When telling a story to small children you need to be animated. Telling the story of the Three Little Pigs to a kindergarten class, for example, must not be told with an emotionless straight face. The children would be climbing the furniture, bored out of their minds. You must keep their attention. They should, in response to your incredible story-telling, be eager for the next part, afraid of the big bad wolf, interested in the different houses of the three oinkers, and ready for anything else exciting in the story. Thus, you change your voice with each character, you use arm gestures, and you huff and puff.
It’s much the same as singing a song. You are telling a story – one that you want your listeners to hear and be moved by. Really emote so that your audience concentrates on the words of your song, not just the beauty of the voice. I’m not talking about looking ridiculous. I’m talking about telling the story with your face and using arm gestures that emphasize your words, keeping open to feeling the words yourself so that the audience is enthralled with not only the voice but with the how, why, and where of the words you are expressing.
One thing that really gets my goat is seeing a church choir that looks more like they are singing for a funeral than singing for the glory of God. I have seen, on so many occasions, choirs singing about the joy of the Lord with not a smile on one choir member’s face. This really is uninviting to those in attendance and does not lend itself to a good worship experience. The choir members or praise teams are the lead worshippers. If you find that worship isn’t happening, take a look at the ones leading the worship. Are they truly inviting people to have an encounter with God or are they just singing by rote? People, sing like you love Jesus! If you are not doing so, you need to re-evaluate why you are singing in the first place. If it means you must stop singing in the group for a while and work on your relationship with God, do it. You are not doing any favors to anyone else by just being a body. Now, some directors may not be happy with my opinion. Who wants to lose voices in their choir? But, I would rather have a small group that sings with joyous spirits, than have a large group that gets in the way of true worship.
For the choir, for the small group, for the soloist – the notes you sing are important, but so is the text. If you want to keep your audience riveted, tell the story. If in the process of how you express yourself you make someone cry, laugh or feel something, your job is complete. What you have accomplished is worthwhile. Don’t just be noteworthy, tell the story.