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Bassists that play in churches

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bluebyrd, May 11, 2003.

  1. bluebyrd


    Jun 12, 2000
    Hello All. I hope this is the correct forum for this question. I was wondering what it takes to play in a church group/worship band, or whatever it is you call it. I'm not very religious. Is it imparitive that you be super religious to play in that setting? Also, I'm assuming the ability to sight read is important, and I'm working on that. I used to be a decent sight reader, but have lost that over years of not playing. I'm working on getting it back.

    Also, what kind of music is played in a church these days? Is it all the old kinda organ/choir stuff, or is there some more modern sounding music? What kind of rig/setup is needed? I only have a 4 string bass, is a 5 or 6 string needed? I'm sure I'm leaving a lot out, but I don't know what questions to ask, being new at this once again. I would appreciate comments from experienced church bass players. I figure church is a non-threatening environment, where I can grow as a musician and get some experience. I'm not looking to quit my day job or get paid, I just want to play.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yeah, I asked a similar question a while back. I think they think you need to share their superstition to have a meaningful experience in a praise band.
  3. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    Munji, don't be so mean dude!

    bluebyrd, if you're really interested in playing in a church setting, there are many that hire musicians on a weekly basis. If you're just looking to get experience, it depends on the church and their criteria for getting involved. Some churches don't worry about your beliefs, others do.

    Good luck, let us know how your search works out!:bassist:
  4. Bluebyrd, I played in our Church band a couple of years ago. The only prerequisite wasthat you had to be a member at least a year before auditioning/joining. Different Churches will have their own rules.

    Degree of Difficulty???
    (1)Mainly Chord sheets/charts were used at least 3/4 of the time.
    (2)Site-Reading made up for the remining 1/4..and that was on the Holidays when someone would pull out some oldie tune.

    We had a rather decent size band the two years I had played, Piano, Electric Keys, Guitarists, Trumpet, French Horn(Double), Misc percussion, Drums..and of course Bass.
  5. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Here's my experience...

    I play in churches that tend to play gospel with a fairly contemporary sound. The churches I've played at do not require that you are a member and have not asked me what my religious base is, so I'll assume that being chiristian is not a requirement at those churches.

    Most of the time I learn a song by going over it with the pianist (with or without written music) and understanding the basic structure of a song. If it's something contemporary I may acquire a CD and learn it at home. When music is available, I can usually obtain or create a chord chart. My sight reading is pretty lame.

    As for gear, depends on the venue and the music. I have 4, 5, & 6 string basses. My fretted 5 string sees most of the work. I have a 50W Crate and a 500W SWR. Today, playing in a small church with only piano accompaniment, I used my 50W.


  6. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I filled in for an injured friend in a praise band. No real issue was made of issues of the faith in my case, but that changes from situation to situation.

    Getting the tunes was very similar to any secular gig: learning some tunes at home, getting some recordings from other band members, and picking up some stuff at rehearsal. There was a little chart reading as well.

    We did modern, contemporary Christian material. The music pretty much asks for a five string and a 2x10 or 4x10 rig to cover it properly.
  7. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Similar to most of the others... Chord charts, the ability to pull stuff out of the hat having never heard it before... Oftentimes, things fly in a bit of a different direction 'as the spirit moves us', so being able to shift gears quickly is an asset...

  8. Just out of curiosity, what are some "standard" contemporary praise songs that someone could be expected to know? You know, like any classic rock bassist is expected to know "Mustang Sally" If I ever get the urge to play in a church setting, it'd be nice to know what to expect...
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Mean? Nope. Not me.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    See the CCLI website where you can select the top 25 songs reported as being used by churches in various regions of the world. That should give you a starting point...

  11. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    That's funny that no matter when I see that list, "Lord I Lift Your Name on High" is always at the top. A great standard, but it amazes me that anyone would need to actually order the music for it. :D

    I've been playing in a church for about a year. Like some others have posted, I do have to be a member in order to belong to the "Music Ministry" and I don't have a problem with that. I have attended churches where they used hired guns who were just there to play for pay and it seemed less genuine. We get a lyric sheet/chord chart and a CD to listen to/play along with. We rehearse for an hour on Wednesday nights. From a bass player's standpoint, most of the praise music we do (many from that top 25 list) is pretty straightforward to play. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse chorus, tag. We generally do one "Special" a week during the offering which will be a more complex tune that comes in standard notation. I just transpose to a chord chard either using the chord line provided on the music, or by decipering the left hand piano part. I can sight read in that I can look at a note in bass cleff and tell you what it is, but am far from mastering the eye to hand motor reflex that is required in "sight reading-playing". The upbeat songs are a lot of fun to do. Your audience is very non-critical and it's a real treat to have people clapping and really getting into their worship experience as you play. I like to memorize the songs so I can look out on the congregation while we're playing. To get a feel for the music, you can pick up a Top 25 Praise Songs CD for about 13 bucks. There are also some sound files of the songs on that link. I was "not very religious" when I started either, but that is another topic altogether. ;)

    Here is a great article from Bass Player Magazine on Playing in church:

    Bass Player Article on Church Bass
  12. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    Thanks for posting that article Lo-Joe! Good reading!
  13. bluebyrd


    Jun 12, 2000
    Wow, that's a lot of good information. Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate it. I think I need to get my sight reading better before I start. That's a good BP article also, it seems a five string is almost required now.
  14. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000

    I am so sick of that song. ;)
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It varies a lot from church to church, there is NO norm.

    Some churches hire musicians for the worship band so you need not be from the congregation (or even a believer in some cases). Others use volunteers from the congregation and musical ability may not even be an issue!

    Sight reading is only required if the worship band uses fully notated charts (very common is piano arrangements with guitar chord "boxes" notated above the staff...you make up your line).
  16. Heavy_E


    Jul 2, 2002
    I play in a praise and worship band... It is really cool... We are playing standard praise songs (Hillsong, Vineyard, etc) We are also covering Lifehouse, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots, 3 Doors Down. We are in the beginning stages of writing our own songs. I am playing a Lakland 55-02 through a SWR-LA15 or Ampeg 100 combo.

    No one in the band is hyper religious... We are all part of the local club/music scene in some form.

    Check this site out and you can see some pic of one of our out door gigs...

    Blind Bart

    I played 6 string during this gig... I'm the large guy with the hat on ;)

    Here is out church site...

  17. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    My advice is for you to find a church you really enjoy, and after you have gone there a while ask around about the music scene. When I first started going to the church i do now, they only used piano, and sang some dated 80's songs and some hymns. Right now we have piano, drums, keyboard, drums and Bass and really do some cool, modern music. It important to worship, it shouldn't be just a performance opportunity.
  18. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
  19. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    cassanova, in my church the worship team is considered part of the pastoral team. I ve have filled in as the minister of music when the head guy went out of town. A church wouldn't hire a head pastor that admits not believing in the Bible, so I think a Church musician should be a believer. We are all sinners, so everybody is welcome to attend, but music in church should be worship, not a gig. I'm there to praise God and lead other to worship with us, not play a concert.
  20. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Yes we are all sinners and should all be welcome in the church. But I know and I think you know thats not always the case.
    Im there to learn and praise God too. But heck, I can praise God anywhere at anytime I want. Be it in my room playing for him or even on a stage at a club playing dance music. (ex: praise him durring a song that you're kickin butt on) But you're up there playing, so its still a gig.

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