Drumming with the choir

So…a while ago… maybe August of 2013… I was approached by our choir director at church, she said “I hear you are a percussionist”, and invited me to join the choir’s performance of “Our God Gives Us a Future with Hope”. And, as a good teacher does, Kathy nodded and listened as I explained how completely unqualified I was. She then handed me the music and said, “we meet on Thursday nights”. At the first rehearsal I told her, “don’t be afraid to fire me at any time…or tell me it would sound better if I was in the parking lot.” She told me not to worry.

I like our choir director/music director. The impression that I got from her is if you want to help the worship team, or if you have music you want to perform for the church, you can, just do your best. When I mentioned this to her in a book club, she said, “we all have to start somewhere.” I got to know her more in book club…and she got to know me more, because I sent many a crazy / tangent emails at 2AM to the book club. (The book was about Christian worship.)

Working with her is great. I really enjoyed it. At rehearsals I would say stuff like, “All I know is that God gave me two eyes, one to look at the music, and one to look at the conductor.” I tried my best to take the gig seriously. But, you know me, get nervous, make a joke. I got myself psyched up for it by posting different videos of drummers each day on TheFacebook for “40 days of drumming” . (No, I didn’t get 40 posts) yeah…I should have been practicing…but…youtube!

I did actually practice. I wrote out drum parts for the three parts of the song. I played along with audio, with metronome… I studied the music. I think I was almost ready.

We had two gigs for that song. First, on a Sunday morning, it went well. Second, at an ecumenical choir concert fundraiser …I looked out, there were at least three hundred in the audience. Of course right before we were to sing, I looked out, a negative thought tried to pop into my dead…but I just took a deep breath, looked at Kathy, we smiled. And we began. If I messed up, I did not let it bother me. I was living in the now.

Later…having lots of fun and a bit of success with the choir performance, I said “yes” when I was invited to play djembe with song-leading team. Especially since they were playing one of my favorite songs: “10,000 Reasons”. I did horrible. I didn’t study enough, there was a bar of 2/4 tossed in THAT I NEVER NOTICED until after when I was looking at the music!!!

…in case you were wondering who I included in 40-days-of-drumming…

· Larry Wright on buckets

· Alex Van Halen

· Ringo Starr

· Taiko drum group

· Stewart Copeland …I love his high hat work, tiny cymbals, quick sharp fills, very subtle

· Elvis Costello’s “Watching the Detectives” …nothing subtle aboot these drums, doesn’t sound like the rest of the album…I suspect the drummer snuck into the mix booth when the rest of the band went home.

· RedHotChiliPeppers “Breaking the Girl” …6/8 time rocks… how do you make your mark as a drummer when Flea is the bassist? By banging on a trash can!

· Aron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”

· Max Roach…just playing a Hi-Hat. I saw Mr. Roach once…he started off with a slow song. Well, he’s old, can’t move like he used to… still great… next song…BOOM! Crashing cymbols, drum roll, rat-a-tat-tat!!!! a fast bebop number. The lesson I learned. “Fast” isn’t an absolute beats-per-minute it’s a change of tempo.

· A bit where Bill Cosby talks aboot playing drums.

· Foo Fighters “Everlong”

· Beastie Boys “Bodhisattva Vow” …love the sampled in Tibetan chant with the big drums, chaotic cymbals and bells…

· Faith No More…”Smaller & Smaller” …they sampled in some Navajo chant…it rocked…I have a CD of Navajo chanting, it has like 30 tracks. They all sound the same to me. ( much like Metallica and Guns & Roses sound the same to one of my co-workers ) But here’s the thing. I was told in ethno-music class, ( 25 yrs ago, so my memory is a bit hazy ), that often in Navaho chant the drums in the vocals are slightly different BPM, consistently throughout the performance. ( try it sometime…listen to two songs, at the beat to one whilst singing the other! )

· Beatles “Love You To” … has tabla …this song is probably why I took ethnomusicology in college.


One Response to “Drumming with the choir”

  1. cliffsofdover123 Says:

    Reblogged this on Welcome to the Music Club.

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