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Church Praise Service Vent

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    So I lead my church's praise team at a dedicated contemporary service. I also suffer from a small degree of hearing loss from playing in loud rock bands, and as such, I try to play everything at a volume which is not damaging in any way, or else my earplugs are in.

    My pastor forwarded an email to me today. Here it is, with names changed (and emphasis added)

    Dear Pastor,

    I can't tell you how disappointed I am that the Saturday Night service music is so loud. I have tinnitus in one ear and have problems coming to church [Sunday morning] because of the effect of the [pipe] organ on my ear. I had never had trouble with the band on Saturday Night. However last Sat. night, the volume was unbearable for me and also for [my husband]. I hope you will discuss the volume issue with the band before everyone quits coming. I do not think the volume is safe for anyone, but it certainly will prevent me from coming until the problem is resolved. [Another family's] daughter complained of the volume at the Saturday Night [children's church]. [M]y husband said that the whole sanctuary was vibrating. Maybe you could have someone test the actual volume level so you would know how dangerous it is before their is a legal problem with one of the other worshipers.

    I guess I will continue to come after the prelude on Sunday morning and wear ear plugs. If the volume is reduced to a normal level, I might be able to go on Sat. night without a problem.

    Thanks for looking into this matter.

    In her defense, we were using a rookie soundman that night, and everything WAS louder than usual. I just get frustrated when people decide after ONE OCCURANCE that this is obviously the norm.

    And I do think that her email was rather rude. Legal problems from loud music? Come on. She says herself - she never had any problems until this last Saturday, and now she will choose to stop coming?

    Ok. Vent over. Feel free to comment.
  2. slapcracklepop


    Jun 28, 2005
    Boston, MA
    Trying not to stereotype --- typical uptight church lady-type
  3. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Its overkill.

    Then again, the people at my church liek it loud apparently (or at least the pastor up front and my friend's dad in the back who I basically listen to; I'm the sound guy...) it may be that I'm just tired in the morning, but sometimes during service (like, 2-3 hours after I've been awake, shouldnt' be that bad) where it seems ridiculously loud, but I'm being told to turn it up more, so I do.

    I'd almost say that it could be suggested to the persion to just...sit farther back in the sanctuary. I mean, what the person is saying is basically the same as going to a concert and then trying to sue for being up front and getting that ringing that lasts in your ears; its in part their fault.

    Eh, this is just another reminder for me to start wearin earplugs for concerts and maybe church sometimes I guess.

    I guess thats the problem with old people - not that its too loud, but they can't really deal with it without complaining. Wait, that applies for us young'ins too (I did not just say that). Or just turn down the Organ and turn up the bass...you can always dance a bit for what Jesus has done :D (Although, with an Organ, it sounds like more of an old school/Catholic church...)
  4. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    A little more background on the situation:

    The lady is probably in her late 30s/early 40s. She has a teenaged daughter. She sits about 2/3 back in the sanctuary, which seats about 250.

    The church as a whole is very traditional. Our service on Saturday night is a deliberate contemporary service as an option for those who might want to use it. At the time, it was the only service of its kind in town, and I like to think that it is still the only service of its calibre - even though I play in one of the other ones on Sunday morning.

    So yes, on Sunday morning, the organ is used a lot. They do congregational responses, choir in robes, the whole deal.
  5. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Eh, don't get too worked up about it. Just see what you can do about the volume.

    In my old church, I couldn't even play an acoustic guitar. That was too modernistic and non-traditional for them. They had a meeting to discuss whether to make a large cabinet for their electronic organ to make it look like the old one that broke down.

    Traditional churches like that tend to like people not to make too much change and commotion. They like keeping things familiar.
  6. Pearly Gator

    Pearly Gator

    Dec 10, 2005
    My pastor would tell her, "If you have a problem with coming, I hope you find a church where you can be happy."

    I understand her position. The Sunday evening youth service at our church is too loud for me. I go to the adult services. Irregardless, (I love that word!) I don't go to,(or avoid) church for the music. ;)

    Pearly Gator
  7. 4x4Given


    Jul 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I am sorry to hear about your frustration. At our church, our sound guys have a decible meter on the board (about mid sanctuary) and regularly take readings. We play between 89db - 92db for services and for accoustic sets, about 78db - 85db. A few "mini concerts" have been done in the 97db - 99db range without complaints, but it really was pretty loud for a regular service. FWIW, we are a non-denominational, fairly young, contemporary church.
  8. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    I agree. The best way to deal with these types of complaints is thank them for bringing it to your attention and to start taking loudness levels from different locations during the music. Let them know you're taking measurements. A simple sound level meter shouldn't cost more than $50 ($30 if look for sales). Then you can objectively see how loud the music really is and go from there.
  9. DGbass70


    Jun 1, 2005
    Rochester N.Y.
    hmmm....she said she's not going to church anymore,until problem is solved?
    what kind of crap is that?
    to me that person goes to church for the wrong reasons.
    she should be glad at least you have a praise team,some other churches don't even have any.
  10. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I have a dB meter, and it will be there at service next week.

    It's frustrating. When I was hired, we had a soundman who wanted us to stay at a "typical" church volume. Thus, I was belting at every service because he wouldn't turn up my mic... he believed that every instrument/voice was equally important, which was cool, but not appropriate for the rock/gospel thing I was going for.

    So finally that guy leaves, taking us down to one good soundman who really knows what's going on, and we've been doing great (although apparently, there's been another older church member who sits as far back as possible because she feels it's too loud for her... but SHE keeps coming). Then the first week we use a new soundman, and everyone blows a gasket. Oy.
  11. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I've heard the secret to running church sound is to find the person that thinks the music is too loud, and the one that thinks it's too soft, and get them to trade chairs.
  12. dangnewt

    dangnewt Veteran Dispenser

    Jun 6, 2003
    MetroWest Boston

    Great advice.
    1) You are directly addressing a concern that has been directly raised.
    2) Even if she might be an over-protective Mom, doesn't mean that it wasn't too loud that night.
    3) I wouldn't say the reference to "legal problems" due to volume was rude - rather, it is more a reflection of this person's cautious nature. Perhaps she thinks that there are other members in her church that have nothing better to do than file frivolous lawsuits and she doesn't want that to happen to a place that she sincerely loves. Or maybe she has learned that you tend to get people's attention when you say the magic words - potential lawsuit.
    4) If you measure and are OK on sound levels and she still complains, then you can make the leap to "she doesn't really like the music and wants to be make life difficult for others." Even then, a skilled pastor will be better able to handle her than even the most suave and diplomatic of church bassists.

    Regarding change -

    How many (insert your favorite denomination) does it take to change a lightbulb?

    What do you mean you want to change the lightbulb - it has been there since 1930, plus it donated by Charlie's Aunt Edna!
  13. jacko spades

    jacko spades

    Jan 9, 2006
    Central FL
    Playing or running sound for church services is really tough. My Grandad's always saying that I'm blasting the last bit of hair off his head, and my As I Lay Dying fan buddy is always telling me how he can't hear the guitar... or the bass.. or the drums. And no one's perfect, and there's days when, for some reason, it gets intensely loud of soft, or just sounds like festering anus. I've found that pretty much the only to keep sane is to keep at the front of your mind why you're playing that music, and just freakin' worship like you are the only one in the place. It's never the wrong volume for God. Of course you want to make nice for everyone else to listen to, but if you don't believe her concern was legit then no need to take it personally or even all that seriously. At least that's my $.02 :cool:
  14. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    In the book of ACTS, the early church leaders made sure that the different aspects of leadership were run by spirit filled believers (Steven come to mind). You might want to have a meeting with the appropriate personel to review your current leadership positions, such as the person running the sound board.
    If one part of the body suffers, then the whole body suffers.
  15. It will never fail to happen to a performing artist/group, that where ever the artist/group performs you'll have those that like it, those that are indifferent, and those that complain/dislike whatever the artist/group does. Just the way it is, comes with the territory. Just do what you do, the best you can, and never lose focus of the reasons you're doing it in the first place.



    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    Good Advice from all!

    It's interesting to note that the Pastor hasn't chimed in on loudness levels....anyway, the lady needs to understand that the services are different for a reason, and the music has to "set the table" for the message being brought. People want music that speaks to them. Showing that you're respectfully of her will do wonders, but if not.....the others that haven't complained will still be there.

    I play in an A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopalian) band with guitar, bass, organ, keys, and percussion, and people will come up to us if they HAVEN'T gotten their dance on during regular Sunday service....but for the traditional worshippers, we have a Saturday service with just an organ. They're happy, which makes Pastor happy, which is good news for all of us!!
  17. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    You know, I don't think he's bothered by how loud it is. Of course, I really have no idea how loud it might be out in front versus where we are (we setup in front of the "stage" because there's not enough foom up there), and I'm not sure that he does, either.

    We've got monitors pointed right at us, and the main is flown like 20 feet straight above us. We don't get much of the sound from that. Pastor usually sits on the second row while we're playing, and I'm not sure that he gets the full attack from that main speaker.

    The ironic thing is that most folks think that if the music is too loud, they should move back. Well, in our church, the quietest spots are likely the first three or four rows! We do have a balcony that tends to muffle sound on the back two or three rows, but those are usually roped off for our service to encourage people to sit toward the front.

    And of course, the mixer is way in the back, under the balcony, where everything is inevitably quieter.

    Until this point, there have only been 2 complaints about loudness that have come to my attention. The first time, we set up an amp as a monitor for the drummer. We were dumb and ran a full monitor feed into this 300W workhorse, and then the drummer put it facing him, but also facing the congregation! Specifically, it blasted the pastor's wife. I got an earful from her, as you can imagine.

    The second time was this incredibly outspoken older woman, who doesn't even wait for us to stop playing at the end of the service to come up and tell us that "tonight's service was just noise!" Of course, she had previously told one my girlfriend, who sang in the team at the time, that she was dressed like a prostitute, so I tended to ignore the woman after that.

    I'm so tempted to go full acoustic this weekend... not even amplify the vocals... but that might go over too well, and we might be forced to do that regularly. And I certainly don't want that. It's my job to help people to worship, and although they can't do that if the music is painfully loud, I believe that it needs to be loud enough that they can sing without feeling self conscious. Am I strange here? I just really like to worship by singing at the top of my voice... I realize that's not for everybody, but we also offer quiet and contemplative music in every service.

  18. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Decibel meter for the sound guy. Definitely. Chart what is acceptable, that way you have recourse should some of it be excess 'whining'.
  19. plexibass


    Jun 30, 2005
    i used to help a buddy of mine out a lot at his church. about 4- 5 times a year he would have music festivals at his church. they would sell tix and raise money for their various causes. i would assemble a band of musicians who were professionals who understood the procedures of why we were there. we would do lenghty soundchecks to ensure proper volumes, no feed back etc. i would even go throught the complete pain of db meters and letting everyone have their own monitor. the problems arose when the non pro people would get up and play. volumes would get changed on amps and ..... this church had a HUGE plate glass window behind the pulpit and a lot of oak. after the shows everyone complimented us except for the same few people everytime. i stopped doing these gigs as it was just to much of a pin to deal with the remarks and the letters we would receive. my advice, stop doing the gigs and let them beg you to come back. even though i'm an athiest i was doing this favor for a friend but enough is enough.
  20. Sorry to burst your bubble....irregardless means something to the effect of "with regard." The word "regardless" covers your meaning without the use of a prefix.

    Sorry to be a grammar nazi.