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  #1  
Old 04-12-2017, 04:10 PM
Chollyred Chollyred is offline
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Default Another "Play like the record" thread...

The worship team at our church made an announcement that they were looking for volunteers to fill in with the team and give regular team members a break.

I talked with the leader this week about being available to fill in if they needed, but that they seemed to have a fairly deep list of available players. So he starts complaining....They do not do a mid-week rehearsal, just a 30 - 45 minute rehearsal on Sunday before the first service. He starts complaining about people not completely knowing their parts before rehearsal, about having to look at their music and not connecting to the congregation, etc. They never change arrangements. He wants everything exactly like the record and played to a click.

I tried to remind him that he has played and toured professionally for years, and that his "fill-ins" are primarily shower singers and garage drummers. They also have day jobs and don't usually have hours and hours to practice during the week like he does.

I think I hit a nerve. I don't expect to get any calls from him to fill in... :)
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:26 PM
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alparrott alparrott is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

I've been on a number of worship teams over the last ten or twelve years, and you're spot on - the caliber of musician that typically volunteers for worship services is somewhere between shower and garage. To be fair, though, most worship leaders are in a tough bind; they have to make do with those who step forward or risk having nothing on Sunday mornings.

In this case, though, I see a lot of the worst WL mistakes rolled into one. First off, the lack of rehearsals should be something he has at least some modicum of control to rectify, unless he's not got any authority or support from the church leadership.

If he indeed has a "deep list" of available folks to play, then he should also have the latitude to start cutting folks who are ill-prepared or who need work on their craft. A lot of WLs struggle with this, because they're nice people and musicians, not CEOs or drill sergeants. But if this were a gigging band and people kept showing up not knowing their stuff, you'd ask them to step out, right?

But the worst mistake I see this WL making is complaining about his lot to you. That doesn't bode well for his motivations, his leadership, or any sincerity behind the worship music... which in turn says something about the church organization. I think you're right to keep out of this situation. it doesn't sound happy, productive, or partiicularly focused.
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:05 PM
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AzHeat AzHeat is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

What Al said, And to add...in my experience, if people have a gig on Saturday playing hit songs in front of 20 people and have to also play on Sunday in front of 2000, they tend to practice, practice, practice for the 20, so they can impress the them, and will find anything else to do, but practice for church. The stuff we play at least, is way tougher than most top 40 and really requires concentration. As for the click, the young unseasoned musicians and particularly our singer, who by the way have awesome voices can't count, so I welcome the click. To play exactly like the original....that may be because the WL needs to keep it as simple as possible. In my previous church, we would practice it like the album, do a rehearsal on Wednesday and change it all on Sunday. The guys I was playing with were that good. I wouldn't think of doing that at my current church. Can't even get anyone to volunteer, much less practice or show up on time. So much for having your heart in the right place. That's likely the same issue with your church and it's definitely a leadership issue.

Last edited by AzHeat; 04-12-2017 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:17 PM
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PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

If your church has "a fairly deep list of available players," then he needs to count his blessings.

I totally "get" both sides of this argument:

On one hand, you have a bunch of volunteers who have lives outside of church unlike the worship leader. Yes, these people are not pros, and the worship leader needs to understand this.

On the other hand, the folks on the worship team HAVE to show up knowing their stuff. It royally pisses me off whenever singers don't show up knowing the words, but I know my parts. Heck, I know the words to the songs better than the singers do most of the time, and I can guarantee no one on that worship team is as busy as I am. I have a 1-hour commute each way to work, have three small kids, a farm, and I manage to hit the gym for an hour at least five days a week. I don't sit around a whole lot outside of work, I don't watch a lot of TV, and I'm actually in a couple of other music projects outside of church. Our worship pastor has stood in front of the worship team and told them that they have to know the songs before they show up. He pointed at me and said, "If he doesn't show up knowing the song, then we don't practice!" He said that it was disrespectful to everyone else if one person didn't know the song, and I agree.


Solution: You HAVE to have a mid-week practice, especially considering that he's dealing with novices (I'm a novice myself). You can't pull off a decent worship service if your players/singers are lacking by only practicing 45 min. beforehand. I've been a part of a church that does this, and it's super-frustrating for everyone. Yes, mid-week practices suck. They just do. Period. As a matter of fact, I have practice tonight, and on paper it doesn't start until 8:30pm, but I've been around long enough know that we won't get started a second before 8:50 at the earliest. On the Wednesdays where I play, I leave my house a 7am and I don't get home until about 10:30pm.
I'm usually pretty toasted by the time I get home; however, we have to have mid-week practices to be able to pull off our services (we have three morning services, and we have about 650 on any given Sunday).

Also, I'd take a month to learn a new song before presenting it to the congregation. I'd also look into using a worship planner like Worship Center Services if he doesn't already.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:21 PM
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PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
A lot of WLs struggle with this, because they're nice people and musicians
I just about spit my water! :)

My worship leader can be a complete a-hole, and I love him for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alparrott View Post

But the worst mistake I see this WL making is complaining about his lot to you. That doesn't bode well for his motivations, his leadership, or any sincerity behind the worship music... which in turn says something about the church organization. I think you're right to keep out of this situation. it doesn't sound happy, productive, or particularly focused.
I think this is pretty cool that the WL opened up to the OP. Here's the thing: people in leadership positions in churches have absolutely no one (besides spouses) to vent to. I like being "that guy" and oftentimes, I am. And I don't mind. I think people need to vent, and I've been in more than one situation where the worship pastor or senior pastor vented, using foul language and everything. To be honest, I treat it as part of my ministry because I'm not going to judge someone in ministry by what they say about others. It's really hard dealing with people, especially in church, I know they need to get it out. In addition, they know that whatever they have to say stays in the room. Being in ministry is so very difficult, and if I can help someone by being the punching bag for their frustration, then so be it.

On another note: Can I have your Ludwigs?

Last edited by PorkPieGuy; 04-12-2017 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:44 PM
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opentune opentune is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

I think the leader needs to remember that the "church made an announcement that they were looking for volunteers"
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Old 04-12-2017, 06:20 PM
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TripleStroke TripleStroke is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

I wondered is there a thread available for all the church drummers here? Would be neat to discuss the ins and the outs of it all

Just wasnt sure if it was allowed.. being non denominational/religion exclusivity-free type atmosphere achievable and all.. but after joining here a month ago i noticed there are a fair number of church drummers in this forum :))
i attend a large sized korean church in canada and am one of four drummers for my service group there. Agreed a lot of songs we do are more complex than the guns n roses i play for my cover band lol.

Also agreed in saying we all basically cant be Israel Houghton band or Hillsong... people need to chill out sometimes lol

Luckily for my case, we all come from various background of music training (keys bass elec and acoustic guitars and drums and singing) and some of them are better than others. We do not tolerate putting on a show for anyone here at my church. While we still try to be as best as possible within our means and a healthy desire to be good and competitive is encouraged, we have a good balance of priorities goin on here and i like drumming for them.

We do occasionally hold workshop type sessions off to the side in our spare time to work on our musicality by attempting to play some of Israel Houghton or other difficult stuff, but usually not to make a grand perfomance for our service.

Last edited by TripleStroke; 04-12-2017 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 04-12-2017, 06:29 PM
Chollyred Chollyred is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

I do hope the WL trusted me enough to confide in me that what he was telling me would not be repeated to anyone in the church (you guys don't count :) ).

I believe one of his issues is that his bar is set extremely high for a bunch of amateur musicians. In the other worship team I fill in for, everyone has been playing for somewhere around a thousand years. We still have a mid-week rehearsal and often change arrangements on the fly; Not enough to change the song, but enough to fit our individual strengths and weaknesses. We will most likely NOT play exactly like the record, but DO keep the main feel, breaks, dynamics, etc.

I don't feel like the congregation really cares. They still hear basically what they hear on the radio. It certainly doesn't diminish our role as worship leaders.

If I do get the call, I would definitely try to play as he expects. Just don't think it'll happen.
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Old 04-12-2017, 06:55 PM
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Mongrel Mongrel is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

Wish I wasn't on a cellphone and could reply with a full keyboard...

GREAT topic, and I hope we will be able to discuss it without being accused of talking about "religion". There are some unique obstacles to being "church drummers" or worship team leaders that we could all benefit from discussing. I KNOW from the way people typically behave around here it could be done "decently and in order".

Back on topic-I have found over the years that any discussion in order to be beneficial must be based on truth, reality, and honesty. Any discussion with a worship leader like this has to start with an honest and realistic understanding of people in general, and volunteers in particular. Who they are, where they are, and how they fit are very important to the "success" of the team.

You can absorb a few novice players or singers, but you need key people to have the arrangements down. And this is where NOT "playing the record" comes in VERY handy. I have seen an under-talented, little experienced team, provide enough musical backing for a congregation to lift their voices to by providing them with a simplified arrangement. The essence of the tune was maintained, vocal harmonies worked, and everyone stayed in their lane.

Without that kind of fluidity it is difficult to work with a broad range of talent.

Midweeks and workshops not only help with the Sunday service, but act as team builders that encourage people and lift them up if done right.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:32 PM
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alparrott alparrott is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkPieGuy View Post
I just about spit my water! :)

My worship leader can be a complete a-hole, and I love him for it.



I think this is pretty cool that the WL opened up to the OP. Here's the thing: people in leadership positions in churches have absolutely no one (besides spouses) to vent to. I like being "that guy" and oftentimes, I am. And I don't mind. I think people need to vent, and I've been in more than one situation where the worship pastor or senior pastor vented, using foul language and everything. To be honest, I treat it as part of my ministry because I'm not going to judge someone in ministry by what they say about others. It's really hard dealing with people, especially in church, I know they need to get it out. In addition, they know that whatever they have to say stays in the room. Being in ministry is so very difficult, and if I can help someone by being the punching bag for their frustration, then so be it.

On another note: Can I have your Ludwigs?
On your other note: Not on your life.

I get your take on this. I am probably the closest thing to an assistant worship leader our church has, and I get a lot of the venting and unfiltered conversation that everyone in a leadership position needs to stay sane. As a guy with almost thirty years of government, military, and public sector leadership, I do understand that. I need it myself often. And it's okay.

Where I differ, though, is that this venting appears to have been to a guy who walked in to volunteer, not necessarily a trusted confidant. That feels like the OP walked into a job interview and the head of the interview committee started kvetching about the workplace. I may be getting some of the details wrong from the OP's post, but that just didn't sit well with me.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post

Where I differ, though, is that this venting appears to have been to a guy who walked in to volunteer, not necessarily a trusted confidant. That feels like the OP walked into a job interview and the head of the interview committee started kvetching about the workplace. I may be getting some of the details wrong from the OP's post, but that just didn't sit well with me.
That makes sense to me now. Thanks for clarifying!

Church work is hard because there's so much emotion tied to it, and like you said before, church leaders are dealing with volunteers "between shower and garage." I think I'm a little more callous to it all because I've been the drummer at a few churches where drum sets were a "new" thing in church with some members following the adage of "drums are of the devil." I've heard more junk from sound guys, church members, deacons, etc. than I can recount, but I'm hoping that in some ways that I have helped make it a little easier for folks who enter a church wanting to play drums these days.

I don't know if there is a secret formula when comes to the expectations of volunteers at church. I know we are pushed pretty hard, but I think that our hard work shows...for the most part. :)
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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I don't feel like the congregation really cares. They still hear basically what they hear on the radio. It certainly doesn't diminish our role as worship leaders.
Which hearkens back to the lead-off for this discussion - do I play it like the record? But here I find we have more leeway on that count in worship music than in normal "cover band" situations. Way more.

First, within five years of a new piece of worship music being released, it seems, it gets covered and re-covered dozens of times. Just like in pop and rock, some of those covers are very faithful, and some take the song into new territory. One band I played in covered the old hymn "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love" using the chords and style of the Doobie Brothers' "Talk About Love". Heresy, right? Nah, everyone LOVED it.

Secondly, the congregation not only is not made up of musicians any more than any typical audience, it's probably even LESS so - because these folks are not necessarily there to listen to music in the first place, unlike an audience at a club or bar. They want to get in the mindset to worship and praise, and so long as the music facilitates that purpose, then mission accomplished. I really don't think 90% of the congregation would notice if you didn't play it like on the record.

Which brings me to my third point - I tend to use the record as a jumping-off point for my performance in worship music, but I tend to play it in the way that six years of playing in front of this congregation has shown will be most effective. When the beat gets too complex or there's too much syncopation, we lose them, and quick. I like to groove, keep it four-on-the-floor if that seems to fit, lock in with the bass, and concentrate on dynamics. Those things always work in my church. On one song we have been playing a bit lately, "Forever (We Will Sing)", there is a drum fill literally every two measures of the verse, under the lead vocal. I started out doing that, but it's jarring and breaks up the groove, so I've taken to maybe just an extra ghost note on the snare, if anything at all, where those fills are on the record.

Having said that, I'm one of the only working musicians in the worship team, so the WL puts quite a bit of faith in my judgment. YMMV.
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

I think there's a very important distinction to be made here, between talent level and effort.

No one can help the fact that there's only so much talent in a given church, and it's not the garage player's fault that he's no pro, but what bothers me is the lack of effort. People seem to think they're doing everyone a favour by showing up at all. They don't have a sense of offering their very best contribution to the worship. We really should be eagerly pursuing excellence, instead of begrudging the time.

I wish I had the solution, I'd spread it around if I did.
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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what bothers me is the lack of effort. People seem to think they're doing everyone a favour by showing up at all. They don't have a sense of offering their very best contribution to the worship. We really should be eagerly pursuing excellence, instead of begrudging the time.
Excellent. My thoughts exactly.
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:22 PM
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AzHeat AzHeat is offline
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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Originally Posted by PlayTheSong View Post
I think there's a very important distinction to be made here, between talent level and effort.

No one can help the fact that there's only so much talent in a given church, and it's not the garage player's fault that he's no pro, but what bothers me is the lack of effort. People seem to think they're doing everyone a favour by showing up at all. They don't have a sense of offering their very best contribution to the worship. We really should be eagerly pursuing excellence, instead of begrudging the time.

I wish I had the solution, I'd spread it around if I did.
100% true and what gets under my skin most. We really wouldn't have to use a click at all, if folks would learn their parts. It's not just the click, but the syncopation that keeps everyone on track. They actually have to be told "chorus"...."bridge" or will be lost. There's some songs that sound too empty without keys or backup vocals, those we have to live with synchopations, but otherwise we could eliminate them and have more freedom, regardless of a players level.

As I mentioned above, some of these guys will Rock a bar Friday night, but act like practicing three songs for worship is an act of ultimate sacrifice. I could care less if we played it like a particular version of a recording. I like to move people and can't do it, tied to a click, because some refuse to put in their time. Worship music is very complex in a different way than hit songs in a bar. You have to feel it yourself to be able to move people.

I'm really glad congregations have been more accepting of drums in service. I used to get the "that back beat is of the devil" when I started, so most were lead by a piano and Choir. Now that we have more acceptance, we get the I'd rather play on a prayer than practice attitude, so really do understand some WL's frustrations. We just had a get your act together meet up a few weeks ago, because of this attitude and a few quit. So be it...
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

For sure effort and attitude is 90 percent of the work and process. I mostly see devoted people in my group but in the past, i have known guys that come in "winging" their church stuff but as a collective group if we do not see eye to eye on certain section of the songs we are working on, we go over and fix it right away. I actually love spending time doing korean contemporary christian music on drums because it is very mainstreamed (not for fame but just sheer abundance of it widely accepted in Korea) and intricate and basically considered its own genre. There are variety of mix of things from folk jazz rock and fusion in there and i really try to give it my all every new list we work on.

The real deal of serving as instrumentalists comes from the worship itself and how tens or hundreds and thousands of congregation (depending on ur church size) are in front of you as witness and voices of what you play that completely takes you to a level of joy indescribable to many. You guys can nail all ur parts in practice and make it sound as good as an MR track, but its nothing compared to playing live with your entire congregation which is the intangible missing ingredient that completes the picture. Its a shame some people fail to realize that and work for themselves and tend to their own agenda
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Another "Play like the record" thread...

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Excellent. My thoughts exactly.
I completely agree with this. Even with my level of playing, I go in at least with a good listen-through on the recorded version and an understanding of the arrangement. on those rare occasions when I play bass for our team, I do rehearse a bit more by myself prior to team rehearsal. And fortunately, we don't have anyone on the team at this point who doesn't share that work ethic. I have had such people on past teams, and it's maddening.
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