A Critique of Drumming In Church, Demands And Rewards
The March issue of Modern Drummer magazine featured an article entitled, “Drumming In Church, Demands And Rewards,” by Stephen Brasgalla in the Jobbing Drummer column. Modern Drummer magazine is a publication that addresses drumming issues mainly in all the mainstream pop genres. On rare occasions, they will interview a drummer who is involved in the Christian music scene in some capacity, or feature an article that is relevant to church drumming. In any case, Modern Drummer magazine is an excellent resource for all drummers and I would encourage all drummers to subscribe to this publication. I think it would be good for us praise drummers to let MD magazine know that we appreciate it when they print articles that are relevant to our genre. For more on MD magazine, you can go to www.moderndrummer.com.
As for Stephen Brasgalla's article, I think his piece was very comprehensive and he did a good job of covering the topic of drums as it relates to the contemporary church music scene. The only thing in his article that I would take exception to is his comment in the "Trills, Spills...And Fills!" section when he wrote, "Never play a fill until the band members ask you to." While I would agree with Stephen’s overall philosophy of taking a conservative approach to playing fills, I think waiting until you are asked to play one is a bit extreme. There aren’t very many bands in the mainstream secular genres who like their drummers to overplay, this is not just a church thing. Being a fill-hog prima donna can get you run from a secular gig just as fast as it can from a church gig.
Here are some basic guidelines I use for doing fills while playing praise music:
· Remember that the purpose of the fills you play in the first place is to enhance the song and its ministry value. Fills are not meant to be an opportunity for you to show off your drumming prowess;
· The best time to play fills is at the transition points of the song. Example, playing a fill when making the transition from the Verse to the Chorus and from the Chorus to the Bridge and etc.
· Don’t play fills in parts of the song where the lyrics are being sung. If you do, make sure that your fill enhances or punctuates the words that are being sung so as not to cause a distraction.
· Remember that the kinds of fills you do and how you do them is just as important as the quantity of fills you play in a song. The “less is more” principle not only applies to the quantity of fills played in a song, but also to the kinds of fills being played. In praise music, it’s very rare that you would actually have to fill up an entire bar with an intricate sixteenth note triplet round house fill. Many times a simple two beat fill consisting of a quarter note and a couple of eighth notes will suffice.
· Consider doing some fills on your hi-hat. There is no policy written in any drummer’s code book that I know of that says all your fills have to played on your toms. The same licks you play on your toms can be just as easily played on your hi-hat. The advantage to playing a fill on your hi-hat is that it is more subtle and less overpowering;
· Listen to the recording of the original artist who produced the song you would be playing. Often times, the drummer (or the drum machine) in the original recording can give you a good idea of what kind of fills you can do and how often they should be played. There will be times when it may not be feasible to duplicate exactly what the original drummer did stroke for stroke on the recording. However, you should always try to duplicate the general effect of what was recorded;
· When in doubt, don’t fill. To echo what Stephen wrote, it’s better to do less fills and be asked to do more, than to do more fills and be asked to cut back.
All and all, Stephen’s article was very good. You may read it for yourself by going to my March 19, 2009 post. Feel free to respond with your own opinion.