6th May 2013
It’s been quite a few months since I’ve written or done anything in my website. I’d like to now state that I’m back in business and will be sharing my thoughts over the next 8 months how I feel about worship, my personal experiences, as well as future plans for more drum instructional videos and methods.
Since my last proper post, I’ve toured America, joined a couple of bands, recorded some great records, got engaged and am now working in full-time Christian music ministry. But all of that will be shared properly later.
29th November 2012
A useful article from Stuart Townend’s new-look website:
PREPARING TO WORSHIP
Worship has been described as the highest calling and privilege in the Christian’s life. When we come together it is an opportunity to celebrate all that God is and all He has done for us. It’s an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Him and one another, to experience His love afresh, and to be changed by the power of His Spirit.
Now put like that, you would imagine I would be straining at the leash to get to church every Sunday morning! But I have to confess that the reality is often very different.
I may have succeeded in getting myself to church on time (I’m ashamed to say I sometimes even fail on that score!), but my mind can be distracted by other concerns, and my expectations of meeting with God can be, frankly, low. Even when I’m standing at the front leading, I can be more preoccupied with making sure we play the songs well and that the people enjoy the songs, than that I lead them into a meaningful encounter with Christ.
20th September 2012
It’s been a wee while since I’ve done anything with the website, so I feel it’s a good time to come back. In the next few weeks you will find more articles and more updates, including an overall upgrade of material on the site. To start, here is an article from my book, The Church Drummer, about practicing (pp25-6).
Why, When, What, and for how long?
Everyone has a different method of practicing, so this article is not to necessarily answer these questions, but to just address the topic of practicing. I also sympathise with drummers who want to practice but just don’t know where to start! The issue of putting time aside to practice is really down to how much you can realistically commit to. I fully understand that life can get really busy, with work, families and other commitments getting in the way. You may serve the Church in many areas, and this is just one, so how on earth can you find time to practice?
Well, there are certain obstacles to overcome these issues:
- 10 minutes of rudimental practice a day on a pad. Never underestimate this. (see Tommy Igoe’s Great Hands for A Lifetime DVD from Hudson Music, a must-have for those without a “rudimental” background).
- Listen to a different style of music or a new drummer each week.
- Practice time-keeping with a metronome.
- Learn to read charts through the Charting method.
- Watch the accompanying DVD performances with this package.
- Watch videos on drummerworld.com or on YouTube.
- Practice the CD play-along tracks and various other songs either once a weekor on a fortnightly basis.
- Practice the concepts mentioned in this book either once a week or on afortnightly basis.
- Attend a gig.
- Watch Paul Baloche’s Worship Band videos on YouTube or read a book aboutWorship Music, such as ‘Worship Matters’ by Bob Kauflin.
To actual practice methods, here are a few practical tips which I’ve taken from well- respected drummers such as Dom Famularo, Steve Smith and Joe Morello:
1. Make Good Use of Time
A disciplined practice session is much better than one that’s spent messing about the drum kit. Of course, it’s good to practice with elements of spontaneity, but when you’re practicing on a pad it is especially useful to dive straight in. A few examples include: Stretching your muscles first, briefly warming up, checking your technique is looking efficient and relaxed, work on some technical exercises and round up with a collaboration of rudiments. If you’re on the drum kit, stretch, warm up, work on some groove ideas, play along to a song and round up with a drum solo.
2. Go Slowly at First
It is extremely important to practice all exercises slowly at first, as this helps you control everything. It doesn’t so much matter how fast you can go, I find it’s more useful having control over slower tempos! Dom Famularo says: “your mind learns and reprograms habits by constant repetition. Slow, consistent, correct strokes will ensure that you are reprogramming your old habits with more effective ones!”
3. Use A Watch and a Metronome
Simply put, if you want to improve your time the metronome is a very effective tool for that. It is also a very frustrating tool at times, but, when you learn more about time and feel and groove, you will enjoy playing with a metronome. A good way to learn certain exercises is to play them for 2 minutes with a stopwatch: eg. starting 50bpm, going up 5bpm at a time to where it feels most comfortable.
4. Stay Relaxed At All Times
Dom Famularo states: “there is a major difference between tension and intensity. Tension is the tightening of your muscles. Intensity is full commitment and total focus.” Make sure you are relaxed as you practice, both on and off the drum kit.
5. Be Patient
Sometimes you feel like your not making any progress with the sounds you create from the drum kit, but its important to remain patient. Some things do take longer to understand, control and then execute out on the drum kit. I often find when I’m working on a tried and tested method of practicing, I persist with it, especially if a particular exercise is going to be useful in my playing.
6. Think About the Overall Tone of the Drum Kit
What I mean here is thinking about each part of the drum kit as several instruments, or voices, if you wish to use that term. Think like a painter who has many different colours. How is he going to use them effectively to create his masterpiece? Relating this to the drum kit, when you play grooves, think about how loudly everything should sound. Is the hi hat too loud, is the bass drum lining up with the hi hat? You could also practice with very few parts of the kit, or just on a pad using very little notes, and then build from there. In short, analyse your playing, scrutinise it, but don’t be too critical. In a short time you will find yourself twice as good as you once were.
*For more useful information on this topic, please check out Dom Famularo’s drum book, It’s Your Move, published by Warner Bros.
17th August 2012
Taken from Bob Kauflin’s website, Worship Matters. His book title of the same name is a belter, too.
I’ve been musing recently about how we express our musical opinions. Why do we feel so strongly about songs, bands, and styles? And why do we draw conclusions so quickly? Nope. Don’t like it. That stinks. I can’t stand that kind of music. You like that stuff? Is there anything wrong with raving about the music/artists we love and being swift to trash those we despise?
If we’re Christians, yes. Let me suggest ten reasons why musical forbearance might be good for our souls.
1. Being a self-appointed music critic is often just a sign of pride.Using outrageous or exaggerated words to put down certain songs, styles, or artists can be a symptom of selfishness, laziness, or arrogance. We don’t want to spend time investigating whether or not our assessment is accurate because we’re too busy sharing our opinions. (Prov. 18:2)
2. Music doesn’t define us. Why do we become offended when someone critiques our favorite song, group, or style of music? Because they’re insulting “our” music, which means they’re insulting us. That’s idolatry. Music isn’t our life — Christ is. (Col. 3:4).
3. Great songs don’t always sound great the first time through.Some songs require repeated listenings to appreciate their value. Albums and songs often grow on us over time. Is all the best music always instantly accessible or appealing? I hope not.
4. The introduction to a song isn’t the same thing as the song.The first twenty seconds of a song usually doesn’t represent the whole song. It just introduces it. Deciding we don’t like a song from the start can keep us from hearing something we might truly enjoy or benefit from.
5. Listening to music the masses have never heard of doesn’t make us better. Some of us derive a particular joy in finding and listening to obscure, undiscovered artists. As if being unknown was admirable in and of itself. Some bands are undiscovered because they’re not very good. And if we do happen to discover a talented unknown band, it’s an opportunity to serve others, not look down on them.
6. Listening to music that is massively popular doesn’t make us better. This is the opposite craving of the previous point. It’s the mindset that says if the song or artist hasn’t been on the radio, at the top of the charts, or on TV, it’s not worth listening to.
7. Learning to appreciate unfamiliar music is one way to prefer others. Why does everyone have to like the music I like? What might I learn about my friends by patiently seeking to understand why they like the music they do? (Phil. 2:4)
8. Learning to like other kinds of music can open my eyes to God’s creativity. In his book, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Harold Best addresses musical elitists. “Among all this stuff that needs aesthetic redeeming, there is also goodness, a whole lot of integrity and honesty, from which they themselves can learn.” (p. 89) That means I can actually enjoy music that is less sophisticated than what I’d ordinarily listen to.
9. We may have to eat our words. It’s happened more than a few times. I mouth off about how bad a song is, and later on start to think it’s actually pretty good. Or I tear up a song on my blog and later find myself talking to a person who loves it or the person who wrote it. Oops.
10. We might be missing an opportunity to be grateful for God’s gifts. Our tendency is to assume that God’s gifts all look and sound the same. They don’t. What would happen if the first time we heard a song we sought to be grateful rather than critical?
Let me be clear. No song is above evaluation and there are truly bad songs. We just might serve others and ourselves more effectively if we expressed our musical opinions with a little more grace.
[originally posted Dec. 7, 2008]
24th July 2012
Chad Smith is one of the most influential rock drummers of our time. He quite rightly deserves a place in any music hall of fame for his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Here are two of his drum DVDs, Red Hot Rhythm Method and Eastern Rhythm.
2nd July 2012
This video has been up for a few weeks now on YouTube but I haven’t actually posted it via my website. So here it is, my final video…a drum solo. As I said on the YouTube notes, it was literally me blowing all my frustrations from two days filming as it was the very last thing that was filmed. Coming up later on in the week will be two new tracks on my SoundCloud channel, so keep posted for that.
30th June 2012
A new Scottish Christian Festival is coming this Summer, CLAN Revolution. An expansion of CLAN Gathering and as a replacement for Frenzy Festival, this new festival will take place on 28th July, 2012 at Strathtyrum Estate, St Andrews.
Here’s a video from each artist on the Main Stage. Next week I will post up info on the bands from the Other Stages:
28th June 2012
I thought it was time for yet another interview about worship, again from a slightly different perspective. So I donned my ‘Parky’ hat and caught up with poet El Gruer just after the Church of Scotland Heart & Soul event to hear her thoughts about poetry and worship.
Firstly, I was really inspired and taken aback by your poetry and drama at the Church of Scotland Heart & Soul event. There was so much passion behind it. Where did that come from and why did you choose to do it in such a manner?
Every piece I write is immersed in prayer before-hand. I trust that the words are from God for his people and so I can’t help but be passionate about them. I chose to use the visual element in the Heart and Soul piece to keep the audience anchored in the simplicity of the message but to also do something a bit different that would hopefully help people connect to it and remember it.
How long have you been working with the band Awaken?
I do collaborations with different musicians/ bands/artists and solo pieces too. I have worked with different members of awaken over the past year but this was our first live collaboration with the full band and that particular piece.
Do you think that there’s a strong link between worship music and poetry and drama?
Worship overflows in so many different ways, I don’t think there is a definitive line between different art forms, where does poetry finish and songwriting begin? I think there is incredible power in bringing all types of creativity together in worship, it opens more of our senses to who God is. I love the body of Christ and am desperate to see people released in their gifting to bring him glory. I hope that what I do can in some small way encourage others to step out.
24th June 2012
As a Scotsman writing this, my typical stance on the England football team at a national tournament is to support anybody BUT England. And I’m afraid I still stand to that. However, there’s a voice within me saying that I would quite like them to do well because I like Roy Hodgson and the way he plays, but another voice quickly creeps back saying, “but the players are cheats, we would never hear the end of it, and plus, the media attention would be terrible.” Moving away from topic slightly, though (and sorry if you thought this was a football-only post), I was watching a video preview for the England v Italy game for tonight and something Martin Keown said hit me:
21st June 2012
It seems that with the last week or so I have not updated the website! Here is one thing to kick it started again…Interview taken from Christian.co.uk.
Brian Johnson has been leading worship since he was 17. He is the co-writer of some of the United States most popular worship songs including One Thing Remains and You Are Good.
He leads Bethel Church’s worship team and produced the church’s latest acoustic worship project: The Loft Sessions.
Brian lives in Redding, California with his wife Jenn and three children. He is the son of popular author and church leader, Bill Johnson.
1. What made you record The Loft Sessions as an acoustic project?
There’s so many live worship CDs right now and I just took a step back and thought we want to do something that shows the fun, raw, real and passionate elements of our worship. And show that it doesn’t have to be on a massive stage with lights. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, but for us we were excited to do something different.
2. There’s a great acoustic vibe to the record. How would you describe the sound?