Tips for Community Song-leading

Introducing the song

Remember that the introduction to a song is not a break from the service.  The intro should set the emotional tone and tempo for the song.

What’s the context?

  • What’s the story of the songwriter? What about the community or the times in which they wrote it?
  • Is there anything you can add about the original intention of the song?
  • How did the song come to you?
  • What does it mean for you or for Unitarian Universalism?
  • How does it support the theme of this particular service?

Teaching the Song

  • Practice!  Do they need to hear it one line at a time?  Will they remember the words or should the lyrics be printed?
  • Do you need to sing it through once on your own before or after teaching it?
  • Would it help to have the choir sing it earlier in the service or to have played the melody as an instrumental?
  • Be very clear about when you want the congregation to sing and when they should just listen.  Convey your intention with eye contact and gestures.   

Give Clear Directions

  • In communities where there isn’t a clear culture about the rules of congregational singing or when you’re stepping away from the cultural norms, give clear directions.  
  • People sing well when they sing with confidence.
  • Ask for the specific volume you want.  
  • Tell them the arrangement in advance if that will be helpful.  
  • Smile at the congregation, make eye contact, and be invitational.