I love to sing. Psalm 100? Yes.
Alone in the car, or with 2,500 people in an auditorium. I love it. I’m not terrible, but I still shy away from singing in front of people. Not so much in my younger years, but now? Don’t ask. Please. Ok maybe during Karaoke.
This past Sunday? I was distracted while singing during the worship time in church. This is nothing new, nor is it a difficult task.
I get distracted easily.
As I was standing next to this person with an incredible voice singing “It is well with my soul,” I was listening to them sing along with the band. They were harmonizing at key points, and it got me thinking, in my many years of attending a Sunday service, I’ve found I tend to fit into one of these types of singing persona’s in the crowd.
1) Chorus only harmonizer
This is what we all grew up doing once we learned how to harmonize. This is safe, and this is my go-to singing persona.
2) Three by Five
When this person busts into harmony, they ALWAYS hit the 3rd or 5th of the chord because that’s what they know, that’s what they’re comfortable with. They choose to sing above the melody because they have a little more confidence in their range than the average Joe, that is until the chorus. At this point if it gets too high, they may choose to go the Deep South route.
This person has strayed so far away from the melody, they’ve chosen to just harmonize the entire song. I’ve done this on purpose before, just to see if I could. This person, they don’t have a choice. Unless you are in Take 6, you have no right of harmonizing the entire song. Come back to the melody, I beg thee!
4) High Flyin’
This happens generally for women, when a low tenor or baritone is leading worship they have no choice but to sing an octave higher than their comfort zone. As long as they control their volume, it’s all good.
5) Deep South
This happens when a smooth alto or soprano leads, and us tenor/baritones don’t have any other choice other than to sing an entire octave below the melody. Or when the guy just doesn’t realize the melody is high enough for him to get out of the basement. This makes me sad when I have to do this, until I remember I can sing falsetto, but then quick nudge from Kim keeps my volume in check.
7) ICEAPWAUCG: (I can end a phrase with an unresolved chord guy)
I have to admit, I do this for fun but at lower volumes. Basically at the end of a phrase that has a long note, you hit a half or whole step below or above (depending on the chord) only to resolve it right before the next phrase. You have to be sure to sing longer than everybody else so they hear the resolve. This way, they’ll give you a funny look at first only to follow it with a “Oh, THAT’S where he was going with that, I get it.”
8 ) The Not Tyson
This happens when you’re really in it, you start to bite your lower lip. Or at least this happens when you want people to think you’re in it and you’ve forgotten the words. Yeah, I do this often.
This persona has a set of flexible pipes that can put Mariah, Whitney, Luther and Stevie to shame. Doing runs throughout the song like nobody’s business. It’s fun and challenging to match the leader’s run, but it’s embarrassing when they don’t do it the 2nd time around. Sometimes I appreciate subtle ones from my singing neighbor, I think it’s pretty rad.
I have to admit, I’ve become this persona more often than not. When the lyrics get to you, and they touch the depths of your soul, you try to sing the lyrics but you just can’t else you break down. So you hum. This also happens when you forget the words, but remember the tune.
That’s all of them that I could think of, I swear I thought I read something like this on one of the other blogs that I read so if you happen to find this somewhere else, PLEASE let me know so I can at least give credit to the idea.
Amazing. Generally, I’m number 1. For the last 2 years or so, I’ve been number 10. Not sure what’s going on, but even in the car I’m having trouble getting words out without losing it.
I think most will find themselves as #1, but I’m with you on #10. Now, are you talking “snot all coming out of your nose, eyes swollen and short of breath” losing it?
Yeah, me neither.
i so can’t sing. so I think I’m probably all of the above.
Alece, it’s because of your statement of “all of the above” that I believe you when you say you can’t sing… BUT, I’m one to believe everybody can sing, but not everybody can sing well 🙂
Fun and funny post, Ben!
I flit between three personas not on your list:
#1 The Silent Snob: This is when it’s “not in my key” and/or I don’t like the song. My wife (mock angry): “Aren’t you gonna sing?” Me (self-righteously): “No. It’s not in my key. And it’s a predictably boring song anyway.”
#2 The Tommy Boy: Remember that scene with Chris Farley and David Spade, where they’re singing REM, but can’t get the words right? Yeah, I don’t know the words to any song! So I make them up.
#3 The Milly Vanilli: My go-to alternative to #1 (especially in church) is to lip synch. It’s important not to call attention to yourself, but to blend in while mouthing the words. I tend to get distracted looking around at people, so my Milly Vanilli also includes The Tommy Boy.
I LOVE these! I am cracking up right now, what’s even more hilarious is now that we’ve met, I can totally see it.
Wait, on #3 you lyp synch the wrong words? OH man this is too much, LOL!
I am laughing soooo hard! I’m such a Tommy Boy and Milli Vanilli!!
I like the Silent Snob. I do that, especially if the key is too high
My favorite is the tone-deaf, loud guy. He is not on key, but he loves God and is determined to let his volume show it.
Yes! Many times I almost get to this, RIGHT before I turn to #10. In between I’ll camp out at #8, just for good measure.
#1 all the way!
It’s common, it’s safe, and as I said it’s my Go-To. Be Bold! Do a #3 once or on a phrase hit the #7. Or if you’re really daring #9 it!
My favorite is the clapper that can’t find the beat. They kinda hunt around with each clap, they find the down beat once or twice but never seem to truly find the beat, but they keep on clapping anyway.
Allen, what would be a good name for said clapper? Clapadopolous?
We just call her Granny Lin 🙂
You beat me to it! (No pun intended…”beat”..rhythym…clapping…yeah, it was funnier in my head.)
The clapper who has the rythmic ability of Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk is annoying.
I’m totally #1. I can’t sing for my life and if/when I do, I scare people. They proceed to lay hands on me and pray for me. I think there is a clause under, “anything that has breath on it, praise the Lord – except Moe) somewhere in there.
Oooh, that reminds me of Ron Kenoly for some reason. That song has an awesome trumpet track.
I do #7 quite often. 🙂
Yes!!! I bet you peak out the corner of your eye to see if people are giving you the “What the heck?” look, only to see them sigh in relief when it resolves. I bet.
Umm yes..I do the Tyson often.
I also cannot keep beat, so I clap on the off beats. People think I’m cool. But I know the truth.
There’s the Tyson, and the Quivering Tyson. Clapping Off Beat is cool, especially if you do it with confidence. Not cool if you’re leading an impromptu song mid-service. That advice was free…
Such an awesome post.
My wife & I actually met singing, but she definitely more talented than I. We love us some karaoke too.
You met singing? Like, what? I don’t remember reading that, did I miss something? Were you in a boy band? I need to know!!!
#1 for sure. Have been #10 though as well. Terrible singer, but love to sing!
It’s ok to feel like you’re a terrible singer, loving to sing shows through the notes 9x out of 10. Unless you’re singing on the radio, then it’s bad news for everybody.
#2 most of the time describes me – Alto by birth but singing with the audience choir is the experience of choice. Love to harmonize with pops in worship!
Yes, you do, and you do such an awesome job of it, we learn from the best!
#2 and #10 – like a brand spankin’ new driver.
I just had my first week singing with the worship band this Sunday and they threw in one song we didn’t practice and I didn’t know — hello #8
I think if you’re leading, it’s a whole different ball game. I’m sure @loswhit or @jonacuff has those leader persona’s already covered over on their sites, lol.
I think if I were singing with the band and didn’t know the words, I’d just put my head down and do the one hand raise. I’d probably even nod my head back and forth, so as to show a complete immersion in the worship.
When I sang with a traveling music group in college, the stand in technique for what to do when you forgot the words was “banana banana banana”. I still don’t think that covers the fact you don’t know the words. I mean if you are singing “banana banana banana” and the words are “I need thee every hour”, you aren’t gonna look like you know the words, now are you?
I’ve heard the “watermelon” technique works a little better.
I am not really sure what some of those phrases mean…but I think I’m at least a #1. Or maybe I’m the unmentioned one…the one who desperately wants a beautiful singing voice & prays that Jesus will magically turn my watery voice into well-matured wine. 🙂 It doesn’t ever happen.
lol, with practice young padawan…
IMO, teaching somebody to be in tune is difficult, if you have at least that, technique can be taught MUCH easier.
I think I’m in the #1 camp.
I could not stop giggling reading this post. Usually at church, by song 3 or so I’m in full hummingbird mode. There is just something about the intensity of corporate worship that hits me hard. Heaven’s gonna be so awesome!
When I’m at home and writing, I like to put in the earbuds and pretend I have goldpipes. It drives hubby bonkers, so I’m usually only allowed to do it for about 2.3 seconds.
You may have missed the nice gentlemen at my church who sings incredibly loud and incredibly off key. He is so sincere in his worship that I don’t know what to do about. Sometimes I am trying so hard to not bust up laughing. Other times, I’m like, “You go man. You worship in all your off key glory.” Other times, I’m like, “Wow, I can saaaang compared to him.” Which one is he?
That one is Jesus.
No no no, I kid. It’s definitely tough when one of those kinds of people are singing way off, but are “in worship” mode. Very distracting, but thank God they’re not doing it for anybody but Him 🙂
Oh, I totally just heard you say “I can saaaang.” Gurrrl.
I quite want band of brothers to be my life…