Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drums and Worship

It's no secret that within the realm of contemporary music - and by extension, contemporary worship music - the drums very often drive the song.  The drummer can keep the whole band locked in a solid groove, but he/she can also take control of a song (and the sound) in a not so good way as well.  At Living Word we are blessed to have drummers who really strive to play according to the needs of the song and the worship leader, and are solid at keeping us locked into the click.  We've done things acoustically to help focus the drums into the microphones and make tweaks in our kit setup and equipment, and all of these things have resulted in a sonic experience that supports the vision of our worship gatherings - that people enjoy and experience God's presence.

Once in awhile I'll come across another blog that says something worth repeating to a different audience.  Church on the Move, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a great blog that focuses on a number of topics.  One of their bloggers, Andrew Stone, a drummer who now serves as production manager at COTM, recently wrote about the importance of playing of drummers being able to "self-mix".  The best drummers understand how to play in such a way as to provide the best balance into the microphone pick-ups.  He discusses what he calls the "pyramid" approach to playing the kit:
Look at the drum kit overall as a pyramid: anything located near the bottom of the pyramid needs to be played harder than the things located at the top. So for most standard drum setups these days, the kick can be played the loudest, then the floor tom, then the snare, hat, and rack tom, with cymbals being played the lightest. This has been a good rule of thumb for me for many years and works well both onstage and in a studio setting. Pyramid schemes aren’t all bad.
Although I'm definitely not a drummer I've played with them long enough to see the wisdom in what Stone is saying.  Let's keep growing forward!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thoughts on Song Selection

From time to time I'll be asked what criteria we use to evaluate new songs for congregational worship. Although these thoughts don't encompass every aspect of my own thinking, they are recommended reading:

Monday, March 19, 2012

When God is God worship is joy

From blogger Tim Challies today:

Each time I sin, I declare my own independence, my own desire to be rid of God; I declare that I can do better than God, that I can be a better god than God...

...When I am god, worship of God interferes with my plans, with my slumber, with my loyalty to pleasure, to socializing, to sport, to amusement. I hate the thought of worshipping another, but long to worship myself or have others worship me.

When God is God, worship is joy, it is nourishment, it is life. There is no greater joy than to gather with God’s people to bring glory to the Creator, to give thanks to the Redeemer.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Lesson from NBC's "The Voice"

Some of you may be familiar with the NBC show "The Voice", a spin on the American Idol formula where the judges (who are well-known singers) actually coach contestants through the competition. One of this year's contestants is Anthony Evans, a gospel recording artist and worship leader and son of well-known evangelical teacher Tony Evans.

I was recently reading an interview with Anthony where he was talking about working with Christina Aguilera (his vocal coach) and the different approach he has to take on the show:

"The kind of singing Christina does is great and I love it, and I can keep up with her on a stage when it's about me. But in Christian music and leading worship, I have to almost think opposite of her; I can't sing like that when I'm leading worship. Even though I might have the ability to do it, I am trying to engage people into singing with me. I am not singing at them. The difference about being here at The Voice is that I am singing at people, and they want to be impressed. So my mindset has to flip, and that's been the hardest thing, thinking, Impress them. Do not engage them. You're not trying to engage their hearts. You're trying to impress them. That's my biggest challenge here."

I love the point that Anthony made - that when we lead people in worship, it's not about impressing them with our talents or giving them a performance to enjoy - it's about engaging them. As lead worshippers, we have to work against the cultural trends of American Idol and arena concerts where it's all about virtuoso performances to be enjoyed and applauded. Instead of using our gifts to attract attention to ourselves, we use our gifts to point people to Jesus. As Paul Baloche has said, "The mark of an effective worship leader is that they become somewhat invisible while God becomes the center of attention".