Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Book Samples

Here are a few sample articles from my book, The Church Drummer: Modern Drumset Techniques for Today’s Worship Drummer.

pp16-17: What is Contemporary Worship Music?

 “Worship isn’t just about honoring tradition or keeping up with culture, it’s about attracting nonbelievers through comprehensible worship and leading those people to personal commitment.” –  Dr. Timothy J. Keller, ‘Evangelistic Worship’

Worship Music has really changed in the past decade to how we see it now. Currently, we have the Passion, Hillsong, Worship Central and Jesus Culture Conferences (to name a few) spouting out rock-influenced album after album hitting the top 10 of the iTunes Album download sales (see Worship Central’s 2011 release “Spirit Break Out”). The introduction of Christian Copyright Licensing International in 1988 has changed the way things are too.  CCLI provides a copyright solution for Churches wanting to reproduce the words of hymns and worship songs for their times of worship. It seems gone are the days of soft-rock and Graham Kendrick’s horn-inspired rendition of “Shine, Jesus, Shine” are fading and in are the U2/Coldplay/Kings of Leon rock inspired riffs from artists such as Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Also whats definitely “in” are synth-based pop inspired by the likes of Chvrches and Calvin Harris (Just listen to Hillsong United’s ZION), as well as Mumford & Sons folk tunes (Rend Collective being the premier artist). and Celtic-inspired artists such as Stuart Townend, Robin Mark and the Getty’s continue to write inventive and inspirational album after album. Hip-hop artists such as TobyMac and Lecrae and Gospel artists like Israel Houghton are also changing things within the Church, too.

Dr. Tim Keller states about worship styles: “Most books and articles about recent worship trends tend to fall into one of two broad categories. Contemporary worship (CW) advocates often make rather sweeping statements, such as “Pipe organs and choirs will never reach people today.” Historic worship (HW) advocates often speak similarly about how incorrigibly corrupt popular music and culture are and how they make contemporary worship completely unacceptable.”

Contemporary Worship Music, according to theologian John M. Frame, is described as the following:

  • Generally in the genre of pop/rock or “soft rock”
  • Has reference to Scripture whether explicitly or paraphrased
  • Covers a wide range of topics of the Christian faith, including God’s sovereignty, glory, comfort, suffering, assurance etc
  • Covers A Wide Range Of Emotions
  • Songs are specifically for congregational singing

Joel Brown on The Resurgence Website, states this on styles:

“If someone walks into your church service and hears your new pop-country band for the first time, I guarantee you they aren’t paying attention to the words. They are either thinking about how much they hate the music or how much they love it. Music is not a neutral tool. It polarizes a crowd. People draw much of their cultural identity from the style of music they listen to.”


Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)

John Frame’s book Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1997)

John Frame’s book Worship In Spirit and Truth (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1996)

Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Wheaton,Illinois; Crossway 2008

The Resurgence: “The Medium Matters: Is Music As Important As The Message?” by Joel Brown. Retrieved January 2nd 2012 from

Dr. Timothy J. Keller: “Evangelistic Worship.” Retrieved from The Resurgence, January 2nd 2012 from


Did you know that the sticks and heads you choose affect the sound of your kit? It’s something that we perhaps underrate as drummers. Furthermore, there are just so many different choices too, from drum head types to stick types, so where’s the best place to start?

Firstly, do a bit of research through the internet. The main drumhead suppliers are Remo, Evans and Aquarian, whilst the main drumstick suppliers are Vic Firth, Pro Mark and Zildjian. If you have a local Music Shop the best thing would be to try out sticks personally and evaluate which ones would best suit your playing style and Church. However, if that’s not possible, research through the internet. See what the most popular models of sticks are, and try them out. Check out how long and heavy the sticks are, and what the tip is like. A good start point is the Vic Firth 5A American Classic Model. Personally, I use several different sticks for a variety of tones and sounds, including the signature stick model by Dennis Chambers and the Zildjian Jazz stick. Both are different in size, weight, tip and give me a different sound out of the drum kit for Church. However, some drummers would suggest at this point to have a set stick choice and to use one pair of sticks, which can also be useful.

While I am talking about sticks, I also want to include hot rods and brushes, two undervalued sound sources on the drum kit. Hot rods are usually known for being good to use for playing rock quieter in Church. However, commonly when I hear hot rods being used in Church they are played quietly, therefore cancelling the sound of the drums. One of the purposes of playing hot rods is so you can play at near the same volume of sticks. However, hot rods can be used creatively for songs with a ‘Celtic’ feel or songs with a tom- influenced groove, such as Matt Redman’s ‘Better Is One Day’ and Paul Baloche’s version of ‘Open The Eyes Of My Heart’ from his album ‘Our God Saves.’

The industry standard is seen to be the Pro Mark Hot Rod, but I have been using Steve Smith’s Signature Bamboo Tala Model from Vic Firth, as it suits my playing style. Again, personally, when it comes to choosing brushes, I generally use the Regal Tip signature model from Clayton Cameron. Today’s top drummers work exclusively with drum companies to design the latest drum gear for performance, so I trust their opinion, as they are professional performers working with drum specialists.

Now to speak a bit about drumheads. Generally, the most popular head on the market is the Remo Ambassador. You can use these either as a Clear (a bright sound with a lot of attack) or Coated (a warmer, more open sound) head. Other good heads are the Remo Clear Pinstripe which have a quick decay so are very useful for playing in Church. Again, do some research on this and watch videos about tuning. Please also check out my website for some articles and videos on tuning drums. The best thing you can do is use your ears, and make sure each drum sounds the way you want it to. Remember to allow the head to “stretch”, so push down when you first put it on the drum and let the crinkles appear! Generally, I tune my bottom head (resonant) about a minor 3rd lower than the top head (batter), and my snare drum is quite low (like a 70s rock sound) to achieve a nice, “boomy” sound for Church. For more uptempo songs, however, I’ll give the snare drum a tweak for more of a “crack.”


Like drumsticks and drumheads, there are also so many choices in today’s expanding drum market, with the quality of drum making improving every day. YouTube is a great resource so have a look at what the market has to offer. Two further great resources are also, where you can log onto forums and get advice from other drummers, and, which has a comprehensive display of equipment.

Personally, when I’m going to choose new cymbals, I line out a few points:

• What is my budget?

• What cymbal do I want? Hi Hats? Crash? Splash? Ride Cymbal?

• What sound do I want? Dark, Bright, somewhere in the middle?

• What brand (Zildjian, Sabian, Paiste etc) or does it really matter?

• What do professional drummers and current Christian drummers use?

On my website I also have a section on Drum Equipment where I explain what I used during this instructional package, so feel free to check it out. As for drum kits or if I’m going to purchase a new snare drum, I use the exact same process as for cymbals, although with a few variations:

• What kind of shell? Steel, maple, piccolo, mahogany, birch etc?

• What size are the drums going to be? 10”, 12”, 16” toms 14” snare, 22” kick?