Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Bethany Coyle: Beginning//End EP

Bethany Coyle is a good friend and talented musician based in Edinburgh – I have the privilege of playing at her EP Launch in a few weeks. It’s a cracker of an EP with some really creative songwriting (and rhythmic stuff which means a lot of fun for me).

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‘Where The River Flows’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

And the 4th video from the EP – ‘Where The River Flows’. Here’s what the co-writer, my good friend Pete Crockett said about the song:

Here’s a song that myself and Allan McKinlay have written as a prophetic declaration for Scotland & Glasgow –

Bit about the track:
In the study of the Celtic saints I was struck by the prayer of Saint Mungo to the river community of the Glas-Cu “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of his word and the praising of his name”. Where the river flows is a transposition of Ezekiel 47 v9 “And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live”, and Revelation 22 It is designed as an inculturation of the divine river of life of the temple of heaven in Revelation, and the Clyde. Water metaphors are frequent throughout scripture, and are frequently associated with the giving of life, the choice of words in the verse is a further inculturation; 

God’s word will pour out like a river,
streams of living water, flowing from his throne.
Clean and pure as highland water,
pouring down from heaven, nourishing the earth.

As a subtle reference to Scotland, clean and pure as highland water, is both generic as ‘high-lands’ are not geographically specific, yet the highlands within a Scottish contextual playing will be presumed to be the Scottish Highlands. This is continued in the bridge where the repeated line everything shall live is accented with:

…In the highlands
…In the lowlands
…In the islands

Musically there is: a jig at the dynamic climax, ‘tribal’ drumming, blends of acoustic and electric drums, and clarsach & rhodes electric piano. It concludes with the clarsach and voices

‘Give Thanks To God’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

Here’s the 3rd video from the Scottish Worship EP: ‘Give Thanks To God’. This is like a traditional metrical Psalm with a call and response from the leader and the congregation. Here’s what Pete Crockett, who co-wrote this song with Allan McKinlay, said about it:

Here’s a song myself and Allan have written based on psalm 136 and is intended to be a modern liturgical metric psalm.

I have used this form recently for prayer meetings where this liturgical form works well with the leader, or someone else singing/speaking a prayer and everyone else responding e.g.

Lord you have been so good to me
All – His never ending love is steadfast and sure
Where would I be Lord without you
All – Give thanks to God for he is good

It works completely acapella or with instruments

written by Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett


‘Open The Doors’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

This is a wonderful prophetic song co-written called ‘Open The Doors’ by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett from the recent release, ‘Scottish Worship EP.’ Hope you enjoy the drum section at 2:15!

‘I Wanna Know You’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

I really hope you enjoy this Scottish ceilidh ‘anthem’ –  ‘I Wanna Know You’ – the first of 5 videos from the recent release ‘Scottish Worship EP‘! This was such great fun to play! Co-Written by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett.


Scottish Worship EP: Live at Stanely House

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At the end of February I had the immense privilege and pleasure of playing on the recent live EP recording, ‘Scottish Worship: Live at Stanely House’ featuring five tracks co-written by two of Scotland’s best Christian songwriters, Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett. I thought I’d just write a short blog about the build up and the day itself.

one rehearsal and it’s go time:

Yes, it really was just the one rehearsal we had – due to scheduling conflicts and the lateness in getting everything together, we booked in a 3 hour rehearsal on the eve of the recording. Prior to that, individual parts and clicks were sent via Dropbox and we all learned in our own time. Fortunately, most of us all play together regularly, so we know each other’s style quite well. Still, the thought of cramming 8 people into the recording and for it all to go swimmingly well was nerve-racking, especially for me as the drummer to make sure I was dead on the ‘grid’ with the click.

a bit about the day itself:

We all arrived at various times throughout the morning. Pete, Allan, as well as Gus Stirrat (live engineer and mixer) and his crew had been since about 9am. I arrived with my family about 11am to set up drums. All the setting up finished about 1.30pm and we had a brief lunch and went straight to rehearsal, which went well, but at points was quite intense, as we were trying to make sure we all knew our parts. The other band members minus Dave (bass) and myself then recorded through all the tracks – so Gus would have a ‘clear’ version without drum bleed.

to the evening:

As we anxiously awaited the audience of about 40 to arrive, we all changed and hung about and had a bit of dinner. When the crowd got there, we let them know the plan of the night itself, that we would be doing 3 sets back to back, and were looking for folks to be themselves and to enjoy the night – though participation was required in one or two of the songs! We also made folks aware that there would be no words on any screens, but that they were pretty simple to pick up.

clicking in:

I had my kit set up, Octapad ready to go, notepad and pen to briefly make a note of anything from each take from the drums point of view. I started thumping on the kick, and we went straight into the first song, ‘I Wanna Know You.’ The first run through was pretty decent, although I think we started to find our flow and comfort zone from the second run, as we began to ‘go for it’ a bit more, although a few mistakes were made. By the 3rd set, I think we had settled in as much as we could considering the rush of everything and the intensity of the night. But it was the set that felt the most ‘relaxed’ and ‘fun’ – we were making more eye contact with each other and smiling (not that we hadn’t been beforehand!). We had nearly reached the end of what was a long but worthwhile day – we were all on the same side in that we were routing for each other to play the best we could. Most of all, we wanted to honour God. We also wanted to lead people well in worship, but also most of the folk who were there knew us already and were supportive of this project. That helped a lot! What also helped so much was Gus and his team being so gracious and kind towards us throughout the day.

packing up with an afterthought:

This was the most enjoyable recording experience I’ve had to date – lots of musicians, a live recording, a cool venue, and authentic Scottish sounds – what was not to like! I’m now really looking forward to the release of the EP itself! Would I do it like this again? Yes and no. If we had time to practice more and make it ‘tighter’ as a whole that would’ve been great. But did we all learn a lot from the experience? Most certainly!

My sincere thanks to Allan & Pete on collaborating for this project!


From the Archives: Interview with Author Tom Lennie about Revival & Worship (pt.2)

*This interview was originally from March 2012. Since then, Tom has released a fantastic new book on revival, ‘Scotland: Land of Many Revivals (Christian Focus Publications)’:

1) As a music reviewer, how do you think Contemporary Worship Music has changed over the past number of years?

I’m not sure there’s been a truly significant change in the essence of popular worship music in the past decade or so, to be honest. Pop/rock praise anthems, with punchy hook lines and congregationally singable choruses have been very much the order of the day in modern worship music for many years now, and that’s still the same today. British worship writers/musicians like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes remain hugely popular both sides of the Atlantic, as do American dudes like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. What changes over time is the number of new names in worship that are cropping up – the market is saturated with worship albums and mp3s, and so much of it is really good. My only issue is there’s often not much variability – much contemporary worship music sticks to a very similar, indistinct format.

I am impressed, though, with a number of fresh sounds in worship that are cropping up from time to time. I’m thinking, for example of that Northern Irish team, The Rend Collective Experiment. or that energetic group from Colorado, known as Gungor and led my Michael Gungor. Or the original, rootsy sound of Australian four-piece Sons Of Korah, who have yet to become widely recognised, but who’s impressive output focuses almost exclusively on the Psalms, into which biblical pieces they breathe wonderfully fresh and inspirational life.

2) You mentioned in Cross Rhythms that two of your all time favourites ‘Back Home’ by Caedmon’s Call and ‘Myself When I Am Real’ by Bebo Norman, is that still the case or have you changed from that?

I’m listening to Caedmon’s Call right now as I write – their Chronicles album!  Love that group. their combination of folk and rock with catchy melodies and great harmonies really appeals to me. And yeh, I still think Bebo Norman is great too. His songwriting skills are first-rate; in terms of both lyrical content, which is rich in spiritual depth, and in catchy hook-lines, which stay with you. He has a great voice, too. Among other favourites, I’d include the above-mentioned Sons Of Korah, Jadon Lavik and Canadian Steve Bell. Actually, one of the most beautiful, Spirit-led worship albums I know of is a very early recording by Rita Springer called ‘Love Covers’. It’s out of print these days, and very hard to come by, but the album contains a whole string of the most spiritually-sensitive piano-led worship songs I’ve ever heard. Love listening to that album (or I would do, if only my friend would return it to me!). Another worship beauty is ‘Divine Whisper’ by former Vineyard worship leader (now based in Seoul, South Korea), Scott Brenner. Gentle songs of adoration – utterly heaven-inspired. And then there’s Misty Edwards, one of Kansas City IHOP’s worship musicians. Her album ‘Relentless’ is powerful, prophetic and wonderfully engaging.

3) Any up and coming acts you think are ones to watch, or any good albums from old favourites (g.Stuart Townend, Graham Kendrick)?

Loads of up and coming musicians out there who are worth watching for, including some already mentioned above. One guy who’s been making a big mark on the Scottish music scene is Steph Macleod. Now well-know in his native land, but still undiscovered by many, Steph’s distinctly bluesy vocals and impressive songs are most noteworthy. Or how about Dutch worship musician, Kees Kraayenoord, almost completely unkown in the UK – his album ‘Speak The Word’s is full of ear-catching p&w sounds. Or again, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

You mention Graham Kendrick. Some of his output in the last ten or fifteen years has been excellent. He kinda went through a period in the late 80s and 90s when his music wasn’t too exciting. But then came ‘What Grace’ – with guest appearances from ‘youngsters’ Martin Smith and Matt Redman. A gorgeous album of diverse worship sounds. He’s done the same thing more recently with ‘Banquet released in 2011. Remarkably it’s his 30th album to date – which makes it all the more impressive that it sounds so fresh and interesting from start to finish. Another worship veteran, Robin Mark’s most recent recording ‘Fly’ is also worth checking out.

From the Archives: Interview with Author Tom Lennie about Revival & Worship

*This interview was originally from March 2012. Since then, Tom has released a new book on revival, ‘Scotland: Land of Many Revivals’:

Tom Lennie was born and raised in the beautiful parish of Orphir, in Orkney. Earning a degree at Aberdeen University, he worked in accountancy for some years. Though debilitated by chronic fatigue syndrome, Tom has served as a music and book reviewer for many years. With a particular passion for spiritual revivals worldwide, he owns a sizeable library of revival literature of books and journals from all over the world. He presently resides in Edinburgh, where he is working on the next volume of his trilogy on Scottish revival movements. His first book, Glory In The Glen, was released in 2009 through Christian Focus Publishing. To contact Tom or find out more information, please visit

1) Can you name some occasions where music has played a prominent role in a revival?

Music has played a prominent part in virtually every revival I’ve read about. 
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Drum Legends: Steve Jordan

Thank you to all who enjoyed the article on Ringo Starr. Here’s the 2nd drummer in this 4-part feature – Steve Jordan.

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Steve Jordan is definitely one of my favourite drummers. I actually did a full-on book project on him when I was at University. I think its so important to find out about new drummers and develop an interest in those whom we enjoy listening to. It really helps us as drummers become better listeners, better players, and also helps us to play with a band more effectively. In short, we mature as musicians. So without further ado, here’s a bit about Steve, why I think his contribution to music over the past 30 years is significant, and also some wisdom in the form of comments from the man himself as well as a few groove transcriptions.

Steve Jordan was born on January 14th, 1957 in New York. After studying as a classical percussionist at the famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC, Steve Jordan launched a legendary career in rock, collaborating with artists such as Keith Richards, Don Henley, John Mayer, The Pretenders, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob Dylan and Alicia Keys. As a Grammy Award-winning record producer, his inspired presence and craft have raised the standard. Steve Jordan is well known as a multi-instrumentalist, musical director, producer and a writer of exceptional quality. In addition to his late 70’s / early 80’s tenure with Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, Steve has been one of the most in demand session drummers in the world. He has recorded and toured with such artists as The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, BB King, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow and many more. Steve has evolved into a Grammy Award winning producer with Robert Crays’ album ‘Take Your Shoes Off’ and the nominated ‘Bring ‘Em In’ by Buddy Guy. While he has played on countless hits, from Alicia Keys ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Devils and Dust’, and he continues to produce with such works as the John Mayer Trio album ‘Try!’, the John Mayer album ‘Continuum’, John Scofield’s ‘That’s What I Say,’ ‘Possiblilties’ by Herbie Hancock, among many others. As a musical director, Steve has worked on such high profile projects as Superbowl XXXX, the Martin Scorsese/Antoine Fuqua film ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Steve Jordan is one of the most influential and sought after session drummers in the world. He has accomplished more in his drumming career than he ever could have imagined. Steve isn’t known in the music industry for playing the hardest licks ever known to the human mind, or for the technical skills that would make even the late, great Buddy Rich squirm (although he has great technique and soloing ability!). What Steve Jordan is best known for is making the drums sound good in any musical situation. He can take a simple beat and make it sound great. He can take a more complicated beat and make it sound so fluid and simple. He has taken his drumming beyond technique, having studied formally, and found his own sound, making the music the best it can be on each record he appears on. He has taken his influences, from Kenny Clarke to Carlton Barrett to David Garibaldi to Steve Gadd, and formed his own unique voice, and continues to inspire countless drummers today. Steve Jordan is one of my favourite drummers ever, and has made an amazing mark on the music industry.

Some Steve quotes:

“Every building has a strong foundation. When you’re building a rhythm track, you have to provide the foundation. The drummer has to be strong and solid.”

(The Groove Is Here DVD, 2002)

“When drummers practice with time, they usually practice with a metronome. That’s fine except a key ingredient to the secret of timekeeping is overlooked. I realise that in drumming you start the note but don’t stop it. That opened me up to a whole new world for me. You need to know the full length of a quarter note.”

On the subject of groove in an interview with Modern Drummer magazine: “That’s why people play so much stuff, because they can’t play a steady beat. But when you get into playing a steady groove and you can hypnotize somebody with that beat, that’s the bomb. And it takes confidence to know you can do that and not care what anybody says. People might think you don’t play fills because you can’t, but you have to do away with all that. They’ll feel it when it’s good” (Modern Drummer October 2010).

“Simplicity is not stupidity. Just because some- thing sounds good in your mind doesn’t mean that it’s dumb.”

Some transcriptions:

WHO DID YOU THINK I WAS” by John Mayer Trio (from the record ‘Try!’)


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New Scottish Hymns Band Album Release & Scottish Tour

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The New Scottish Hymns Band are releasing a new album on May 19th, 2016, and touring throughout May and June. This will be a great tour featuring wonderful new hymns written by Greg deBlieck. The band features Ellyn Oliver on vocals, Greg deBlieck on acoustic guitar and vocals (Greg is also the bandleader and will be sharing the stories behind the songs throughout the tour), Pete Crockett on keys, Gus Stirrat on bass, Richard Kennedy on drums (I will be playing kit for the dates Richard can’t do) and myself on percussion for some dates. Danny Robinson will be doing the live sound for each event. Really looking forward to being a part of this exciting tour and all the great Christian music currently coming out of Scotland!