Praise & Worship Lesson
The drummer’s role could be considered the toughest during a praise and worship set and there are many things to consider which can help make the job easier and more effective.
1. Know the Set
This may seem obvious but it is possibly most important. The better you know the songs that are going to be played, the less-stressed you are going to be trying to remember your parts and the more flexible you are going to be to “add” to the praise and worship. On the flip side, not knowing your beats/fills is going to seriously distract people which is the last thing you want to do. If a guitarist or pianist misses a note it is far less obvious than a drummer dropping a beat anywhere in the set.
2. Know your place
This is a tough one especially for young drummers (defined by years playing not physical age). Drummers absolutely love to display their abilities and all in one set. So, no matter what songs were chosen – the drummer chooses to add little frills and thrills in all the gaps he finds. This just shows that we are not disciplined and makes the meeting about us rather than God. Hectic!
As far as possible, stick to the original track; keeping all beats and breaks the way it is meant to sound. This may sound boring but it really develops discipline and makes you a better musician. Using the original track as the benchmark ensures a consistent sound and people immediately jump in and get involved in the worship rather than watching in awe as you display your rendition of the song. Remember, the focus of the meeting is Jesus and we need to stay clear of being a distraction.
3. Keep it flowing
It is important to view the set in it’s entirety and try to understand the purpose of each song and where your leader intends on taking it. The reason I say this is because you don’t want to be going nuts on the cymbals and trying to pick the song up when your leader intends on creating a more intimate atmosphere. We usually do a brief chat before the set so that everyone is aligned on how to approach the service. HOWEVER, things don’t always go as planned so be sensitive to what’s going on and be prepared for change which brings me to my next point.
4. Be Flexible
Although the sets are rehearsed and there is an expectation for how the meeting should go, be opened to what is happening in the moment. There are moments in praise & worship which go against all that was planned however, when the church pour their hearts out to God as a result – that’s a successful praise & worship set. Flexibility is the big difference between just playing a CD vs. having a Live band of worshippers.
5. Add to the worship
As much as I stressed sticking to the original track and pursuing a disciplined approach; I am a big advocate for making the song your own however within limits and only after you have mastered the original. The reason I say this is because only after you learn the original beats and fills will you understand why it was written the way that it was and with that understanding, you can add to the music without losing the original feel of the track. Remember, there are other musicians in the band too – all of whom are sticking to the original so changing things up is going to affect everyone.
I tend to stick really close to the original for the fast “praise” songs and then improvise where necessary for the slower “worship” songs. There’s just something about worship which demands more dynamics than the CD may suggest however like I said, “within limits”. The intention is to add to the music and take people on a journey, keeping the original track’s style and feel but adding your church’s sound to it.
At the end of the day, with whatever you choose to play, remember – praise & worship is to an audience of ONE aka Jesus @ the center.