Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Drum Legends: Ringo Starr



***NEW BLOG SERIES: DRUM LEGENDS*** (VOL.1 – Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Neil Peart, Steve Jordan)

RINGO STARR IS ONE OF THE GREATEST DRUMMERS OF ALL TIME…not a sentence you hear all that much. But it is definitely one I am going to use here. In terms of technique – the statement is not true. In terms of natural talent – no. In terms of skill – no. In terms of reading music – no. Etc etc…you get my drift. But in terms of playing the right beat for the song, in terms of knowing what to play and when to play it – Ringo is one of the most influential, most copied, most underrated and most beloved drummers of all time. It helps being in perhaps the most celebrated and popular band of all time, The Beatles. Unfortunately some people have not appreciated Ringo because he isn’t “technically” a good player. And they’ll use the argument that he couldn’t play to a click, he didn’t (supposedly) play on all of The Beatles songs, and that Paul McCartney said he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles. I must admit I used to snub Ringo. But once I delved into his playing, his unique, left-handed on a right-handed kit style, his sloppy hi hat hits, his inventive drumming – I came to love him. I mean, Ringo has played some really cool beats over the years, ‘Rain’ being a great example. What about ‘Ticket To Ride’? ‘Come Together’? ‘The End’? ‘Helter Skelter?’ ‘Help?’ Of course, there are so many more great Ringo moments. What are yours? Leave a comment below.

Ringo still plays drums and tours into his 70s, wearing well for his age – and currently has drumming legend Gregg Bissonette, one of my favourite drummers of all time (and who is a Christian himself) playing in his band.

Gregg constantly talks up Ringo’s skills in interviews and mentions things such as: what about the “coolness” factor? Ringo looked great behind that beautiful Ludwig drum set! He had a big hand in making Ludwig drums famous worldwide. And let’s not forget Ringo also helped made Modern Drummer magazine famous by giving them the 1st interview he had done in a long time – back in 1982. Here’s a snippet from that interview:

MD: What were the highlights of your time in the Beatles, in terms of the band and your playing?
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New Scottish Hymns Blog: Sound, Other Helpful Suggestions & Tips

Here we are at the last blog post. I have really enjoyed writing them and I hope you might have been blessed too. I thought I would finish off with some general tips and helpful suggestions for playing drums in Church.

Get A Good Sound Out of A Cheap Drum Set 
There a few good ways to get a good sound out of a cheap drum set, and it doesn’t have to cost your Church a tonne of cash. This video on YouTube is very helpful too.

Drum Heads 
Replacing seriously old drum heads on a well-used Church kit can make a world of difference. It can add that extra bit of warmth and tone, livening up the sound. I currently use the Evans 360 G2’s – coated. I love the warmth and sustain as well as the range of tuning they give. Learn and experiment with tuning drums. There are so many helpful videos on YouTube nowadays. The coated heads are also great for brush sounds.
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Great Article on Tony Williams from Modern Drummer Magazine

Tony Williams

One of the most influential, inspiring, and spontaneous forces in jazz, Tony Williams remains a classic example of artistry transcending technical analysis. In the October 2011 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, writer Jeff Potter explains Tony’s genius and influence, while in the following MD Online exclusive, Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun shares his own insightful memories of the late, great drummer.
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My Drum Videos


The Church Drummer Videos, January 2012 Sessions. Posted on Vimeo and YouTube: here’s a mixture.

YouTube Channel: Brian Macleod

How Great Is Our God

Blessed Be Your Name

Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

Shout To The Lord

Mighty To Save:

In Christ Alone

My Drum Solo:

A (Rough) Guide To Practicing

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Listen to a different style of music or a new drummer each week.
  3. Practice time-keeping with a metronome.
  4. Learn to read charts through the Charting method.
  5. Watch the accompanying DVD performances with this package.
  6. Watch videos on or on YouTube.
  7. Practice the CD play-along tracks and various other songs either once a weekor on a fortnightly basis.
  8. Practice the concepts mentioned in this book either once a week or on afortnightly basis.
  9. Attend a gig.
  10. 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.


Some Basic Rudimentary Exercises

The following are just a few basic rudiment examples I thought I would put up here whilst trying to figure out Sibelius 7. Enjoy!

Drumming in Church Rudiments – Full Score

Glorifying God with the Paradiddle

by Brian Macleod

Sometimes when Christians hear the words “theology” or “doctrine” we can perhaps run a mile, or suggest that it’s only for serious students, pastors and scholars. The reality is, though, that if the word theology means “the Study of God,” then I guess we’re all theologians in some way or form. We’re all continually learning in our walk with God, so our study and knowledge of Him takes us on amazing adventures.

Applying this concept to worship, and in particular, drums, one essential part of drumming that I believe has been misunderstood amongst drummers in Church is the role of rudiments in worship. Personally, for me as a musician
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