As drummers, we should be striving to be the best that we can be at what we do. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but how sad it would be if your pianist picked up your drumsticks and outplayed you on your instrument?
I love how the psalmist put it: “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33:3).
An important, but often over-looked quality relates to one’s versatility as a drummer. That is, to be able to adapt to many different settings and scenarios and make it feel like it was nothing. No big deal.
The Versatile Drummer
What is a versatile drummer, you ask? A versatile drummer is one who can adapt, like a chameleon, into different playing scenarios and who can make use of what he’s given to accomplish the task. In our churches today, a drummer may get thrown into any of the following scenarios:
- Christmas services
- Choir band
- Communion services
- Women’s conference
- Unplugged worship sets
- Coffee House-style nights
It’s safe to say that drumming in church can become a complex beast to handle. That is why, as you can imagine, you need some decent amount of versatility to play in settings as diverse as these ones. In the event that you are called upon to play at one of these church settings, you will want to be prepared and show that you have honed your craft and that you can skillfully execute.
3 Practical Tips to Improving Your Versatility
Here are some practical ways in which you can be a better, more versatile drummer in worship:
1. Explore and know your drum kit. Learn the sounds that your kit can produce and then get creative. For example, did you know that you can produce percussion sounds with your snares off and using your hands instead of sticks? Be creative and expand your vocabulary on your kit.
2. Listen to a lot of diverse styles of music. With nothing to hide, I can admit that I was raised on solely Christian music – and by that I mean Hosanna! Integrity Music. Back then most of it was cheesy and sounded the same (this limited my learning). Then one day, a drummer I admired told me that I needed to start listening to secular music if I wanted to grow. I was taken aback that a good Christian drummer would tell me this, until I realized he was right.
To ease my way in, I dug my heals into the gospel sounds of Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin, and then made my way to Dave Matthews Band, Sting, and The Police, etc. Then I started following drummers like Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Steve Smith and Dave Weckl. Different drummers. Different styles. Who/what are you listening to?
3. Learn to play some percussion instruments. This can be as simple as a shaker or a tambourine. Do you know the basic techniques? Or how about a djembe or a cajon? Carl Albrecht is an awesome pro worshipdrummer and incorporates a tasty mix of percussion instruments with his playing. Watch his versatility in this video:[tentblogger-youtube 2s8Spq4Zs0M]
As you can see, everyone can grow in their versatility as a drummer. So I’m going to challenge you.
Simply playing drums is good, but not good enough! Always be hungry to grow and expand your playing. Challenge yourself to learn at least one new percussion instrument/technique before 2011 rolls out the door.
What’s stopping you from being a versatile drummer?
(image via travelblog)