So far in this series we’ve had 10 tips on stage placement, 10 tips on playing together as a team, 5 on communication skills 11 on rehearsals, 5 on soundchecking and that’s before we have even started on the individual instruments. We now turn our attention to the individual components of the band starting first with rhythm so this week drums, next bass and so on.
If in doubt don’t use a drummer!
Drums are the most dynamic and dominant instrument, so has the potential to add the most but also cause the most disruption. So actually as worship band you are better off with no drummer at all rather than an insensitive/out of time/self seeking/unconfident (delete as appropriate) one.
Practice to a click
Timing is everything. A good sense of time is the most important skill. Most drummers speed up, some slow down which feel like it sucks the energy and dynamics out of a song and some do both – not good! We can all improve our timing and consistently practicing to click makes all the difference.
If you want to define the drummers job in one sentence I would say “lock – it – down”. A great team drummer provides one good clear groove for the whole song that everyone can lock into. Freestyling because consistency seems too easy or boring is just not an option for the rhythm section in a team environment. Consistent grooves perfectly serve the song, the band and the congregation. If you have a constant need to change it up to express yourself you are playing the wrong instrument.
Position yourself where you can see everyone’s face. In organic worship music that changes on the fly its really hard for the drummer to communicate with the worship leader and the rest of the band if all they can see is the back of their heads. So try putting the drum kit at a 90 degree angle to the side of the stage just slightly in front of the band so you have clear sight lines. it will dramatically improve your communication.
Match the intensity of the song and other musicians.
Don’t go nuts in the plastic cage! If your church uses drum screen or even a cage, the temptation is to play as loud as you like because you can’t be heard acoustically. The trouble is that the intensity of your sound is at 10/10ths whilst the rest of the band is still at 6/10ths. So try and match their intensity with yours. It’ll feel like you are playing together as one unit rather than 5 individuals.
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