Friday, November 19, 2010

Confessions of a Church Muscian pt 1

The distance between playing drums 90% of the time for your church to once every two months is a long strange emotional trip.

Church music now is worship music. In the majority of my experience at
Oakbrook it wasn’t. The music was diverse, and in essence needed studio musicians. That was a perfect musical fit for me; blue grass, movie soundtrack, pop, jazz, country, blues, rock—you name it.

It didn’t matter how hard the piece was, I could handle it. I’ve played drums since I was 4, took lessons at age 8 and I would humbly say that even at a young age, my musical ability was a gift from God. To this day, I need to practice little to none to pull off a tune. The big band Christmas services a couple years ago was maybe the only time I practiced on the kit before a band rehearsal. That’s not really the musical norm.

(Please understand, I’m not trying to be full of myself here, just trying to paint a picture—and that ability is not of ME—it’s a gift bestowed to me from God, of which I’m grateful.)

Over the last couple years our church music has slowly flowed into predominantly worship music. For a drummer it’s not complicated; very simple in fact (at least for me). And after playing lots of different styles for decades, the current trend is not very diverse to me. This isn’t criticism, it’s just what it is, to me musically.

I enjoy worship music. (And yes, I understand that worship isn’t about the music.) But I can more easily find God in a quiet room, reading, praying, writing, studying, or in a compelling instrumental tune or non-worship secular song for that matter. There are different worship pathways, and musical worship in the congregational sense is not my primary one.
Maybe it's my non-churched upbringing, but I can find God in the arts seemingly more easily than worship music.

The recent church music trend is also going away from a pool of musicians toward a worship band model whereupon a worship leader will have the same drummer, bassist, guitarist, playing together all the time.

So in the near future, the odds of me being chosen when there are younger drummers with more affinity with a worship leader? Slim. And if I were a 20-30-something worship leader, not sure I'd choose the 46 year old drummer.

And let me be honest: not really sure I have the passion to do it in this current worship music paradigm. And without a doubt-- it would absolutely be best to have drummers playing these worship tunes that really love this current worship style.

And what a great opportunity for these young talented drummers---to enfold them into kingdom impact and allow them to use their abilities for God’s glory! That’s a great thing, friends.

So it’s weird to be here. I have a passion for drums and for music. I have a unique gift to play. Musically, I may be in the best days of a musician’s life: lots of experience, decades of developed technique, musical discernment that only comes with age, knowing how to setup players in a band and help them sound their best. This is the age when most musicians are at their best.

So it’s weird. On the church music scene I’m on the “outs” and don’t necessarily want to be back “in.” But what about the gift? “To whom much is given, much is required,” Sandra said the other day as I was torturing her with this discussion. Dang her! ;-)

And to be crystal clear, church changes. It must. When a church stops changing it starts dying. The current worship-centric church trend seems to be how God is moving now. So perhaps this is all as simple as I was blessed with the run I had; but these times, they are a changin’.

In a cerebral sense, I get it. But perhaps emotionally and even spiritually, it’s a tad sad to see the door closing on 19 years of church drumming knowing a unique gift is still in me.

As I’m writing this I’m remembering the words that a sage in my life uttered just yesterday. “Pastors never retire. They just retool.” Perhaps the same is true for church drummers.

So musically…what now, God? Anybody need a slightly used perfectly aged drummer? ;-)