The Role of the Vocal Director

Luke Barry

September 9, 2021
5 min read

Earlier this year, we released an article called The Structure of a Worship Team. In it, I laid out the three key leadership positions we schedule for each of our events and services: the Worship Leader, the Music Director, and the Vocal Director. I talked about the role of the Music Director here. Today, I want to share more about the role of the Vocal Director.

Here are the expectations we share with our Vocal Directors:

  • Review Planning Center carefully before Sunday. Stay up to date with adjustments as the week goes on.
  • Listen through the set list. Memorize lyrics, melodies, and harmonies. Familiarize yourself with all vocal parts.
  • Review vocal resources, Rehearsal Plan, Vocal Map, Mic & Pack Assignments, and Stage Plots before Sunday.
  • Participate in Sunday morning Leaders Huddle with Scheduled Worship Leader (sWL) and Scheduled Music Director (sMD).
  • Lead Sunday morning Vocal Huddle. Come in prepared to lead vocal warm-ups, review PCO details, and highlight specific items as necessary.
  • Oversee vocalists for Call Time, Band Huddle, Sound Check, Rehearsal, Run Through, Team Rally, Platform Huddle, Pre-Service Huddle, Service, and Post-Service Huddle.
  • Work closely with sWL during rehearsal. Offer support and insight on vocal parts.
  • Guard team culture with vocalists.
  • Give feedback to vocalists as necessary.

Of these three leadership roles, I think the Vocal Director is the most likely to be left out. The story may go a little like this. We assemble a group of people into a worship team. The person who has the best voice or is the most comfortable leading worship—or, ideally, both—we call the worship leader. The person who is the best instrumentalist—or the one who takes initiative, or the pastor’s kid (like me), or the one who isn’t that great but is available Wednesdays and Sundays (you get it)—we put in charge of the band. Maybe we give him a title, maybe not. We’re not missing anything. We have two leaders who divide the responsibilities of leading the team, one working with the band and the other working with the vocalists.

But we are missing something. We’re missing someone who will bring all of the pieces together. On our team, that person is the Worship Leader. But, in order for the Worship Leader to do her part, we need to delegate the responsibility of leading the vocalists. This is where the Vocal Director comes in. The person who fills this role needs to be a strong vocalist with a good ear for vocal parts and a good mind for vocal arranging. His job is to oversee the vocalists, ensuring everyone knows what they need to know, follows the plan, and adjusts when necessary. Vocal Directors need to understand the group of vocalists they’re working with, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each person and working to bring them together in the strongest way possible.

The role of the Vocal Director is an asset to our worship team for many reasons. Here are three of them.

1. The Best Singer May Not Be The Best Leader

The intuitive strategy of allowing the strongest vocalist to lead the team is a mistake. A good voice doesn’t necessarily indicate a strong leader. Each of those two categories requires a completely different skillset. So rather than trying to fit one person into both roles, why not split them up? That way, the strongest leader can be free to lead and the most gifted vocalist can be free to sing and train singers. Sometimes it is true that the person with the best voice also happens to be best equipped to lead, but allowing that to be an unspoken requirement in your mind narrows the range of people you can work with. Dividing up those expectations allows you to include and empower more people on your team.

2. Less is More

Many Worship Leaders—and many leaders in general—make the mistake of trying to do too much on their own. The more you take on, the less you can give to the people you oversee and the tasks on your plate. Eventually, you will see a diminishing return in your leadership and you will cap the growth of your team. By dividing the responsibilities, you will enable each person to put more energy and effort into fewer things. Narrowing the focus in this way will improve the quality of your team’s work across the board. By taking the technical details off of the Worship Leader’s hands, you will free him up to focus on the big picture. By taking the big-picture thinking off of the Vocal Director’s mind, you will free her up to focus on the vocal details. And your team will get better.

3. More is More

Separating specific parts of a particular role into other, more focused roles creates opportunities for more people to step up and contribute in a greater way. More leadership roles, more leadership opportunities. And that is one of the most important things you can do as a leader: empower other leaders. If you are trying to do everything yourself, you are robbing the people on your team of the chance to lead, serve, and grow. I know it from experience: the fastest way to grow is to accept the challenge of leadership. I want the people on my team to grow. In order to facilitate that growth, I have to get good at creating opportunities for others and get comfortable with challenging them to be uncomfortable.

If you feel like we have wandered from our conversation about the role of the Vocal Director, we haven’t. There are simple, practical reasons to implement this role on your team. But, ultimately, it all comes back to the fact that, as a leader, you are called to equip, empower, and encourage other leaders. That’s the mission of VOUS Friends + Family, and it’s your mission wherever you find yourself. It may feel selfish to ask others to do something you are responsible to do. But in reality, it is selfish to deprive them of the opportunity to step into the struggle with you and reap all of the strength that stretching brings. I’m not talking about dumping your tasks on others. I’m talking about delegating authority in a way that is empowering, challenging, and, ultimately, rewarding. So don’t hoard what has been given to you. Take whatever responsibility and authority you have and share it with the people around you. Be a leader who doesn’t just create followers; be a leader who builds up other leaders.

Get help with the hard-to-answer questions.

Our team is here to answer your questions and provide advice and insight when you need it most.