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Church band issues.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Stilettoprefer, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    Okay, so the last few years I have been playing guitar in my churches Praise team that plays nearly every Sunday service. When I got into the program I was just starting out, but now that I've been playing for a while and have been in various different bands, I'm starting to realize how terrible the Praise team sounds.... The singers are always off pitch and the pianist is constantly hitting wrong notes/chords, the bassist can never be heard (not her fault) and the other two guitarists (they play acoustic, I play electric) can never agree on a rhythm, so I end up just doing quarter notes. The drummer is great and one of the acoustic guitarists is an amazing player, but that hardly makes up for the rest.

    Also, something that has been getting much much much worse lately, it's impossible to get everyone to shut up at the same time to discuss something or listen to a song that we're learning.

    Tonight was definitely the worst it's gotten, the sound guy actually had to turn people's mics off and start yelling so that he could get everyone's attention and tell us that the non-productiveness is getting out of hand and the music is being affected by it.

    This mostly just a rant. I'm done with this band if the problems are not addresses and fixed in the next few weeks.
  2. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i am guessing they are not paid professionals?
  3. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Sounds like you need an authoritative leader. Someone who people will listen to when they speak. As for lack of skill, well you are just going to have to be patient on that one.
  4. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I've been playing in church bands for 20+ years. I feel your pain ;)

    Sounds like if there is a leader in your band, he/she doesn't know how to lead. In the church band I'm currently in, the leader wants me to be creative, which is refreshing, and not like the one I was in for 10 years prior to that.

    I decided that this time, I would make it clear that if I can't hear my bass, I will not play. Guitarists often have ear-splitting stage volume, but the bass player can't hear himself. I'm not doing that any more.

    Also, since I get along with the current band leader, and she's very open to suggestions, I've talked to her a lot about the singers going flat. In churches, there's often an attitude that hey, you know, this is for a good cause, it doesn't have to be all that great. Horsefeathers. The band, IMO, is for accompaniment, assistance in worship, and outreach. If the music's no good, then none of these things work well. I've also spoken to the leader of this band about being more assertive about band members doing what she wants them to do. She is the leader and she's allowed to say, "Look, this is how I arranged the music, and this is how I want to do it." She's actually very flexible, and sometimes that's really good, but other times, everybody has a suggestion about how to do things, and you can't take them all.

    When I sing, I want to know if I'm flat. If I'm playing something that clashes, I need to know that. Same goes for everyone else - they need to know if they're hosing it.

    So I'm with you. If the problems can't be fixed, move on.
  5. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I ran sound for a church that was just off of Music Row downtown, so there was a slightly higher standard for the music and sound than at a lot of churches. It was nice, a lot of the people on the worship team were professional musicians to some degree, so it was generally pretty great every week. Sometimes I'd show up and see one or two session players from the studio I worked at during the week. I have a feeling one or two of the worship leaders (there was a rotation) might have been throwing those guys a few bucks to be there, but as a rule everyone but me was a volunteer.
  6. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    Exactly! Supposedly the pianist is the leader (she picks out the songs that we play every week), but other than pick out the music, she doesn't do anything!! The terrible thing about this band is that 3 singers and the pianist/BL are related to each other. That's about half the group and they're the main ones that get everyone off task.

    Normally I wouldn't mind a little bit of chatting and sharing stories, but during practice is NOT the time when we only have rehearsal once a week!!!! If we could have just 2 guitarists, a drummer, a bassist and the 2 singers that can actually stay on pitch, I would be very happy in this band.

    Maybe I'm weird, but being in a band with family members seems like a plan for disaster since nobody will want to tell someone that they're doing something wrong because they don't want to offend their family members.
  7. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Perhaps the pastor could sit in and babysi.... I mean supervise the practices? They listen to him... right?

    Relationships between people are chemistry experiments. Sometimes things stay stable when mixed, sometimes something magical happens and sometimes they blow up in your face. The more elements you add though, the harder it is too keep things stable.

    As for family being in a band, well that all depends on the chemistry of the family. It's just that often those elements are bound together and any chemical reactions could be intensified for better or worse. But its not necessarily a timebomb. Perfectly stable families, while uncommon, do exist.
  8. I feel your pain. I have been playing on worship teams for a straight 10 years now. Some are great, most are not.
    I am in a heated debate right now with my churches current worship leader over the same thing. Quality of the players and overall sound. Cant hear myself on stage, singers that are flat. Heck even the worship leader sings flat. etc.. etc.. Seems the prevailing attitude is "well they are volunteers and all."
    Seems a shame, I feel you should be doing your utmost for the most high.
  9. sandmangeck


    Jul 2, 2007
    You get what you pay for.
  10. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen

    Jun 11, 2010
    Hallelujah to that.

    If your getting paid, treat it like a job and keep going.
    If not, find another group to play with.
    One thing is certain however, the situation WON'T change. So either manage it or leave.
  11. Old Joe

    Old Joe Guest

    Apr 22, 2011
    I played keys and then bass at church for about 8 years before I quit, well more like "stepped out". But not because of all the issues we had, which is pretty much all the OP describes.

    I know there are a lot of churches/worship organizations that have professional level musicians and that's all fine. But the main purpose of a worship group is not really the music, it's uniting in worship.

    Sure, as a musician I wanted to get better and wanted others to get better and mistakes/attitudes irked me all the time but then I realized most people in my group were not there for the music. They were there for a sense of belonging and doing their part in the organization.

    Just my two cents.
  12. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    With a team that large you need a team leader who directs the practice and calls the shots. Someone who has a decent balance between getting it right and the limitations of the players involved.

    Like others have said, it sounds like a leadership issue.
  13. Syco_bass

    Syco_bass Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2008
    Tucson, Arizona
    Custom builder - Arizona Bass Company/Curcio Custom Basses
    I'm sorry but I think this is the wrong attitude in a church setting. If you are doing it for the money or for self glorification, then I suggest you find another "venue".

    I am the Exec. Dir. at a church that has been blessed with a fantastic worship team. In fact we have more than one full team. We do have 3 paid players, but that is only because we wanted extra ppl to pull from so that our regular players can get a break once in a while. One of the drummers and I play in two other bands together which makes it easier, however, if you don't have a strong leader, you will continue to struggle.

    I have to admit, it wasn't always this easy. Our original team has been together for a little over 3 years now and our Worship Pastor has been with us for about the same time.

    I recommend you approach your Pastor and ask if there are any plans to hire a Worhsip Leader. Even if only part time. If you have the qulifications and the vision, maybe it's your calling. Go to him/her with solutions, not problems.

    Ranting will often get you nowhere. Talk to someone in a respected possition before you just walk away angry. Who will that serve? Remember why you are doing it, always do your best, give grace and respect to others and lead by example. That is all that anyone can ask for.

    Good luck and peace be with you. :bassist:
  14. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Any situation, job or band, is respectable partly because you believe in your leadership. You can address directly with your leader (and I prefer to offer blount facts) and they can't bring things up to a workable level then you should leave. And family nonsense rarely gets better, her responsibility will probably be to her family and that usually means she will lack the professionalism to bring things up to par.

    BUT, if you want to do you part, air your grievances. Politely but blountly. As many mob movies suggest, do so in a way that lets her know it doesn't matter if you stay or leave, the choice is on her to get things up to par.
  15. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    Well, I would approach the pastor about the problems, but we don't have a pastor right now.... We're in the middle of the call process. Another issue stacked on top of everything else.

    And we are all volunteers. There is pay to the group as a whole, but we just give that back to the church.
  16. I've been playing on Praise teams for the past 29 years or so. I started playing bass when I was around 12 years old and played piano before that. My father was the leader(as well as pastor) in the small churches that I started out in. He was a strong believer in Bible verses like Psalm 33:3 which tells us to "play skillfully". There are also several other verses that have "skillful" and music(singing, strings, etc) together. Because of this belief, he wouldn't let either me or my brother play on the Praise team unless we could keep the beat and play the songs correctly.
    There seems to be a misconception with some people that simply having music is what matters....even if it's sloppy, unpracticed music. Apparently that’s not how the Psalmist feels, since he calls for skillful playing. Skillful playing always requires a patient honing of the skill and that requires good practice.
    Obviously your Church band isn't getting that kind of practice. They need a leader who is not only skilled in music, but also skilled in leadership.

    Hope this works out for you. God Bless
  17. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    A couple of problems here: 1) No take-charge leader to take control of rehearsals and work on the musical weaknesses and 2) a praise team and the tech team (sound board person) are generally made of volunteers who are weekend warriors so the skill level can be very low.

    If you're just a regular team member there's not much you can do other than schedule a meeting with the leader and discuss your thoughts. But I wouldn't just criticize in the meeting, offer suggestions and offer to help if you think you are strong in any of the areas that need help.

    The pastor should be the one to get involved - if the P&W team is producing very bad music then the worship experience is being compromised. The congregation is generally not going to be worshiping if the music is painfully bad. He needs to speak to the P&W leader about taking the team to the next level.
  18. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I see two destructive attitudes here. First, the main purpose of a band is the music. A band is a musical group. The way they "unite in worship" is through music. Shouldn't we bring our best?

    In the last church where I played, we did have some professional musicians, but they played for free because it was their church, and that was one of their gifts to the church. In my current band, some of us are at best semi-pro, but we're committed to continual improvement. A qualification: both of these churches have paid contemporary service music leaders.

    If someone wants a sense of belonging and doing their part (and I certainly do), then they should find a place where they fit in, and do their best.

    For instance, we have a group that makes prayer quilts for seriously ill people. If they just slopped them together out of whatever random scraps they had laying around, and didn't care if they fell apart or looked ugly, it wouldn't be a very effective ministry.

    I'm a skilled tradesman, and I have done repair work at various churches. Sometimes I get paid, other times I donate my work. In my current church, I'm thankful to be able to donate my work, but that doesn't mean I should be satisfied with doing sub-par work just because I'm doing it for free, and it's for the church. Quite the opposite.
  19. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I lasted a month playing for the church. I kept feeling like I was getting pimped. It was way too much work for too little satisfaction. Even in the house of the Lord, the ego's were ungodly.

    It started to feel like work again. Add to that a different set every week and no charts or anything... and the stuff was hard to play without putting in some time. I feel for anyone that can deal with church band politics. I tip my hat to you..
  20. Old Joe

    Old Joe Guest

    Apr 22, 2011
    I agree with what you say. In my experience I'm talking about mostly minor stuff. The guitarist and myself were decent at playing, most of the mistakes came from the singers. And again minor stuff like a bit flat or sharp here and there, not starting the song at the right moment, etc. Things that can irritate a musician but most people in the service would not notice.

    Like others said the OPs problem sounds more like a leadership issue. In my group we had moments at rehearsals were people got a bit too rowdy but the leader would step in and take control. There's no way of getting better at your craft when people are dicking around when it's time to practice. You can have all the talent in the world but if you're there just to monkey around there's no point to it.

    What I meant by my previous comment is that a group like this needs to be a bit more understanding and tolerant on mistakes since most people there are not pros and usually not paid even if they are. It's obvious there's got to be some talent to even be in such a group. It's obvious that they should strive to get better. A leader should try to nurture those that have the talent and, maybe more important, disposition to be in such a group.

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