Before the Show: Blanca


Great habits have a tendency to spill over. They also grow into more efficient methods of reaching a goal. I say that first to say that preparation is an ongoing process. What we do from week to week, day to day… all of those things have lasting impacts on sharpening a craft. Every opportunity should be valued for the sake of how WE can grow from it.


I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Blanca at a women’s conference in Sioux Falls, SD. Our four sets throughout the weekend were split up into contemporary worship music and her original show. Here’s how I prepared for the original material:

I received a Dropbox file with all of the show tracks (click track, stem elements, background vocals, and the live arrangement additions). In this situation, it’s ideal to learn the original records first. All of the additional elements make more sense once the foundation is in place. The essence of the grooves and patterns live there. While learning the original releases, I always like to have the lyrics pulled up and I make my notes around them (I use an app called Setlist Maker to organize as I prep).

Once the groundwork is laid, it’s time to add the spice. I, then, listen through the show tracks to find the format variations and the special flare that’s been added to compliment the live vibe. This is where learning the original comes into play. When playing over stems, you’re able to decide your approach to a song. After hearing which percussive elements are included in the stems, the mission is to make each song translate in a live performance setting. To me, that’s choosing the type of cymbals for certain hits, what kind of fills feel good in certain spots, and what grooves compliment the live approach.

I have learned these skills over the years from personal experience, but also from conversations or from listening to many interviews by drummers I look up to. I’m sure there are more and probably better ways to do this so I ask, how do you prepare for shows? Leave a comment below. I would love to hearing about your process!