Here are three pieces of advice that I have picked up over my years as a professional drummer and percussionist in both worship and secular music.
- Listen to your worship leader. Don’t forget the breaks or pauses that you rehearsed – write down some notes about each song if you have to. Listen to the variations in your worship leader’s voice and listen for cues to when they might want a song to build up or to mellow out.
- Listen to the bassist. It always sounds great when a drummer’s bass drum and bassist’s notes are in sync. Drummers and bassists can really drive the band and shape the dynamic contrast.
- Be receptive to what The Spirit is doing. As the drummer, you have a big influence on the feel of a song and the dynamic changes within a song. Does it feel as though a song needs to build? Are the congregation really engaging and wanting to go for it in worship? Or is a more reflective mood required?
#two: ‘Feel the rhythm, feel the ride.’
- Make a metronome your friend. If you don’t already do so, get comfortable practicing with a metronome and using one live.
- When practicing with a metronome, play around with it. For instance, play a groove at 120bpm, but set the metronome at 60bpm, and then 30bpm. This is a simple but very effective way of developing your internal clock, ensuring that you are not relying on the metronome being on every beat of the bar to stay in time, but that you can stay in time even if the metronome only sounds once in a bar. Time keeping is important!
#three: ‘Less is more’
- Certainly in a church context that predominantly uses songs by the likes of Worship Central, New Wine, Hillsong, etc. save your gospel chops for your personal practice time! Ask yourself, will this fill really aid the congregation in connecting with God? Or will it just be a big distraction to people worshiping?
- Equally, using silence as a ‘fill’ can be very effective.
- You don’t have to be playing at all times!
Author: Lekai Lee.
Lekai has drummed in a vast array of worship settings and churches for a number of years, and is now a professional drummer with the British Army.