Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

‘Give Thanks To God’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

Here’s the 3rd video from the Scottish Worship EP: ‘Give Thanks To God’. This is like a traditional metrical Psalm with a call and response from the leader and the congregation. Here’s what Pete Crockett, who co-wrote this song with Allan McKinlay, said about it:

Here’s a song myself and Allan have written based on psalm 136 and is intended to be a modern liturgical metric psalm.

I have used this form recently for prayer meetings where this liturgical form works well with the leader, or someone else singing/speaking a prayer and everyone else responding e.g.

Lord you have been so good to me
All – His never ending love is steadfast and sure
Where would I be Lord without you
All – Give thanks to God for he is good

It works completely acapella or with instruments

written by Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

 

‘I Wanna Know You’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

I really hope you enjoy this Scottish ceilidh ‘anthem’ –  ‘I Wanna Know You’ – the first of 5 videos from the recent release ‘Scottish Worship EP‘! This was such great fun to play! Co-Written by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett.

 

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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New Scottish Hymns Blog: Listening to Music

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.

Blessings,

Brian

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

New Scottish Hymns Blog: The Heart of Worship

This is the 2nd blog post is from a series I recently did as seen on the New Scottish Hymns website.

What does it mean to have a heart of worship? Good question. We could talk about this for the rest of our days, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet!

Romans 12:1 says to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” What does that mean? Simply put, I think it means being in a right relationship with God- that I’m on good terms with the Bible’s author. Do I please or grieve the Holy Spirit with the way I lead my life? That’s a challenging question I face each and every day.

Whilst I will admit that there have been a few times I have ‘gone through the motions’ in Church, especially if I’ve had an ‘off-day’, or just feel that the worship ‘isn’t great’, I know that the fruit of my ‘sacrifice’ to God is that I give my whole self to Him. I submit to Him. He knows best. So I’m reading my Bible, praying, confessing sin, spending time with Him experiencing God’s great love. Whatever that looks to me might be different for you. And the fruit of that ‘sacrifice’ to me is to know I deeply loved by the Father. My identity is secure in what He thinks of me, not what other people say or think!

When I am in a place of heartfelt worship, I know that I am chosen by God, anointed by God, and saved by God to serve the One who saved me from my sin. And that I know and can experience His love. For me that is the heart of worship. As one of my heroes, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said:

Holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something; it is something we are to do because of what we already are.”

I don’t confess to be a ‘holy’ person by my own strength, but through Christ who strengthens me and makes me holy. Weakness is the way- because He is strong. I love the quote from the great preacher Robert Murray McCheyne: “Lord make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.”

So when it comes to playing drums in Church, I try to pray a short prayer. When I pray this simple prayer in faith, I believe that God will act.

“Lord, help me to fix my eyes upon You today.
Thank You for your mercy, for Your love & grace.
Thank You for sending Your Son to die on the Cross for me.
Thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit. Fall on me afresh and fill me to overflowing. Grant me the humility to play, help me to play the best I have ever played.
Come in Power in this place today, that we as a Church may know and experience You. Change us Lord, from the inside out.
Let there be freedom for You to move today.”

Every Blessing,

Brian

New Scottish Hymns Blogs: About Playing Drums In Church

This blog post is from a series I recently did as seen on the New Scottish Hymns website.

When I was asked to write a series of blogs on playing drums in Church, it conjured many thoughts.

Firstly – the great privilege to play drums in a worship band! The enjoyment of being able to make music to my Saviour, help lead people in worship, and to be able to worship with other people.

Secondly, the technical aspect of drumming. The practice, the dos and don’ts of what that is. The joys and frustrations that come with all of that!

Thirdly, the enjoyment of listening to music. I love listening to new worship & secular music, and my love of music continues to grow year after year.

Fourthly, the challenges that come with playing drums in a church setting. Drums can be loud (dependent on whether you have an electric or acoustic set), offensive to some people, and at times overlooked. While this has softened to a degree with the development of mainstream Contemporary Worship Music over the last decade in particular, drums can still be a controversial matter. Let’s not forget drum gear & getting a good sound from the drums in Church. That’s a toughie!

So with that in mind, over the next four posts, I will be going over the following four things:

  1. The Heart of Worship
  2. Practice & The Technical Aspect of Drumming
  3. Listening to Music
  4. Sound, Other Helpful Suggestions & Tips

So unfortunately, no posts on ‘Gospel Chops’, ’How To Play 20 Minute Drum Solos’ or ‘How To Twirl Your Drum Stick Like A Boss,’ – as fun as that would be!

Every Blessing,

Brian

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 – 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

Prof. Donald Macleod on Worship

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?
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