21 Aug 2013 by Donna Uning CM-
As part of the Malaysian Gospel Music (MGM) concert in Kuching, the organizers held a series of workshops over the weekend here. One of the popular workshops held was the album production and vocals by participating gospel artiste Patrick Leong.
From the outside, the sound of voices singing echoed in the room where Patrick Leong was teaching. Combining both practical and technical knowledge, the participants get to do vocal conditions and warm-ups at the beginning of the workshop.
“Focus on your pitch; to further improve you need to slow it down,” said Patrick, demonstrating to the crowd not to strain their voices and control their notes. He talked about volume consistency and breathing. “Discipline yourself; there are various degrees of dynamics or projection.”
“The best way to improve your vocals is to physically and audibly sing,” he said. Good singers understand and precision. “As a singer, you have to listen to rhythm; precision is timing.”
He taught about feeling the drum and rhythm session; where precision is an internal structure. “Sometimes worship leaders don’t know when to come in,” he said, telling to come in usually after four bars. “How many don’t know when to come in?” he asked.
When it comes to interpreting a song, you need to digest the song asking yourself, “What it means to me?” “When you’re singing, it comes out very different,” he explained the difference between singing for the sake of singing and singing with more emotion or “Expressing what I’m feeling inside.”
This applies in album recording; with the same sentiments and emotions, he added. “When you seek the Lord, it turned to worship.” He recalled the time he was singing as a secular artist in his early days and singing was just singing.
“Now I sing not to impress or sound good but I sing for the glory of God,” he told. “My delivery and expression took on a completely different level.”
At the mental pitching discipline topic, Patrick used a few songs to demonstrate the exercise. After a few practices, he asked everyone to “Sing with your emotions, subject to the message. You will get into a different level where people can feel and hear who you are singing about.”
“This is what makes us Christian singers different. We are not just a servant of the Lord, we are a child of God,” he said. “You know how it makes you feel; it’s worship to God.”
In the two-hour workshop, he also taught about vocal range and harmony. Participants also get into a question and answer session. Overall, the participants had caught on a few good tips and had fun at the same time. About 100 people, mostly youths attended the workshop held at Blessed Church, Kuching.