Drumming For Inspiration

I’m sitting here thumbing through my latest issue of “Modern Drummer” wondering what I should write about to inspire drummers… especially “worship drummers.” That’s what I’m supposed to do here, and I always give it my best shot. Our editor often reminds us to be relevant to the challenges and needs of the modern church musician. Drummers… I’ve come to realize that inspiration is always gold worth digging for… join me for a treasure hunt.

I was setting up for a recording session today. There’s an old church on Music Row in Nashville that has a smaller, older chapel that sounds AMAZING as a drum room. In fact the engineer, who has worked all over the city, said it’s his favorite drum room in town. That really got me thinking. Right across the street there are other studios, publishing offices, and other music industry fixtures. I’ve worked in many of them. But the fact that an old chapel in the heart of Music City could be the best drum room in town was extremely inspiring. So I listened carefully… and as this engineer dialed in the drum mix I could hear the “magic” in my headphones. WOW… it was beautiful just to hear the drums in that room. Something in the sonic colors that came through the overheads and room mikes just blew me away. Even playing without the headphones was inspiring.

Of course this sounds like a dream, or you might think I’m just being dramatic. But it’s the honest truth! NO fingers crossed. It was a very special moment. But then I felt the Lord reminding me that I often feel this way when I’m worshipping Him or just playing… no matter where it is. And most of the time when I am playing the drums this “feeling” hits me. That… INSPIRATION! The call… The thing I’m made to do. I bet all musicians get this divine confirmation… that “Chariots Of Fire” moment – “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” (Check out that movie sometime.) I started to remember, just the other day I was sitting in my basement studio working on some tracks and just enjoying the moment. The sound of the drums… even in that much smaller room sounded so good to me. It also felt that way just practicing, jamming on some old R&B songs, later on, after my work was done. No assignment; no paycheck… just the music… JUST DRUMS.

I’ve started to purposefully look for inspiration in every musical setting. Even in the most challenging situations there’s something about playing drums that stirs my soul. For me it’s ALL worship! It’s always for the Lord. Well… at least that’s my goal. The call to be a musician in the earth is a call to be a “gatekeeper” for His presence in every situation. So I’m trying to live my life as a pursuer of the Lord in every setting. Yes, this should apply to all areas of my life. I’m working on that… BUT, there is something about the music… the worship… what I – what YOU were created to do!

I even find myself being inspired changing drumheads and tuning a drum to get it to sound just right… OR maybe very different – to “inspire” me in a NEW way. LOL… I was even playing my nephew’s little toy drum set the other day and it was totally falling apart. He really didn’t care. He was loving it; the joy of drumming. Well… I couldn’t stand it… I brought it home. Took it apart. Replaced parts that were broken; tightened every screw and replaced the heads. I found some old cymbals and a snare he could use for now. You’d think I was getting this little toy kit ready for a session. But it was just “the call.” Wanting to bring inspiration to this little drummer boy so he could just enjoy the sounds!

There’s so much in the world to inspire us as musicians… as drummers… as human beings! Watch other musicians play when you can. There’s SO much video performance stuff out there. Observe with wonder and choose to learn, and to grow. Don’t judge! Don’t be the critic and miss out on the chance to glean something from what you see and hear. Be “inspired” to reach for the next level in your musicianship. Choose it! Dig for it like a treasure. God always has something for us if we will humbly make the effort. May HE bless you with ongoing inspiration to grow in whatever He has given your hands to do. “Keep digging!”

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Professional drummer for 30+ years, playing with Paul Baloche, Don Moen, Ron Kenoly, Abe Laboriel and Friends, LeAnn Rimes and many others. He's also a clinician, author and pastor.

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