I will have to take a few moments to set the scene for you before I get to the meat of my question. I have been leading the choir/music department at a small (used to be big) baptist church in NC. I took over in 2005 at a time when the congregation was between pastors, and overall involvment was at an all time low. However, we are blessed to have an amazing pianist who plays by ear and an organist that can sight read anything, that have been there for 35 years. (It's an interesting combo). When I took over, almost all weekly music consisted of the choir singing hymns out of the hymnal straight up, and a few specials that were sung along to an accompaniament track. Being a musician much more than a singer, I was horrified. I couldn't believe that was the standard! However, I got over my opinions and realized that they really enjoyed the songs with accompanienment tracks, not bc it was on a CD, but bc they were truly worshiping when they were singing it. Long story short, the weekly musical selections and how they are used from then to now has completely changed for the better!
On to the issue at hand.... 3 different times I (with God's help of course) have tried to pull together a worship musicians team, so that we can sing God of Wonders with musicians - not with a CD! I play the violin and our pastor plays the guitar (quite well), and we always ended up being a part of that team. After 2 failed attempts, we realized that we could not do it all, and we had to find a group of people to fill all those roles, that did not already have a significant role in weekly service. It was just too much. Our #1 problem was finding people that would commit to coming to a weekly rehearsal and to the weekly service. At one point in time we had a Youth director that was a former rock n roll drummer, and he played for a while - and bought the church some great drums! - and then he left the church for a greater ministry opportunity.
So I have been working and praying again to try to fill the worship musician team roles. We just had a new couple join the church, and the husband plays the drums, as he has told me. I encouraged him to go to the drum room and check out the drums, and have asked him several times to come rehearse (and he doesn't come). However, the feedback I have gotten from him is that the drums are not good and they need new heads. He wants to bring in his electric drum kit. And since it has fiberoptic cables, he needs to set it up on the stage (which is the size of a coat closet) and leave them there all the time, (which physically cannot happen). We don't even have auditions at our church for the ministry team like some do, we are 100% volunteer, so I've still not heard him play.
This might be a "me" problem. However. I'm not clear why if we are only going to have a song with drums at this point in our journey about once a month, why he can't use the ones we have? (Which have been used by 4 different drummers with no complaint). Also, I have a personal aversion to electric drums. I just don't think they sound as good as the real thing. However, should I just be happy with the volunteer that I have been given regardless of the circumstances? Part of me feels bad for being annoyed by the prospect of electric drums, guilt for my feelings. I am constantly checking my words and feelings for "christ like ness". HOWEVER, part of me knows that my role as music director is to bring the best opportunities for true WORSHIP every week. I am skeptical of this venture.
I'm open to thoughts and opinions. (I have read back over my post, and I do ramble. Sorry!)
What would you do?
BTW, I also despise electric drums...BUT, if I had a drummer who was passionate about worship, skillful at playing and willing to follow my lead, and the only drums available were electric, I would go for it (again, this does not sound like the situation you are in).
As far as the drums needing new heads, every church I have been in seems to have drums with heads that have seen better days- and cracked cymbals, noisy kick pedals, all that. As long as the heads are quality, there are no holes in the heads and they are tuned, it shouldn't be that big a deal. It's part of the mojo of playing in a smaller church
People give e-drums a bad rap- but for church, many times they are a great solution- they are (usually) more portable, easier to control volume wise, and take up less space. You just have to get used to the drum sound coming from a monitor and not 'feeling' them. But if this guy's has fiber optic cables, it makes me wonder if his are set up for a small studio or something designed to be permanent.
The punch line- if the guy doesn't seem interested and acts like a gear snob, it can induce more drama than it's worth. I've encountered a handful of very talented musicians with a drama level akin to soap operas. I have seen worship teams put up with way too much of it because the person had talent, but at the price of strife- not worth it.
On a broader scale, God will supply you with the right people- keep moving forward. It might not be tomorrow, but keep praying and trying, God will equip you to build the right team for you.
My thoughts are similar to what has already been said...
Most drummers I know (including myself) have a strong preference on electronic vs. acoustic, but this might be the first one I've heard of who prefers electronics. We do use an electronic kit at our church, but that really has nothing to do with your question.
It's certainly possible that your kit needs new heads & a good tune-up, but it definitely sounds like the setup you have now is more than adequate for your needs. I'm with Nate - I would proceed with caution with someone who is making big demands about equipment before they even start.
I appreciate your expedient responses! All helpful. I will continue to pray and let God lead my words when I hope to meet with him Wednesday night. (Hopefully!)
Your responses are truly appreciated.
I'm with mile on the "me" problem. It isn't a good sign that he isn't willing to come to a practice or audition or something. It shouldn't be on his terms.
On a personal level... I HATE electric drums. I don't play drums at all... but I certainly don't like them. I probably couldn't tell the difference in a very well put together setup and arrangement, but in most sitautions, you can tell the difference. Worst experience I had was a church that had electric drums and didn't want the music "too loud." You couldn't hear the drums at all and barely the rest of the music. Good music team, church was just older and not willing to let loose some praise! It showed during worship...
There are two separate issues here - the drums and the drummer.
First, as far as electric drums go, get over it. For a small church, there is no better way to go than a GOOD set of edrums. Control of the sound trumps personal preference here, especially in a congregation that is in transition from traditional to contemporary. IF you get a decent set, preferably with mesh heads, most drummers go from hate to at least grudging respect, and adapt quite well. With a good sound guy, and a decent FOH sound system, they will sound quite good. Again, I am talking a good set, not a toy.
With respect to the drummer, I would suggest that the interaction thus far does not suggest that either of you know each other well enough yet. He is new to the church, and very much an unknown. Putting him in a place of leadership and responsibility at this early stage may not make sense. If he is a decent drummer, that is still a minor thing compared to knowing where his heart is. Slow down, take time, and get to know him first. Give him an opportunity to do a singular project with a few other people, and see how he does. Build on that.
Building a worship team in a small, traditional music based church is an interesting challenge. We have spent the last several years getting to the point of having a "blended" service, with a dedicated worship band. I cannot begin to describe how complex the project has been. The challenges are personal, technical, musical, political, and stressful. Don't underestimate the passions of personal preference. Slow down, build your team one song at a time with people you have come to know pretty well, and who are passionate about what you propose to do. Make sure there is true support from the church leadership for the changes. And, pray...
I believe this is a "me" problem. It sounds like its a "my way or the highway" mentality, & that is not good for a worship team, or any band for that matter. He should be willing to accommodate the situation - not being able to leave his kit up on stage all the time, should be an easy thing to deal with. A servant's heart is very important for leaders to have. I'm with SycamoreDave, slow down & get to know him first. Make sure he's the kind of person you want on your team.
I've never met a drummer who preferred e-drums over acoustic drums. Give me a halfway decent set of acoustic drums over a top end set of e-drums any day! A good drummer better be able to tune drums correctly & get even worn out heads to sound decent. They may not hold the tuning, but should be able to make it through a service - requiring a touch up tuning before the next.
As for fiberoptic cables on a drum kit?? I've NEVER heard of that, & I've played drums for 28 years!
@Sycamoredave - more excellent points brought up. In our situation, we don't have an amazing sound system, and our sound techs are wonderful men of God that are excited to be there, and always willing to help. That being said, we are not dealing with "nashville sound" by any means! However, I do feel that you are correct, and I can get over the type of drum being used assuming it's used for the right reasons. And I can completely acknowledge that we probably do not know each other well enough. I think a smaller scale project is an excellent suggestion and starting point.
@MustangsAndDrums - He said fiberoptic cables, and all I could envision was the cables to my house! I definitely have no clue what he's talking about. (Again, I am NOT a drummer. I have tinkered with the triangle.)
Thanks again to everyone. It's been extremely helpful.