CCM Drumming. Lord, Help Me

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.

Music Integration Journey


Here’s an interview with Vinnie Colaiuta by Modern Drummer.  I’ve been researching articles on drummers, session work, and becoming an integrated musician because I’m being asked to play in the studio.  It is proving to be a challenge.  For one, it is exposing my lack of practicing and technique.  It is also exposing my musical soul.

I love to play and usually do it from the hip.  I shoot from the hip a lot in life; whether it be music, pastoring, or recreation (i.e. “let’s go the movies” last minute).  My hope is that “my-shooting-from-the-hip” is shaped and formed by all the stuff I’m pouring into myself-personal reflection, perspectives from others, disciplines of studying/practicing.  So it’s a “hip-shot” but my hope is that it has some depth to it.

One of my biggest passions in playing came from feeling like it was a transcendent experience.  It felt like when I played, I was closer to God and Him to me.  This is not about using or conjuring religious jargon.  It was about space and time slowing down, and feeling like something special was happening.

Here’s a quote from the interview.  Vinnie is not just a drummer.  He’s a lover of life:

Beyond skill and talent, what are the keys to being a success in the music business?

Other than skill and talent and the personality to maneuver through all of that, the rest of it is a blessing and you have to do it all to glorify God. If I say this to people, they’ll interpret it in a religious, dogmatic way. But I am talking spiritually. I’m not trying to represent myself as some bastion of spiritual goodness. It takes a level of humility and recognition of what your source is and who your source is. You have to recognize where the source came from and be grateful for it. That then filters into the personaltiy needed to maneuver in the music business. Just being genuine and true to yourself – those are all things that are immutable. Getting along with people and being as true as you can be to the music and to yourself is what it’s about.

I avoid using certain words that will conjure up any kind of association of inferior versus superior. That’s why when I say “be the best you can be” I don’t use any connotation of what the word “best” means because I don’t want to suggest the idea of competition or some high skill level you have to achieve to be some gargantuan Olympian sports type. But if you can find another way to conceptualize that, you’ll understand what I’m thinking or trying to say.