You would think by the title of this article I might mean, “play loudly.” But that’s not necessarily true. Dynamics has nothing to do with this. No matter when, where, or how you play, play with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Put all of your intention, thoughts, passion, and energy into your performance. Pour out of your spirit when you play music, especially when you worship… well no… actually… EVERYTIME you play. In all musical settings, something is happening “in the spirit” when sound is released. There are lots of studies concerning this, but for now I’ll speak from the worship drumming perspective.
We live by the 11th commandment – “Thou Shalt NOT Play Thy Instrument In Vain.” By that I mean “without care,” or the attitude of it being – futile· useless · pointless · to no purpose · hopeless. Yes, I looked it up in a dictionary, but you get my point. So, how do you stir up your passion to play if you’re feeling a little bored, or stale, or just plain tired?
Take care of yourself
Make sure you’re getting proper sleep. Preferably 7 to 8 hours every night. Which, right now, I’m a little short on. J Be sure to take care of your health. Diet and exercise are important to your overall wellbeing. We hear this all the time, but doing it is the challenge. DO IT! I won’t “unpack” all the details here, but the information is readily available. Be aware of how your diet affects your playing. Do you feel “off” when you eat a certain way? Take note of it and adjust accordingly. I can’t eat too heavily and be comfortable when I play.
Drumming is a very physical undertaking so; besides your diet, exercise is crucial. Get into a routine that keeps you feeling strong, but not bulky. Be sure to stretch a lot before working out or jogging. And do more workouts that build cardio and breathing. I focus more on reps than weight, and things that help my overall flexibility and looseness.
Information and Technology Overload
Besides the physical side of drumming, our mental focus is very crucial. I actually think sometimes we “think” too much because of the mechanics of performing. Even though I love to learn and to teach, there is a point where you just have to forget that and play! When you’re playing, it should all become focused on the heart of what you’re doing. This is still a mysterious thing, but it makes all the difference. Playing “with heart.”
We should practice and prepare enough to be free of the mechanics when we worship. If you’re still worried or uptight about the tempo, the feel, the sound of your drums, or anything else, you should spend more time prepping so you’re not stuck in that rut. But, when those thoughts come you have to cast them aside as if it’s fly buzzing around your head. Focus on the song! Give it all you got… and let nothing rob you of the joy of the moment!
I also believe we’re in such an age of technology in music that we’re always multi-tasking when we play. We’ve got drum loops, tracks, click tracks, drum-triggers, and multi media. I love all that stuff… BUT, once we work through all the details of creating music, we still have to be sure to reach into our “spirit” and focus on WHY we’re doing this. It is a challenge. I often remind myself to think of what the song is saying and communicate the heart of THAT to the Lord and to the people. That is the goal.
A final thought on technology. Keep your cell phone out of sight during your practice time, band rehearsals, sound checks, and especially, performances or services. Only if it’s a tool for the work you’re doing do you want that distraction. Enough said.
Last, but not least
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But I’ve found that when I’m on my own, practicing, it’s important I just play without thinking of anything but “the music pouring out of me.” Yes, there’s a lot of time spent working through all the mechanical stuff, book studies, YouTube clips, etc. That is important. But the goal is to play with intensity and passion no matter what I’m playing. There’s always time in my routine to let go of the mechanics and just let the music happen. Enjoying the sound. Digging into the solo or song I’m playing like God is really listening… HE is! HE’s always listening.