I began taking drum lessons from Lauren, the drummer at my church when I was 11. Drumming came naturally to me, I learned quickly.
I took lessons every Saturday for eight months before Lauren told my parents there was nothing else he could teach me.
The following month, Lauren convinced the worship pastor to let me sit in on practices with the team. I played one or two songs during each practice to get used to how practices flowed.
About a month after shadowing in practice, I got the chance to play the last song for the worship set on Sunday. I played Cornerstone by Hillsong Worship.
I played very well, to say the least. After that, I continued to play one song every couple of weeks in the worship service. I was still young, so I didn’t get to play a whole set by myself yet.
Over the next few years, my skills as a drummer grew, and my knowledge of worship grew with it.
Now I’m 19, and I play every other week in rotation with Lauren. Over the past eight years, I’ve grown to become almost as good him.
I love playing drums and getting to lead worship for my church. I have grown not only my skills in music but also as a person.
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Misconceptions of Being a Worship Drummer
Leading worship is not something to be taken lightly. You are tasked with helping the congregation focus on Christ. It is not a show for the worship team to be recognized for their skills and talents.
Now please understand, recognition is not a bad thing. But we must be sure not to allow recognition to be the main reason why the worship team is on the stage.
Worship music should not be the main attraction for a church, but rather, the teaching of God’s Word. That does not mean that worship is not essential.
As I mentioned before, and I will say again for emphasis, leading worship means you are helping people focus on Christ, not the music being played.
When I first started playing in worship, I thought that I could just wing it every time I played. I knew how to keep a beat and knew song dynamics pretty well.
As I grew, I learned that worship drumming was much more than this. For me, it requires listening to the songs on repeat, studying drum covers, and practicing with the team multiple times.
That is what has helped me become a better worship drummer for my team, and also to better glorify God with the abilities he gave me.
When playing worship, the idea is to keep things simple. When I first started, I wanted to have some kind of fill every measure or some cool beat because I thought it would make everything sound so much cooler.
In reality, it was more distracting than beneficial to the song. There’s no need for off beats or any other insanely complicated beats.
A little complication is okay, as long as it is not distracting. Fills are another thing to be careful with, as well. It’s okay to play fills, but only if it fits well into the song.
I usually do simple fills throughout the song, and I sometimes add a more exciting fill depending on the song. For example, a basic fill placed at the beginning of the measure brings a bit of emphasis to the fill.
When playing, I make sure that I am not distracting the congregation from worshipping and that I can still worship from behind the set.
Gear, Equipment, Software of a Worship Band
It is an understatement when I say that God has blessed my church with fantastic gear and equipment.
I’m very thankful to play on a drum set that not only looks impressive but sounds even better.
The set I play at my church is 5-piece Birch set from Risen Drums. I am unsure of the exact model, as I didn’t choose our equipment at our church.
One of my favorite parts of the set is the tone of the floor toms when played together.
The cymbals are Heartbeat Custom Dry Cymbals. In my humble opinion, Heartbeat cymbals are the best cymbals for any drum set.
I am sure there are other good cymbal brands out there, but Heartbeats are definitely my favorites.
The snare head is an Emperor Coated from Remo, and the tom heads are Evans C2 Coated. Every drum is miked up, and we have overhead mics to capture the cymbals too.
The laptop we have is an older Dell. I haven’t experienced any issues yet, so there’s no need for an upgrade.
My go-to sticks for drumming are the Vic Firth American Heritage Rock Maple 5A’s. I love the weight and the feel of them when I play. They’re a bit lighter than hickory sticks.
How to Find a Church with a Band
Finding a church that has a worship band is typically quite easy, from my experience. But for some people, it may be a lot harder to find a worship band.
Here is my advice when it comes to looking to join worship teams at church.
If you already attend a church, please do not leave to look for another church just because yours doesn’t have a worship team.
My advice to you would be to pray about where God wants you at this point in your life. Maybe He is calling you to build a worship team at your church. Talk with your pastor about building a worship team at your church.
The rewards and blessings that could come from this can be tremendous.
If you are not plugged into a church I encourage you to start church shopping if you are not already. If you find a church that you enjoy and you are growing there, start looking into their worship team so you can audition and eventually start playing.
You must be patient as well when you first join a worship team. Most likely, you will not be playing consistently for a while, especially if you are younger.
I started on the worship team when I was 12, and I did not play consistently until I was 17. Now at 19, I am playing every other week on rotation with Lauren, and then we sub in for each other whenever we need to.
Be patient and faithful, it will pay off in the future.
You can also look on the internet to find churches in your area. If they have a website, check it out and see if they have a worship team.
Also, please do not join a church just because the worship team is good, or they have the best equipment. While those are definitely nice things, I encourage you to seek to join a church to worship God with others and learn the truth of scripture.
I never formally auditioned for the worship team at my church. I have, however, sat in on a couple auditions more recently.
The newer audition process for drummers consists of the auditionee playing two songs along with the recording and the click track.
One of the biggest things to listen to is timing. Usually, no one is the greatest when starting off as a newbie with the click.
When we first started with a click, I was absolutely horrendous at staying on the beat with it. But over time, I have improved immensely when playing with clicks.
As long as they can learn to play well with the team, then they are brought on.
After being brought on to the team, the musician will shadow for a couple of practices until they can play well with the team. Once they are at that point, they are put into the rotation.
My worship team rehearsal consists of Wednesday night practice for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Upon arrival, I hook my in-ears up to the cable, pull up the Planning Center app on my phone, put in the songs and BPMs as needed, and set up the MIDI Fighter in the correct order. The usual set consists of 3-4 songs.
Whenever everyone is ready, we play through each song 2-3 times. After we play through each song twice, at least, we take a bathroom break and chat for a couple minutes.
After the break, we play through the set once and pray together before leaving for the night. We need to talk with the God we worship and ask for his blessing over our set each week.
On Sunday mornings, we get to the church an hour and 15 minutes before the service starts to do soundcheck and run through the set one more time.
Around 5-10 minutes before the service starts, we head to the back room and go over where the breaks are in the set for announcements and prayer.
When the timer hits around a minute and 30 seconds, we enter stage left and set up before playing the set live.
Worship Drummer Pay
Some more prominent churches have paid worship teams. My church is smaller, only around 300 members, and we do not get paid to play on the worship team.
The worship pastor gets paid part-time, but he is the only one that receives pay.
My dream career is definitely to be a worship drummer. I love getting to lead worship and playing drums. It is one of the most enjoyable and most rewarding things I have ever been apart of.
Recently, I have been learning that I need to stay wherever God has me in this season of my life. Because I am only 19, I most likely have quite a bit more time in my life before I need to start making major career choices.
While worship drumming could be what I do full time in the future, that is not yet where God has placed me. If that is what He has planned, He will open doors, and I will get there by His guidance.
Things I Wish I Had Known
There are plenty of things I wish I had known when I first started, but then again, I’m thankful I picked up on these things as I went along this journey.
It creates a more humbling experience. Here are the things I wished I had known to start out or learned sooner than I did.
- Watch other worship drummers play. I picked up a lot of skills just by watching!
- Chosen the right sticks for me. It makes you a better player when you feel comfortable with your pair of sticks
- Use cymbal swells. They fit into worship really well. Sometimes I do them a little too much, but oh well.
- Invest in a good pair of in-ears. That way I didn’t have to worry about borrowing from my church.
- Follow the click. It is the one thing that helps keep me on time.
Tips for Beginning Worship Drummers
I may be young compared to most worship drummers, but I can say for sure that no one my age has the same amount of experience I do playing in worship.
Almost 7 ½ years later and I have grown so much and learned a lot of things. Here is some advice for you.
- Practice before rehearsal if you have the time
- Study drum covers and learn how the flow of each song goes
- Don’t overplay. It can be distracting!
- Try to only do one “cool fill” per song. Keep the rest of your fills simple
- Follow the worship leader but still lead the beat
- Be confident in your God-given abilities, but don’t be cocky.
- Use your skill for His glory and not your own
- Continue to worship even while you play. You are leading, so lead by example!
Worship is a beautiful thing. It is meant to bring our focus back to God, who gave us this life. Leading worship is a privilege and should never be taken lightly. The skill that God has given you is meant to be used for His glory and not your own.
The heavenly rewards you will receive are so much greater than anything we could receive on this earth. Keep drumming for Him.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
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