To all you wonderful drummers out there - please don't take this the wrong way because we can't do without you, and I mean this more in fun than a criticism:
Do all drummers feel that as soon as they sit behind the drums they have to pick up the sticks and start playing, very loudly, no matter what is going on around them? All conversation has to stop, the guitarists have to stop tuning, because the drummer can't sit without playing. It's like an itch that needs scratching.
We have very talented drummers (and I love them dearly, honestly!) but they all seem to have this inability to control the urge to play, and they drown everything else out. They don't want electronic drums because they won't be able to 'express themselves'.
So - are all drummers like this?

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My son is one of our churches best drummers, even though he is not yet 17, and yet he is able to 'control' himself.

Yes, he can be constantly playing percussion as he goes around the house tapping worktops etc, and he likes nothing better than drumming to Dream Theater, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Sanctus Real, Hillsongs or any other music he likes (Christian or otherwise) but if he needs to contain himself he can do so. Indeed, we often have to ask him to 'give it welly' if we think he is too quiet!

However, I do know what you mean, and some drummers don't actually take time to listen to what is going on around them. I did have one problem with one drummer who used to play in my group as when he was playing he was always looking in another direction (sideways) so he could never pick up any changes we wanted to do on the fly.

An education thing I guess.
Glad to hear it, Martyn. Your son is starting out well.
I would like to think it is an education thing, but in our place the more experienced ones are the worst culprits.
Yep, all drummers are like that. Just as all electric guitarists MUST address their guitar strings constantly while the singers are being sorted out (the singers apparently must ALWAYS be sorted out at length). I've also noticed that this is the time for bass players to practice their Level 42 solos.

True, but the difference is that they don't generally drown everyone else out like drummers do, and they can hear when they are asked to be quiet.
Our drummer is really good at controlling himself, both in volume and not playing when he shouldn't. (of course, he is playing an electric drum set.) For us, it's a guitarist that will play other stuff whenever we are not playing together. While I haven't spoken to this person yet, I plan to pull them aside and talk to them about it. I don't think they realize how much they do it and how much it affects rehearsal efficiency. Sometimes it's more of a nervous thing where they don't even realize they are doing it. At the same time, I think it's important to try not to give them opportunities to do that. Obviously, there are times when you need to focus on the few to get something right while the others wait. But other times, if you yourself appear to be hum-drumming (ooh poor choice of words) and are just trying to figure something out in your head, that might make them sub-consciously feel like it's ok to do it then. At least that is the case with me; I need to make sure that I have everything planned out in advance so that we are always focused on rehearsing.
Good point Carl. That's my experience too. If I allow too much idle time between songs or during a song while I try to mentally works something out the drummer, bass player, or electric guitar player will lead the other two off into random instrumental jams. Being prepared and keeping things moving was the solution. And allowing time for them to jam a little after we are done rehearsing.
Drummers can often find it hard to sit still and, unlike guitarists, can't even turn down. However, considering that they need each of their limbs to be playing parts of the kit, beating out complex rhythms, it isn't surprising that they sometimes seem to be a little wired!

I think that sums it up nicely, Wulf!
I have got used to the constant finger-tapping and leg-beating during the sermon, though, because at least that's silent :)
We all do it; singer's hum, guitarists are constantly tuning or practicing riffs, the worship leaders talk to themselves while they try and figure out the next song (oops, maybe that's just me...). The main problem is that the drummers can't "fidget" quietly; the drums aren't made that way.

I try to have a positive attitude, and say to myself "hey, he's actually practising to get better, so that's a good thing" or "Oops, I've taken too long to get the team moving again, and silence is a vaccum that sucks in things to fill it." Sure, I've had to stop the whole team sometimes and have the "guys, can we all pay attention so that we can go home on time tonight" talk, but as long as the interruptions are once in a while, then I'd live with it. But if your beatmaster is constantly forgetting that there are people standing right next to them, then he or she needs a one on one talk about manners.
YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!

most drummers are like that. ive worked with lots of them. though the percentage is probably around 60/40. the 40% have an understanding that they are not the center. for some reason, most drummers think that they need to play all the time, they need to play loud and alot of the time play how they think the song should be played, rather than how the worship leader has asked them to play. ive seen it a hundred times...............

anyway, there are some drummers out there that get it, they are there to serve. not to be the center.
I am no expert on statistics; but I have spent a lot of time observing and trying to manage musocentric people. Perhaps the statistics are no different than with the other musicans, and the leaders themselves (orchestra conductors make no noise whatever, and some are egotistic and others gracious). The difference would be that drums, being loud by their nature, command attention.

I had a frustrated drummer tell me, "drums, by their nature, are loud, just like trumpets." He played for me and illustrated the loss of tone quality, and told me how much he wanted to both be good support for the people and not drown out the others. So I built him a Virtual Padded Cell in the choir loft; it actually sort of worked.

What's weird is, you hear the CD's, from Elvis to Beatles to Matt Redmond, and the drums you hear are way in the background. Of course, they have been mixed in a studio, and what we have at church is live. In the acoustical environment we give them to play in, it is virtually impossible to play with any passion at all, or any real quality, without getting too loud. I have visited a few dozen churches recently, and heard a lot of drummers who were not too loud (!); but it was almost all 'boom-chick-chunk-chick', nothing daring, nothing to swell the spirit and raise the hairs on the neck (okay, I'm using emotional language; but if music that is too loud is bad, what is music that has no emotion? euuuuuuu........uuu.....uuuh, to paraphrase Rev. 3:16)

Perhaps, one could set up a worship band so that the appropriate players play at the appropriate times in appropriate strength, yielding their members to one another for the sake of the Body (doing basically the same thing that orchestras have done for centuries). I cannot say that I have made better than feeble attempts in this direction, having yielded to the "de facto bullying" of drummers AND guitarists AND pianists (sometimes myself) who must constantly hit and strum.

Another factor is societal -- once the Drum has been established as the primary sourcde of rhythm, the people become hesistant to respond when the drummer is not playing (hence, even in soft, soft music, the little tick that keeps everyone on cue). I grew up as an organist in churches which had nothing else, and learned to drive the rhythm with that reluctant beast. People responded, because they knew nothing else, and tuned their ears to my rhythms and melody; today they hear blunk blunk blunk all day on the iPod, and know little else. Maybe church could provide something better than what they hear on the iPod.
its a good thing for every musician who plays with other musicians in a band, that they find the best volume to mix well.

tonal quality or not, its about playing in a way that best suits the environment.


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