Transitioning Your Band To Using Loops

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liw-logoThe transition to using loops can sometimes be a tough road.  If you are in a church that isn’t used to technological change, then you may face some big hurdles at first.  One of the big steps is getting the members of your worship team to really “buy” into the idea of using loops.  Drummers may feel like you are attempting to replace them, and keyboardist may feel like you are cutting their job completely in half.  This article takes a look at a few thoughts that may help when convincing your band that using loops is the right thing to do.

1) Instill within your band a Desire for Progress

It is tough to convince your band that using loops is a good thing and that it is worth learning and trying something new unless you have instilled within them the desire to progress and grow. Ask them a few questions.

1) Musically, how can we grow?

2) What new things can we do?

3) What direction is music/ worship music headed?

If you ask your band these questions then naturally the conversation on using loops must come up.  As musicians and especially as Christian musicians we should never “settle”.  We should never desire to just “get to” a certain spot and then feel like we made it, but constantly be looking for new ways to grow, develop and better our skills.  The direction that worship music is going requires that to effectively achieve the complete sound you should use some sort of loops or programming.  If you can get your band to look ahead and see what direction music is going, and they have the desire to grow then the transition to loops will be much smoother.

2) Inform each member of the band of the benefits of Using Loops, especially those that benefit them personally.

Most people are hesitant of using loops at first because they  fear it will restrict them, and inhibit them from playing to their full potential.  If you can make them aware of the benefits of using loops, specifically how they relate to their instrument then they will be more likely to accept it, and eventually you will find them being the biggest advocates of using loops.

Drums: When you play songs with a loop there is a set tempo for each song.  When this is already programmed in and set in stone then your drummer will find less pressure on him to start each song at the right tempo.  There is less pressure trying to think of the correct tempo and you can focus more on playing the song.  Also, Drummers have a fear that using loops will replace them altogether.  Well drum machines have been around for a while now, and still haven’t replaced drummers.  There are bands that don’t have drummers, but overall drummers are very much still used, and in demand.  Also, using loops puts more focus on the drummer.  Look at the David Crowder Band. A group that uses loops on almost every song, but by no means does it take away from Bwack’s playing.  If anything everyone knows the Crowder band as the band that has the awesome drummer.

Guitar: By using loops and using pad sounds in loops, guitar players can now spend less time having to play “big chords” to fill out the sound, and can spend more time playing lead like sounds that float on top of the mix.  Listen to any U2 song, and how the Edge can play parts that stick out and are higher sounding.  The only reason that He can do it is because there is a solid foundation beneath those parts that helps fill out the sound.  Also, your guitar player can perfectly sync their delays to the tempo of the song.

Keys: By using loops that have “Pad” sounds in them piano players are no longer stuck playing basic chords to help fill out the sound, and can now work on creating parts that add to the song with basic piano sounds.  They no longer just have to play a “Pad” sound, but they can now also play Piano, Rhodes, and even synth parts that can add a lot to a song.

Vocals: By using loops you can now add a new element to those sections of the song that often were just vocals.  You can add a pad sound or a shaker or even a simple loop that will help keep everyone in time.  This is quite an improvement over a “Vocals only” low chorus with the drummer keeping time on the hat.

3) Teach them to treat loops as instruments themselves and not “backing tracks”

When a majority of people think of loops and what they sound like, they envision being in a church service with someone singing to a track.  They may of even heard a worship leader with an acoustic guitar performing to a fully produced backing track and thought that loops weren’t for them.  Some people use lead worship with backing tracks and can do it effectively but loops aren’t just backing tracks.  It is important to stress to your band a few points.

1) Treat loops as instruments themselves. They aren’t just things that you play to with pre-programmed sounds, but they are a new instrument that you can use to achieve sounds that you can not achieve any other way.  Let an acoustic guitar be an acoustic guitar and an bass guitar be a bass, and let loops be their own instrument and use them to create the sounds you can’t get elsewhere.

2) Use the terminology of Playing “with” loops, not Playing “to” loops. Let the loops be living breathing things not static, stale arrangements that can’t ever change.  If in rehearsal a “Pad” part is clashing with a guitar part, then let the band know there is freedom to change and adapt the loop to them.  Also work towards eventually getting to where you can improvise live with loops. This can only happen once you have a band that is completely comfortable with loops and secure enough with improvising, but will further help drive home the point of playing “with” loops.

4) Let them know that using loops doesn’t subtract from their sound, but enhances it.

By using loops to provide a solid base for the song, your band can add parts that will make the song reach a whole new level.  You can also add parts in the loop that will help will “fill” in the spaces that your band can’t fill and it allows you to create sounds that you can’t create without loops.

All of these tips will help you introduce and transition your band to using loops.  Making that transition is a worthwhile cause and with a little thought and time you will be able to convince your band that it is the right direction to go.

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is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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