Questions about playing in church.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by shawshank72, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    My new wife is a church person, i am not.
    I love my wife and i know its important to her so i go with her 2-3 times a month and she sings occasionally too.
    Thing is that word has spread that im a musician who can play drums, guitar, and bass.
    Theres nobody left who can or wants to play bass in the church.
    Pastor and others have been trying to get me to play.
    From the couple times they had a bassist they just played root notes.
    What i am wondering if i choose to play is how much bass should i play?
    The music ive seen is just what chords are being played and nothing else.
    Do i just play the root notes and hold down the low end?
    Do i add my own bass lines into the songs and be creative?
    If so how much would be too much?
    Ive seen videos of some church bands who play at top level.
    But this is a small church and they dont seem to be much more than average joe musicians.
    I just dont want to come off as overplaying, arrogant, or grandstanding.
    But it does intrigue me to want to play. I think it would be fun to switch around a sunday here or there and play different instruments. Especially with summer here and people on vacations and needing to keep the music going.
  2. I sing in a praise band called "Living Water" at our church and my son plays bass. He started out kind of mellow while getting to know the other musicians and dynamics of the place. Now he lays it down thick when the situation calls for it and keeps it right where it needs to be. We've had that place rockin' many of times.
  3. To me this question is much tougher than what to play.
    Not to sound arrogant, judgmental, or negative so please don't take it that way but the purpose of church music is to worship Jesus.
    So when you say church person/not church person do you mean believer/not believer?
    I think it would be hard to lead people in worshipping Jesus if you don't believe in Him.

    That said, it would depend on the church. I've played in an acoustic accompaniment setting where there were a lot more whole notes with light fills and I've played in contemporary situations where I was able to let my rock style bass flow.
    I think you would want to ask whoever is leading the group what type and amount of back-up they want from the bass. You would also want to use your discretion on each song and go with the feel of the song. Some are slow and some are upbeat.
  4. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    Play what you think it needs. It's pretty much like any other music.
  5. At my church, I play just enough to keep the mosh pit under control.
  6. Just support the songs - keep it simple and groove, but don’t be afraid to add some enhancement and help lead the other players with smooth transitions, (IE: pickups, exits, tags, etc).

    TIP: Pick/play songs that setup the message that the preacher is going to deliver for that sermon/service.
  7. Can I get an Amen to that - right on!
  8. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Im working on the belief.
    Im a person on the fence.
    Having a hard time of it.
  9. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Thats too funny.
    But not all churches are the same.
  10. Bass1965


    May 3, 2012
    Richmond, VA
    First, I think it is great that you are honoring your wife by attending church with her. I have been playing with our church ensemble for years and I really look forward to it each and every week. Not only would you serving (every church needs a bassist!) but you get to serve doing something you love doing. The types of music varies greatly from church to church - even from one service to the next within the same church, but you will quickly know what is called for on a given song, and you should play to the best of your ability. If your ability is above every other member of the ensemble, so be it - the ensemble will be that much better because of it.
  11. Not to start any argument, but being on the fence lets you see something both sides don't. Stay there, it's not bad at all.

    Concerning the music, I'd start easy and then go further. Just like in any other band I ever played... If you are aware of what you play, then you'll immediately find out yourself when you've played something inappropriate.
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    I played in one of the biggest churches in Atlanta. Nobody had any idea I was a non-believer. And the band was one of the best bands I've ever been in.

    Besides, aren't believers taught that the power comes from god, and not through humans?

    OP - play the gig, especially if it will help at home. Don't sweat the belief thing. If it's for you, it will come. If it's not, it won't.
  13. Liking this answer. :)

    You're honest. And thank you for not being put off by my response.

    If you are interested in playing talk to the pastor in charge of the music and tell him where you stand. You wouldn't be the first person in your position to play worship in church.

    One thing I like about playing in church is that I've pretty much been given the freedom to write my own bass lines to whatever songs we're playing. I've learned an awful lot about music by having the freedom to learn.
  14. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    How much and what play is as varied as there are local churches. Playing straight 1/8th note roots is just a start and does leave a stable backdrop for others of varing talent levels.

    Much is dependent of the perferred pop music genre of the congregation. Or the perferred of the leading musician. Now if the keys are playing basic triads as a pad and the guitars are doing basic strums of cowboy chords then you can control the genre of music by the choices you make.

    However you may confuse those around you. As a band through experience you will work out your role.
  15. Don’t worry, and don’t get caught up in the manmade "worship leader" title baloney either - if they need you and you want to do it - just do it. PS - FWIW: it’s fun, and you'll probably score extra points with your wife too. :)
  16. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    The reason you play is much more important than what you play IME. I've noticed a very low douche bag quotient in the church band and it's one big reason I like it. It's not so big a deal to be a believer, but attitude is everything. There are all levels of skill (some of it really really good) but I think like any other band situation, the first rule is serve the song first and foremost and serve yourself last of all.

    If you want to play some tunes you may not know with some great players who don't have huge egos, do it. If you want to show everyone how much better than everyone else you are, it's not the gig for you.
  17. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Your in a tough situation because IMO there is a hard line conflict between worship and Rock & Roll.

    Are you a Rock & Roll guy, is it in your blood?

  18. I got recruited to play at Church after a long time of ignoring the tug.

    I didn't like Christian Contemporary and by and large still don't, but it's growing on me. My 16yo son plays a Hammond SK-1 in this bunch, and the leader is an old ex-rocker KB player who mentors and encourages my son's keyboard skills, so that's really positive. I'm now actually more enthusiastic about playing music in a live-performance situation than I have been in years, and some of that certainly comes from being able to play with my son.

    It's been a good experience for me. You'll deal with some complainers, but some really fun and talented musicians too.

    Oh. And Christian Contemporary often has a lot of thudding on a low tonic, the radio-acts are making fairly consistent use of a low-B, so a five-string comes in handy. Where I'm playing, flashy embellishments are welcome in good measure, though these are typically fairly large ensembles, so fewer notes, well placed, is the normal goal. Good luck, have fun.
  19. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I was approached about playing in a worship band. I told the lady who asked me that I'd be happy to as long as she was not bothered by having a non believer in her house of worship. She thanked me for my honesty told me not to worry about it she'd find someone else, and never spoke to me again even though we saw each other every saturday afternoon for about a year.

    Had I known it would have that kind of effect i would have just kept my big mouth shut and at least tried it on for size.

    Given your current thoughts on faith, I'd do it to please my wife and keep my thoughts to myself.

    If you do go for it, keep an open mind. To me, faith is what sustains us when nothing else will and if you don't have something like that already, you never know where you might find it. That said, beware the trap of being pushed into agreeing just to avoid friction. Most true believers will not push you, it's the coup counters and score keepers you have to watch out for.
  20. wolffire99


    Feb 19, 2013
    St. Louis
    Play what the music calls for without showing off. Don't hold back, but don't try to draw attention to yourself
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