expressive worship

The Why, What, and When of Movement

The Why

Why move when you’re on the platform? I’m sort of philosophical. I want to understand the “why” before the “what” and “when.” “Why” is because your songs don’t sound the same, and so they shouldn’t look the same!

To those who are watching, if the songs look the same, and 55% of what you’re communicating is what they see, then the songs sound the same. And you start to lose them. No one wants to lose… they want to take their listeners on a journey – with a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

As singers and musicians, we know the content of our songs – what we want to accomplish. We need to communicate that to the audience.

By changing visually what we do onstage (I call that “changing pressure on the audience”), it keeps them captured and engaged with what we’re doing.

The What

What we need to do is keep the integrity of the song. The song is always the script of how we should move. And I don’t mean acting; I mean that the context should determine our movement on the platform. A quiet song should not look like a big ballad, which shouldn’t look like a song that rocks or moves.

Yet with artists it’s what I see constantly. Sometimes when I’m watching a video of the artist, I’ll turn the sound off and ask them what they’re singing. And often they can’t tell me what song they’re singing, because they can’t hear it!

I say we should be able to determine what the song is about from watching, because that’s a huge part of how people connect emotionally with the song.

The When

When we do these things is critical. We don’t want to do things randomly. One of my Live Music Methods teaches how to do “angles onstage.” The reason we do angles is so people can get a different perspective of us during a song. Not just a straight-on shot with the same look all the time. It helps draw everyone into what we’re doing.

But we need to know when to use those angles. When using an angle we need to finish the thought. Finish the line before you pivot onstage and start another. For those of you who are interested, my All Roads Lead to the Stage DVD #5: Don’t Fall Off the Stage, shows this and many other techniques for moving onstage.

We don’t want to randomly go from angle to angle to angle. That gives the impression we’re not in control. It gives the impression you’re not interested in your audience. One of my key rules is: if you take an interest in your audience, they’ll take an interest in you and what you’re singing.

I hope this helps you make sense of the why, what and when of movement. If it doesn’t, let me know! Write a comment below, or email us. We’re here to help!

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Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson, world renowned Live Music Producer, helps musicians and worship teams develop songs into “unique worship moments.” His Live Music Methods help create freedom in the room so your congregation can express their worship more freely and passionately than ever before! Tom has worked with nearly every genre from rock to pop to Christian Gospel, impacting major artists and worship leaders such as Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns, NewSong, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Todd Agnew, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Parachute Band, The Martins, plus a multitude of independent artists.

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  1. Ron says:

    I’m having a difficult time applying this to our situation. I agree with Tom, but we do not have an elevated stage, we don’t have a “cheat screen”, our mics are all wired, etc. Is there any way to apply movement when we feel so tied-down? How can pull this off without purchasing a bunch of new equipment? We are anticipating moving into a building next year with all the right equipment, but how can we start moving NOW while we still have music stands a flat room? Does movement matter if people can’t see you very well in the first place?

    • Mary Blalock says:

      Hi Ron,
      When I first started with our worship team, we, too, were tied down by corded microphones. I would suggest that you move as far as your cords will allow; but without a cheat screen, this requires a commitment to memorizing your music. Maybe it is too much to have everything memorized right off the bat, but you can memorize large sections of music, or alternatively, memorize at least some of the songs in your set. The congregation will notice a difference, even if they don’t have the best view. They will feel the difference in your energy, and the eye contact you are able to make, even if it is limited, will translate into more communication with your people. I humbly suggest that you do not wait until your physical circumstances and equipment are improved. The love you can pour out to the congregation when free from your music stand will have an impact right away. I am speaking from experience. Even small changes can have astonishing results. Our congregation responded from the very first Sunday we simply moved father forward–changing the pressure on the congregation, as Tom says. And if you start learning about movement and angles now, you will be better prepared to lead with authority in your new building next year.

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