shoulders, etc.  (Releasing this tension is great for singing, acting, breathing, communicating!).  It can tell us - if we watch carefully - whether we ever raise our eyebrows, or smile - two God-given tools of expression that we naturally use in daily conversation, but often clam-up in front of large groups. 
What is the natural "charm" of your face?  Dark, dramatic lines?  Then, yes,  use your eyebrows, but don't overdo it - you might intimidate a little.  Thin, angular faces need to be subtle - otherwise they come off as too severe.  On the other hand, if you have more of a dimpled "choir-boy" face, then you can get away with somewhat more exaggerated expression - your cheeks will relax it naturally.    Use your smile!  Communicating Joy to the world is a big part of why we're there!  Watch people in groups.  They rarely smile, but they might be happy.  However, their faces don't show that.  Sometimes smiling has to be conscious and intentional.
Record yourself.  Are you using a lower pitch-range when you speak - a deeper, more "formal" timbre?  (A friend called this "the Moses voice" - though sometimes it is necessary - for instance, outside.)
Actors help us understand that we can widely vary that pitch-range .  (I used to be stuck in "soprano-mode" because I am one.  But a Helen-Hayes-awarded actor taught me that when speaking, it's much more effective to use all the range/resonance/registers.
Is there a "What-will-they-think-of-me-doing-that?!?!" bird on your shoulder?  Judgementalism, unfortunately, is way too pravalent - in our schools, workplaces, ...sadly... churches....and worst of all, within ourselves.  Tell that bird where to go!  Or better yet, invite him to hush his criticism and help you sing!  Maybe he needs to become your best encourager.  If you give him,
then he might just learn what you are trying to teach.. 
Obviously, you've got a good start because you cared enough to ask here!  As one of my first teacher mentors said, "You won't have any problem because you don't want to have any problem!"  :)
on January 8, 2014 2:43pm
I am the director of music in an Episcopal Church, and lead both traditional and contemporary styles of worship there.  Episcopal liturgy tends to be fairly solemn, but what I love about my church is that we can and do laugh in worship, and we can and do allow ourselves to be human.  I believe God has a wonderful sense of humor!  (Else he would not have created the duck-billed platypus... ;)  ) Honestly I think that to allow our congregants to see who we are as humans can be very healthy and helpful.  After all, they're all trying to figure out what to do with themselves in worship, too! :)
Julie Ford
on January 8, 2014 4:22pm
Let's start with the why your personality changes.  Only you can truly answer that.  But here are some options that might shine some light if you're having a hard time understanding this part of yourself.  It could be any of these, any combination, or none at all.
1. You're missing some confidence in yourself, and you're afraid of being judged, by your musicians, your congregation, pastor, or any or all of the above.
2. You care deeply about the quality of the music.
3. You have underlying tension in your life that comes out when you express yourself artistically.
If it's #2, by all means keep being serious if that's your mode.  You'll learn how to work lighter mannerisms into your rehearsal with a little conscious effort.  No biggie.
If it's #1 or #3, or a combo of the two, you've got some soul searching to do, and by posting this message to us all, you're on your way to discovery!  Bravo!
You'll be just fine, and thanks for contributing to the world of music.  Ain't it great!? :)
..some choral dude.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 21, 2014 7:00pm
My church choir's director is very expressive with his face and with his gestures. I find I react to him more because he's so open about how much he's enjoying the music we're all making together. If somebody makes an error, he does this funny thing where he squints at his score, looks up and laughs quietly like "hey, woops!" It really takes the tension out, because I had another director who would go from happy to looking really upset if people made a mistake, and it really killed the performance.
Take it seriously if you must, but always try to smile or offer some expression of what the music means to you.
Applauded by an audience of 1
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