Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Steph Macleod – Give Me A Sight O Saviour

This is another video I was involved in recently, featuring acclaimed Scottish Christian singer-songwriter Steph Macleod. It was great fun! Here’s what Steph said about the song:

“This song was inspired by the original hymn composed and written by Katherine Kelly (1869-1942) and was then rearranged, rewritten and a new song composed. I found the lyrics in the back of an old hymn book, and the lines, ‘make me understand’ really cried out to me. We often speak of the price Christ paid for us on the cross, but these words ask Him to make us understand that sacrifice. It’s mind blowing. Essentially we just wanted to worship. Here I am with my band The Second Mile Society performing a live take, recorded by Christy Mearns and Garry Boyle. This production was also made possible by working with my partner charity Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

The original lyrics:

Give me a sight, O Savior,
Of Thy wondrous love to me,
Of the love that brought Thee down to earth,
To die on Calvary.

Oh, make me understand it,
Help me to take it in,
What it meant to Thee, the Holy One,
To bear away my sin.

Was it the nails, O Savior,
That bound Thee to the tree?
Nay, ’twas Thine everlasting love,
Thy love for me, for me.

Oh, wonder of all wonders,
That through Thy death for me,
My open sins, my secret sins,
Can all forgiven be.

Then melt my heart, O Savior,
Bend me, yea, break me down,
Until I own Thee Conqueror,
And Lord and Sov’reign crown.”

This song was inspired by the original hymn composed and written by Katherine Kelly (1869-1942) and was then rearranged, rewritten and a new song composed. I found the lyrics in the back of an old hymn book, and the lines, ‘make me understand’ really cried out to me. We often speak of the price Christ paid for us on the cross, but these words ask Him to make us understand that sacrifice. It’s mind blowing. Essentially we just wanted to worship. Here I am with my band The Second Mile Society performing a live take, recorded by Christy Mearns and Garry Boyle. This production was also made possible by working with my partner charity Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

https://www.maf-uk.org

The original lyrics:

Give me a sight, O Savior,
Of Thy wondrous love to me,
Of the love that brought Thee down to earth,
To die on Calvary.

Oh, make me understand it,
Help me to take it in,
What it meant to Thee, the Holy One,
To bear away my sin.

Was it the nails, O Savior,
That bound Thee to the tree?
Nay, ’twas Thine everlasting love,
Thy love for me, for me.

Oh, wonder of all wonders,
That through Thy death for me,
My open sins, my secret sins,
Can all forgiven be.

Then melt my heart, O Savior,
Bend me, yea, break me down,
Until I own Thee Conqueror,
And Lord and Sov’reign crown.

New Scottish Hymns Blog: Practice & The Technical Aspect of Drumming

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:

  • single strokes
  • double strokes
  • paradiddles (with and without accents)
  • triplets
  • 5 stroke rolls
  • flams.

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:

  • Play along to a click at a slow (60bpm), medium (90bpm) and fast (120bpm) tempo. Start off by only playing 1/4 notes. Keep a strong backbeat at all times and focus on the sound and dynamic level throughout. Ask yourself questions such as: “Is my technique good? Am I sitting up straight? Do I feel comfortable and in control of what I am doing?” Once you do feel comfortable with this, move on to 8th notes and 16th notes. Having only certain notes to play helps you feel restricted and opens up new avenues of creativity. You will also be more aware of the sound you create on the kit and how your ‘feel’ is. Persist with this, and you will find yourself improving your concentration as a player.
  • Practise playing 4 bars of time with a simple fill at the end. It could be the “Pat-Boone, Debbie-Boone” fill and variations of that. Use the exercise system in the previous bullet point by only using certain note values and that will help you become better.
  • Practise in odd-time signatures such as 3/4 and 6/8. Try to feel the difference between the two and play different grooves in each.

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:

  • 10 minutes warm-up on practice pad
  • 10 minutes playing along to a click at various tempos
  • 15 minutes learning specific grooves/song parts for upcoming service
  • 10 minutes have some fun playing along to tunes that I enjoy!

Every Blessing,

Brian

Chris Tomlin – God of Angel Armies (Whom Shall I Fear)

And another ‘Church Drummer’ cover! It’s been a few months but here’s the latest one: Chris Tomlin’s ‘God of Angel Armies (Whom Shall I Fear).’ A great song from his 2013 album ‘Burning Lights.’ Nice drumming from both Paul Mabury and Travis Nunn throughout the album. Enjoy!

New Scottish Hymns on BBC Songs of Praise

It was great to be featured as part of the New Scottish Hymns for BBC Songs of Praise earlier this year. Greg shares about the heart behind his song-writing.

www.newscottishhymns.com

“Scottish Hymn-writer Greg de Blieck talks about his music ministry, New Scottish Hymns on an episode of Songs of Praise aired on 28th June 2015.”

*This content belongs to the BBC and Waddell Media. If you wish for this to be removed please contact [email protected]*

New Scottish Hymns – O Saviour of Sinners

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.

www.newscottishhymns.com

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

New Scottish Hymns – Union with Christ

Here’s a music video entitled ‘Union with Christ’ I was involved in at the tail end of 2014 – another great Scottish group, New Scottish Hymns, led by Greg deBlieck.

http://www.newscottishhymns.com

Union with Christ, what a glorious thought,
What a wonderful truth we embrace
His victory attained makes the children of God
To endure, and to finish the race

The hope that we have is no temporal thing
To be swayed by our failures or fears
In Christ we have faith as our conquering king
And the Christian, through faith, perseveres

Hallelujah, we are His
Hallelujah, we are His!
No greater love is there than this
Jesus is ours and we are His

Union with Christ, what a glorious thought,
To be one with “the Lion and the Lamb”
To be given a heart that responds as it ought
To the great everlasting I AM!

Hallelujah, we are His
Hallelujah, we are His!
No greater love is there than this
Jesus is ours and we are His

Hallelujah, we are His
Deepest communion, sweetest bliss!
No greater love is there than this
Jesus is ours and we are His

Words – Greg de Blieck
Music – Greg de Blieck, Peter Crockett

(Filmed by Simon Parnham)

Paul Baloche – Our God Saves

February’s new drum cover, the 2014 version of Paul Baloche’s song (originally released in 2007 on his album of the same name) ‘Our God Saves.’ Enjoy!

New Scottish Hymns – You’re The Shepherd (Live)

You’re the Shepherd’, taken from New Scottish Hymns Live Streaming Event, 24th January 2015.

Sheet Music, Lyrics and more information on the project can be found at www.newscottishhymns.com.

You’re the shepherd, we’re the sheep
You won’t slumber, though we sleep
Oh what love our saviour shows
To the little ones he knows
We are guilty, You are good
We fell short, but You withstood
For Your father’s holy name
You endured and overcame

We were helpless in our sin
You forgave and took us in
Though our hearts still turn from You
Yet with patience You pursue

You’re the teacher, we are taught
By Your precious blood we’re bought
You’re the healer we are healed
By Your cross our hope is sealed
We’re forgiven by Your blood
Orphans called as sons of God
Brought from darkness into light
Washed in red and clothed in white

Yours the triumph, Yours the throne
Praise and glory, Yours alone
Tongues of angels, songs of men
Let the heav’ns resound again

New Drum Cover: Hillsong Y&F – Wake

My latest drum cover – Hillsong Y&F’s ‘Wake!’ Check it out!

 

Review of Worship Albums 2014

2014 was a pretty decent year for worship and CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) albums – here’s a brief look at what came out. In January Switchfoot released ‘Fading West’ – a really great album, and Casting Crowns put out ‘Thrive’. Elevation Worship’s latest offering ‘Only Kind Forever’ is decent. Nice drumming from Luke Anderson throughout, and the standout song is definitely ‘Grace So Glorious.’ ‘Blessed Assurance’ is also quite good and ‘Glory Is Yours’ is a nice upbeat number. There are some good songs here, although nothing that much different stylistically from their previous. 7/10.

In February, Bethel Music released TIDES LIVE, and in March came the remixes from Hillsong UNITED and Jesus Culture. Kari Jobe also released her album ‘Majestic: Live’ – a decent offering but all-too-similar to other releases to be honest. Planetshakers released ‘Endless Praise’, John Mark McMillan released ‘Borderlands’ and Rend Collective released ‘The Art of Celebration this month too. I quite enjoyed this album, with songs like ‘Joy’, ‘More Than Conquerors’ reminiscent of their early offerings, and ‘My Lighthouse’ being the ‘hit single’, but also songs like ‘Boldly I Approach’ standing out in quieter offerings. 7.5/10.

In April, Paul Baloche released ‘Live’ – a collection of some of his best material. Well produced but not anything different than his others. Like me, though, if you like Baloche, you will enjoy this. 6.5/10. Also this month came Francesca Battistelli’s ‘If We’re Honest’, which I personally enjoyed, and Phil Wickham’s ‘The Ascension.’ Bethel Music released another album, this time from their annual Women’s Conference, the title of this album ‘You Make Me Brave.’ I personally thoroughly enjoyed this, from the drumming to the production, to the all-female vocals. ‘You Make Me Brave’ and ‘Shepherd’ by Amanda Cook, ‘It Is Well’ by Kristene Di Marco and the big version of Jenn Johnson’s ‘Come To Me’ all sound lovely – as do the spontaneous moments. Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger’s ‘We Dance’ is a beautiful intimate track too. If you like Bethel you will like this album. Great mixture of joyful numbers and expressions of reverence. 8.5/10. Also this month was the next Passion album which, again, was a mixed bag for me. Kristian Standfill’s songs sound all-too-similar. My favourite tracks were Redman’s ‘Mercy’ and Christy Nockels ‘You Came To My Rescue.’ 5/10.

May saw the release of Crowder’s first solo album, ‘Neon Steeple’, which I personally enjoyed (7.5/10), and All Sons & Daughters self-titled studio album which I thoroughly enjoyed (9/10). In June, Leeland released a cool EP called ‘Christ Be All Around Me’ (also featured on AS&D album) and in July, Hillsong Worship (no longer called Hillsong Live) released ‘No Other Name.’ It’s a fairly enjoyable album, the title track will no longer be sung in Churches globally (as will ‘The Creed’), and marks what I think is a change for Hillsong. Gone are the ‘big’ moments (mostly) in this album and what arrives are a stream of mid-tempo songs with nice pad sounds and effects. Great to see them step out of the comfort zone and they always write quality songs. ‘Calvary’ is a nice song, as is ‘All Things New.’ Gungor and Tenth Avenue North also released albums this month. August saw the release of Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger’s solo album ‘The Undoing’, as well as Lincoln Brewster’s ‘Oxygen’ (a very “meh” album – overly commercialised and cheesy), Colton Dixon’s ‘Anchor’ and Jars of Clay’s 20th Anniversary release. In September, Lecrae released ‘Anomaly’, Desperation Band ‘Banner’ and Dustin Smith ‘Coming Alive’. Now this is a cracker. Powerful, fiery, prophetic and declarative, and at times vulnerable, its a great album full of a mix moments – definitely worth a listen. 8.5/10.

October saw the release of Planetshakers ‘This Is Our Time’, Kings Kaleidoscope’s ‘Becoming Who We Are’ (see Jesus Freak Hideout for a good review). Chris Tomlin also released ‘Love Ran Red’, yet another safe and unmemorable batch of songs. That doesn’t mean that its not good or that many won’t be sung in Churches, but there are few ‘wow’ moments or times where you feel Tomlin steps outside of his box, apart from maybe ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Boundary Lines’, which are both enjoyable. ‘I Will Boast’ and ‘The Table’ takes us back to 2002-era Tomlin and ‘At The Cross’ is good. 7/10. Also this month came Worship Central’s ‘Set Apart’. I was quite disappointed by this album, to be honest. I expected more creativity (since they say they are big on that), but found little of it – ‘The Way’ is a nice track but with an all-too-similar feel of “let’s do Avicii in the chorus”, but it is expected to be one of the tracks of the coming year. ‘Set Apart’ is also good, and ‘Awesome Is He’ – but apart from that, found myself asking when the strong tracks were to come. Nice spontaneous moment at the end, though. 5/10.

Nothing much more of note towards the tail end of the year, with the exception of Brooke Fraser who released ‘Brutal Romantic’ a great album with lots of wonderful moments – 8.5/10. Misty Edwards, who released ‘Little Bird’ and Andrew Peterson’s ‘After All These Years’. I’ve only listened to the latter and its an excellent collection of Peterson songs past and present. Passion also released a collection of songs.

Over and out! Here’s to 2015!