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Tips for Church Drummers - Drum Technique
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Tips for Church Drummers
Tips for Church Drummers
Techniques and tips for every church drummer
Published by Drum Set Connect
Post Tips for Church Drummers

Since I really don't have any "chops", here's what I've learned for "pointers" that has helped me to be successful without any serious skills for a church gig.

1. ALWAYS be prepared when you get to rehearsal or the services. I always get recorded versions of the songs as soon as possible (ahead of time) and listen to them constantly until I know the "vibe" of the song and all the proper grooves and signature fills. If you play what people hear on the record, they'll always think you're a good drummer even if you don't have any chops (because most Christian music doesn't require any chops anyway!).

2. ALWAYS listen to the song and learn it entirley BEFORE you sit down and try to play it! Otherwise, you will play what you want to play, instead of learning the original "vibe" of the song that everyone else will recognize. For example, if I have 2 weeks to learn the songs, I spend the first week thoroughly learning all the parts by ear, and then I sit down and play them only during the second week.

3. ALWAYS play along to the recorded version of the song in order to absorb solid time and vibe! Don't use charts or a metronome (because these have no vibe or pocket)! If you practice to the recorded version, you'll always be playing the correct tempo and your muscles will retain that feel as you do it over and over.

4. It's ALWAYS best to learn the exact part on the recording of each song whenever possible! Whenever you make up your own part you are going to make it more difficult for the other musicians ... the reason is that you are playing very popular songs that everyone recognizes in a certain vibe. If the other players are learning the song from a recording (or know if from hearing it a lot on the radio), you will throw them off by getting creative. Just play what they expect to hear and they will love you for it ... remember, they don't care about your chops, they care about the vibe of the song they are familiar with!

5. ALWAYS hit the kick and snare as hard as possible (bass and guitar players love it!). However, always make sure you are playing consistent grooves (the ones on the recording!) that are easy for your bass player to follow! You should keep the SAME groove going in all the verses and choruses. That is, the verses and choruses should be slightly different beats, but each verse and each chorus should have the same beat (so you're easy to follow and predicable).

5. Memorize the songs so that when there are changes it is easy for you to adjust and be humble about adjusting whenever the worship leader or singer needs it. For example, sometimes you are playing the right tempo, but a particular singer is having trouble keeping up and needs you to slow it down. Just try to slow it down as best you can and don't "defend" yourself (even though your tempo is right!).

6. Take as many gigs as possible (no matter how lame) so that you get to know a lot of people (who may give you a call to play when you don't expect it). Moreover, if you're constantly learning the songs, you're always ready to play them and practice time gets much easier.

7. Finally, the way to be a solid "pocket" drummer is to ALWAYS play real "songs"! If you're doing church gigs, try to avoid just sitting around on your drums making up weird beats or doing meaningless solos. There are no drum solos or weird beats in church music ... there are always "songs" with definite tempos, grooves, fills, and vibes.

If you ALWAYS pracitice songs, you're muscle coordination will learn and memorize the correct tempos and "pocket" of each song and you'll be able to reproduce it ... one of the worst things you can do is sit around banging away at stuff that has no practical application ... YOU CAN ONLY SUSTAIN SOLID TIME FOR AS LONG AS YOU PRACTICE SOLID TIME!

In other words, if you sit around doing a bunch of 10 second double bass flourishes or weird beats, then you'll never learn to keep time for any longer than 10 seconds and your beats will all be weird! If you want to be able to keep solid time for the typical 3-6 minute church song, then you need to constantly be playing along to recordings of 3-6 minute songs (especially the ones you need to know by Sunday)!

8. Less is more! Don't overplay!!

I hope this helps!!

P.S. Of course, I'm not against drum solos or being creative, it's just that church is not the place for that kind of stuff. To be a successful church drummer you have to play what people recognize so that they are not distracted when they worship. You also have to be considerate about making it go as smoothly as possible for the other musicians and singers.

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By taye drummer on 12-30-2007, 05:25 PM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

GOOD stuff,Ok what about worship songs, cymbals how would you use them
for lets say,"Im lost without you" ? I know after the second course you then build
UP But in the beginning i start off on my 20"ride until they start singing,then
do i keep using the bell of my cymbals or just high-hat?
By Church Drummer on 01-26-2008, 01:45 PM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

These for the most part are good tips, I do disagree that a Church drummer doesn't need any chops. You should learn the music and try to duplicate the feel that the drummers on the recordings have. It isn't always necessary to play the worship songs exactly like the recordings (most of the songs we do have several different recorded versions), but you should play them with similar tempos and feels. You have to make the song your own, and do it in a way that is recognizable, singable, but fits the players and singers in your worship team. Church drumming is a less is more proposition, but you should have enough stick control (chops) that you can play at various volume levels, tempos, and in many different styles. Just because you can play 32nd notes at 100 BPM doesn't mean that you should, but having the chops and the stick control to do it will help you play at slower tempos with finess. I think it's a mistake for a church drummer to say that they don't need chops, and not work on technique.

As far as the use of Cymbals, etc. You have to choose the cymbal sound (or in some cases, the decision not to use cymbals in a certain section of the song) based on what fits in best with what the rest of the players are doing. I tend to start for the most part with a softer cymbal sound (such as closed Hi-hats) on the verses, and switch to the ride on the chorus. There are no pat formulas you have to listen and use your ears, and do what fits appropriately.
By taye drummer on 01-27-2008, 06:46 PM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

Good info,thanks we church drummers need good info,most people are into other forms of music,but i still think you can learn from steward copeland,steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie and others.Just remember to learn the song, and play it with feeling,Not dead,but put a piece of yourself into that song.Mabey a five stroke,somewhere,mabey playing cross stick somewhere
but try to put a little of yourself there also.(THAT'S MY SAYING,IT'S NOT WRITTEN IN STONE)
By EphICanIMite on 02-06-2008, 01:58 AM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

I think chops/skills are very important in church music. Knowing how the song is supposed to feel is also important. Remember that as a drummer, you're there to support/serve the song, the other musicians and the congregation. One of my motto's is "above all, do no harm". Which can have it's negative side of sometimes playing to light. But the leader can always ask me to play up if he wishes. Be accomidating. Willing to try anything. Practice with a metronome and cd's of music at home.
Be aware of the dynamics of the music. When it's supposed to be quiet and light, keep the hats closed. Make sure you leave space for the congregation/audience to hear the words as the words are the most important part in a church atmosphere. So hitting the crash cymbals in the middle of phrases of lyric is probably not the best. Make sure you have the words of the song next to you if you're not familiar with the song so you can use fills and crash cymbals when there are breaks in the sung phrases. If you can afford it, buy different kinds of sticks to give you different textures to your playing. Regular sticks of various configurations(lighter, medium, different shaped tips, nylon and wood tips), brushes, mallets, Hotrods, Coolrods, etc. Maybe even a shaker or two and some eggs(if your band doesn't have a percussionist). Some lighter, prayerful songs I even start out with just light/sparse ride and hat work. Some older hymns we do, I even do my best to play in a military march style on the snare only.
Last of all, communicate with the band leader. Ask his/her opinion of how they think the song feels and what it might call for. Or even ask what they'd like, straight up. Nothing better than good open communication. Remember, though playing drums with musicians is absolute fun... you are doing this(or should be) as a service to God.

Enjoy it/stay humble
By Menjy49 on 04-08-2008, 12:36 PM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

Excellent tips! You've pretty well covered most if not all the important parts. However, as a church drummer, having chops is indeed important. Without chops the other players will not "hear" the "confidence" you play. That is drummers need to be deliberate about their "craft". Playing drums is not just banging and setting a "groove". It's about being part of a musical team, being a musician. Musicians need to know their craft. I love Sax players, but when they play a sour note, it stinks! And that's with any musical instrument. Sorry bro, but chops is very important. We all need to understand the most important aspect. We just aren't playing for a congregation. We are playing for Almighty God! The One who knew us before our birth and gave us our gifts. He wants us to be good stewards of what He gives us. Getting more "chops" is the means to getting better and better. By the way bro, judging by the tips you submitted, I bet you have more chops than you think! Sorry about getting on the preacher box, God Bless.
By moteza on 04-25-2008, 04:56 AM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

thank you for new tips by newbie
By taye drummer on 04-26-2008, 02:12 AM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

Well guys got a small problem.What do you do when your pastor is trying tell you how to play
and you have been playing the drums for at least 16 years?? He says that your playing a rock
beat,and i need to just be keeping time.The drums sets the tempo but he says that were playing rock, but it a praise song not worship,Praise is uptempo worship is mellow,and slow,
but you still want to build the song,So he's saying we need to listen to Hillsong.I thought that
you still have a choice of what you play,and how.
By taye drummer on 04-26-2008, 02:21 AM
Re: Tips for Church Drummers

Ok the praise team leader is fine with my playing,and so is the keyboard player(jamie) we flow
good together,but the pastor is getting involved in the music and how we play.(i thought you
leave that to your music director)??? So we got yelled at thursday because of what we were
playing. But the song we were doing was not really upbeat ,somewhat mello and i was doing
a transional point where i work with the high hat (1 e and a 2 e and u 3and u) and slowing it
down,but he thinks this is rock beat.So i just don't say anything.
By DrummerTak on 09-02-2008, 11:10 PM
Not always realistic

Well it would be nice to get the music ahead of time so you have all the time you need to learn it. However, a lot of the time you have to just show up and they show you the songs there. In that case the best thing to do is make sure you know where one is, and dont be crazy with fills. Leave those for an intro into the song and to open the chorus, and any real change in the song. I actually gotta do a gig like this tomorrow. Its kinda funny though because im filling in for a buddy of mines friend that had to quit, i dont think they know im not religious and im into bands like tool. Oh well, i shall woo them with my drummin.
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