Sophie and I studied drums together for 2 years at Nexus Institute of Creative Arts in Coventry, UK. She is an absolute joy, very funny, awesome drummer and a great inspiration! I know her heart and desire for God and worship, so I’m proud to have Sophie writing about her journey and sharing important lessons she has learned. I hope you’ll be inspired by it!
Cymbals: Sabian aax stage ride 20” , Sabian aax studio crash 17”, Zildjian A custom crash 15”, Sabian aax fast hats 14”
Pedal: DW 5000
Sticks: Vic Firth 5a
My name is Sophie Hardwick, I’m 30 years old, married to Phil and we attend Elim Pentecostal Church in Coventry, United Kingdom. I have been playing drums since I was 11 years old. I had private drum lessons growing up, I studied Music Performance at college and then went on to study the drum pathway at Nexus Institute of Creative Arts for 3 years. After completing my studies I became a part time drum teacher for 2 years, teaching in various schools and privately. I have worked in the education sector since, completing a degree.
First things first we love our church, it’s home. We love the community we’ve built there, we love the leaders and the vision, we love serving and giving our all to that place because we believe God is moving in powerful and transforming ways. Whether we serve on the worship team that Sunday or not we believe that we’ve got a responsibility to honour God through how we live our lives. We love gathering together on a Sunday and being together as family, but that’s not the most important day of the week. Every day is an important day for us, the choices we make whether anyone sees them or not, to worship God with our lives and the decisions we make. In this current season it’s never been more important to have personal relationship with Jesus and everything we do/ I do flows from that.
When we do get the privilege to lead the Church in worship on a Sunday it is an extension of that personal relationship with Jesus and the attitude of thankfulness, praise and thanksgiving for everything he’s given us that flows out of us through our words and hitting the drums. God’s so good to us and is worthy of all the praise we can give him. Psalm 34:1-3 ‘I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.’
What is prophetic drumming you might ask? I believe prophetic drumming is hearing the heart of God for the present time and outworking that through the way you play the drums. This concept was something I started to explore and practice whilst studying at Nexus. The staff started to teach us that how we play our instruments is an extension of what is going on in our hearts and spirits. There is no separation from how I hear God speak personally, to how I play the drums. The drum sticks are just an extension of my arms! We practiced this through reading a Psalm and then creating music that we felt represented that Psalm.
We also had extended times of worship in the timetable and we had the privilege of helping to lead worship in those times. I remember that we didn’t always play music just to fill the space, there was a lot of time spent waiting and listening to God. We wanted to play something that was accurate to what God was speaking to us about as a community, playing prophetically. I will always remember one time when playing drums, God was speaking to us about his Sovereign nature. God wanted us to create a sound that was full of Faith, even though we could not see our futures. I remember as I started to play I felt like I’d entered a Holy place with God, he was very close and told me to give my all or fall face down! I chose to give my all, offering him a sacrifice of praise – Hebrews 13:15. It was such a joy to understand the gift that God has given me through the skills of playing the drums. This gift is from God, so I hold it lightly and listen to him when he speaks and directs my playing. There have been moments since within our Church where we have entered that Holy place in worship and they are such beautiful and transforming moments to share with the community. I have felt like I’ve done warfare whilst playing and also worshipped God in every season which costs. I love playing drums in worship and I’m so grateful to God giving me this gift.
Some important lessons I have learnt whilst playing drums in worship:
- I have to bring a new song to God every time I play, I can’t just play the same song in exactly the same way as I have done before. Even if I’ve done it 1000 times. Why do we have to do that? It says in Isaiah 43:19 ‘See I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ God wants to reveal NEW things to us, about his character and nature that will transform us from the inside out. We have a responsibility to perceive that new thing through our personal relationship with Jesus. Once we’ve had revelation of that new thing we then prophetically play that, this could mean accenting words within a song, playing louder or quieter, building into a chorus or bridge.
- It’s important to keep practicing your skill, preparing yourself in the best possible way for playing worship on a Sunday morning. This means revisiting old songs, learning new songs and making sure you know the structures. Like many of you I have different commitments that take up time. I don’t play the drums as much as I used to, but I’ve committed to preparing and practicing in church the week before playing on a Sunday morning. Psalm 33: 3 ‘Sing to him a new song: play skilfully, and shout for joy.’
- I don’t always have to fill every second of the worship time with the drums! Sometimes silence from the drummer is appropriate! It’s important to look up from the kit, look around the room and be sensitive as to how the communities responding in the time of worship and how to best support that.
- It’s helpful to know the worship leader as a friend first without the instrument, as I believe following their lead in worship becomes a lot easier. Understanding what is on the worship leaders heart for the service, what they believe God is saying means that I can support and follow their lead more accurately. We become unified in worshipping God, ready to move in the direction that God wants. It’s a team effort.
- Drums are a very loud instrument, the way you play drums can change how people respond to worship. There are times in worship where God uses the drums as a call for people to worship him. Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendour’. Remember this has to go hand in hand with sometimes not playing and being completely comfortable with that. There is a call to play and a call to not, Jesus directs us.