As drummers we are afforded a unique perspective on the band during rehearsal. Many times, since a drumming pattern may be more repetitive than, say, a lead guitar line, drummers are able to be more aware of what’s going on around us. This means that we may notice mistakes or “hiccups” in the band before others. Combine this with the fact that drummers are looked at to “lead” the band from a rhythmic perspective, and we can end up with situations where we are given the opportunity to “speak our minds”.

So how can we, as drummers, effectively communicate our thoughts in an uplifting and edifying way? Let’s talk about a few scenarios and how we might handle them in a
positive way:

When you disagree with a suggestion
Sometimes we’ll get suggestions from other band members about our drumming that we don’t necessarily think are “good” ideas. It can be tempting to reply curtly with something like, “No! That isn’t going to work.” But that type of reply will tear the other person down and harm a positive, collaborative environment that many worship teams seek to build.

Instead, we might say something like “I’m not sure if I can make that work in this context, but let me give it a shot and see what you think!” Most of the time, if an idea really won’t work, the person suggesting the idea will figure it out on their own once they hear it being played. The key here is to genuinely and enthusiastically try to play the suggestion from your bandmate. This has the added benefit of making it much more likely for the other band members to try your suggestions in the future!

When another musician is hitting a wrong note – and doesn’t know it
Sometimes our more “melodic” brothers and sisters might repeatedly play a note that either isn’t what’s written on the chart, or just plain doesn’t sound right! In the spirit of “efficiency,” we might default to calling him or her out directly and say “I think you’re hitting a bad note there,” which doesn’t sound especially mean, but there are kinder, more uplifting ways to work out such issues.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to give the person in the leadership role an opportunity to lead first. Many times, during a Sunday morning soundcheck, the worship leader has dozens of thoughts and “to-dos” on his or her mind. Just because the leader hasn’t addressed that wrong note yet, doesn’t mean that they won’t.

By being truthful, but admitting that we may be wrong, we are able to keep the spirit of collaboration alive and maintain a positive experience with our brothers and sisters as we prepare for worship.

If you feel like you should indeed bring up the wrong note, leave open the possibility that you could be wrong too! I’ve heard a lot of very “creative” worship songs lately that use chords that I’m not used to hearing, so sometimes those “wrong” notes are actually right! So I might say something like “Does anyone else hear an odd blend of notes in the bridge on that 3rd chord? I could just be hearing things wrong, but something sounds kind of off to me.” By being truthful, but admitting that we may be wrong, we are able to keep the spirit of collaboration alive and maintain a positive experience with our brothers and sisters as we prepare for worship.

When you can’t quite get it right
Sometimes, we are the ones hitting the wrong notes/patterns. In these cases we might feel tempted to let everyone else in the band know that we are aware of our repeated mistakes – every time we make one! And while a quick apology to the band about a mistake that possibly derailed a song might be necessary sometimes, we don’t always need to tell everyone about our mistakes as drummers. Most likely, everyone else in the band is focused on correcting their own mistakes, so just try to correct the hiccups in your drumming, and try not to get too frustrated!

These are just a few examples of the many, many opportunities we have every week to uplift our bandmates. It’s really easy to encourage someone when they’re getting everything “right,” but we all need a little more encouragement when things aren’t going the way we’d like. Remember that our ministry as worship leaders doesn’t start and end with just the music we play during worship services. Our ministry to those around us day after day is just as important!

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