The band MESS-UP where we played two songs at once

“We as a band need to practice messing up.”

This was the statement my friend and I landed on over coffee the other day. He’s the worship leader at my church, and we were talking about ways for us to grow musically as a worship band.

The best bands are not the best because they never mess up. They’re the best because they know how to handle and hide mistakes. Sometimes we fear mistakes so much that our primary goal is avoiding them, rather than learning how to recover from them. You can try and try and try to never mess up, but it’s going to happen. The key in no longer fearing the mistakes is knowing how you’ll handle them. So we were brainstorming ways to actually practice doing this in rehearsal.

Believe it or not, Sunday rolled around and we didn’t have to intentionally practice messing up in order for a good old-fashioned, accidental mess-up to happen.

Now I want you to think about something for a moment… What’s the worst mistake you think you could make as a drummer playing with a band? Think hard. What’s the potential failure that scares you the most? I think I know what mine is, and it actually happened on Sunday.

I was playing at my church Sunday morning with some of the best musicians I know, and we’d just finished the last song of the service...

We’d decided ahead of time we’d play something from the worship set for a walk-out as everybody was leaving. We would decide in the moment what song we wanted to play, then go with it. This was a great idea…but a band miscommunication led to not all of us playing the same song.

Myself and the bass player launched into the 86bpm chorus of the song we’d just finished, while the rest of the band eased into a 72bpm chorus of another song - in a different key. So we had two keys, two tempos (kind of) - two songs all going on at once. Every one of us was equally baffled by the end of the first measure because we had no idea who was right and who was wrong. It wasn’t until the worship leader began singing the chorus lyrics to the 72bpm song that we all knew THAT was the song we were supposed to be playing.

I’ll be honest - In that moment I almost stopped playing. What I was hearing was so bewildering that I felt like my head was about to explode. My brain literally couldn’t process two keys at once and it felt like a hopeless train wreck that couldn’t be salvaged. I had this deja vu moment from a time in high school when I counted off a song 20 clicks too fast and nearly crashed the band. All those memories were coming back right now as I had to decide within 2 seconds or so how to handle this chaos and somehow keep us from going totally off the rails.

I remembered one thing that I was always told and that I teach every one of my students:

Never stop playing. If the drummer freezes, it’s all over.

So as the worship leader began singing the slower chorus lyrics to pull us back together, I gradually eased my tempo from 86bpm to at least 75 or so to get us in the ballpark. I gradually morphed my groove from the driving backbeat groove into a more chill tom pattern. Within about 5 seconds, we were all back into the correct chorus - nearly down to the correct tempo.

We survived, nobody died, and no one from the congregation stormed the stage to tell us they’d withhold their tithe for the month. Everything was fine.

Several of us hung out for longer than usual while packing up gear, because we were all sharing stories of the worst band mess-ups we’d been a part of. The bass player had been a professional player in town for decades, and so had the keys player. We’d all played plenty of church services, too, where something was botched. The stories were endless.

The funny thing was that it felt like a wall had been broken down. Suddenly everyone was more relaxed and light-hearted than ever before, and it was almost like we’d become a stronger band as a result. You know how in the movies the protagonist and his or her friends become closer by the end of the story because of everything they go through together? That’s kind of what happens musically through scenarios like this. I’m not trying to over-dramatize, because I really believe this happens. Making mistakes and recovering from mistakes together builds tighter “musical relationships,” and more collective trust is built as a result.

I’ve played a bunch with a particular cover band over the years who is one of the tightest, most fun bands to play with. Why are we tight and why do we love playing with each other? I think it’s because we’ve logged so many hours making music together and making and recovering from mistakes together that we’ve built up huge musical trust. When you know and trust those around you, recovering from any mistake is easier. And once you’ve broken past that initial fear of messing up (by messing up!), everything becomes more relaxed and fun.

We as a band need to practice messing up.

Yep! And even though we didn’t plan that mistake, I think it was worth suffering through.

Hey if you're in the boat where you're trying to gain confidence on the drums and build your listening skills, check out my free PDF e-guide, “5 Steps to Learning Any Song in Under an Hour." An important way to recover well from a mistake is to be listening and doing your best to decipher what’s going on around you. The better your ear, the more relaxed and confident you’ll be behind the drums. Stop fearing mistakes. Learn how to overcome them by facing them with a new confidence in how to handle them. Enjoy the guide. It’s totally free, and I’ll send you a bunch of extra email tips along with it.

Also, check out this video from last summer where I share with you how to train your ear and improve your listening - for $0! Do this, and you'll get way better at hiding your mistakes and staying right there with the band when things go haywire. Enjoy!

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, God bless, and Stay Non Glamorous!



50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.