expressive worship

Your Freedom is My Distraction

Worship leader Janna Pastin, Nashville TN

I’ve had a beef the last several years with an issue that seems to be getting worse: “over exposure”. And I’m not talking about the sun.

Maybe it’s just me getting older and each generation has thought this way, but I’m seeing more and more skin on women all the time, and it’s too much – especially in church.

For certain cultures or situations, showing a little skin is not an issue, but when it comes to being on the platform in front of a congregation, it’s a problem!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude. I like to be as fashionable as the next girl. But wearing clothes that are too tight, too low-cut, or too short can be a definite distraction for people trying to engage in worship.

Just like we’d tell singers and players that constantly moving your leg to the beat, or any number of other things is a distraction, your clothing – or lack thereof – can be a distraction.

You can be hip and trendy without being overexposed. Sometimes it takes a little more creativity, but it can be done without turning you frumpy. No one wants to see cleavage when they are trying to worship.

Our worship leader had to set some guidelines for the women on the team, as there were some questionable choices being made from time to time… for example, no leggings without your top covering the crotch area. Cuz seriously, guys have enough trouble keeping their imaginations in check without giving them any help!

In addressing the skirt length issue, she referred us to our congregation’s beloved 80-yr-old Pastor Buck. She said, “Pretend you are standing on your kitchen table, and Pastor Buck is sitting a few feet away. Do you feel okay with what you have on?” Point taken.

Worship leader Leann Albrecht has lots more to say on this. Check out her article ‘The Fine Line of Fashion – Sensuous or Virtuous’…

Seeing the Music

I’ve worked with many singers who are trying to find and develop a unique vocal style. A great vocal coach can help with this. On the flip side, a bad vocal coach who only understands one style and tries to teach you that (whether your voice is suited for it or not), is a big mistake! You’ll never find “your voice” that way.

If you’re a guitar player who takes lessons from someone who can only teach one style (and it’s not the style you want), you’re with the wrong teacher. I’m not saying you can’t learn something from them, but you’ll never find your “instrumental voice” that way. You may find out what you don’t like, but it’s not the way to develop your own sound, your own tones, your own expression on the guitar.

The same thing holds true with expressing yourself visually onstage. Most artists don’t need to learn how to dance, so they don’t need a choreographer. They don’t need to take a theater class to learn what to do onstage. But there are fundamentals that everyone needs to learn to express themselves onstage. [Read more...]

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 [Read more...]

The Power of Kindness

Several years ago there was a song by Leslie Phillips called Your Kindness. The chorus said, “It’s Your kindness that leads us to repentance, oh Lord. Knowing that You love us no matter what we do, makes us want to love You, too.” 

I often think about the words to that song because, in my own life experience, I’ve found them to be so true of God. He is infinitely more kind toward us than we could ever imagine Him to be. He exceeds our expectations each and every time we come to Him. When we expect the very worst, it’s His kindness and forgiveness instead that floods peace into our hearts.  

When I think about God as Heavenly Father, [Read more...]

4 Things to Remember When Doing Only 1 Song

It isn’t easy to work with just one song. Whether it’s a solo in church, a special event appearance, or even an audition – the pressure is on! You have to be ready to “bring it” right away.

After years and years of judging contests and observing the 1-song showcase or audition, the cold, hard truth is that I can [Read more...]

The Lost Art of Conversation: conversational narcissism

We all have friends who constantly talk about themselves for hours on end. If by some miracle, we get a chance to interject a personal thought, it is met with a blank stare and the subject is quickly escorted back to something that relates to their life.

I call them “conversational narcissists.” [Read more...]

The Lost Art of Conversation: the “me” syndrome

I have a dear friend (I’ll call her Susan) who lived in another city so we didn’t get to see each other often.

Susan, like many others, suffered from the “me syndrome.” Every time we got together, her wall of words pelted me like a machine gun as I listened to the endless details of her life.

Invariably, at the end of our chats, I would walk away unfulfilled and disappointed because it seemed [Read more...]

The Lost Art of Conversation: a 2-way street

Leann Albrecht - worship leader, speaker and author

In the beginning, God created the universe by the spoken word. The book of Genesis recounts those first moments. “And over the darkness God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.”

After He finished His exquisite expanse of earth and sky, He added one more living form called “man.” Adam and Eve were created to have friendship with God and He conversed with them in the Garden of Eden.

We are creatures designed to be able to speak, listen, and understand each other. Conversation simply means: [Read more...]

Mystery of the Sunday Soloist

There’s a mystery to solve here at Tom Jackson Productions, and I’d like to get to the bottom of it!

We got an e-mail from Glenda, who sings solos at her church every few weeks. She’s only been singing for a year, and said for awhile the people seemed to enjoy it – clapping and complimenting her after the services.

Then she found out that she was singing off-key all that time and was of course embarrassed. She then took two months of vocal training and improved, even getting the courage to sing with her eyes open and use gestures to really bring out the meaning of the songs.

Then she says, “OK, here’s the weird part. [Read more...]

It’s Not About the Song

It’s pretty common for soloists and musicians to think that their audience has come to hear these “great songs” that they’re going to play! Singer/songwriters especially feel that it’s all about the song. But it’s not.

What it is about is an emotional connection with your audience. [Read more...]