Training Seminars

Carl & Leann w/ Italy team

Besides large regional & national conferences, Leann & I teach individual groups. So many leaders ask us to come and just spend time with their team. We enjoy seeing bands & worship teams grow into the next level of skill as we work together on these training weekends. Teaching on your calling as a minstrel as well as breakout classes to learn better performance techniques are all part of these unique events.

Team Training info.

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Leadworship Workshops

Great times in the presence of the LordGreat times of worship & teaching are part of a Leadworship Workshop weekend. Come on out and enjoy some deep worship and encouraging  team training at our next event.

http://www.leadworship.com/leadworship-workshops/

 

 

See a clip from our last event – http://www.flickr.com/photos/leadworshipdotcom/6175800455/in/set-72157627612998263/

 

 

 

 

 

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Playing Live To Loops & Stems

Carl at a session with kit & electronic gear

Every drummer must be comfortable playing with clicks, loops, & recorded tracks (*called “stems”) Here’s a live concert where I had to do that very thing. *We are playing live by the way; this is not “lip-syncing.”  http://event.cbn.com/roshhashanah/?eventID=143097

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My Reward

please install flash
The song has lingered in my heart since we recorded it years ago. In another 50 years or so… it could be my epitaph.

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Bring Joy To The Music

The joy of the Lord is our strength

As we played we cried. I don’t even remember the song at this point. I just remember seeing Abe’s face decorated with tears of joy. The worship was powerful and the music flowed with the move of the Spirit. As he turned to look back at me on the drums, we smiled knowing the Lord was truly “inhabiting the praises of His people.”- Psalm 22:3  It felt as if the bass and drums as well as the whole team were in total unison. As we left the stage after that wonderful time of worship I can vividly recall Abe Laboriel’s words to me. “Brother Carl, we were laying flowers at the feet of Jesus.” I could not have described the feeling better.

Something happens beyond playing the “right notes,” when musicians make a sound “as one.” Playing well together as a team is fun, but when your heart and soul are united in the holy pursuit of the Lord, something unique and powerful is released.  A language of the spirit is being spoken. A door is opened to the throne room of God.

In these moments I’m not thinking of being a drummer. My heart is totally focused on being in the presence of the Lord.  Maybe it’s the same experience the musicians had in the ancient temple when they made “a sound as with one voice.” The glory of God came into that place. (II Chronicles 5: 13-14)

I don’t remember if someone told me the story or if I read it somewhere, but Abe Laboriel Jr. (the drummer / son of Abe Sr. the bass player) told pop music icon Sting “I want to bring joy to your music.” Sting had just seen Abe Jr. perform at a festival date with another artist. He was so impressed, he asked him to be part of his band.  Abe Jr. got the gig.

Abe Jr. played for Sting for a season like he had for many other artists through the years. Currently he tours with Paul McCartney. Every time I see him play I witness him bringing joy to the music. He makes me laugh sometimes. The same way his father makes me laugh with joy when we play music together. I’ve learned from them as well as other joyful, exciting musicians, to play passionately at all times.  It’s as if they would be dishonoring the gift the Lord had given them if they did not give themselves fully to the music they are bringing to life. I’ve even heard great players say, “If you don’t mean it don’t play it.”

There are times we all feel “out of it.” I have played many times when I was exhausted, emotionally drained or even when I was very ill.  Through the years, I’ve also done my share of playing carelessly with no passion.  But now I rarely, if ever, sit at the drums and not give myself fully to the music before me. Especially in playing for praise and worship, there seems to be a heightened awareness of the responsibility to the calling of a minstrel. And I truly believe that embracing my musicianship as a “calling” has molded me into the player that I am now.  It feels stronger and more passionate now than it did 30 years ago when I started playing professionally.

It’s not a matter of more notes being played or my technique becoming more refined. If anything, I’m probably playing fewer notes now in a song than I ever have before. Well, that depends on the style of music I’m playing and the creative desires of the artist. But in general, it feels like every note counts more. As if each one has meaning. And they do!  Every great musician I know makes the most out of every sound they make. We might say they have “soul” or a “deep feel” to their playing.

So you may be wondering, am I talking about “soul” in playing music, or is this a discussion of technical excellence? I believe this is definitely a soul or heart issue. Technique seems to have little bearing here. The variety of style and technique of playing an instrument seem to be limitless. I’ve witnessed many great players with very different styles. Some actually looked like they were playing all wrong.  Or so I thought.  They would use totally unorthodox techniques, but the sound and power of the music would be indescribable.  There is something about being “into the music” that charges the atmosphere. A musician that gives an emotional, soulful performance seems to impact people deeply. People feel moved. Their soul or emotions have been touched.

I recently attended a Steve Gadd clinic. He spent the afternoon at a local drum shop meeting fans and signing autographs. I had the chance to shake his hand and get a picture. Few words were spoken. I just thanked him for being an inspiration to me.  In a very quiet and peaceful tone he just humbly thanked me for my kind words.

That evening at the clinic, in front of hundreds of fans, he played some beautiful drums solos. But what shocked me the most was, as he played my heart was moved and I felt like crying. I’ve seen many great drum clinics & concerts, so this wasn’t some emotional reaction to seeing one of my musical heroes. I asked the Lord what was going on. This was not a worship event. Then, in my heart, I felt the Lord say, “I have anointed Steve to play.”  WOW!  I don’t know what Steve’s relationship is with the Lord, but his gifting is powerful. And that night the Lord made it clear that it was His anointing and gifting in Steve that empowered his playing.

Is it true of all gifts the Lord gives mankind??  I feel it is! In fact I believe all skill and talent is from God. Even when people don’t honor or acknowledge the Lord in their lives His gifts are still displayed in His creation. For those great talents that are not following God I refer to them as  “the lost tribe of Levites.” That’s pretty wild isn’t it? But think of the many inspiring artists you’ve seen or heard and I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Moving around a lot, making faces, and other outward expressions are not necessarily a sign of a musician’s passion. Sometimes they just look intense, serious, or thoughtful. Although I think some sign of emotion should be happening when you are playing. I mean if music is a language of the soul and you’re expressing yourself, people should see some sign of life! Music should create a reaction in your heart not just your head. Even more so in the experience we have as minstrels expressing ourselves to the Lord.

In praise and worship I feel my deepest emotions. Although, as a professional musician, something always stirs my heart when I’m playing beautiful music… And I’m purposely not describing a style. I think you know the point I’m making, if you’ve ever felt the same way when playing music you really enjoy. If you don’t feel anything when you play, prayerfully consider what you are doing. Maybe being a musician is not the Lord’s call on your life. I don’t mean the occasional slump. I’m talking about the sense of never having an emotional reaction to what you’re playing. If there is no joy or passion in it, let it go! Like Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympic runner in “Chariots of Fire,” said “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” you should also feel the Lord’s pleasure when you are doing what He made you for.

When I’m playing drums & percussion there’s a sense of peace & joy that comes over me. I really do feel the pleasure of the Lord. I also have a sense that He meets me there with some divine purpose. When I pour myself into the gift the Lord has given me, He’s giving something back. We might call that the anointing. (I Samuel 16: 18 … the Lord is with him.) The anointing to play sounds that lead His people in praise and worship. The empowering to break spiritual bondages or cast out demons. (I Samuel 16: 23 / *David plays for Saul)  Maybe it’s just the Lord’s manifest presence being released when I’m playing to honor Him. The word says the Lord “inhabits the praises of His people (Israel).” – Psalm 22:3 And I believe He does!

So is this something we can learn, like we do a new lick or drum groove? I think so. By pursuing the Lord and being mentored by other minstrels we can grow into our deeper calling.

I think I always knew there was something stirring in my heart about being a drummer, but it took years to understand what this passion is that I have for the instrument. Although it does go beyond just being a musician. It affects my whole life. Have I perfected it? Not at all… but I’ve embraced the journey.

You might be thinking, “Carl, give me something practical to work on.” Well, if you know you were made to be a musician, you can begin here. For starters, I always sing along with the songs or at least learn the words. I want to know the meaning of what I’m playing. Let me remind you this isn’t about thinking every song is great. It’s about you knowing the heart of the song and injecting life into it. “Bring joy to the music.”

Another “soul exercise” I use is to pray when I play.  When I’m practicing I’ll start to pray and then play a solo and just let the music pour out of my heart. Don’t analyze what you’re doing. Just get before the Lord. Literally picture Him listening to the music you are creating and think of the Lord smiling. Be the “Little Drummer Boy” (or girl) and just play for HIM. I think you’ll be amazed at what happens. You might feel your spirit stirring.  If not, don’t be discouraged, just play from your heart and don’t think about performing, or your skill, or anything technical. Just pray & play!

Start to apply these simple “soul exercises” into whatever musical situation you are in. I believe you will see and hear a difference. I wouldn’t be surprised if others don’t comment on how good the music feels or that the worship seems deeper to them. And finally don’t forget to stay humble before the Lord and realize that He is releasing something deeper and more passionate in you and into your music. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, REJOICE!! – Phil.4:4  “Bring Joy to the Music!”

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Live recording w/ Paul Baloche

please install flash
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this. From the LIVE DVD “Offering” – the song “Without You” –  AND I still had hair then!

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Playing Drums for Leann

This was a powerful time of worship with Leann & team. Mark Baldwin- electric guitar, Michael Demus – acoustic gtr., Gary Lunn – bass, Dave McKay – keys, Mary-Kathryn & myself singing with Leann. It’s amazing what happens when God’s people linger in His presence.

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The Calling of a Worship Drummer

Carl worshipping

It’s a great privilege to play music for the Lord. I believe musicians and singers are the gatekeepers to His presence for the church and the whole earth. All believers are called to be worshipers, but the artists have a significant role in being the leaders. We are not better people or God’s favorites. We were just made to “create a space” where we can all meet with the Lord.  That’s our job, our calling. (REV. 5:10 “…You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.” / II CHRON. 34: 12 – 13 “… The Levites – all who were skilled in playing musical instruments – had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job.”)

People often ask what I feel during worship.  What is going on that stirs such joy and celebration, or sometimes intercession and supplication? So I will dig deep to see if I can explain the experience that is so beyond words. Help me, Lord!

The training for church musicians should be two fold. Both technical and spiritual disciplines are a must. (I CHRON. 25: 7 “…all of them trained in music for the Lord…”)  So besides the hours of practice and study it takes to hone your musical skills we also need to pursue spiritual disciplines. I know for a musician this can seem like a big responsibility. You may be thinking, “Hey Carl, I just want to play drums. Give me a break!” But stay with me here and I believe you’ll find something in your playing that perhaps you’ve never experienced before.

My technical training involves practicing new ideas. I buy new drum books, videos, and CDs. I go to all the drum and percussion clinics I can fit into my schedule.  I like working on new grooves, new songs, and just have fun learning more about the gift the Lord has placed in me.

The spiritual study is just as important. I’ve just finished reading Bill Johnsons book called “When Heaven Invades Earth” and “God Songs” by Paul Baloche, and Jimmy & Carol Owens. One book is about spiritual issues; the other discusses songwriting concepts. Both books and others I read stir something deep in my spirit about the calling God has on my life as a worship drummer/ musician/ priest in the house of the Lord.  I continue to look for material that stirs my gifts including Bible study. You are also “called” to this if you are playing for any worship event. There are no accidents in the kingdom of God. The Lord has given you an assignment.

It’s also critical to stay involved in a local church or fellowship group. Don’t just hide out at home reading the Bible. Being personally disciplined is good, but stay connected to the “body of Christ” at large. There are things we only learn while in relationship to other believers. The sense of community and covering are vital in surviving the journey of life. My wife, Leann and I love being in worship services with our church family, hearing the Word of God preached, and rejoicing when the testimonies of God’s faithfulness are shared. Is the church perfect? No. And neither are we. Just find a place where the Lord plants you and flourish there. Sometimes my “artsy” friends say I’m the “church guy.” But I’ve seen too many talented people flounder because they had no “spiritual family” to help them. I know this could lead to further discussion, but let’s just say – don’t be a “lone ranger.”

The spiritual life of a musician effects how they worship. If you are just playing the instrument and not pressing into the presence of God you are only doing half of the job. I personally believe if you are not pursuing the Lord like the “lead worshiper” you could be dead weight in a worship band. I know that’s strong talk, but I’ve seen it happen. Musicians and singers who don’t join the worship leader in the pursuit of God seem to wear them out. When you are pressing into the worship experience something happens. Worship leaders have said to me, “Carl, it feels like you’re pushing or compelling me to go after God deeper when you’re playing. What is that?” I’m not totally sure. All I know is that I’m as desperate for the presence of God as they are.

Before worship starts I’m praying. I talk to the Lord about what He would like to see happen.  Even as I prepare my drums and music, I have my “spiritual antenna” up trying to sense what’s going on in the atmosphere.  Sometimes the Lord convicts me of something and I have to repent. There are times I feel intercession rise up in me because there is a battle raging in the spirit realm. I’m also listening to the lead worshiper. How do they feel today? What do they want to accomplish in the worship time? How is the rest of the team doing? Everyone is important!  So you see there is a lot happening before the music even begins.

When the music starts and we’re “flowing in worship” I have a sense of being “on guard.” Yes, I’m doing the job of a musician… checking the song list, checking my equipment, setting click tracks, and listening to the other musicians, but there is so much more. Don’t miss your primary purpose while attending to the mechanics of music. WORSHIP GOD!

As the worship continues I listen to any prayers that come forth. Maybe the worship leader pauses because they sense something from the Lord. I go there with them in my heart. I start to pray for them; pray “with” them. I’m asking the Lord to help us meet Him where He is and do as He pleases. If a pastor comes up to pray or read I stay engaged. I listen and watch carefully for anything that is stirring in the spiritual atmosphere of the meeting. What are the leaders and the other team members doing? Is something “stirring” in the congregation? Stay alert!!!

Musically I have no idea what I will do next if we’re moving beyond the song list. As I’m playing all of a sudden sounds will rise up out of me, like the groaning of the spirit in prayer. A loud cymbal crash, a thundering tom fill, or maybe a light tap of a cymbal or triangle, or… who knows … maybe I’ll just keep a steady pulsing groove moving along.  It’s like I’m playing the lyrics of a song, the words of a prayer, or I just undergird what’s happening at the moment. The actual notes or technique of playing is no longer a concern. Yes, I’m “in tune” and unified with the team. I am also reaching out to the Lord and praying for His purposes to be fulfilled.

In all of these instances I’m aware of being in the presence of God and wanting the people to feel free to enter. I’m standing guard at the gates of the presence of God so the lead worshiper can take the people in with him.

That sounds pretty wild doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it “feels” like to me. Yet, my words seem so incapable of creating a complete picture. I just pray it helps you discover why the Lord made you a musician.  (I SAMUEL 10: 5 – 11 “…they will be coming down from a high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps … and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.”

I SAMUEL 16:23 “…David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” *emphasis by Carl*)

Stir up the gift within you as a priest in the house of the Lord and you will see the Lord honor your efforts. He desires to see us fulfill the calling He has given us. The Lord truly inhabits the praises of His people. He said He will be found when we search for Him with all of our heart. Even though I feel I know Him well I’m still searching; still reaching. “Lord, I’m desperate for You!”

 

Blessings to you as you reach out to Him,

Carl

 

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Still Serving After All These Years

It’s amazing how often I hear from worship leaders, artists, and pastors that they are having trouble with a musician’s attitude. “They can play great, but they are just so hard to deal with!” Always complaining or arguing, and always “put out” by any request that might be made of them. A player like this is a “thorn in the side” of any music leader. This does not create a great working environment. And it probably works against any sense of unity and teamwork you are trying to build. In the secular world a player like this normally gets fired. “YO… YOU… YOU’RE OUTTA HERE!!” Problem solved!!! But we don’t do this in ministry situations. In the church we should be willing to ask someone to “sit out” for a while so they can work on some “personal issues”. That sounds so nice, doesn’t it? It could take weeks, maybe months. No matter how difficult this may be you must deal with it before it becomes a cancer in your team. Trust me, bad attitudes will infect or affect everyone. How do you deal with this if you are the one I’m talking about? What if you’ve become difficult to work with? Maybe you’ve found it difficult to serve others with your talents. Let me share some practical ideas as a drummer who has been asked to do many different and “stretching” things.

My best advice is to “DIE TO YOURSELF”! Whatever ministry or job setting I’m in I always remind myself of “why” I am there. God has given me gifts and talents to serve those that He connects me to. Unless I am creating music or working for myself, my calling and job is to help others find the “magic in their music”. I’m called to help worship leaders and artists find that place where they feel they are able to express their hearts to the Lord. I have a mental picture that I am a “gatekeeper to the presence of God”. Wow… soak in that image for a while!!! Take it to heart!! I know that sounds great in print. But how do we live it? How can we make that happen? Well, to the best of your ability do what’s asked of you at all times. Be a “can do” kind of person. When asked to play softer, play softer. When asked to play less, play less. When asked to….. you get the picture. I’ve had artists ask for different drums or percussion sounds. So I’ve gone out and bought new equipment to be able to serve them. Basically …I keep trying ‘til I see them smiling. I haven’t always hit the mark when it comes to these things. There are times when you can’t seem to please people, but I keep trying. If someone is unhappy with what I’m doing at least they know I’m giving them my best effort. There are just times when circumstances are out of your control. A truth we don’t always like.

Another thing I do is to keep asking questions to be sure the leader or singer is truly getting what they want from me. That will usually diffuse the sense of frustration they may be feeling as they are trying to discover what really works for them. The creative process is often like digging for buried treasure; you might have to sweat a little to get to the gold. Keep digging!!!

Recently we recorded Paul Baloche’s CD/DVD called “Offering”. Paul took the time to fly to Nashville for a couple of days with the band just to work out arrangements before the recording dates. In the process of creating, Paul asked me not to use splash cymbals. So I removed them from my kit. Then he asked if I would try not using so many drums. Normally I have 4 toms in my set up. So by the time we were finished I was down to a 4 piece kit: [kick, snare, a 12” tom, & a 16” tom / I did use a 2nd snare (a piccolo snare) to the left of my hi-hat… as requested.] My normal cymbal set-up of 8 or more was scaled down to a 22” ride cymbal, 14” hi-hats, an 18” crash, a 19” rock crash, & a 17” sizzle crash. What was most interesting about this whole process was what happened after the rehearsal. Paul came up to me and said he was so blown away by the fact that I was doing everything that he requested. He was so encouraged and blessed by the way I was helping him find the “right vibe” for his music. He was stunned. Please don’t think I’m bragging. What I want you to realize is that serving people brings a blessing to a situation. Living in WWJD mode (What Would Jesus Do?) is so much better than going the other way.

When I mess that up, then everyone, myself included, is miserable. And I’ve “blown” it enough times to know that it’s true. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t give you an example of those situations. Well… OK …. Just one!! No names though… to protect the innocent. I was playing drums at a conference. We were recording the event. The producer had been asking for one change after another right up until the sound check before the recorded service. “Could you try this feel?? Could you do this dynamic change in the 1st verse?? OH,, and try a different tempo!! and …” ………. SNAP………… Carl turns to the producer and says, “Look… I’ve played on hundreds of records. You should trust me that this is working. You’re wearing the band out with all of your suggestions… blah… blah… blah…blah…” ..the Holy Spirit starts speaking to my heart..“ Carl, what are you doing?” “Yes, Lord?” “Carl, what are you doing? I thought you were here to serve. Did you forget what I made you for? What Would I Do?” etc. etc. (I’m getting a pretty good spiritual spanking in the middle of this exchange of words I’m having with the music director, and it changes my heart.) So… Carl turns back to the producer and says… “Sorry, bro., whatever you want. I’ll give you my best shot!” I even went to him later and apologized for being out of line. (Repentance) He said it was no big deal. I appreciated him being gracious, but made sure we were in a good place before we left the conversation. By the way, we’re still friends, and we still work together.

Humbling yourself and serving is not always easy. In fact, most of the time, it is a real challenge. After all of these years of music and ministry the tests still come. I used to think that I would grow out of them. But what I’ve learned is that I’ve grown in the midst of them.

Galatians 5:13 …. serve one another in love.

In Him,
Your Servant,
Carl

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