When I talk with other church drummers, one common statement I hear is, “I don’t get much time to play or practice during the week, so Sundays are my one day to really let loose on the drums!” While this statement is usually shared in a positive light (Sundays are the highlight of a worship drummer’s week!), sometimes I hear a bit of regret in those words. Drumming is fun! So it can be sad or disappointing to only get to do it once per week.
But it also can be a detriment to our ability to lead worship as drummers. Here’s how:
Whenever I go without playing drums for days or weeks on end, one of two things will happen. One, I’ll lose my “edge” as a drummer and will come back slightly sloppy as a player. This affects my ability to reliably support the other musicians onstage and ultimately contribute to an atmosphere of worship. Two, I’ll have all of this pent-up energy and musical inspiration inside of me – like a bottle of soda that’s been shaken up and is just ready to explode! When Sunday comes around, I end up sounding exactly like a shaken-up bottle of soda: all over the place and a bit more than anyone
If we can’t free up time for “proper” practice, what if we still sat down behind the drums and just played because it’s fun?
Neither scenario is conducive to a worship environment for a congregation. When I bring this up to other drummers, they’ll generally reply that they simply don’t have time throughout the week for a “proper” practice, so they just don’t play at all.
And I agree; many of us don’t have time for numerous proper practice sessions on the drums. While I absolutely think practice on the drums is essential, I want us to consider something else when “proper” practice isn’t an option.
I remember when I was a kid and first learning to play the drums. Any time that I could spend behind the kit was a joy and a privilege. I didn’t look at the clock and think, “I only have 15 minutes to play, and a real practice would take at least an hour. I’d better not play the drums at all.” Of course I didn’t say this! Playing the drums was fun and I just wanted to play!
What if we took the same approach to drumming throughout the week? If we can’t free up time for “proper” practice, what if we still sat down behind the drums and just played because it’s fun? I think it can accomplish
First, it can keep our playing sharp during times when we otherwise wouldn’t be able to play. Keeping sharp is a responsibility we have not only to our Creator, but the gifts He’s given us. It also helps us ensure our playing will be solid and supportive of the rest of the band on Sunday.
Second, it can enable us to get out some nervous energy on the drum kit before Sunday! This way, we won’t be tempted on Sunday to make some less-than-wise decisions about drum fills and patterns, and we’ll be able to look more objectively at the drum parts we choose, or choose not to play.
To be clear – practice on the drums is important! But the reality is that sometimes other priorities in our lives may prevent extended practice sessions. Remembering and reinforcing the fun of drumming in our daily lives is not only a great way to prepare for Sunday, but is also a great way to honor the One who gave us drums and drumming in the first place!