Photo by Scott Pickering

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tambourine Launch Pad

It takes seconds to make, weighs about an ounce, and makes picking up the tambourine easy and quiet.

Playing multi-percussion can present some logistical challenges. Moving from instrument to instrument with only a beat or two in between can be tough. How about picking up the tambourine (or shaker) from a trap table? Using one hand to grab the instrument and bring it into playing position in a timely fashion without producing extraneous sounds can be a problem. My solution is the launch pad.

Just some foam rubber folded over and taped and you can get you fingers under the tambourine and grip it correctly with no muss, fuss, or unwanted jingling. A problem solver that’s not a problem to carry!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's okay to not play.

How can they miss you if you never go away?

As a percussionist, we have the ability to change the timbral texture of the ensemble with our variety of sounds and instruments but always remember that we can also change the sound by not playing. You can increase your impact by dropping out for a while. Demonstrate your taste and restraint with the confidence that the decision not to play IS a musical decision. Try waiting until the second verse to enter or maybe that intro with piano doesn’t need those triangle notes on top (or fewer). Sometimes…less is more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Playing With The Click

"I'm gonna need more click in my cans."

Whether you’re synching with a video, loops, enhancement tracks or just maintaining steady tempo, playing with a click is becoming more common in church settings. Drummers and percussionists know that we are held to a higher standard when it comes to precision with the click. Also, it’s not just “burying the click” with accuracy…then comes the request to play “just behind” the click. You can improve this skill with practice. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • I have practiced with a looping pedal and microphone, recording a metronome click and then recording a block or cowbell over it, trying to match my attack with the recorded metronome and then listening back to check my accuracy.

  • Several months ago, I started working with the Beatnik Rhythmic Analyzer from OnBoard Research. The unit consists of a practice pad with a display screen and a few knobs. Set a tempo and subdivisions (16ths, 8th triplets, etc…), play along to the click, and watch the screen for a real time display of your percentage of accuracy. Cease playing and within seconds you get a graphic display of your accuracy on EACH subdivision. You can immediately see your tendency to rush the second sixteenth note in a grouping or that you are late on the upbeat. The Beatnik is a truth machine! I have described one of the many features on this great device.
The Beatnik can improve your ability to work with the click AND improve your overall sense of time. It is improper subdivision that creates rushing and dragging. The Beatnik gives immediate feedback so you can get to the heart of the problem and optimize your practicing.

Check out the Beatnik at the OnBoard Research website: .

Monday, April 5, 2010

Percussion For Worship (TM) Opening Post

Tambourine, Conga, Djembe, Cajon, Shaker, Timpani, Cymbals...Hundreds and hundreds of percussion instruments that are available to use in worshiping God! Whether you play congas in contemporary praise and worship music or you are the timpanist playing on hymn arrangements in a more traditional church setting, it is my hope that this blog will be a source of inspiration and information.
As a free-lance percussionist, I have had the opportunity to play percussion in many styles of worship and learn from other percussionists, worship leaders, and producers. As iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), it is my hope that I can share some of my knowledge and gain some ideas from readers / contributors in the percussion blogosphere.

May it all be for the glory of God.

Check back soon.