We were very privileged to have experienced drumline and worship drummer Jeff Silva come in from the USA to give a masterclass to our 1st, 2nd and 3rd year drummers on 17th April 2018. Drumline is a style of drumming that doesn’t get much air time here in the UK, so it was great for our drummers to get a fresh perspective on their instrument and learn some new techniques.
“Today opened up a new level for me in my drumming. Seeing how to work on building up to rudiments; breaking things down in sections and getting more precise in my playing – I’m inspired!”
– Joe, 3rd Year
We caught up with Jeff just after delivering the master class about his approach to drumming, how faith interacts with his musicianship and more.
Faith & Drumming
I [Jeff] pray a lot whenever I’m drumming. Short prayers, that just help me make sure I’m going to play from the right perspective and that keep me humble before God. Whether in a worship or secular context, I always want the right perspective. Prayers like;
- Lord, I want you to be heard, not me.
- I want your anointing to flow.
- Whatever needs to be ministered through me and all the other musicians – let that happen and let that sound be something that can break strongholds.
Because prayer and worship is the most powerful weapon we have against the enemy.
Another thing I think about a lot is that when I play, I’m representing God. It’s one thing to play for God and it’s another thing to play and represent God. Especially in the world, you’ve got to represent God. So I always try to do that, try to represent God and be who Christ made me to be.
In terms of my career, I said to the students today that if you put God first, He’ll open doors that you’d never think would open up. Like for myself, I just never thought I’d be doing certain gigs and next thing you know I’m there, on a stage, playing at those gigs! I know it’s because I worked on my gift and trusted God. If you trust God and put Him first, He’ll take You where He needs you to go.
“It was great to see someone from a different industry and country having the same fundamental vision and goals. Spreading God’s word and being light in the darkness is always the initial goal, no matter what industry you’re in.”
– Jordan, 3rd Year
And I think He needs us to be trustworthy. We need to trust God, but He needs to be able to trust us that when He opens a door for us to walk through, we actually do represent Him – not just in our playing (although that’s really important!) but also in just the way we are. The way we interact with people and show love to them. The way we bring light.
These are the Scriptures that I remember often, not just in drumming but in life in general.
- “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
- “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” – Psalm 144:1
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2
“Jeff was so technically skilled, but also so humble. He’s integrated faith and drumming really well and I feel like I’ve seen new ways that I can now apply too.”
– Dan, 2nd Year
The Session Today
Today was about showing the drummers here some of what drumline is about and what it’s like to play as a team. We looked at some basic warm up excerises that we do in drum line that you don’t neccearily do on a drum set. Basic legato or full strokes. Different dynamics, like crescendos and diminuendos. Playing two different heights, but being consistent at both (particularly the lower height!).
“You have to know your rudiments! They’re much more technical than I realised, so I need to put in some hard work now. But I saw that once you’ve mastered them, you can make things so good, even at speed”
– Georgina, 1st Year
We looked at certain rudiments that aren’t always applied on the drum set but can be applied. Paradiddles. Paradiddlediddles. I showed them one hybrid rudiment which is called ‘Book Report‘, and another called ‘Choo Choo‘. The guys seemed to enjoy these! I was just trying to push their limits out of their norm, to see how well they can handle it and learn from it.
Overall, I wanted them to know how to strive to be able to be as consistent a drummer as possible. To keep in mind “this can be better”. I have to keep improving all the time – but without getting frustrated in the process. I wanted to share some of the things I’d learnt in how to do that. So, you can break it down, figure it out, play one part, add another and build it back up. Start slow, be patient. And there’s the whole rudiment.
So if you struggle with one specific thing, groove or rudiment, break it down. Do it one thing at a time then put it together – one step at a time.
A thought from Simon Blake
The students have definitely seen the need of being precise in their playing, to give a commitment to every small detail and when you give you commitment to the small things, the bigger picture is much easier to get. They’ve been worked hard – a lot of them have seen where they need to work harder. I hadn’t seen some of those hybrid rudiments, so I’ve learnt something new as well!
It’s been great to have Jeff with us today, who is an example of someone who works in the industry, has worked hard at his craft and sees results for it. As he would say, he’s put God first, everything else has come into place and he’s a testimony for that which I think has been eye-opening and faith-building for our students. He’s been an inspiration today and I can’t thank him enough for coming in.
See Jeff in action with The New York Jets Aviators Drumline in the video below!