Why Do Church Drummers Have Glasses Around Them? 3 Main Types

Drum glasses are transparent panels commonly seen around drummers in large churches, also known as drum screens, drum shields, or acoustic shields. This is a tool used by church audio engineers to reduce the problems the drum causes during live mixing. The drum is a very loud instrument in the hands of church drummers and it can easily overwhelm instruments like the guitar, vocals, and others. This led to the need for drum shields and drum glass screens around the church drummer which helps to reduce the acoustic sounds coming from the drums.

The drum screens are transparent acoustic panels built into a system or series of panels to cover the entirety of the drum kit, percussion instruments or any other loud instrument you would want to reduce its sound, this decrement of sound is done to remove the inconvenience it might cause the other instrumentalist, vocalist and also the congregation.

Drummers playing behind glasses is not a phenomenon that happens only in churches, it is also common in live recordings in studios, musical concerts, and some other gigs. They all have something in common they both apply the drum screen for the same purpose, and we are going to talk about them below, the reasons drum screens are kept around drummers.

  1. To prevent the sound from being picked up by the microphones used by the vocals or other instruments

Drummers usually use ‘mutes‘ to reduces this loudness during practice, but when it comes to live performances in churches and other events, the drummer’s choice of playing using the mute won’t work, and that’s where drum screens come in. It would help improve the sound of the general drum play and allow easy communication between the drummer and the other instrumentalists by reducing the drum’s acoustic sound.

Now in the church settings, the drum has to be heavily mic-ed, and most of the output is sent to the mixer for mixing. when the drumbeats are too loud, and it’s interfering with other mics, there will be a problem here, as the sound, the mixer will output to the general audience will be noisy, this condition is known as ‘bleed‘.

  1. Church Drummers can overpower the live performance, with echoes throughout the whole venue

Drum shields come in different sizes, and it’s hinged can be moved around and stored around the drum set, apart from reducing the loudness of the sounds from the drums. Drum shields also help church venues in reducing the likelihood of booming echo, or the reverb the drums produce to the surrounding environment.

The production of reverb can overwhelm any performance, especially when it is played in combination with other church instruments, like the piano, and the guitars, this becomes a tough challenge for the sound engineers.

To address this issue, sound engineers engage the use of drum shields, and drum rugs also placing the drum to the rear of the stage to help screen the sounds created from the drum kit. It also helps with removing any unwanted reverb and creating an environment where music can be played.

  1. Reduces the work of the sound engineer

The sound engineer is in charge of any problem that comes with organising the sound in the church. The sound engineer does a lot of this from the mixer, mixing the sounds coming from the church stage, and this is one of the toughest things to do as a sound engineer. This is especially important for times when the drum is very loud, the drum shields which will help reduce the sounds from getting to the vocal mics.

There usually are other microphones installed by the sound engineer which help isolate sounds or signals coming from each microphone, they allow each instrument sound to be compressed in their different way and also help alter their different EQ settings.

There are debates on the use of drum shields, as there are some disadvantages that come with using drum shields for the drummers and other instruments. The drum shield works in a way that it reflects most of the sound to the drummer; this will end up creating noise inside the shield.

There is a chance that sound would bounce around within the shield making the drummer uncomfortable. The drummer will then need some additional protection in the form of ear monitors and other devices, which helps reduces the effects on his/her ears.

Another issue is the issue of claustrophobia; some drummers could be claustrophobic (1). This could reduce their effectiveness on the glass screen as this would prevent them from been productive on the drums inside the drum shields enclosure.

3 Types of Drum Shields for Church Drummers

There are different kinds of drum shields that are available for church drummers to use during live performances. The full coverage, the full front, and the partial front.

Before explaining how each of the different drum shields works, let’s look at what a typical example of the drum screens available. While this five panel drum shield is not always available for immediate purchase, it shows a typical example of what is required for enclosing the drummer for better acoustics.

 

  1. The Front Coverage Drum Shield:

The front coverage drum shield is built to trap the sound inside the shield.  The panels need to be installed all around the drum sets and also covering the top of the drummer too. This will completely seal the drummer from the outside world.

This is not for a claustrophobic drummer.

Full coverage drum shield manufacturers have estimated a noise reduction of 65% to 70% and a total reduction of reverb.

  1. The Full Front Drum Shields:

The full front drum shields are the common type we see in almost every church. It is manufactured to cover just the front of the drums, leaving spaces in the back and the few parts of the sides.

It also helps reduce the volume coming from the drums. However, its acoustics and reverb reduction is not as high as that of the front coverage drum shield.

  1. Partial Front Shields:

The partial front shields have a similar design with the full front drum shield but the shield panels are not as high. The drum shields are however tall enough to cover the drums and reduce the acoustics produced. It is also short enough for the drummer to have a better view of the stage and be able to communicate with other instrumentalists on the stage easily.

This shield has the lowest noise reduction percentage and also allows some reverbs in the stage, but it gives the drummer better freedom to express himself, and the claustrophobic drummers will find this type easier to adapt.

 

Glossary

  1. Causes of Claustrophobia (NHS)

Last update on 2020-09-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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