Music & Volume @ CSC
I am often asked questions about the volume of the services here @ CSC. It’s a simple question, with some very complicated answers. This letter will try to answer some of the questions you may have -
Determining volume & style of music is extremely hard. Even in a small church like ours there are people who love styles ranging from bluegrass, country, rap, classical, rock, and everything in between. All of these styles can be used to worship and honor God, and all of them can also be used in ways that do not. We are faced weekly with a difficult challenge - How do we bring a diverse group of people together to worship God through music, when what we enjoy stylistically is so different from one another?
We know worship is far more than music. We are called to worship in spirit & truth, and musical style has very little to do with that. We should be most concerned with the heart, no matter the style. We want our minds to lift up words of truth about God, and our hearts to be moved to worship our God because of our love for Him. Our minds and our emotions should be engaged, & that can happen through a simple hymn, or an epic rock song.
Stylistically we try to be broad. We are based around the style of most modern worship songs. This style is popular across the country, and is what is found on the radio on most national Christian stations. However, we love to add bluegrass or country flavor into songs, as well as folk, choral, and rock styles. We are always experimenting, and would love to broaden our style of music to include things like wind instruments, electronica, and things like that. The key is that we always stay centered on biblical truth, and lifting our hearts & minds in worship.
Another challenge we face is volume. Volume is just like style, every one has their own volume they prefer. There are two unique challenges that we deal with. For some, music can quickly become too loud, and can cause ear discomfort, or even physical pain. For others, the music can be too quiet, and many people don’t sing because they are afraid to be heard by their neighbors. Energy in worship can also come from volume, so low volume can cause the music and participants to lose energy. If music ever becomes far too loud, it can actually damage a person’s hearing, which is dangerous.
What do we do with all this? Again, we try to be broad, and we base our volume on what’s currently going on in churches, while trying to bring variety and maintain a volume that is energetic, but not distracting to the majority of people. This can be especially challenging for sound guys, because instruments line the stage, and each week can be very different. Sometimes volume isn’t even the issue, it’s actually a matter of what the “mix” of the music sounds like. Our sound guys strive for excellent sound just like our worship team, but creating great mixes that reach a broad group of people can be very challenging.
The reality is that for some people, our service will sometimes seem quiet. It may be feel weak compared to some worship times, and may not have the energy you prefer. We ask that you give God everything you have in worship, and lay down your preferences for the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
For some of you, our service will seem quite loud at times. It may feel painful, or distracting to you. We ask that you give God everything you have in worship, and lay down your preferences for the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
For hopefully most of you, our worship is in a style and at a volume that you can enjoy and avoid any distractions due to these things.
We need to remember who we are, and that we worship a risen Savior. The worship team leads the worship, but the hearts of the congregation is what our God is interested in. We ask that you be a part of the worship, not a bystander, and help us as a team come before our God in song.
Nothing excites me more as a worship leader than hearing our church lift their voices to God as one body. No guitar or piano or any other instrument can compare to the people of God joining together to praise the One who has saved us from death to life. We simply want to provide music and an atmosphere that encourages each one of you to do just that.
A note about DB- Sound levels are measure in units called decibels, or db for short. Every week we run a db meter in the sound booth to try to make certain that our service doesn’t get too loud or too quiet. We run a meter set to dbc. Dbc reads about 6-8 db higher than standard dba(the setting used for safety standards). We run our standard Sunday morning service in a range from 90-100 dbc. That would equate to around 83-93 dba. According to noise safety levels, someone could easily listen to those levels for between 1-4 hours without any hearing damage. As an example, a handheld drill runs around 99 dba(or 107 dbc). For those levels, no one should use a tool like that for more than 15 minutes without ear plugs.
On an incredibly rare occasion when the church is completely full and people are singing extremely loud we may see volumes that climb to that level(100 dba or 108 dbc) momentarily. If so, they will drop quickly, and only last there for under 5 minutes in an entire Sunday. This is still well within levels that will not cause any hearing damage.
We are often dealing with older sound systems and equipment. Sometimes the bass may spike to about 102 dbc(95 dba) during a certain note, but drop down immediately. This can happen based on the room, the bass player, and the key in which the song is being played. We strive to keep even 90-100 dbc levels, but that can be a weekly challenge.
What should I do if it’s still just plain too loud?
- Try sitting somewhere else. We have great speakers, but sometimes certain spots have different sound levels. If you don’t like the sound where you are currently sitting, we can try to find you a spot where the sound is better for you.
- Wear earplugs. While the levels at church will not do any damage to your ears, for your comfort earplugs may be helpful. If you would like some quality earplugs that reduce the sound but keep it from being muffled, please come talk to me and I can supply those for you.