Rock Band Type Music at Mass and Tender Ears

This is more a curiosity question, a “what would you do?” sort of thing…

Our parish has five Masses every weekend. We have tried them all. They all have some form of rock band type music, with drum sets and electric guitars.

It is a rather small venue and they turn the sound system way up.

My children, especially my son, simply cannot handle the volume or type of sound. They all prefer the quieter Mass with gregorian chanting way across town, even though it is in Latin and is half again as long.

The catechesis and sacramental prep programs, as well as community activities for children, at our parish, are great. And the parish is full of great people. And the priests are very knowledgeable and deliver truthful and hard-hitting homilies.

But my son cannot be in the Mass without noise-canceling headphones on during the music portions of the liturgy (which even happens during communion). He is making his First Holy Communion in two weeks at this parish, so we are required to attend at least that Mass (and he probably won’t be permitted headphones at that Mass). And my oldest daughter cannot bear the sound either and sticks her fingers in her ears, although she is not forced to leave the Mass due to the sound.

Would you, as a parent, just choose to always attend Mass at the other parish across town?

Or would you continue to attend Mass at your home parish, and just always bring along the noise-canceling headphones?

Or…would you speak up to someone at the parish about the volume of sound, and risk making yourself persona non grata at your parish?

Just curious how others would handle this. Thanks!

My suggestion would be to address the pastor, the parish council, and/or the head of the music program and share your opinion. Don’t state it as a criticism so much as a preference.

You could lobby for one Mass (most likely the earliest Sunday Mass) to be the quiet(er) Mass.

That’s the way it works at my parish; the earliest Sunday Mass has simpler, quieter music than the other Masses. (Our later Masses on Sunday sound like the Masses at your parish.)

Of course there is no problem going to Mass at a different parish but it seems as if you like your parish.

I do like it but we are also a new family at the parish. We are completing our first year after a cross-country move.

Also, the quality of music is actually not bad. The earliest Mass on Sunday, for example, has its music played by a homeschooling family that specializes in music, or so I am told. The music, qualitatively speaking, is well-played, but extremely loud in such a venue, even with the drum shield, and it hurts the ears. It is very uncomfortable for me as an adult, but I am able to moderate my visible response to it, whereas my son starts panicking and squeezing his hands over his ears.

We all like the same type of music on the radio, though, because we can keep the volume way down. :blush:

My parish offers one music free Mass on Sunday mornings.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one Mass without drums and guitars. If the musicians are unwilling to comply, then it’s not too much to ask for one music free (or instrument free) mass.

Musicians can rotate the rest of the masses.

I suggest speaking to your pastor. I’m sure there are others who feel the same way as you.

The mariachi band at the Hispanic mass at our parish was painfully loud. I mentioned it to Father, and the next time I went to the Hispanic Mass, it had been seriously toned down.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to mention to the pastor your concern about the volume level of the music. It seems your gripe isn’t with the music choice or song choice or even instrument choice so much as the volume. I would think any pastor would want to be attentive to that concern. Children are especially sensitive to noise levels. Surely something could be done to mute the volume a bit without putting out any musicians.

I’m afraid I’d have to find a different church to attend. I believe Mass music is a form of prayer and should represent the sacred not the “hip”. I’m also afraid that a meeting between either the music director or Pastor and myself would quickly become confrontational therefore I’d just move.

As a musician myself, its not too hard to turn down. Especially if you are at a volume level that hurts people’s ears. I’d bring it up to your pastor. Certainly your children’s hearing is more important than the high volume.

Bring a sound meter (they’re not expensive) and measure the decibel level. Then show the results to the pastor along with the wording of the relevant OSHA rules showing that if the church were a factory, everyone in it would by law have to be wearing hearing protection.

Good thinking. Actually, there are a lot of free phone apps that serve as a sound meter.

You know, it just occurred to me that even if they turn down the sound system volume, that won’t help the sound of the drums, which in such a small space, is actually physically palpable. They use a drum shield, but it doesn’t really help.

I have found that at Mass at my home parish, I cannot think or pray while the music is playing. During and after communion, I usually try to pray and make an act of thanksgiving, but I cannot form a thought in my head because of the sound.

I agree that the pastor probably needs to be approached about this, and I have seen other people wincing at the noise, but I must admit I am afraid to speak up about it. I might try to casually mention it to the DRE, by way of asking what to expect at the FHC Mass as far as music goes, and see if she is aware it might be a problem. That might give me some idea of how to proceed.

I actually prefer Mass at the parish across town, but we don’t know anyone there, and sometimes, I don’t want to have to add in an extra hour for travel time. :shrug:

I don’t know enough about it to say if anything could be done about the sound of the drums. Maybe extra padding? Rubber drum sticks? Surely there has to be something. :o

Bringing it up to the DRE could be a good first step. I doubt you are the only one to be bothered by it.

I’m surprised the pastor had not taken it upon himself to address this.
Our Pastor really hates too loud music because it wreaks havoc with his wireless mic.
Just go to one of the other Masses, but yes, mention it to him. **
I’m sure the elderly are also quite **bothered by it.
It’s no big deal to turn it down. People who play electric guitars almost never can hear themselves properly. So they crank it up or use a monitor facing them. We’ve gone round and round with our Spanish bass player. We finally worked out a setting that works for him to hear himself, but not blast the Sanctuary. Your Music Director should be well able to clear this up.
Good luck!

Thanks for your feedback, Clare. I loathe telling people about problems like this. My usual preference is just to bear it silently and look for the positives. But when my son physically cannot be present at any of the weekend Masses at his own parish without the headphones or retreating outside during the music, I started to wonder if perhaps I need to overcome my fear.

Sure, but seriously, the parish should be ONLY offering that type of music to it’s flock.
We choir directors like to joke that at parishes the Sat 5 PM is the folk group…aging garage band types that play something akin to country and western style
the 8:30 Sunday am I the old 4x4 hymnal crowd
and the 11 AM is the praise and worship type Mass with many families.

Pretty stereotypical, but it tends to work out that way. :o
But there has to be a more subdued Mass or even a different form of instrumentation.
I know as a Choir Director and Church organist and pianist, I LOVED it when one of the Masses taken by another group. Gave me a much needed break. No one benefits form hearing a homily 5 times in a row. :smiley:

Now getting over speaking frankly with your pastor is another matter. I’m sure he’s nice, and would appreciate the feedback. I would speak to him directly.
I guarantee if you talk to someone else they will preface their report with “someone called to complain about the music”. Which you are NOT doing. You have a valid concern.
Let us know how it turns out!
St. Cecilia pray for us!

Okay. Good points. Thank you!

It is actually a Mass, not a high school dance. I would think respecting the Lord comes first in a Church. We have had a rock band at the Youth Mass but the sound was not deafening. Mass is holy and solemn. Not a time to overpower with music. I’m all about protecting your hearing. Also worshipping in peace and hearing the Word of God. I would speak to the Pastor or drop a note in the suggestion box.

I’m into more prayerful type Masses myself. I sing in a Gregorian schola once a month at various parishes but normally attend Mass at the abbey I’m affiliated with and it’s all in Gregorian chant. Most of the local French hymns are generally pretty abysmal musically and basically un-singable, but I can tolerate it if it’s not over the top.

I’d much prefer no music to a rock-type band. I’m not a big fan of rock music in general though some tunes can make me nostalgic for my mis-spent youth.

I used to attend a weekday Mass near my workplace when I was working, at 7 am. It was a quiet, recited Mass with no music except for a sung alleluia, and I loved it. Sometimes no music is an excellent option when in a meditative mood.

To be clear, my preference is for quieter, more traditional music, like piano and organ and gregorian chanting and old hymns beloved for generations.

I just know it is not MY Mass. And the music ministers offer what they are able to offer. My preference doesn’t matter.

If I really needed to act on my preference, I would go to the Latin Mass every Sunday and then this would be no problem. That is what we were doing for quite a while. But since I became pregnant and am experiencing a lot of nausea, I am trying to stay closer to home, and so is my husband, since if we split Masses, we need to take turns caring for the toddlers.

Plus, this is our home parish and I would like to be able to attend some Sunday Masses there sometimes, to feel connected with my fellow parishioners. It feels weird to attend classes and events there throughout the week and then take off every weekend for the Latin Mass across town. I would be quite content with a quiet and reverent English Mass at our home parish much of the time. :slight_smile:

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