TWLL #41: Finding Your Natural Singing Voice

Feb 08, 2024

read time: less than 5 minutes




In recent years worship music has become increasingly popular.  Well-known worship collectives and artists are in front of us all the time via YouTube and social channels.

For us as worship leaders, it can be encouraging and helpful to have the new songs and skillful examples that come with mainstream worship music.

The trade-off is that sometimes what starts out as admiration and inspiration for us can subtlely slip into comparison, especially when it comes to vocals.

We hear amazing singers and often unconsciously feel pressure to sound that way when we ourselves lead worship.

And even while elements of imitation can be good and helpful, the reality is that your voice isn't supposed to sound like someone else's when you sing- it's supposed to sound like you.

Today, I want to talk through a handful of vocal tools we can use as worship leaders, to help us find our natural voice when we sing.


1- Sing Like You Speak

One of the best ways I know of to find your natural voice, is to sing like you speak.  In other words, the core of your singing voice should be your speaking voice.

The way that your vocal tone sounds when you talk- when you're just chatting with a friend, unaware of how you sound- that's the core vocal tone you want to use when you sing.  The only difference when you sing, is that you want to project or raise your speaking voice.  

Think of it like this- when you're in one room of your house and you're saying something to someone who's in a different room or is upstairs, you naturally and automatically raise your voice so that they can hear you.

That's exactly the voice you want to use when you sing.

(credit: Thank you to W. Stephen Smith who, in his incredible vocal book The Naked Voice, presents this idea of singing like you speak.)


2- Keep It Loose

When you sing it's good to do it with energy and expression- but sometimes what sneaks in is some tightness or tension in your throat and oral areas.  

Now there's a natural very low-level tension in these areas when you sing, because multiple muscles are working to produce and carry your sound- and I'm not speaking to that. 

I'm talking about the higher-level tightness that can come when you get super animated or push your vocals.  

That kind of tension can create multiple challenges vocally, but I'm specifically thinking of how it can actually hide your natural vocal tone.

How do you steer clear of this?  Largely by just being physically aware of how your throat and oral areas feel when you sing- and then also by mentally telling yourself "relax"!  

Side-note: it's interesting to me how much of singing is mental.  With any other instrument, you can see the muscles you are using (usually in your hands, wrists, forearms, etc), but with the voice those muscles are hidden from your eyes.  So you have to go by feel, and then learn to direct those vocal muscles with your mind.


3- Posture Matters

As a piano student I was told that posture makes a big difference.  As a vocal student I think it was highlighted, but for some reason the dots didn't really connect for me.  

I didn't fully realize how much harder or easier it is to sing well and sing naturally depending on my physical posture.  More recently, I'm seeing that posture is HUGE.

When my back, shoulders, neck, and head are straight it really adds to and aids the whole idea of singing like you speak.  I find that it's easier to do, and on top of that, my vocal range and pitch are significantly strengthened.

Higher notes don't feel as high, and stabilizing my pitch comes much more naturally.

If you're like me and haven't thought much about posture, it's time to re-visit the whole idea and be conscious about sitting or standing up straight when you sing.



There are multiple things that can help you find your natural singing voice, and I've just mentioned a few here that have been difference-makers for me over the years.

But I want to encourage you to use these tips and implement them on your vocal journey.  Remember that when you lead worship, you're not supposed to sound like someone else- you're supposed to sound like you.




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