The other day, I played at a worship night event and had lots of fun. I used the house kit: a Ludwig Keystone. I loved this kit. But this isn’t the point.
The worship set was a mixture of some gospel (not hard core, but some), African, and CCM. In all, it was a multi-genre set that was fun.
Afterwords, a few drummers came up and asked about the cymbals and shared some compliments (always a weird thing cuz I want to hear the compliments but I also don’t want the attention). One dude asked me, “Do you play at church”, and my knee jerk response was, “Well, I’m trying not to”. And then I started laughing!
He then asked me, “Cuz it’s too simple?” And honestly, I wanted to say, “Yeah! It’s too simple, dry, boring, and bland”.
But I didn’t. I said, “Well, I do periodically play at churches but I just don’t have much fun doing it right now.” Most churches are playing all the popular worship songs that churches like Bethel, Hillsong, and other mega churches have written. And the genre is this mesh of rock, folk, ballad which we have simply called CCM (contemporary christian music).
I also told him that I grew up playing and attending a church that did musical styles ranging from gospel, r&b, ballads, and latin jazz. That’s what I grew up playing…and still enjoy to this day.
I don’t have anything against CCM music, or the people who have created the songs, or the musicians. In fact, it takes lots of creativity to do what they’ve done. So I have respect for them.
I’ve been in the studio creating some CCM tracks and when I’m doing the creating, it’s MORE fun but it’s not what I prefer to be doing.
In the words of Marie Kondo (Netflix, Tidying Up), the current church music stuff does not bring me any joy. Whatsoever. I don’t blame the creators of CCM or churches that do this style of music.
But I get zero joy out of playing CCM or listening to it.
I’m sharing all of this because I’m frustrated with musical styles at church. Why is it that most churches only do CCM? I mean, really!? There’s some tom stuff at the beginning. Die out at the bridge. Build it back up with toms. And then go into a full blown rhythm at the end.
At this very moment, I wonder if there’s someone from a gospel music church that’s saying, “I wonder why we ONLY do gospel music and not CCM?” Or at a latin american church that only does samba and salsa! LOL!
I’m not saying anything spectacular right now. I’d have to dig a little deeper. There’s the whole convo of being a multi-ethnic church and about being hospitable to others. There’s a lot happening with music, church, worship, with many different layers that includes theology and anthropology.
I think about how a church will have a particular musical genre value and sometimes it just feels imposed on me. Or the idea that I should like it and respond in exuberant praise. “Well, it’s not about the music Roy! It’s about Jesus. Stop being so difficult and superficial”. I’ve heard comments like this before. I wanna say, “Ok. You’re right! I’m sorry.” But I’m not sorry for sharing that I have zero joy in playing CCM stuff. I try my best at it but it’s not what I prefer.
I guess I’m just trying to figure out how I can play more multi-genre sets that capture different ways of experiencing God through music. I also want to be stretched as a musician and learn different genres that give me joy.
Here’s to hoping for different genres to be played at churches so that we can appreciate different cultures and tastes.
And here’s hoping to get more latin jazz, afro, jazz, experimental jazz, neo soul gigs that will help me grow as a musician.