Do You Speak Drum? Communicate Well With Your Drummer


Our verbal tone, punctuation, and at times body language speak on there own. And this is certainly true for musicians.

We sort of have our own language don’t we? We talk about builds and drops and dynamics. If you are a trained musician, then you have a leg up on the rest of us.

But for some of us weekend warriors, we’re just learning to fly. That’s why being able to communicate across the wide spectrum of musical knowledge is so important. We’re trying to speak a language that we may not be that comfortable with.

The Bus Driver

Being able to communicate with your drummer should rate at the top of the list. Your drummer has the ability to help your worship band sound awesome or awful.

When the drummer is driving the bus, everything else, whether it’s great or not does sound better. Drums have such a musical dynamic and when played right can add so much to each song.

That’s why it’s important for you as the worship leader to be able to speak his language. You’ve got to learn the lingo and then effectively deliver the direction for each song.

So where do you start? I’d start by learning some of the basic terms as well as making sure your drummer is on the same page. Keep in mind, not every drummer is a trained musician. Many of these guys and gals just picked it up because it looked like fun.

Once you get everyone on the same page, start using these basic musical and drumming terminology to take your drums and your worship to that next level.

To get you started, I’ve included a list of musical and drumming terms to give you that push. Make sure these become a part of your normal worship leading routine.

Musical/Drum Terms You Should Know:

  • Accents
  • 4 on the Floor
  • BPM’s
  • Broken Up Beats
  • Comping – Playing shots, accents, and hits to compliment the other musicians in a band.
  • Crash
  • Crescendo
  • Decrescendo
  • Fill
  • Eighth Notes
  • Ghost Notes
  • Kick Drum
  • Measure
  • Rim Shot
  • Shuffle Beats
  • Sixteenths
  • Straight Beats

Are there any other words you’d add? What are you actively doing to learn the lingo?

Reposted with permission from Rob Rash. Originally posted on

  • InHisName

    Great article!! One thing…I see the terms, but where are the definitions? : D I know most of them except “4 on the floor” (I think I know what that is) and “ghost notes”. Guess I’ll have to do some research! Seriously, this is VERY helpful. Going to try some terms tonight.

    • Losteskimo1

      Ghost notes are really, really soft notes. For a fab example listen to Rosanna by Toto. Its got loads of ghost notes on the snare. Another way to think of them are like ghosts themselves….there but not.
      4 on the floor is a rock groove with 4 quarter notes on the kick. Think ZZ Top Gimme All Your Lovin’……

  • Tricia

    I tell my drummer/worship team to “retard” endings a lot. I usually get giggles, but they know what it means!

  • micahpringle

    I’d say that effective communication extends beyond just what & how to play, but in helping them to learn to be preceptive. To be acutely aware of the tone & message of each song so that their drumming (as well as every other musician’s part) effectively communicates the message of said song. And to be acutely aware/preceptive of where I or whomever is leading is taking the song in real-time. So that if I’m led to repeat a chorus again or something else, they recognize it without a hitch. When that place of maturity in worship and team chemistry happens, there is far less communicating that I as the leader have to do about technical nuances because it flows more naturally from them in their playing.

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