Photo by Scott Pickering

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Set-Up of the Month September 2017


Marlon Lewis sent some sweet-lookin' shots of his percussion set-up. Marlon plays percussion for Capital Community Church in Ashburn, VA.

Check out the shells on the congas and bongos. Oh, yeah!





Monday, August 28, 2017

Silent Partners



The congas pattern is ending on beat three of the verse’s last measure and you need to dive into the chorus with shake tambourine cookin’ on the opening downbeat. Can you make the switch with only fractions of a second?

How about that moment when the music director stops the band in rehearsal and asks you to play a specific part on the bongos during the bridge of the song? The leader simply sings the rhythm and you play it back with supreme confidence on the next    run-thru. Will you remember that lick when the worship set starts in forty-five minutes?

Both of these real-life percussion challenges can be eased with the help of some “silent partners.” None of these items contribute anything sonically to the music, but these soundless supporters have assisted me in many rehearsals, worship services, and performances.

In Easy Reach

A trap table “lives” in my gig van so that it is always handy. Whether playing in a jazz ensemble, worship band, symphony orchestra, or folk group, a trap table has gotten me through many tight logistical situations. This soundless sidekick provides a central location for sticks, mallets, and hand-held instruments such as tambourines, shakers, claves, and cabasa (and you can park your coffee mug on it). The lightly padded surface of this silent partner assists you in transitioning instruments without extraneous sound. 

A music stand with the desk parallel to the floor IS NOT a trap table. There is too little space and too much potential for a cacophonous spill.

You have a choice of either commercially available trap tables or you can design and build your own (like I do). My first tables were built from plans found in Sound Designs: A Handbook of Musical Instrument Building by Scoville & Banek. Over the years, I have experimented my way into a personal version that is simple to construct and easy to carry. Just grab a staple gun along with the basic ingredients of plywood, light padding, and black cloth and you cook up a table top fairly quickly. Toss your creation on a keyboard X stand and you will soon wonder how you ever lived your percussive life without a trap table.

Get A Grip--Quickly

While the addition of a trap table to your set-up is a major help, most of your hand percussion will be resting flat on the surface of the table. Some instruments like the tambourine and shaker are a bit troublesome to pick up quickly and quietly with one hand when the items are flush with the table. Enter the launching pad--it takes seconds to make, weighs next to nothing, and can really smooth out a challenging changeover. Resting on the trap table, this inaudible ally allows you to prop up a portion of an instrument or implement (shaker, tambourine, mallet, or stick) and create a space under the object. That small gap provides enough room to slide a hand under the thingamajig and bring it into playing position without extraneous sound. The launching pad is a simple solution that’s simple to construct. My personal design calls for a strip of foam rubber folded lengthwise and taped into place. 



Better Than Your Memory

Keeping a music manuscript book nearby (or a few sheets of staff paper) makes it easy to jot down notes and rhythms. This quiet companion can come to the rescue in the rehearsal situation described earlier and it provides a place to capture your own bursts of creativity. Great licks and catchy tunes have grown from flashes of brilliance scribbled in a composer’s sketchbook. I like to keep a few sheets of unlined paper for taking notes in my mallet case along with the staff paper. 

Of course, you are going to need a pencil--with an eraser. It’s still low-tech and low-priced, yet many musicians do not make effective use of this hushed helper during practices and rehearsals. You need a pencil for writing music notation, taking notes, and for those personal markings on sheet music that remind and clarify. As soon as you decide on that sticking sequence, write in those rights and lefts. When you figure out which chord voicing on the vibes sounds best, put pencil to paper. Not only will this help during your current session, you will not waste time straining your brain when you resume practicing later. (Keep an old-school pencil sharpener in your mallet case--I do.)

Though never audible, the trap table, launching pad, paper, and pencil are part of my percussion set-up at every rehearsal. Form a partnership with these items and allow them to lend their silent aid to your music making.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Avoid Extraneous Tambourine Sound



It's simple to ensure a clean attack on shake tambourine. Watch this short tutorial video to find out how.  

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more video tutorials.   www.youtube.com/marksheltonmusic

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tambourine Improv

Short tambourine improvisation with strong and weak subdivision accent technique



Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017 Gateway Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris





How great to play percussion for  seven services for Easter Weekend 2017 with my Gateway Worship pals--and work with Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, and Jay Rouse!   What talent!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Timbre Jam & Marimba Demo



Check out this short demo of Timbre Jam--along with marimba.  For more info on Timbre Jam, contact One Beat Better at www.onebeatbetter.com 



Monday, March 6, 2017

Stick Control

Among the hundreds of percussion instructional books available, there are several "classics" of teaching texts.   Stick Control is a favorite of mine and the "tape repair job" on my personal copy bears witness to the many times it has been used in my drumming career.  For three quarters of a century, drummers have sharpened their skills with this famous educational opus by George Lawrence Stone. Stick Control contains material that can benefit ANY percussionist (drum set player, hand percussionist, mallet player, orchestral percussionist, or drum circle enthusiast).   The first nine pages of exercises alone can increase your playing level.  Mr. Stone's tome gives variation upon variation of sticking patterns for many basic rhythms.   The exercises can be played with sticks on a single surface, executed on multiple surfaces (giving you some ideas for fills), and played with brushes "sliding" the patterns (an idea from drum set great Ed Soph).

Stick Control is currently published by Alfred Music.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Songs of Good Cheer




Clever arrangements combine with veteran Broadway actress Maureen Brennan's lyrical voice to create music that can function as either foreground or background listening. If you choose foreground listening, there's a lot of tasty musicianship to check out. Neil Grover (Boston Symphony percussionist and owner of Grover Pro Percussion) brings his arranging skills to the project along with percussion work that propels and colors with a graceful polish.  My favorite track is "What Child Is This?" with Neil laying down some shifting time signature doumbec licks.  

Songs of  Good Cheer is well-produced without being "over-produced."  


It is available as a CD or download from CDbaby. 

iTunes, Amazon and Google all have the download.



Friday, December 2, 2016

In Harmony: Activate! Asks: Mark Shelton

In Harmony: Activate! Asks: Mark Shelton: How many years have you been teaching?   Over 30 years If you could have only one item in your teaching bag, what it...

Monday, November 14, 2016

PASIC 2016







 
Wow!  A few days at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention 2016 provided me with big doses of information and inspiration.  Lots of great instruments and gear including the aFrame--an electronic frame drum from ATV Corporation www.atvcorporation.com

https://youtu.be/LJhF4E2bVrc

Matt Billingslea's clinic, Half Man, Half Machine: Exploring Sound Design, Hybrid Kits, and Samples gave me insight into how drummers are blending electronics with their acoustic kits.

The University of Tennessee at Martin World Ensemble's concert was lots of fun.  These college students performed with excellence along with showmanship and enthusiasm.  Great teaching from Dr. Julie Hill and Dr. Josh Smith. 

Always good to hang out with Neil Grover at the Grover Pro Percussion booth.  Check out the new Shakerz  at www.groverpropercussion.com



Monday, November 7, 2016

Divine Detours



When God is the hero of the story, it never ends in death. God's stories end in resurrection and life.

A recent publication from Gateway Create Publishing, Divine Detours provided me with some of those "hmmm" moments--when you read a sentence and you feel it resonate.  

In both my personal life and career, I have experienced God directing, stopping, redirecting, and re-inventing.  No wonder I connected with this book!

Pastor Sion Alford writes that Jesus' story did not end at a cross; and neither does yours.  The death of your dream opens the doorway to something better, more real, and more life-giving. 

As a musician, I enjoyed reading Sion's personal story as God moved the pharmacist to his current station as worship leader, songwriter, teacher, and administrator. 

An added bonus-- Divine Detours contains plenty of SHORT chapters.  You can read a chunk when you have a spare moment and then let it roll around in your brain.

Order Divine Detours at:





Sion Alford serves as an Executive Worship Pastor at Gateway Church. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Frame Drum Solo


Frame drumming virtuoso Glen Velez defines a frame drum as a single-headed drum with the measurement across the head exceeding the measurement of the depth of the shell.  The headed tambourine is a great example from our Western culture.  The Middle East region of the world gives us frame drums such as the riq, tar, and bendir.  

Could the drums mentioned in the Old Testament have been frame drums?  Did Miriam play a frame drum while singing and dancing?   

Here's a short improv frame drum solo from me.  Enjoy

Monday, October 24, 2016

Creativity is...


Steve Jobs said,  "Creativity is just connecting things."

That statement has the ring of truth.  Keep in mind that you have to collect those "things" so that you can have a stockpile in your brain at the ready when the creative moment is needed.  That is why it is important  to explore and grow as musicians.  LIsten to different styles of music...including pieces WITHOUT percussion. Check out methods of playing other than your favorites.  Read up on the newest innovations that you cannot afford...yet!  Attend concerts and clinics presented by great players that will inspire (and humble).

This "collecting for connecting" extends outside of music.  Studying other fields (history, visual art, dance, math, astronomy) can spark creativity in music.  

Devote some of your practice time to creativity. Improvise. 

As percussionists, our number of instruments keeps growing, the sources of educational media increases, and players continue to push the technical limits.



Be a lifelong learner.

Connect and Create !



Intelligent people are always ready to learn.  Their ears are open to knowledge.

Proverbs 18:18 New Living Translation
Scripture quotation from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.



What techniques do you use to spark creativity?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Jesus, Holy Name


My songwriting pal Jonathan Malone and I composed this worship song recently.  Check out the lyric video for "Jesus, Holy Name."  

Danica Henry's sweet vocal delivers the simple--yet contemplative lyrics.  Jonathan Malone provides some tasty guitar along with a few well-placed licks from Danica's violin.



Jesus, Holy Name   (c) 2016 Mark Shelton & Jonathan Malone  
800-272-2249 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Drum Chart Builder

I had the pleasure of meeting Liz Ficalora a while back at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention.  Liz has designed a web-based drum charting software program that allows percussionists to create charts on their computers--and store them on their mobile devices.  

Check out the promo video below and head over to  www.drumchartbuilder.com for more info.



More info on Liz Ficalora at www.easydrumchart.com


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RIQ Solo Demo







Check out a short improv demo on the RIQ (Middle Eastern tambourine). 
The RIQ (pron. RICK) is a frame drum with larger jingles (zils) than its Western culture cousin.

Monday, July 25, 2016

July/August Worship Musician!

 
Look for my interview with Todd Bragg (percussionist with Crowder) in the July/August Worship Musician!
 
Click on the link below and turn to page 40
 
 
 

Friday, June 10, 2016

June Set-up of the Month

 
June Set-up of the Month
 
Todd Bragg's set-up for his percussion work with Crowder.
I met Todd several weeks ago at Gateway Men's Summit.  Look for an interview with Todd Bragg in the upcoming issue of Worship Musician!
 
 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rock The Glock

Call it the orchestra bells, glockenspiel, campanelli, or just plain "bells"---- It's an IN sound.  You hear the metal-barred cousin to the xylophone in pop and alt rock (or Pomplamoose) these days...and worship music.  

You might consider investing in a set of bells.   They can come in handy in a variety of musical situations--- choir anthems, cantatas, hymns, and worship songs.

Glockenspiels come in two flavors: Steel and Aluminum
Steel:  Best sound, Heavy, Pricey
Aluminum: Sounds okay until you hear steel, Lightweight, Easier on the budget

Some bands use the bells from beginner percussion kits.  It works.  Mike 'em up and throw on some reverb.  You can get the desired effect.

My "gig glock" has aluminum bars mounted in a case which reflects the sound (like a resonator).

Check out the song, "When I'm With You" from the Great Great God CD from Gateway Worship.   About three minutes into the song, many instruments (guitars, bass, keys) play a melody in octaves.  After a couple of statements of that melody, I bring in the glockenspiel to give the passage that sparkling punch that the bells can deliver.


Monday, March 14, 2016

March Set-Up of the Month

Wow!  Thanks to Ricardo Tagliaferro (A percussionist who hails from Venezuela)  for sharing some photos of his set-up.  Ricardo currently serves at Calvary Church of Irving, Texas.
Learn more about Ricardo at:
 
 


Monday, February 29, 2016

Finger Cymbals

Learn a couple of methods for playing finger cymbals in this short tutorial from Mark Shelton

More tutorials at www.youtube.com/marksheltonmusic

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Set-Up Of The Month



 


Dallas area percussionist, Jorge Ginorio recently sent a few photos of his set-up at Chase Oaks Church in Plano, TX. Learn more about Jorge at his website: www.jorgeginorio.com







Percussion For Worship wants to feature YOUR set-up.  Send photos to markshelton@verizon.net









Monday, January 11, 2016

Tambourine eBook

Praise Charts/Worship Training recently added my tambourine eBook to their many resources.
 
 
 
For more info, go to www.praisecharts.com, scroll down, and click on worshiptraining.com

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Silent Night (Ambient Jam)

Just in time for Christmas!



Here's a rehearsal recording from the world music ensemble that I led for over two decades.



It's the ambient jam version of Silent Night. Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sleigh bells tutorial

 
 
Just in time...here's my sleigh bells tutorial! 
 
 
 
 
Get ready to jingle your way through every December performance with these tips.
For more percussion tutorials, head over to my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/marksheltonmusic

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cajon: Soup Up The Slap

 A short tutorial on how to increase the gap on the corners of the cajon and "soup up the slap."





Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Set-up Of The Month November

Set-up of the month for November 
 
Len Barnett sent these photos of a couple of set-ups at Covenant Church in Carrollton, TX (DFW area)
Thanks, Len

 
 
Do you have an interesting set-up? 
Send it to Percussion For Worship at markshelton@verizon.net

Monday, November 16, 2015

PASIC 2015

PASIC 2015 took place this past week in San Antonio, TX.  Thousands of percussionists attended the event which featured world-class performances and education.
As part of the Interactive Drumming Committee, I led a "flash jam" on Thursday afternoon--a short drum circle just outside the exhibit hall.
 
The amazing hand drumming of N. Scott Robinson, Christopher Deane's performance/clinic on composition, and the Thursday evening concert by Ghost-Note were among the highlights for me. 
 
Checking out gear in the exhibit hall is always a kick.  Here I am at the Yamaha booth with way more drum set than I can handle.


Saturday, October 24, 2015


Paul Mabury (former drummer for Hillsong) session player and producer-- presented a clinic for Gateway Woship on October 23. 

I enjoyed hearing Paul's very musical playing and hearing him teach on a variety of topics.  It was great to have someone of his stature address the need to listen to various styles and drummers from the past along with developing the "soft" side of your chops.  

He talked about "loving the song more than you love playing drums."   Think about that!



 
During the clinic, a hot-air balloon drifted into the airspace behind Paul.
 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Walls from Gateway Worship



Yes!  The new live recording from Gateway Worship is now available.  Check out Walls on iTunes.
You can hear Thomas Miller, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Rita Springer, David Eric Moore, Tim Sheppard, and Mark Harris, and more on one album--along with me (Mark Shelton) on percussion. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Legato Shaker Technique

During a recording session, I was using the Soft Shake from Latin Percussion (www.lpmusic.com/). I had been playing it in a conventional manner. The producer suddenly asked me to turn the shaker so that an end was toward me (as shown in the photo). Though slightly skeptical, I complied and immediately heard the difference. There was less attack in the sound and more length to each note. The length of this particular shaker is rather short so that you can control the rhythmic flow of the fill (beads) in this position. The “more legato” sound fit well in the song that we were recording and I continue to use this technique when appropriate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Backing Wayne Watson

 
What a kick to play percussion behind the vocals of Wayne Watson!  This past weekend, Wayne was special guest with Gateway Worship.  Twenty three #1 hits on the Contemporary Christian Music charts.  Not only is Wayne a great guy and super singer/songwriter, but he also studied music at Louisiana Tech University--the alma mater of lil' ol' me--Mark Shelton.  Turns out that Wayne and I had a couple of music teachers in common during our LA Tech years.  Wayne sounded great in all five services singing "Almighty" and "Friend of a Wounded Heart."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Set-up Of The Month May 2015

John Homan, percussionist at New Creation Fellowship in Granger, Indiana sent a photo of a recent set-up along with some comments:



The drum configuration changes from time to time, but recently I added two djembes and a toca ashiko along with the 20" Brazilian marching drum (Surdo).
I'm trying to bring a bigger low end sound for our more tribal songs
 
 
The cymbal set-up is a Meinl hand splash and a Stagg medium crash which I use mainly for swells.
 
Everything else is pretty standard--shakers, tambourines, cowbells, triangles and claves.
 
 
Send a photo of your set-up to markshelton@verizon.net

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gateway Live Recording #4


Wow !   This past Friday night (May 15), Gateway Worship recorded fourteen songs during a live worship service. The album is scheduled for release in fall of 2015 on the Fair Trade label.  My colleagues in the band and I have been rehearsing long hours in preparation for the event.  You will hear a good amount of striking and shaking on the recording.  Josh Alltop was in the drum set position, I played percussion, and a couple of electric guitar players were recruited to play concert bass drums on one song--watch for it on the DVD.

This photo was taken during one of the final rehearsals by Abrahanny Rodriguez  www.abrahanny.com.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gateway Worship Live Recording Post # 3

 
Rehearsal this afternoon and tonight for
Gateway Worship's Live Recording.
 May 15 at 7:00 p.m.
My percussion set-up includes tom-tom, snare drum, rhythm crashers, mounted tambourine, bar chimes, Chinese bell tree, Roland sampler pad, glockenspiel, various suspended cymbals, shekere, and a bunch of tambourines and shakers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gateway Worship Live Recording Post #2

Join us for an amazing night on Friday 5.15.15 at 7:00 PM as Gateway Worship takes over the Southlake Campus for the Live Recording of their next worship release.

For the past 3 years our Gateway Worship pastors and worship team have been praying, watching and waiting on the Lord for what the next live recording project would be. Excited to share the things that God has spoken, this live recording will be a moment in time where we come together and seek to hear the heart of God with no restraint.
Come and be a part of this amazing night that will capture the worship experience that is Gateway Church and be prepared for what the fullness of praise and worship can bring.
This brand-new live worship album from Gateway Worship will release in October and will be filled with great songs including Let The Heavens Open, Walls, Grace That Won’t Let Go, You Stand, and many more. We want everyone that desires a night of praise and worship with no limits to come ready to see that WALLS are comin’ down.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gateway Worship Live Recording

May 15, 2015 is the date for the Gateway Worship Live Recording.  I am excited to be playing percussion for the event which includes documenting the evening for production of a DVD and audio recording.  Fourteen songs are scheduled for this project.  

As the week progresses, I plan to post on Percussion For Worship along with Twitter (www.twitter.com/MarkSheltonPerc) and Instagram (MarkSheltonPerc)




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hamilton Concert Snare Drum Stand




There are times when I need to play a large tom-tom (such as a 16" floor tom) in my percussion setup. The legs usually do not extend enough to bring the drum to a comfortable height and the drum is too large for most snare drum stands.  It feels (and looks) a little odd to have the drum so low.  The Hamilton Concert Snare Drum Stand (KB275) solves this problem with a basket that accommodates drums with heads from 13 up to 18 inches.  Invest in this stand and you can finally get those large drums up to the correct playing height.   

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sleigh Bells Tutorial

Christmas is almost here!
 
Here I am rehearsing for the
Gateway Candlelight services
on December 20 and 21  
 
 
 
  Look closely on the trap table and you can see that the sleigh bells are ready to go. Just in case you want the quick refresher, here's my Sleigh Bells Tutorial
 
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

PercussionHowTo: Farfadiddle





Here's a short tutorial on a hybrid rudiment.  Percussionist Richard Farvour showed me this little lick last month in Indianapolis.  Learn and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

StickMan

 


You get that new pair of sticks that are matched and you try to be consistent with keeping them together with the cardboard sleeve or a rubber band but after a while...  

Here's a great little device that allows you to snap a matched pair together.  Check out the StickMan at www.stickmanager.com

Monday, December 1, 2014

PercussionHowTo:Six Stroke Roll





Check out this short video tutorial on one of my favorite rudiments--the Six Stroke Roll

Monday, November 24, 2014

PASIC 2014

The 2014 version of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) has come and gone. It is always inspiring to experience state-of-the-art performances and clinics.  Shawn Pelton's clinic, The Hybrid Drummer: Achieving Synergy between Acoustic and Digital Gear and Marimba Now from She-e Wu were among the highlights for me. The Thursday evening concert from Amadinda Percussion Group rates as one of the best percussion ensemble concerts I have ever experienced. The quartet is celebrating thirty years performing WITH THE SAME FOUR GUYS!

There was plenty of great gear and sheet music on display. 

  • The great folks with J.W. Pepper had copies of my books, Give Me A Groove and Give Me A Bucket for sale at the convention. www.jwpepper.com  

  • When I dropped by the Grover Pro Percussion booth, I was happy to see that the Studio Pro Tambourine is now available with Phosphor Bronze jingles and a combination of Silver and Bronze--along with the German Silver which I currently use.   www.groverpro.com

  • The Percussive Arts Society's website has a new look.  Check it out at www.pas.org and consider attending PASIC 2015 next November in San Antonio, TX.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All That Is Me (Worship Song)





Jonathan Malone, Anna Harris, and I composed this worship song recently.  It is a bare-bones demo.  If you have interest in playing, arranging, recording, etc., contact me at 800-272-2249 or markshelton@verizon.net

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Art of Not Playing

Read my magazine article, "The Art of Not Playing" in Worship Musician!    Page 37
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finger Cymbals

 
 
 
The finger cymbals have a different tone quality than the triangle.  Check out my short tutorial video for a couple of methods.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GT Worship - Live Acoustic Sessions EP Promo


Check out this video from GT Worship. 

I dig how the percussionist is workin' that glock!  It's a nice touch to the song. The whole video sampler has such a good vibe.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Stuff That Lives In My Mallet Case

Timpani sticks might stay on a shelf until I get a "kettle call" and the general bass drum mallet only goes into my case when Gran Cassa is on the menu.
There are some items that are used so frequently that they have made my mallet case their permanent residence.
Here is a baker's dozen of those occupants:
  • Concert snare sticks
  • Drumset sticks
  • Yarn marimba mallets (for suspended cymbal)
  • Brushes
  • Triangle beaters
  • Drum key
  • Pencil(s)
  • Glockenspiel mallets
  • Xylophone mallets
  • 1/2 inch wrench (for tuning congas, bongos, and timbales)
  • Staff paper
  • Notebook
  • Djembe tuning wrench

Monday, June 23, 2014

Setup Info in Worship Musician magazine

Head on over to page 50 in Worship Musician! and read my recent article, "Setup Strategy."
Lots of info about grouping instruments in an ergonomic and visually appealing setup