Broadening my musical horizons

beatdat

Senior Member
Some recent threads on here have lead me wanting to post about something I recently took up.

Here it goes.

Last year, I started the process of changing careers. As a result, I found myself with some extra time on my hands, which left me looking for something to do. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn't want to do something I'd done before, and I didn't want to just do more of something I was already doing. All I knew was that I wanted to do something that had a regular schedule and some purpose to it.

Soon after I started my career change, I ended up moving across the city. One thing I noticed on the way to see my new place was a church about a block away from it. As it turned out, the bus stop I'd be using stopped right in front of the church. It also turned out that I could shave a little time off of walking between my place and the bus stop by cutting across the path in front of the church.

One day, while cutting across the path, I noticed one of the signs in the church window, which said "Join the choir!", "You'll be glad you did!". It also said that rehearsals were every Thursday at 7:30PM. "Hey", I thought, "that's a good time and day. It's also close to home". But, I brushed it off. I had no business singing in a choir, much less a church choir - I didn't think I could sing, and I'm not religious. So, I let it go. Or, at least, I tried to.

But, damn, if I didn't have "Join the choir!" or "You'll be glad you did!" echo through my head every time I passed by that window. A few weeks later, I decided to give it a shot. The following Thursday I walked into the church... and proceeded to interrupt the rehearsal that had started just minutes before. The choir director stopped and looked up at me; the choir quickly did the same thing. I noticed almost all of them sit up a bit.

The choir director then said, hello? I said "hi", told her my name, and told her I wanted to join the choir. Everyone relaxed. I was asked if I'd sung in a choir before, if I sing, or if I have any musical experience. I answered "no", "no", and "Yes!". And with that, I was directed to the back row of the choir, where I introduce myself to the basses, and nodded "hello" to the altos and sopranos who had turned around to look at me. Somebody then passed me a copy of the song book, the choir director called out the first song, and off we went. It. Was. Tough. Notes were passing me by, words were eluding me, and little of it made any sense to me in the moment. The best I could do was follow the beat and try to end each phrase as best as I could. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel like I was just winging it. But, I got through it.

After rehearsal, the choir director asked me to stay behind so she could assess my voice. So, I stayed and let her conduct her assessment. A few "mi, mo, ma"s and "oo-oo, oo-oo, oo"s later on my part, and she tells me that I'm a "true baritone" with a "stage voice" (her words, not mine)... but that "I need a lot of work" (also her words). She then asked me if I'd be returning the following week. I told her I would. So, I did. And I have been ever since. Same time, same place, every week. It's been over four months of rehearsals now, and I started signing at Sunday services a few weeks ago. It's a far cry from my usual lifestyle (Saturdays won't be the same - or Sundays, for that matter), but I'm enjoying it a lot. Some of the music is beautiful, I'm really digging the three part harmonies, and the sound twelve voices and an amplified church organ makes is pretty powerful. One of the basses has even talked to me about adding some percussion to the solo pieces he performs with electric guitar. I told him we should teach one of the choir members bass guitar and start a church band. We're going to talk some more about that this week.

Who knew?

I didn't. But, I'm glad I did.

Thanks for reading.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I’ve thought for a while now that singing in a choir is the single best way to get a drummer to improve their playing, ESPECIALLY their ability to play well with others.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Wow, that's pretty cool. I've always been curios but frightened about singing, but I think I could do it, if I could hide in a choir for a while. None of the churches I've been to have a choir, so I've never been tempted enough. What a great story though, especially since you weren't inclined to go to church in the first place, but enjoying the interaction and committing. Can't say it gets any better than that! :)
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Some recent threads on here have lead me wanting to post about something I recently took up.

Here it goes.

Last year, I started the process of changing careers. As a result, I found myself with some extra time on my hands, which left me looking for something to do. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn't want to do something I'd done before, and I didn't want to just do more of something I was already doing. All I knew was that I wanted to do something that had a regular schedule and some purpose to it.

Soon after I started my career change, I ended up moving across the city. One thing I noticed on the way to see my new place was a church about a block away from it. As it turned out, the bus stop I'd be using stopped right in front of the church. It also turned out that I could shave a little time off of walking between my place and the bus stop by cutting across the path in front of the church.

One day, while cutting across the path, I noticed one of the signs in the church window, which said "Join the choir!", "You'll be glad you did!". It also said that rehearsals were every Thursday at 7:30PM. "Hey", I thought, "that's a good time and day. It's also close to home". But, I brushed it off. I had no business singing in a choir, much less a church choir - I didn't think I could sing, and I'm not religious. So, I let it go. Or, at least, I tried to.

But, damn, if I didn't have "Join the choir!" or "You'll be glad you did!" echo through my head every time I passed by that window. A few weeks later, I decided to give it a shot. The following Thursday I walked into the church... and proceeded to interrupt the rehearsal that had started just minutes before. The choir director stopped and looked up at me; the choir quickly did the same thing. I noticed almost all of them sit up a bit.

The choir director then said, hello? I said "hi", told her my name, and told her I wanted to join the choir. Everyone relaxed. I was asked if I'd sung in a choir before, if I sing, or if I have any musical experience. I answered "no", "no", and "Yes!". And with that, I was directed to the back row of the choir, where I introduce myself to the basses, and nodded "hello" to the altos and sopranos who had turned around to look at me. Somebody then passed me a copy of the song book, the choir director called out the first song, and off we went. It. Was. Tough. Notes were passing me by, words were eluding me, and little of it made any sense to me in the moment. The best I could do was follow the beat and try to end each phrase as best as I could. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel like I was just winging it. But, I got through it.

After rehearsal, the choir director asked me to stay behind so she could assess my voice. So, I stayed and let her conduct her assessment. A few "mi, mo, ma"s and "oo-oo, oo-oo, oo"s later on my part, and she tells me that I'm a "true baritone" with a "stage voice" (her words, not mine)... but that "I need a lot of work" (also her words). She then asked me if I'd be returning the following week. I told her I would. So, I did. And I have been ever since. Same time, same place, every week. It's been over four months of rehearsals now, and I started signing at Sunday services a few weeks ago. It's a far cry from my usual lifestyle (Saturdays won't be the same - or Sundays, for that matter), but I'm enjoying it a lot. Some of the music is beautiful, I'm really digging the three part harmonies, and the sound twelve voices and an amplified church organ makes is pretty powerful. One of the basses has even talked to me about adding some percussion to the solo pieces he performs with electric guitar. I told him we should teach one of the choir members bass guitar and start a church band. We're going to talk some more about that this week.

Who knew?

I didn't. But, I'm glad I did.

Thanks for reading.
That's so funny. That's how I started drumming at church. I joined the choir at first. Sang for a a couple of years when they just had one drummer. Well his job got in way and the church had grown to multiple services so they started asking does anyone play-I shyly spoke up. Thus began my adventure. Both were really great experience. I didn't grow up in church but my wife did and I'd attend church with her on occasion the first few decades of marriage. At 45 I had a life changing event that changed all that. I was expecting I'd gravitate to the modern rock influence christian music, but oddly the traditional and more modern traditional really is beautiful. A great choir and orchestra can really send chills up the spine. I was never prepared and we only had one rehearsal right before the service-so I prayed a lot that a miracle would occur and I'd do OK. Well they recorded the services and one day the sound engineer asked me to come up and listen (he was a musician too). Man I couldn't believe it we did sound great-and I did to. He said "Art you got a good ear and natural play well but I need to temper my playing". We'll I don't know what that meant (I think he meant I needed some pro guidance with some lessons) because I was still in shock and swooning-Man my prayers were answered-that wasn't me playing what I was thinking.
 
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beatdat

Senior Member
I’ve thought for a while now that singing in a choir is the single best way to get a drummer to improve their playing, ESPECIALLY their ability to play well with others.
In all honesty, your comment in the recent "Gospel Chops" thread was one of the reasons I made this thread. So, if you'd care to expound a little more on why singing in a choir is a good way for a drummer to improve their playing, I'd appreciate it.

What a great story though, especially since you weren't inclined to go to church in the first place, but enjoying the interaction and committing. Can't say it gets any better than that! :)
Thanks for your comment.

Yeah, the interaction is quite special... and it cuts both ways. Not only have I derived a lot of enjoyment from this (not to mention the musical benefits and, as you said, the commitment to it), the choir seems to enjoy having me there, too. In fact, the choir director told us last week that the choir has never sounded as good or as powerful as it does now... and she's been directing this choir for almost seven years! If I can take any credit for that, I'll say that, when I'm there, I really give it and I don't hold back. This has led to everyoneopening up their voices (especially the sopranos, who I found to be a little timid when I first joined). I wasn't trying to overpower everyone, I just had this nagging feeling that a dozen voices should sound fuller than it did when I first joined. And I've been trying to impart the importance of meter on the choir (again, especially the sopranos who tend to drag a bit at the end of each phrase)... got to keep the momentum going!

That's so funny. That's how I started drumming at church. I joined the choir at first. Sang for a a couple of years when they just had one drummer. Well his job got in way and the church had grown to multiple services so they started asking does anyone play-I shyly spoke up. Thus began my adventure. Both were really great experience. I didn't grow up in church but my wife did and I'd attend church with her on occasion the first few decades of marriage. At 45 I had a life changing event that changed all that. I was expecting I'd gravitate to the modern rock influence christian music, but oddly the traditional and more modern traditional really is beautiful. A great choir and orchestra can really send chills up the spine. I was never prepared and we only had one rehearsal right before the service-so I prayed a lot that a miracle would occur and I'd do OK. Well they recorded the services and one day the sound engineer asked me to come up and listen (he was a musician too). Man I couldn't believe it we did sound great-and I did to. He said "Art you got a good ear and natural play well but I need to temper my playing". We'll I don't know what that meant (I think he meant I needed some pro guidance with some lessons) because I was still in shock and swooning-Man my prayers were answered-that wasn't me playing what I was thinking.
Thanks for sharing, GetAgrippa. I always enjoy reading what you have to say (even more so once you started using punctuation!)... you are always sincere and candid in what you write.

But, if you told me a year ago that this is what I would be doing today, I probably would have laughed.

Once again, who knew?
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
In all honesty, your comment in the recent "Gospel Chops" thread was one of the reasons I made this thread. So, if you'd care to expound a little more on why singing in a choir is a good way for a drummer to improve their playing
Because if your volume is wrong in a choir, you will find out quickly. And the same for anything else that makes you stick out, like dragging or rushing or being off pitch. You can’t get away with those faults in a small choir like you can in a loud rock band, or any other loud group. If forces you to listen and react accordingly. Those listening habits carry over to drumming.

I mean, any time you play with others, you are improving your listening and blending-your-sound skills. But choirs are easy to find/join, and small ones especially force you to listen and improve. In my humble opinion.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
A couple of months ago our church held a celebration of some sort in which the other churches in town were invited to participate. One predominantly-black church brought their entire congregation - with musicians - to the church and literally took over the song services and 1/2 of the preaching. Most of our conservative Baptist congregation had never heard the traditional Protestant hymns performed like that! I saw some of the most reserved members of our church actually dancing, holding hands aloft, and singing to the top of their lungs. For a couple of hours, we stood mesmerized by the power, volume, and enthusiasm that swept the entirely packed auditorium. It was exhilarating. I've been to a number of minority services, so I knew what was coming, but to see our congregation broken free from any artificial constraints that had become ingrained in the services was truly a joy to behold.

The drummer from the other church had only a ragged Pearl Export kit with Sabian B8 cymbals, but you wouldn't have known it from the audience. His playing skills made up for any shortcomings in his equipment. I told him that the next time we do this event I will bring my pro kit and cymbals for him to use, and he was thrilled about that. (And, yes, I've been exploring ways to get him and his church set up with better equipment.)

GeeDeeEmm
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Congratulations for being open minded enough to think and act outside of yourself. It's inspiring.

I'll bet you didn't see yourself doing this 5 years ago.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I tried that a couple of years ago, with a vocal group at work that met once a week. I knew I could hit a note, but didn't realize I needed to be able to sight read vocal parts. I hadn't taken that into consideration and eventually left because it was a drag on everyone else. I was able to learn songs on my own and return to sing with the group. But eventually, I was a drag and had to leave.

I'm really good at reading rhythms though.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
A couple of months ago our church held a celebration of some sort in which the other churches in town were invited to participate. One predominantly-black church brought their entire congregation - with musicians - to the church and literally took over the song services and 1/2 of the preaching. Most of our conservative Baptist congregation had never heard the traditional Protestant hymns performed like that! I saw some of the most reserved members of our church actually dancing, holding hands aloft, and singing to the top of their lungs. For a couple of hours, we stood mesmerized by the power, volume, and enthusiasm that swept the entirely packed auditorium. It was exhilarating. I've been to a number of minority services, so I knew what was coming, but to see our congregation broken free from any artificial constraints that had become ingrained in the services was truly a joy to behold.

The drummer from the other church had only a ragged Pearl Export kit with Sabian B8 cymbals, but you wouldn't have known it from the audience. His playing skills made up for any shortcomings in his equipment. I told him that the next time we do this event I will bring my pro kit and cymbals for him to use, and he was thrilled about that. (And, yes, I've been exploring ways to get him and his church set up with better equipment.)

GeeDeeEmm

That's really what it's about, no?


I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like it. That I'd go to a few rehearsals and find it... I don't know, lame? But it's been anything but. In fact, everyone (the pastor included) is on board with a more robust sound. I even started some hand-clapping a couple of weeks ago when one of the basses performed his solo piece on electric guitar - I got a few of the choir members and a couple of members of the congregation in on it, too.

If I have my way, I'm going to have them shaking the heavens in no time.



Congratulations for being open minded enough to think and act outside of yourself. It's inspiring.

I'll bet you didn't see yourself doing this 5 years ago.

Larry, I didn't see myself doing this 5 months ago.



I tried that a couple of years ago, with a vocal group at work that met once a week. I knew I could hit a note, but didn't realize I needed to be able to sight read vocal parts. I hadn't taken that into consideration and eventually left because it was a drag on everyone else. I was able to learn songs on my own and return to sing with the group. But eventually, I was a drag and had to leave.

I'm really good at reading rhythms though.

For what it's worth, only a few of us in the choir can read music - the rest of them rely on ear.

There's an old African proverb that says, "if you can walk, you can dance, and if you can talk, you can sing".

Why be a drag?
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
For what it's worth, only a few of us in the choir can read music - the rest of them rely on ear.

There's an old African proverb that says, "if you can walk, you can dance, and if you can talk, you can sing".

Why be a drag?
The vocal pieces were complex barbershop vocal harmony. I was only able to hang because we were doing Christmas songs. But after the season was over, I just couldn't keep up with the rate of new material. I was a drag on their progress unfortunately.
 
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