Local Concert Bands / Drumming in church

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
(I haven't done an exhaustive search of all threads here, so maybe this is a redundant question.)

I know there are many here that play drums in church. I wonder how many are playing in a local community concert band.

Is there interest in starting a thread each for discussion of these two venues and the challenges particular to them?

I suspect church drummers outnumber concert band drummers by many orders of magnitude, but be that as it may....

I'd like to hear from any drummers who do either. Maybe we can swap ideas and benefit from the expertise of others.

Thanks
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I've been playing drums in church for over 20 years now. I know that we can't talk about religious stuff (which I really don't want to talk about it anyways), but playing in church is a totally different animal than playing in a band in so many different ways.

Any particular facet you would like to talk about?
 

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
Well, for those playing traditional drums, there's always the challenge of playing quietly without losing the groove, unless it's a real big church where everything gets mic'd.

Our church recently bought Roland e-drums, so volume's no longer a difficulty.
I love the snare, hate the cymbals, but overall it's an improvement.

I guess I struggle with the ego question. I want to play my very best, but I don't want people to come up to me later and tell me I played well because in this setting I don't want people praising ME (except of course for that part of me that DOES want that) sigh.

I guess it's nothing that every pastor and church musician in the world doesn't struggle with.

Got any advice?
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I guess I struggle with the ego question. I want to play my very best, but I don't want people to come up to me later and tell me I played well because in this setting I don't want people praising ME (except of course for that part of me that DOES want that) sigh.

I guess it's nothing that every pastor and church musician in the world doesn't struggle with.

Got any advice?
Yup, struggled for this for a while. Just learn to take it for what it is: A simple compliment. I've stopped giving excuses for doing what I do; just give a simple-yet-genuine "Thank you" or "I really appreicate you saying that" and move on. For the longest time, I hated compliments in church because without getting too "religious," our purpose isn't for our own praise. With that said, ANYONE who gets in front of the church and does a decent job at speaking, playing, or singing is going to get complimented. It sort of goes with the territory. It's just people being nice; that's all. Don't try to turn it around to something that it isn't.

I don't know how long you've been playing, but I'll tell you now that once the "newness" of having drums in a church wears off and people get used to your face, the compliments will get few and far between. When I first started playing about five years ago, our church had about 275 on a good day, and I'll bet I used to get 20-25 compliments every Sunday. Now, I play for three services in front of about 600 people every other week, and I only get compliments from 1-2 people. That's it. While I really don't care who says what to me anymore, I will have to say once people get used to you, they'll tend to not compliment as much.

I don't know if you'll find this helpful, but I once wrote a blog called "Is it Worship or is it a Show?" Here's a link in case you are interested: http://mpbcworship.blogspot.com/2013/09/is-it-worship-or-is-it-show.html
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I guess I struggle with the ego question. I want to play my very best, but I don't want people to come up to me later and tell me I played well because in this setting I don't want people praising ME (except of course for that part of me that DOES want that) sigh.

I guess it's nothing that every pastor and church musician in the world doesn't struggle with.

Got any advice?
I get this a lot, and I just smile, stay courteous, and say thank you. I approach it as being similar to telling a pastor that you really enjoyed his sermon that day. We know what went into it, and our personal and/or spiritual motivations for playing, and that's most important. I have always viewed being a gracious accepter of that sort of comment as part of the job of being on the worship team.

As for acoustic versus electric: Part of the issue comes with the quality of sound engineering in most churches, both from a facility/equipment standpoint, and from a personnel standpoint (musicians and sound engineers). Sanctuaries are generally engineered for the delivery of spoken word, not music; musicians and sound techs are often self-taught volunteers with highly variable ability and experience. Rare is it to have a professional-grade sound guy flipping switches for a professional-grade worship team. Electronic kits often are a useful tool for controlling sound more directly than can be easily done with an acoustic set.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I'm in the Northeastern US, and having full bands in Churches is pretty rare, but I'd imagine in the Gospel areas of the US (South Eastern) that the drumming is going to be more about setting up a groove, not playing a specific score.

I have played many funerals, memorial services, and even some christmas concerts that were part of churches, and I guess I agree that it's a little strange getting compliments at those gigs. Then again, I feel uncomfortable at clubs and other venues when people tell me that I did a good job... I just never know what to say, other than "Thank you so much!".


I have worked in local community bands before, and that would seem to be a different style of playing altogether. Community bands (at least around me) are going to be mostly classical, maybe some big band stuff. I've played timpani, xylophone, snare, and bass drum in local community bands, and usually everything is written out. I see some of the same horn players that I see on jazz gigs as well, like me they are all freelancers and "no gig is too small" - Really it should be "no check is too small", but that's besides the point.


Back to your question, I'm not sure if there's value in making specific threads that go over the challenges in a church or community band setting, as many of the challenges will either be specific to the group and/or venue, or will be the same issues that every musician has.
 

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
Thanks PorkPieGuy, alparrott and tcspears for your helpful replies.

Yes I'm a new face on stage at this church, so I'm sure you're right that once people get used to me I'll just be part of the wallpaper - and you're also right that a simple "thank you, that's kind of you" is the best way to minimize things as I learn to get over myself.

Much appreciated.
 

JohnPloughman

Silver Member
I don't play to show off, it wouldn't be good anyway. But, being complimented helps me far more than any ego boost that might come from the compliment. It lets me know how people perceive my instrument as part of their worship experience. Was it too much, could not be heard, appropriate? I thank people for their compliments because they do mean a lot to me. They help me. It goes much farther than something from the sound guy, or people sharing the stage.

Now, the one time someone asked me to sign a program at a gospel concert, that made me very uncomfortable. That isn't the kind of compliment that helps.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
As a Concert Band (and brass band) conductor who also plays drums, I'd say this drumming is quite different from playing in a small rock/pop/jazz band. First and foremost because you have to read everything.

There are two main types of music played by concert bands and a different mindset is required for each: Symphonic material requires orchestral style playing of snare, large bass drum, crash cymbals, timps, glock, etc. while Pop/Broadway/Jazz arrangements require drum kit and effects. In either case, the percussion section is usually a small part of the overall sound, so the volume should be controlled. Adjudicators are always listening for the blend of the woodwinds, the tone of the brass, etc. They don't want loud percussion spoiling the sound.

In the pop style pieces, the hardest thing would be following the conductor's tempo, rather than setting your own. The next thing is that the drum kit parts are often poorly written by arrangers who don't play drums, or they've been written for a marching section, e.g. a rock beat written for three separate players on snare, bass and cymbal. These pieces often require some interpretation to work properly, but if you vary too far from the score it can start to change the sound of piece too much. There's a fine line, especially when you're playing in competitions.

One issue you sometimes get in community bands is non musicians being put on 'aux percussion' because its not a 'real' instrument. If you can read and play well, you'll get frustrated by tambourine players who don't stop when everyone else does, or bass drum players who play four to the bar regardless of what the part says... gently guide them and help them learn to read and watch the conductor. Explain DS al Coda to them, etc..

On the plus side, a Concert Band is much more social anf family friendly than a rock band, with 30 - 50 people rehearsing, performing, touring and generally spending time together. It can be a lot of fun, and for me is one of the rare times when I can play music with my own children.
 

HenryColt

Member
I understand the use of electronic drum sets in church, but still I don't like it.

Nothing like a good old fashioned cymbal to make the whorship time alive, amarite?

For the ego issue; we're humans and we like to be complimented. As long is just that, a compliment, there is no problem.

The best compliment that I recieved was from a woman in my church that usually doesn't care for the drums. She just said : today your playing has ministered and healed me. Thank you.

I just could give all the glory to God, because I did my usual thing; nothing changed.

There is a church drummer thread?
 

STXBob

Gold Member
Every hobbyist reading this should go out and join your local community concert band. Learn to read. Learn to follow a conductor. Learn how to play with dynamics. Learn to play something other than drumkit.

You'll be a better player for it. I guarantee it.
 

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
In the pop style pieces, the hardest thing would be following the conductor's tempo, rather than setting your own. The next thing is that the drum kit parts are often poorly written by arrangers who don't play drums, or they've been written for a marching section, e.g. a rock beat written for three separate players on snare, bass and cymbal. These pieces often require some interpretation to work properly, but if you vary too far from the score it can start to change the sound of piece too much. .
Yeah, figuring out how much of the written part to use is tricky - especially because we often only practice a piece 2-3 times before performing it. The most helpful thing I find is to record the practices with a simple voice recorder app on my phone, and listen to it repeatedly (while I commute) to determine what worked and what I need to change before the next practice or concert.
 

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
Every hobbyist reading this should go out and join your local community concert band. Learn to read. Learn to follow a conductor. Learn how to play with dynamics. Learn to play something other than drumkit.

You'll be a better player for it. I guarantee it.
This is SOO true - and in my area, the concert bands are starving for drummers. I'm not a professional quality player, but I can read and play most styles. Not only is the band I play with very appreciative, two other towns have asked if I could play with them as well (sadly I don't have the time).

Having to sight read, follow a conductor, adapt to other musicians and get the "feel" right all at the same time is excellent training for me. Fun too!
 

Jake943

Member
I am currently playing in both, and I'm only twelve! Tip for playing in church-dynamics; you should slowly build and build, until the end of the song. Tip 2-make good use of your jazzy components of your drum set. We Baptists LOVE that cowbell! Lol. Anyway, I mean use you tamb., Cowbell, And ride a whole lot. Gives a Gospel feel. And during a slow bridge, do a marching snare kind of thing.

As for Community Concert Band, I have no tips. After all, I just joined it yesterday!
 

crash

Member
When I came back to drumming after a long break, I started in with a community concert band. I had to learn a lot, because I had only played in rock bands previously. Now I play in a community orchestra, and I find that to be a real challenge. I'm also doing the big band thing, and I'm playing on a regular basis. There are many opportunities to play, if you're open to the different types of drumming.
You also have to be able to play all the different percussion "toys". I've been doing this for some 10 years, and I'm still learning new skills.
 
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