I would like to share my experience playing in a worship team. I mainly play guitar at home and drums at church (past 4 years) since they lack a drummer. For a start, I’ll use this post for really basic things a drummer should know in a church band. Then I’ll move on to more stuff in other posts or depending what you might suggest.
1. Playing in time is more important than style
As a drummer, your job is to provide the backbone of the song. It doesn’t need to be a complicated polyrhythmic groove (pattern) with machine-gun death metal type fills! The first thing a worship leader wants is a drummer who knows how to play in time. Once you can keep a steady rhythm going, without suddenly slowing down or speeding up, then you begin to incorporate more fancy things if needed. Also, for church worship, it’s best not to go too crazy with the fills as that could be distracting for the congregation. That would be drawing people’s attention to you rather than to God.
To improve your timing, I suggest practicing with a metronome at a slow speed then increasing it gradually. When I first used it, I thought the metronome was spoilt but it was actually, my poor sense of timing.
2. Learn a few basic drum grooves
3 Grooves that I use 90% most of the time are:
– Rock groove: Bass drum on 1 & 3. Snare on 2 & 4. Usually I’ll add vary the bass drums patterns.
– Disco groove: Bass drum on every beat. Snare on 2 & 4. Extremely useful pattern to use for modern worship songs.
– Army buzz roll groove: I don’t play this that often but once in while depending on the song. You do this by pressing the sticks downward on the snare and letting the tip bounce up and down. It’s easier nearer the rim.
3. Always consider the dynamics
Dynamics really bring a song to life. It’s all about contrasts. Usually, I start a song softer then when it reaches the chorus, I play louder. Then it gets softer again for the verse. Like a rollercoaster ride!
There are several ways to play softer:
– Cross sticking: Hitting the rim of the snare with the side of your stick for a sharp click sound. You got to find a sweet spot on your stick for the best click sound. I use a pen to mark the sweet spot for easy reference.
– Dropping out the snare: You can either drop out a snare on the 2 or 4 to only have one snare beat in a 4 bar instead of 2. Also, using the disco beat, I usually drop out the snare totally for the verse. Just bass and Hi-Hat.
Next are several ways to play louder:
– Hit the snare: You can start hitting the snare for the chorus. For louder effect, you can use a rim shot which means hitting the rim and snare together a parallel direction. This produces a massive gun-like sound.
– Switch to Ride cymbal: Instead of using the Hi-Hat, switch to the Ride cymbal for a louder sound.
– Open your Hi-Hat: You can open your Hi-Hat more for a nice rock feel.
I will be covering more in future posts. It maybe hard for you to visualise what I’m talking about. Youtube has fantastic videos so check it out. Good resources I like are thislisa and turbochicken. Happy drumming!