Drums in Church - Are You in the Monitors?

rebonn

Senior Member
It was brought up by a few of you in another thread about mics on church kits, or the lack thereof. I don't want to derail that thread so I started this one.

Mic'ing drums in church is a sore spot with me. The drums in my church are mic'ed, but I can't get the sound guy to turn me up in the monitors. They're barely in it, if at all. He always says that he can hear me just fine. But I sometimes get told by people in the congregation that the drums could hardly be heard. I've told this to the main current sound guy more than once, and he claims he will turn me up, but I never notice a difference. Then when they (usually a different sound person) do turn me up, I tend to get compliments. Not that I'm fishing for compliments. I just want the drums to be heard as clearly and as evenly as the other instruments. Plus I don't want to bash the drums in a relatively small room while playing hymns.

The other times that others have played the drums in my church (I play the majority of the time) and I'm in the congregation listening, I was ALWAYS disappointed in the drum volume and sound because they just weren't putting the drums in the monitors. All the other instruments were clearly heard, while the drums were being drowned out. And those guys play the drums louder than I do. I know it is usually the other way around with drum volume being too much. But not in this church building, because the acoustics are pretty poor. I'm a light player, and use mostly light sticks. I can play extremely softly with sticks. I learned to play that way decades ago. I can obviously play louder too, when appropriate. So there is no way the drums are too loud. In fact, when I first started playing in this church I sometimes got mocked (politely though) for playing too lightly. If someone said this to me, I would ask them to talk to the sound person, since they have the power to make me heard or not heard, no matter how hard I'm hitting.

I do realize that we don't have the best sound system. Sometimes they try to turn things up but get feedback or something. The sound team are also not professionals either. My frustration is that when I try to give constructive criticism to get a better mix, he'll say they'll do something about it, then usually don't. I think I'll be talking to the worship leader about this in hopes that she'll take the time to listen to the mix out in the sanctuary during practice, because she rarely does.
I'm confused. When you say the drums are not loud enough for people to hear in the audience because the drums aren't loud enough in the monitors , do you mean the PA when you say monitors?
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
"Sound guys" as a whole can't deal with drums. There's too much to try and control, so they just turn us down. I can't even get into the mix with an e-kit. They make sure the worship team has drums, so we stay together, but people have told me all they heard were the clicking of sticks on the pads. I eventually stepped down. Got the lecture about playing for the only One who matters, and stuck it out longer, but in the end if I was devoting time to learn my parts, waking up early, giving up a weekend, setting up, tearing down, not doing other thing I could be, etc....having enough respect to at least have drums be heard (heard, not showcased) was a small ask.

My church also got a new digital board that was to make life easier. Far too sophisticated for most volunteers and it made an already stressful situation worse..
 

Ruok

Silver Member
I'm confused. When you say the drums are not loud enough for people to hear in the audience because the drums aren't loud enough in the monitors , do you mean the PA when you say monitors?
I guess so. I guess I never did learn that there is a difference between monitors and PA. If you wouldn't mind, please enlighten me on that, because I didn't realize there was a difference. I don't want to keep messing up the correct terminology.

I just know that the "speakers" :))) on the stage for us musicians/singers to hear have no drums in them, which I'm fine with. I can hear myself plenty from where I sit. It is the house speakers that have little or no drums in them that I have trouble with, only because I'm told from time to time that the drums couldn't be heard well.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Monitors are pointed towards the musicians, a PA is pointed at the audience. They are usually 2 different mixes, and sometimes, each monitor is a personalized mix just for 1 musician, the singer for example who only wants a guitar and drums in their monitor mix. You could be in the monitor mix and not in the front of house (FOH) mix. But you are supposed too be in both normally. And it goes without saying that with E-drums it's absolutely essential that you are in the FOH mix otherwise you only hear sticks on the E-pads.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
I guess so. I guess I never did learn that there is a difference between monitors and PA. If you wouldn't mind, please enlighten me on that, because I didn't realize there was a difference. I don't want to keep messing up the correct terminology.

I just know that the "speakers" :))) on the stage for us musicians/singers to hear have no drums in them, which I'm fine with. I can hear myself plenty from where I sit. It is the house speakers that have little or no drums in them that I have trouble with, only because I'm told from time to time that the drums couldn't be heard well.

Wedges used as monitors are called so because you are monitoring the sound you create.

PA stands for Public Address system. So the speakers pointed toward the audience.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
Thanks guys! I was kind of embarrassed to ask what PA stood for, though I've heard the term all my life.

So, last week I did use bigger and heavier sticks. Which I don't like to do because I do have some hand issues. Hopefully I won't suffer too much with that in the weeks ahead. I'm trying to stay relaxed and let the sticks do the work and hopefully I'll be ok.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
Have you tried playing quietly with brushes? This could really throw up the whole issue because no-one will hear you and the band may fall out of time. Just a thought.

We have a pro musician in our church and he regularly sits with the sound man (never yet a woman) and gets them to make adjustments. We have a full-time worship minister so we don't have this problem thankfully.

You have to be sensitive to everyone being volunteers but in your case, it might be sensible to take 3 months off and see what happens. It will be good for you primarily, but it should focus folks minds.

Peace
Davo
 

Ruok

Silver Member
Have you tried playing quietly with brushes? This could really throw up the whole issue because no-one will hear you and the band may fall out of time. Just a thought.

We have a pro musician in our church and he regularly sits with the sound man (never yet a woman) and gets them to make adjustments. We have a full-time worship minister so we don't have this problem thankfully.

You have to be sensitive to everyone being volunteers but in your case, it might be sensible to take 3 months off and see what happens. It will be good for you primarily, but it should focus folks minds.

Peace
Davo
Haha! If I played with brushes as quiet as I could and the band and vocalists wandered off the beat, the sound guy would probably still say he can hear the drums just fine! Haha!

This past Sunday we went through our morning practice before the service. The sound man was there the whole time in the sound booth. After practice the sound man left the booth. I walked over to the booth, and it just so happened that the song director walked in there too. I noticed that all the drum channels were still muted. I pointed to the sound board and I made the remark of "Oh look. The drums are still muted." She looked at me like she couldn't believe it, and unmuted them. So I just walked away shaking my head.

Unbeknown to me, she went to the sound man and told him. He came out of the room and walked up to me and apologized that he forgot to unmute them. I just said, no problem. Yet I'm thinking, how can you forget? IT'S YOUR JOB! You were just staring at the sound board for 45 minutes, and you forgot? Riiiiight!

I have the next 2 weeks to cool off. The second worship team starts this week and plays 2 Sundays in a row.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I hate to say it, but nothing is going to change. If the Music Director doesn't have your back, and the sound guy won't do anything differently, then nothing will ever change. Ever. That is, until someone leaves or dies. This is the way church music works.
This past Sunday we went through our morning practice before the service. The sound man was there the whole time in the sound booth. After practice the sound man left the booth. I walked over to the booth, and it just so happened that the song director walked in there too. I noticed that all the drum channels were still muted. I pointed to the sound board and I made the remark of "Oh look. The drums are still muted." She looked at me like she couldn't believe it, and unmuted them. So I just walked away shaking my head.

Unbeknown to me, she went to the sound man and told him. He came out of the room and walked up to me and apologized that he forgot to unmute them.
They. Are. BS'ing. You.

And they will continue to do so.

Forever.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I hate to admit it, but you're probably right. 😞
The mentality in behind playing and producing music in church is so far removed from any other thing I've ever done. Maybe some of it's better, and maybe some of it's worse. When it comes to drums in church (especially churches that are set up for the piano/organ tradition, I can't remember if I heard it or read it, but someone once said churches want a drummer, but they don't want a drummer. While to a normal person, this doesn't make sense, but for those of us who have been doing it a while, it makes PERFECT sense.

Another thing, please keep in mind this is nothing that you've done wrong, and it has nothing to do with your playing. If you showed up with brushes, filled every drum to the brim with packing peanuts and played with brushes, they are still going to mute you.

You are there to serve, and you are doing the best you can with what's in front of you. Keep fighting the good fight as you so feel led to do so.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
The mentality in behind playing and producing music in church is so far removed from any other thing I've ever done.
Unless it's a church with leadership that knows good music and aspires to good music. Then you get back into the realm of working with a real bandleader. A bandleader who requires diligent personal practice, expects professional performances from each person on the worship team (including FOH & lights) and removes those who don't aspire to the same.

I've played in both, and it's a night/day difference, both in the quality of music performed and the level of enjoyment of playing that music.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Unless it's a church with leadership that knows good music and aspires to good music. Then you get back into the realm of working with a real bandleader. A bandleader who requires diligent personal practice, expects professional performances from each person on the worship team (including FOH & lights) and removes those who don't aspire to the same.

I've played in both, and it's a night/day difference, both in the quality of music performed and the level of enjoyment of playing that music.
Yup, I agree. I've been in both as well. The best things a good leader can do is go to bat and take the heat which so many church leaders tend to wimp out on. I'm convinced that in order to be a good music leader in church, that person sort of has to come across as a jerk sometimes...which would be viewed as "normal" in regular music industry. For example, if a person sucks at singing, it's up to the music director to basically NOT let that person sing into a microphone. In a regular band, this is viewed as a good thing. However in church, so many members default to the "Make a joyful noise" mantra, and let the person do whatever (People tend to overlook the verse about playing skillfully, but whatever). The way my current leader sees it is he will kick that person off of a mic to save the singer's embarrassment, the leader's embarrassment for letting him/her do that, and the rest of the team's frustration. In the church's eyes, he's being a jerk. To a person who knows anything about music, he's doing the right thing. He follows the same guidelines for musicians. If you suck, you don't get to play. He will offer lessons and encouragement until the cows come home, but that person will NOT be allowed in front of the church until he/she is ready.

If this leader had any sort of spine, she would go to bat for the OP and tell the sound guy he has to have the drums un-muted. Every. Time. She would never "forget," and it should be a priority with her because the sound in the house represents not only the team but her as well. If the sound guy doesn't like what she does or doesn't agree, he needs to (a.) do it any way or (b.) he need to freakin' quit. Once word gets around that there's no sound person, then I'm sure some kid would love to step up and do it.

I hate, hate, hate that the OP is in this position, and I'm feeling every word he puts out there. I promise I'm not trying to be mean, but dude I've been through this so many times in churches it's ridiculous. I know the frustration he's going through. It should be such a simple thing to play drums in church, but aspects of tradition and dealing with other volunteers and unspoken seniority in the church combined with emotions and Truth-seeking make for one big fat hot mess when it comes to stuff like this. It should be simple, but it's not.
 
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cbphoto

Gold Member
It should be such a simple thing to play drums in church, but aspects of tradition and dealing with other volunteers and unspoken seniority in the church combined with emotions and Truth-seeking make for one big fat hot mess when it comes to stuff like this. It should be simple, but it's not.
Well said.

It is easy, when the bandleader has established boundaries regarding his/her church worship program. But, as soon as there's a compromise, it's over. Boundaries move, objectives change, control of the material and how it's played is lost.

Regarding the OP's situation, I've seen so much BS in my brief, 30+ years of drumming for churches that I'm disappointed, but not surprised. He's gonna learn that his situation isn't unique, and that the worship leader doesn't care about his feelings or the effort he's putting forth. He's the one who has the decision to make.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
I appreciate your comments guys. I thought maybe the music director might finally simply ask the sound man, that's all, to have the drums in the house mix, as she herself said she also wanted that after my complaining about it a while ago. She really seemed to want to do that. But I guess it isn't a high priority to make sure it happens. This past week, though she unmuted the drum channels, I could still tell it was not in the house mix during the service. Since the drums got unmuted after practice was over, she, nor I, could check to see if the drums were indeed in the mix. The drums did get on the recording, thankfully.

My plan for the next time I go to our practice night is to remind her that she stated to me that she also wants the drums in the house mix with everything else. So if she doesn't hear it during Sunday morning practice, please ask the sound man to put them in. It's that simple. How hard is it to say "I'm not hearing the drums in the PA. Please put the drums in. Thanks!" But if she doesn't say anything to him after my request, I will give up saying anything more and I will decide on what I want to do from there. We'll see what happens.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
UPDATE:

After having a couple of weeks off, and having the drums moved to a different location off to the side (which was totally fine with me), I came in on Sunday morning with an attitude of whatever happens happens. I made up my mind not to say anything since I'm getting tired of my own "complaining." But I did have a discussion with the music director on our practice night about the situation again and she tried to put the drums in the PA that night and nothing she tried to do worked. I have no idea about this "new" sound board so I was no help. We decided to leave it until Sunday morning to figure out.

On Sunday the music director did go out of her way to ask the sound man to put the drums in the house mix because she already tried to do it and nothing worked. So he actually did it. But he said he had to turn things "way up" in order to hear it. A woman approached me after the service, who was one who had previously mentioned to me that she couldn't hear the drums well before. She said that when she saw the drums in the corner in stead of the usual center of the stage, she thought she would not be able to hear the drums very well. But she said she was very surprised to "hear the drums so clearly today." I simply said that that was because there were drums going through the PA today when they normally are not. So I was happy about that.

The negative side was the CD recording. Since he had turned the drums way up and left the other 2 vocals and one guitar the same, the drums were absolutely blasting on the recording, while the vocals and guitar were practically buried. For instruments there was only the drums and one guitar. During practice this week I told the music director about the CD recording and she did manage to even out the recording levels during practice since I record our practices too. Whether this will effect how loud the drums will be in the PA this Sunday, I don't know. So, as of right now, things are looking better. We'll see how long it lasts.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I came in on Sunday morning with an attitude of whatever happens happens.
IMO, this is the exact attitude that all church drummers should have. There is so much that's out of our control, we simply need to just sit back, play our notes, and hope for the best. Dude, you aren't complaining too much. I can relate to every word you are saying, and it's so hard.

Our church is doing 4 Christmas concerts this season, each one different from the last. We attempted a version of Little Drummer Boy a la For King and Country. I asked that for this one service that they take down the plexiglass shield because from the front of the auditorium to about halfway back, you can only hear the other percussion that was out front. Once people move to the back, they can hear the drum set (that I was playing). They said that the choir was singing 3 songs that night, so they said no. I offered to play with hot rods or whatever for the other three songs, but once again, I was shut down.

Yup, it's frustrating, but we do it because we feel called to do it. Keep up the good fight.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
Well said, PorkPieGuy.

All in all, I am very grateful. The positives far outweigh the negatives. I am totally blessed. I think I got spoiled too, because when I first started playing in this church, around 2004 or so, the man in charge back then had a great understanding of everything. It seemed that no matter what problem arose, he worked it out quickly, because he knew exactly what to do. Not only did he have a great understanding of the music, the instruments and the sound system, but he could play just about any instrument himself. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. And when the new guy took over after him, he was similar. Things were good. But they're both gone now and we have totally different people on the worship and sound team, as well as a different soundboard that we just haven't mastered yet. As much as I have been frustrated lately, looking at the big picture, it's been great.
 
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