Photo by Scott Pickering

Monday, August 6, 2018

App Advice for the Worship Percussionist

App Advice for the Worship Team Percussionist 
by Mark Shelton 

The electronic percussion unit was not cooperating. The rehearsal was about to start and the plan for me to play an "electronic toms" line on a song was in jeopardy as the sampler was down for the count. Pondering the situation, I suddenly remembered an app that might solve the problem. After opening the iKaossilator app on my iPhone and plugging in my earphones, I settled on an appropriate patch. The vintage drum machine sounds fit the vibe for the song and I played my iPhone during two services that day.  
I had to wonder if anyone in the congregation suspected me of texting during the opener.

An app came to my rescue that afternoon.  As the universe of touchscreen helpers continues to expand, I discover clever apps that can assist me as a musician. Read on for several recommendations for the worship team percussionist.

“Let's try ’10,000 Reasons’ with a merengue groove this morning."  Would that directive from the worship leader freeze you in your tracks wondering what to play?
Download PercussionTutor and be ready to easily access notation and recordings of South American, Caribbean, and West African grooves. Study from a library of world rhythms played by first-rate percussionists.

If the percussion score requires timbales, you might start setting up the shallow-shelled drums associated with Tito Puente and salsa music. But wait!  “Timbales” is also the French word for TIMPANI. Confusing? Percussion terms can be tricky. Download Percussion Pocket Dictionary and you will have quick connection to the names of dozens of common percussion instruments in English, French, German, and Italian.  Consult this resource and you can spare yourself the embarrassment of shaking a tambourine when you should be pounding the “tambourin de Provence.”  

Tempo & Tuning 
Back in the tick-tock pendulum days, you might get a pass if you didn't have quick access to an exact tempo--and those old-school devices did not have a tap-tempo feature! Nowadays there’s little reason to be caught without a metronome. Both the Pitchronome and The Metronome (Soundbrenner) live on my smartphone. Not only a dependable metronome, Pitchronome also includes tuner and drone features that might be of service at a timpani gig.  

Capture & Create
The brilliant song lyric or infectious groove that just came to you could easily escape your hippocampus. When the creative moment strikes, open a recording app and document that snippet of genius. Voice Memos (comes with iPhone) has been my go-to app for grabbing my ideas before they slip my memory. There are several other simple recorders to choose from and you can also use a camera app to shoot a quick video of your fresh ideas.

Keezy Classic is a super-simple sampler app that allows you to record onto the eight on-screen tiles and play back rhythmically by tapping the tiles (or holding down a tile to loop). Another recording feature in the app makes it easy to capture a creation and share it through email, text, or Air Drop. I love the straightforward design of Keezy Classic.

Percussionists will have this one up and cookin' within a few minutes. Keezy Drummer is a drum machine app that combines aspects of a sequencer and a looper. With twelve percussion sounds and up to nine tracks, you can stir up some interesting grooves without a lot of learning curve. Super fun!

Do you need to transcribe a melodic hook so you can play it on glockenspiel? Having access to a pitch source might help. A basic piano app will fit the bill. My choice among the many available is The Piano Free. It sounds like a piano—and it’s free!

A quick search will uncover plenty of apps that can deliver percussion sounds. One of my favorites is Rhythm Pad with an uncomplicated design, low latency, a metronome, and an in-app recorder. The aforementioned iKaossilator is the app cousin to the Korg Kaossilator.  A cool X-Y interface controls a variety of percussion sounds and drum loops along with a wide range of synthesizer sounds.

Required Reading
If you are carrying your smartphone around, you can easily bring along over fifty English language versions of the Bible. No excuses. Make sure you include a convenient container of the Word on your device—and read it. Every day! My personal choice is YouVersion with an assortment of languages, versions, reading plans, and handy features. 

Readers can access Worship Musician! by typing the URL into a browser or using the convenient Worship Musician app. If you don't have this free app, download it now and you'll have quick access to current and past issues with inspiring and educational articles. Make sure to read the scintillating writing about drums and percussion. 

2018  Mark Shelton Music / Percussion for Worship

Previously published in Worship Musician magazine  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Set-up Strategy

Set-up Strategy
by Mark Shelton

What might it be like to play percussion in heaven? Will we be able to concoct an ideal configuration of instruments and really get it right the first time? Could it be that in the celestial city there will be no cymbal stands? No mounting hardware? Imagine never having to wrestle with those methods of positioning instruments after we are inside the pearly gates? Imagine woodblocks and cowbells floating in midair at the desired height.  Designing and assembling your percussion set-up would be much easier. In the meantime, here’s some advice on organizing your set-up within the confines of Earth.  

A multi-percussion set-up should be ergonomically (work-friendly) designed so that you can meet the technical and musical requirements without wasted motion and energy.

When dealing with a large number of instruments, consider starting the design on paper before shuffling a bunch of drums back and forth. Work from a list of the needed instruments and draw a rough sketch of the setup. If you are reading music from an orchestrated chart, you can get ideas about which instruments should be adjacent. Some placement decisions are easy. For example, since I am right-handed, I generally place my trap table on my right so that I can pick up tambourines and shakers with my dominant hand.

Study your drawing and imagine making the necessary playing motions. You can even use a bit of "air drumming” as you imagine the logistical demands. Continue to tweak your sketch until it seems ergonomically sound.


As you begin to assemble the set-up, keep the instruments close to each other for economy of motion when playing. Remember that efficient instrument positioning is both horizontal and vertical. Tone and technique can be compromised by drums that are positioned at the wrong height (and can lead to fatigue and injury).

Don’t fear being a bit unconventional. While a saxophonist cannot rearrange the keys on this horn to make a lick easier to finger, a percussionist can alter the “traditional” placement of things within a set-up to reduce some technical challenges.

Visual Aspect  
There might have to be some compromise between ergonomics and cosmetics. Remember that people hear with their ears AND eyes. People can be distracted and frustrated when they cannot see the instrument that is producing that captivating sound.  

After you assemble the ergonomic setup, take a few moments to have a look from the audience perspective and make the necessary tweaks to enhance the aesthetic elements. Raising a stand an inch or tilting that rack forward a dab probably will not encumber your technique, but it might be just the change that brings the percussive optics into the view of the curious congregant.

Access to a variety of clamps, boom cymbal stands, and instrument mounting racks can make a big difference in turning your set-up design into ergonomic reality.

 Devices such as the Everything Rack (TM) from Latin Percussion or Gibraltar’s Percussion Bar (TM) provide a convenient method for grouping blocks and bells into a convenient array.

 Conserve space and reduce the number of stands by using a cymbal stacker or mounting cymbals “bell-to-bell” with a felt washer in between.

 The Hamilton Concert Snare Drum Stand can accommodate drum sizes up to 18 inches! A floor tom can be placed in the basket and brought up to proper playing height for a standing player.   

 The Percussion Claw (TM) from Latin Percussion lives in my mallet case. This little gadget fastens onto a drum rim and gives you another option for installing “peg-mountable” percussion.

 A trap table provides a central location for sticks, mallets, and hand-held instruments such as tambourines, shakers, and cabasa (and you can park your coffee mug on it).  

 The best laid schemes of a percussionist go awry when it becomes apparent that the magnificent layout that worked so well in the practice room cannot be shoehorned into the allotted smidgen of stage. An electronic percussion instrument such as the Roland Handsonic (TM) with its hundreds of digital samples allows you to play those tubular bells and timpani parts when the "real deal" will just not fit into your sliver of space.

A multi-percussion set-up should be designed so that the musician can comfortably perform with the appropriate tone and rhythmic accuracy that facilitate musical expression. If musical expression is hindered by the placement of instruments, consider making some changes. Once the layout is in place and you are feeling comfortable (from both ergonomic and visual standpoints), snap a cell phone photo so that you can re-create the set-up in the future.  

Here’s hoping that it’ll be easier in heaven.

(c) 2014 Mark Shelton Productions

Previously published in Worship Musician!  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pillow Practice

A blast from the past--One of my early video tutorials.   It is still relevant.  

Grab a pillow and chop out

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tambourine Timbres

Plastic shell with nickel jingles or brass…or maybe wooden shell with German silver?

Sometimes I bring 4 or 5 tambourines to a rehearsal so that I can fit the tone of the instrument to the texture of the music that I am playing and /or to give some variety. Different shell materials influence the sound as well as the makeup of the jingles. Brass jingles tend toward a darker sound and seem to give off more of the “Rock” sound while nickel jingles are brighter and might be a good choice to give some sparkle and drive to a ballad. I have even set up a tambourine with a combination of jingles and washers to get a tight “dry” sound. During a rehearsal, play along for a few measures with one tambourine and then switch to a different one. You will probably hear the sound of one of the instruments fit better into the overall texture of the surrounding music.

One of my tricks is to switch tambourines as a song modulates. Moving from a darker to a brighter sounding instrument gives the impression that the tambourine is changing key along with the band!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Art of Not Playing

The Art of Not Playing  
by Mark Shelton

Out of the eight instrumentalists in the worship band, only the two keyboardists were playing. Their sparse texture was the sole accompaniment for the entire song.  Neither my colleague playing drum set nor I on percussion allowed ourselves to slip in even a meager cymbal roll. Sure, there were moments when a tasty percussive tidbit could have worked, but we somehow fought off temptation. The art of not playing requires  discipline and is an essential element of musical maturity.  

Standing in the back of the orchestra, you can observe violinists and woodwind players processing the hundreds of notes from their sheet music into beautiful cascades of sound. Percussionists can monitor the activity around us as we continue to count the 258 bars of rests leading into three taps on the triangle. The efficient orchestrations of the great composers and arrangers demonstrate the power of percussion when scored at the right moments. As a music student and later on as a professional orchestral musician, I grew accustomed to the “forced discipline” of the printed score as I waited to play an often sparse yet highly effective percussion part.

In many styles of sacred music, we have “forced discipline” when we are reading from a chart with specifically notated percussion--along with a conductor who expects a faithful rendition. However, in modern worship music, a percussionist is frequently expected to take an active role in creating the part. When “forced discipline” is absent, “self discipline” is needed.  

 In some cases, it may be desirable to play throughout the song, but usually there are sections where percussion can take a rest.  If the drum set player is laying down the time, consider waiting until the repeat of a section to add your color to the groove.  

 The opening verse of a down-tempo worship song might seem a good spot for a sixteenth-note shaker line, but could you wait until the second phrase comes around to add percussion?

 Showing restraint also applies to “coloristic percussion.” Those dings and shings which are tasty (when judiciously administered) can become tedious and distracting when overdone. Every transition from verse to chorus does not require a cymbal roll and using the bar chimes more than three times in any song borders on excess.

Technique exists to serve our musical ideas. Developing blazing technique can serve you well when it is needed.  However, it can be tempting to apply that skill whether or not it is required. Just because you have the tambourine chops to match every accent that the drummer is playing does not mean that it is always a good idea.

 Check yourself with questions such as:
How is this part that I am playing affecting the music?
Does my choice of instruments and rhythms enhance or detract?

How can they miss you if you never leave?

Either playing or not playing affects the overall musical texture. At times, you can heighten the impact of percussion by laying out for a few moments. After hearing the same sonic material for a while, our ears enjoy receiving new information. The reentry of percussion after a period of absence can provide fresh stimulus for the listener. Simply  resting for a chorus and bringing in a stream of tambourine sixteenths on the repeat can give a needed lift to the song (and the worshiper).  

How about a trim? 

The art of not playing includes not playing so much even when you are playing.  Think about simplifying your part (deleting notes, removing a few accents, eliminating the clutter). Reducing your part a bit can give some needed space to the music and can help tighten the rhythm section as a whole. If a printed part seems to suffer from overwriting, use a bit of artistic license to edit the excess.

Can you give me more?

Although you have every intention of playing a meaningful and concise part, the music director can have a different idea and request more percussion activity than you deem appropriate. If you are asked to play more than was in your plan, go ahead and honor the request. No matter what your artistic intentions, submit to leadership and take direction.  

Are you just going to stand there?

Membership in the praise band makes you a worship leader with a responsibility to set an example for the congregation. Choosing to lay out for a section does not grant you a license to remain motionless with hands jammed in pockets while your brain journeys to Alpha Centauri.

So, what should you do if you are not playing?  Here’s an idea: WORSHIP.  Be engaged in the moment. Sing, clap your hands, look at the leader, and let your countenance reflect the mood of the music. The parts of the song without percussion will not feel awkward if you focus on worship.

As percussionists, we have great ability to change the texture of the ensemble with our variety of sounds but always remember that we can also change the texture by not playing. Demonstrate your taste and restraint with the confidence that the decision to play less is indeed a musical decision.  

LIke a city that is broken down and without walls is a man whose spirit is without restraint.                                                                                Proverbs 25:28 WEB

(c) 2013 Mark Shelton Productions  
     Excerpts from Percussion For Worship by Mark Shelton

Previously published in Worship Musician! 

Monday, February 19, 2018

A little help

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Oh...and please subscribe to the Percussion For Worship blog.   

Mega Thanks!!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Texas Music Educators Assoc Convention

Just in case any of my Percussion For Worship friends are headed to San Antonio for the Texas Music Educators Association Convention--I would love to meet you.

My clinic is on Saturday, February 17 at 8:00 a.m. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

PercussionHowTo: Two-Mallet Grip

Short tutorial on Two-Mallet Grip   A variation on the Musser grip

By the way...please subscribe to the blog AND my YouTube channel

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

You'll Need Some Tape

You’ll Need Some Tape
by Mark Shelton

Can you imagine life without adhesive tape?

Back in the nineteenth century, it is doubtful that the folks involved in the development of pressure-sensitive adhesives imagined the myriad uses for a sticky strip of fabric or paper. I’m certain that no one back then imagined a prom dress made of duct tape. 

Living in the present-day drumming world, you learn that adhesive tape can be a friend in many situations. Besides making temporary repairs to your gear, there are several ways that a roll of tape can assist a percussionist. A look around my trap table during a rehearsal set me to thinking about how I use the sticky stuff in my music making.

Soften a stick 
When you find yourself in a musical passage that includes both the sharp attack of a drum stick bead AND the rounded tone of a soft mallet, but with no time for an implement change, a few inches of tape can help you deliver the two sounds.

Take any drumstick and wrap some "cushion tape" (Examples: 3M Nexcare (R) Absolute Waterproof Tape or Dr. Scholl's (R) Moleskin) around the lower shoulder area. That's it!  Give this treatment to a couple of sticks and you can easily play that suspended cymbal roll and move quickly to using the bead on the snare drum or the butt end on the cowbell. A decent cymbal roll is even possible with only one modified stick. 

Your Fingers Will Thank You
Pounding away on the djembe and congas can take a toll on the hands. Without some protection, I am prone to getting tiny splits in my fingers and palms while hand drumming. My favorite means of split-prevention is a good dose of tape before I begin to play.  Nexcare (R) Absolute Waterproof Tape provides a bit of cushioning without interfering with my tone or technique.

Tone down the jingles 
It only takes a little tape to manipulate the sound of a tambourine. If you want to darken the tone of jingles, apply a tiny bit of tape to several of the discs. This little trick will mute some of the higher frequencies. To reduce the overall volume of the instrument, tape some of the jingle sets to the shell so that those discs remain stationary (and silent). The photo shows this technique applied to a Jingle Stick from Latin Percussion (R).

Where did I put that?
Sticks and mallets are fairly easy to locate on a trap table even in dim lighting, but smaller implements such as triangle beater can be elusive. Your eyes will have an easier time spotting the beater if you wrap a strip of bright yellow tape (or glow tape) around the handle. 

Shaker combinations  
Finding the proper shaker sound to fit the musical moment is part of the art of playing percussion. Combining a couple of shakers might be the right formula. Playing multiple shakers simultaneously can be used to bump up the volume. Holding two or more in one hand while you play a bongo part with your other claw might be a precarious juggling act. Just wrap some tape around the bunch and proceed to shake with confidence.

Find the right pair
The difference in appearance between a general timpani mallet and a staccato stick can be very slight and it can also be a challenge to quickly locate a matched set of drum sticks in a stick bag if they are stored with the “beads down.” (Of course, “beads down” makes it easier to grab a stick in the right position.) Find the right pair of implements in a hurry by color-coding with different colors of tape on the shafts.

Don’t miss a page turn
Have you ever shown up to a rehearsal and been given sheet music that was unbound?  Trying to navigate a seven-page chart while moving between congas, tambourine, and claves can be challenging enough without trying to flip through a bunch of loose paper to find the repeat sign. Several strips of tape can eliminate an element of stress and improve your performance. Anticipate that situation, toss a roll of transparent tape in your mallet case, and tame the pile of paper before the rehearsal starts.

See all your pitches
Perhaps you have been adjusting the gauges on a set of timpani only to discover that a couple of pitch markers are missing. Maybe there is not enough space between the F and G markers to squeeze in the F# marker. It's tape to the rescue! I routinely have a few precut strips in my mallet case to fit those tight spots on the gauge or substitute for a missing marker.

It had to be a lot tougher to be a percussionist a couple of centuries ago. Not only were there no automobiles to haul your gear to a gig, but no one had gotten around to inventing pressure-sensitive adhesives. Take advantage of playing in modern times and stock up on several rolls of tape.

2015 Mark Shelton Productions  Percussion For Worship

Previously published in Worship Musician!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


It was great to work with the crew from Daystar Television on this video shoot. Click the link and you can watch a high quality production of the song "All Praise."  If you watch carefully, you can spot me on percussion.


Friday, November 3, 2017

New eBook is now available

My latest eBook is now available for download at  

Big Thanks to Praise Charts/Worship Training for making this resource available.  

Click this link for details:

Monday, October 23, 2017

New & Improved Website

My new and improved website is now online!

Check it out and grab the free music downloads

Friday, September 29, 2017

Worship Musician Article Big Tasty Tom-Tom

My article on playing the floor tom in worship music is in the July 2017 issue of Worship Musician.

Click on the link and go to page 41 and read it--for FREE!

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.

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 

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

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

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