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!
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!
Sometimes I wonder if I listen to too much worship music. “What?! Did you really say that?” Ok, let me re-phrase that. Sometimes I wonder if I listen to too much modern worship music. “Ok, I see what you are saying. Are you now going to speak in favour of the old hymns?” No, I’m not going down that route either, even if I am part of New Scottish Hymns! For the record, I love both!
What I’d like to speak about in this blog is the importance of listening to different styles of music, and how that influences and enhances our development as musicians. The result I believe is that it helps us play better, and gives us greater freedom on whatever instrument we may play. Of course, I also believe is of first importance that we share musical opinions humbly, and it is my hope and prayer that I come across in that light here. (Bob Kauﬂin has some excellent thoughts on this matter)
The Importance of Listening
I love learning about new music from different people, to hear what influences and inspires them. I remember when I was about fifteen, and through my uncle, being introduced to bands like Deep Purple, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who amongst others. That was a real eye opener for me! A year later I started taking formal drum lessons and my tutor introduced me to a wealth of jazz and great drummers such as Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, Dennis Chambers and Vinnie Colaiuta, which completely changed my look on drums. He actually gave me a tonne of CDs and drum instructional books – thank you Paul Hudson! Around that time I also got into bands like Rush, another eye opener.
When I was eighteen and studying music I would use a good portion of my student loans either purchasing CDs, DVDs, or iTunes music. A lot of my suggestions would come from my tutors, fellow students and people in my Church. One day I would be listening to a new worship artist, perhaps someone outside the mainstream market like Misty Edwards, Sovereign Grace Music or Kings Kaleidoscope. The next day I would be listening to Miles Davis, then listening to artists like John Mayer, Chick Corea, Tower of Power, Dave Matthews Band, Robben Ford, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Peter Gabriel, The Police, many great drummer solo albums and much more. I found that through this my influences increased, my love for music grew, and I was encouraged to practice more.
Musical Snobbery vs. Musical Humility
I guess I could end the article there and say ‘happy listening!’, but whilst I love learning about new music, I equally dislike musical snobbery. I say this because I know how much music I have ‘snubbed’ in the past. I can and have snubbed music without listening to it whole-heartedly because I have a ‘Music Degree’ and therefore ‘know my stuff’…apparently! This is sooo not true. I believe my outlook has changed from that (and changing still) and today I try to listen to as much mainstream as indie music so I can keep up to date with what’s popular, relevant, as well as what will influence and what is fresh.
However, on the other side of the coin, before I studied music, there was also a tendency from me and others, to snob those who have studied music and look over genres like jazz and classical music (that second one I still need to work on!). I remember I used to think jazz was “above me” and immediately I ignored a lot of the great stuff. Oh, sure I knew “Take Five”, “Cantaloupe Island” and “In The Mood”…but not a lot else. I think we are all on a journey and we all need to be humble enough to be open to listening to new styles of music. And to give the whole song, or even the whole album a chance, having the discernment to appreciate what’s good and what’s bad.
Listening to the Whole Song
I remember once hearing a story about a well-respected Christian label executive who used to get so many CDs to listen to he would only listen to 30 secs of each key track. No disrespect to this executive but how can even the greatest expert discern what is good from that and why as an industry are we so reliant on one person to get results? Surely some tracks and albums take longer to get used to than others. There are many songs and albums that we listen back to and say “that one hit the spot straight away” whilst others were more along the lines of “I think I’ll put that one back on the shelf and listen to it later.”
If you had told me 10 years ago I would love a band like Steely Dan I would’ve told you to “get a life” whilst I put on the latest Blink 182 record. I would’ve also said that the production was “old school” and the instrumentation was “weird”. Now, that has a completely new meaning for me. I love the production values, instrumentation and high level of musicianship and great grooving drumming in Steely Dan, making them one of my favourite bands to listen to. I learn so much from the nuances of each song, how to play ‘for the song’ and to make it feel good. So it is also important not just to listen to the drumming in the song, but to listen and enjoy the whole song and the whole arrangement.
The Importance of Listen to New Drummers
I also love finding out new drummers, whether from past or present. For me, it’s not nearly enough to scroll on YouTube and see the latest drummer tear up the place with an awesome 15 mins drum solo (though I can’t hide I do love that every now and again!). I now find myself in a place where I listen to great ‘groovers’- guys who play for the song. That does not mean ‘boring’ or ‘non-technical’, because usually guys who are known to be ‘groovers’ have the ‘chops’ anyway! Whilst I will always love guys like Dave Weckl (my personal favourite), Steve Smith, Jojo Mayer, Antonio Sanchez etc – some of the greatest players in the world, right now in my own musical career, I mostly play ‘backbeat’ music, so I listen to a lot of ‘backbeat’ drummers.
Here are 10 drummers I have been deeply influenced by over the past few years: –
– Aaron Sterling (John Mayer)
– Jim Keltner (studio great)
– Rick Marotta (studio great)
– Jeff Porcaro (Toto, studio great)
– Daru Jones (Jack White)
– Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan)
– Russ Miller (session musician)
– Keith Carlock (Steely Dan)
– Carl Albrecht (Paul Baloche)
– Steve Jordan (session musician)
So, what are you listening to at the moment? What drummers inspire you just now? I’d love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment below.
Thank you to those who have either read or commented on these posts so far. This post is on practice and the technical aspect of drumming. It is by no means a comprehensive guide but just a few helpful tips for all you church drummers out there.
Practice can be a big hurdle to all musicians. Whatever size your church or worship team is, or whatever type of equipment you have, being able to set aside time to practise and knowing what to practise can sometimes feel like the most difﬁcult thing to overcome. Firstly, I’d like to encourage you if you struggle with practising: you’re not alone! Let the biggest hurdle not be focusing on our failure to practise or that we don’t know what to practise. Rather, let’s be kind to ourselves and know that there are many different methods of practising and we are all on a journey.
With that being said, I’d like to suggest 3 simple methods of practising for any drummer that will help. They all relate to each other and they’ve helped me on my journey so far.
1. Practising ‘on the go’. For me this includes using e.g. traveling time to listen to a new album (more on this in the next post). Listening firstly to the band and the song arrangement as a whole, and then listening again speciﬁcally to the drummer. It also includes ‘charting’ songs (more about this in the ﬁnal post), and putting a click track on at various tempos (between 80-120bpm) in a pair of headphones and tapping along. The benefits of this type of practice are that you are learning without having to sit down and play drums, improving your time, and learning about arrangement and how the drummer sits in the song.
2. Noise-free Practice. This takes place on a practise pad. I call it noise-free because it is very quiet! Purchasing a practise pad is essential for every drummer. Once you have done that, put a 2p coin in the middle and draw around it. This allows you to focus where the sticks should hit. Rudiments are also an essential ingredient to every drummer’s cookbook. They are the foundations upon which you add the spices to every good drum groove and ﬁll.
Here is a good warm-up routine for playing on a pad. Try two minutes each of the following:
That’s a total of 12 minutes – not long at all! Practice these along to a click and at various dynamics. Tap your feet along too and try to sing “1+2+3+4+” aloud – this means all your limbs are active. Don’t go faster than you feel you can – slow and steady wins the race! You will ﬁnd that through small doses of dedicated “noise-free practice” your hand technique will improve, you will have more control of the sticks, and will have a greater vocabulary of material when you come to the drum kit. For more info on rudiments, check out the Vic Firth website.
3. Drum Kit Practice. Not everyone has access to a drum kit at home so practising can be quite hard. But if you do have access to your church’s drum kit throughout the week this will be helpful for you. Being honest here, you don’t need to have a large vocabulary on the drum kit to be able to play drums in church. But the more in your arsenal, the more comfortable and enjoyable it is! Here are a few exercises I would recommend:
Two ﬁnal things – use your phone to record your practice session. It’s important to listen back on your progress and if you are able to do this on occasion, you will notice the difference.
Count aloud. It’s important to do this (as frustrating as it is sometimes!) because your coordination will greatly improve as a result of this.
In conclusion, let’s not forget something: Practice should be fun! If I have 45 minutes to sit down per week for church and practice, I usually set it aside like this:
Another video of the brilliant group (I am biased of course), New Scottish Hymns, with their song ‘O Saviour of Sinners.’ It was an absolute pleasure to be part of this video.
A forthcoming hymn from Scottish hymn-writer, Greg de Blieck as part of the ministry New Scottish Hymns; seeking to encourage and equip the church with new songs and hymns.
Other songs, resources and concert dates can be found at the website – www.newscottishhymns.com
O Saviour of sinners, let voices unite
In praise of that excellent name
Let cares find their place – Our sins are erased!
For Jesus has died and has risen
O Saviour of sinners, now help us recall
The wonderful things you have done
God’s kingdom has dawned, so let us respond
To all the good gifts He has given
Just as the darkness retreats from the day
Let sinful indifference be driven away
Together we’ll stand, and raise up our hands
To praise Him in willing surrender
O Saviour of sinners, though hardly we knew
The wrath our rebellion deserved
You died in our place, then offered us grace
And life in its fullness – forever
O Saviour of sinners, no words are enough
To bring you the praise you deserve
Unmatchable worth! O light of the earth
The heavens are filled with Your glory
Just as the sun overpowers the grey
The clouds in our hearts shall be melted away
Forgiven we rise, so lift up your eyes
For God is our light and salvation
A few years back I sent Prof. Donald Macleod, former Principal of the Free Church of Scotland College an e-mail about “the heart of worship.” I was intrigued on his opinions as one of the most respected Scottish theologians in recent times. I also have a strong connection with the Free Church myself.
Here are the questions I asked Professor Macleod:
With regards to Worship Music, how important is it for a musician leading the praises to God to know about a “theology of worship”? What does that look like?
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
Free Church of Scotland College Certificate in Theology/Diploma in Christian Studies: 2011/12
Practical Theology Assignment
In what ways does the incarnation of Christ serve as a model for mission and outreach?
Responding to John Chapter 20 v 21, “As the father has sent me I am sending you”, John Stott writes as follows: “Now he sends us into the world as the Father has sent him into the world. In other words our mission is to be modelled on his. Indeed all mission is incarnational mission.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian)
John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (ESV).” It is perhaps the most well-known verse of the entire Bible about the incarnation of Christ. The ESV Study Bible describes the incarnation as “the most amazing event in all of history: the eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinitely holy Son of God took on a human nature and lived among humanity (ESV Study Bible 2009).” Relating this to Christian mission, John Stott says that “all mission is incarnational (Stott 2004)”, as we are sent into the world to proclaim the power of the Gospel as image-bearers of Christ. This essay will take a look at the incarnation of Christ as a model for mission.
The incarnation is Jesus Christ arriving on the earth in human form. Jesus came to announce the Kingdom of God through humble beginnings, and, as Jesus rose in stature (Luke 2:52), He grew in favour with God, and announced that the prophesied Messiah had arrived. Influential evangelical Pastor Mark Driscoll states in his book Doctrine that: “the incarnation is more of a miracle than the resurrection because in it somehow a holy God and sinful humanity are joined, yet without the presence of sin” (Driscoll 2010 pp209-10). In the incarnation, Jesus came to earth in human form, giving up His seat on the throne in Heaven to be with His beloved children on earth. Theologian J.I Packer notes how the incarnation and the Trinity are linked together, describing it as “the Son who came from the Father’s side at the Father’s will to become the sinner’s substitute on the Cross” (Packer 1993 p90).
As God calls all Christians to be missionaries to follow in the pathway of His only begotten Son Jesus and not to the world, questions can be asked as to how we can we be missional Christians and be as bold as Jesus was. Two verses linked comparing worldly living and Christ-like living are: 1 John 2:15 “do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (ESV),” and Romans 12:2: “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (NIV).” These verses also linked to mission, as two essential traits that Christians need to be disciplined in are found. The first trait is love. Without love for our fellow humans and for God a Christian can not do mission well. The second trait is a renewed mind. Without a renewed mind, one that has been changed from a worldly perspective to a Christ-like perspective, a Christian can not do mission well. When we live out in the power of God, living for His Glory, then we should not fear the world. As Jesus stood boldly declaring the Kingdom and enduring pain on the Cross, so then we as Christians must declare the Gospel boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the book of Acts, the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4 ESV). This is a true encouragement to all Christians today of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As Spirit-filled missionary ambassadors for Christ in a postmodern world, we can boldly proclaim the power of the Gospel, just as the Apostles did in the First Century. Being filled with the Spirit also awakens our heart to the Word of God more, as well as imparting Spiritual fruit and gifts into our life, whilst also rebuking and correcting us. Romans 1:16 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” It’s a verse that speaks straight to the heart of mission that Christians are not ashamed of Christ and the power He so freely gives to those who are willing to believe in Him. If as Christians we are to truly believe in God’s power and just as then being filled with the Spirit is again a daily choice that we must make. As Mark Driscoll has quoted, “God revealed that through the power of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus are given the ability to live a life like Jesus by the same Holy Spirit that enabled Jesus” (Driscoll 2007 p129).
J.I Packer in his trademark book Knowing God described the incarnation as the “supreme mystery” associated with the gospel (Packer 1973 p45). This “mystery” is truly something special, and that we all partake in as Christians. When we partake in incarnational mission as Christians, we truly see how to live in the world. We are missional because Jesus was missional. In His time on earth, Jesus spent a lot of time speaking and teaching the Word of God, amazing His followers. He didn’t necessarily perform many miracles of His own accord but they came to Him because He lived out through the love of His Father. When we truly realise who we are as adopted heirs as God’s beloved children, we can have the mindset of Christ. As believers in Jesus, the need for renewed minds and a prayerful, missional heart is a daily choice that we also must make.
A third quality for incarnational mission is what Paul speaks about in Philippians 2, and that is humility. Paul writes: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV). Humility in the context of mission takes many different forms, from being humble knowing that God is sovereign to honouring other people and caring for them the way Jesus would. The ESV Study Bible describes Christ’s earthly life as “one of continual humiliation. He subtly and selectively revealed his divine glory, even keeping it a secret at times” (ESV Study Bible 2009). So as Christ was humble, then we are to be humble.
Another quality that comes with being missionaries for Christ on earth is being cultural. John Stott in his book The Contemporary Christian writes: “no word of God was spoken in a cultural vacuum; every word of God was spoken in a cultural context” (Stott 2004 p194). Today many evangelical Churches are highlighting the importance of contextualising the Gospel in culture. To use a practical example, one that is making airwaves across Christianity is the emerging Church movement, of which Timothy Keller, Joshua Harris, Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler are prominent names. Generally known to be charismatic in worship and Reformed in doctrine, these “emergers” are trying to make the Church more relevant, accessible and culturally-connected. This is done through various means, from worship concerts such as the Passion Movement, headed by Louie Giglio, to coffee house evangelistic outreach. The emerging Church is a good example of how to be cultural in mission, where some of their Churches are based in God-less areas of America.
In conclusion, mission is something that we are all a part of as Christians. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins not so we could go just to Church every Sunday, tithe, and be in fellowship with each other. Jesus died so that everyone could receive eternal life from Him, everyone who freely receives it with open arms. That’s our job as missionaries for Christ, to live for Him, a life full of faith and grace, hope and humility, all led by the Holy Spirit. As image-bearers of God and co-labourers with Him, it is our honour and privilege to serve our Heavenly Father in this way. Wherever our mission takes us, whether it’s to the student in the hallway or the receptionist in the Hospital, God has a purpose for each and every one of us to do mission the way His Son Jesus did it.
Word Count: 1,328
References and Bibliography:
Driscoll, Mark & Breshears, Gerry, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway 2010)
Driscoll, Mark, cited in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World ed.
Packer, J.I. Concise Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993)
Packer, J.I, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973)
Stott, John: The Contemporary Christian (InterVarsity Press, 2004).
Taylor, Justin & Piper, John (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway 2007)
Thoennes, Erik: Life’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says about the Things That Matter Most (Crossway, Wheaton IL. 2011).
Mars Hill Church, Seattle. Religion Saves: The Emerging Church. Retrieved February 10th from http://marshill.com/media/religionsaves/emerging-church
Christianity Today. Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church. Retrieved February 10th from
Scripture quotations indicated as from NIV are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by International Bible Society.
Scripture quotations indicated as from ESV Bible are taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Study Bible. Copyright 2001, 2009 by Crossway Bibles, Wheaton IL.
I was brought up on the Isle of Lewis, where Psalm singing is very common in the Presbyterian-dominated Island. This video, filmed in the Free Church in Back, Lewis in 2003 is presented by Gaelic musician Calum Martin. It offers insight into one of the most unique, and, in my opinion, most amazing and Spirit-filled worship. Whilst it is so traditional, and seems so out of sync with modern-day worship theatrics, there is something unique and simple I just love about singing Psalms. And the fact they are sung in Scottish Gaelic I think makes it even more incredible. Enjoy the video!