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"A good drummer listens as much as he plays." ~ Indian Proverb

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Drum Tips

Conga; Djembe; Ashiko; & Afro-Cuban Hand Drumming Tips

Sitting & Playing

Drum Tip: In the seated position, wrap your legs around the drum so your inner thighs and ankles touch the drum.  Your leg muscles may tense-up when you first begin learning.  However, with practice your will be able to steady and control the drum even while your thighs and ankles are relaxed.  

Drum Tip: Tilt the drum forward - so the head faces away from you.  Let the sound escape from the bottom of the drum.  This also gives your arms the perfect amount of space needed for drumming.

Drum Tip: If you are sitting with two or more drums, then use Conga Feet to allow the drum to resonate and sound to escape. 

Standing & Playing with Drums on a Stand

Drum Tip: When playing congas or other hand drums that are mounted on a stand, position your feet shoulder width apart, and knees slightly bent. 

Drum Tip: In the standing position, practice moving at the waist for playing congas which are mounted on a stand.  

Drum Tip: Be aware of your feet while playing standing.  Do not stand duck-toed.  Standing duck-toed puts extra stress on the lower back and is much more tiresome for the body, and will make playing more labor-some.  Stand with your heel-behind-your-toe.

Drumming & Relaxation

Drum Tip:  Drumming is a great way to relax.  Sometimes we begin with tense muscles but drumming itself relaxes us.  Drumming is best for the body when relaxation is practiced and achieved.  Relaxation has different levels or degrees.   Relaxed does not mean lethargic.  Relaxed does not mean tensed.  Relaxed is somewhere between lethargic and tense. Relaxed is free of tension and laziness. Relaxation yields perceptiveness, quickness and energy.  Very high degrees of perceptiveness, quickness and energy can be achieved through relaxation and drumming.

Group Playing & Drumming

Drum Tip: When playing in a group make your open tones sing - it will be a pleasure to the group and yourself!

Drum Tip: Always be aware of how loud you are being; how loud the rest of the group is.  If people give you funny looks, then you may be playing too loud.

Drum Practice

Drum Tip: When practicing count out loud while you play each new rhythm

Drum Tip: When you are away from your drum, at any given time during  the day, practice your counting.  Repetitively say: 

"One - Two - Three - Four"


"One and Two and Three and Four and"


"One - Two - Three"


"One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six"


Drum Tip: To keep the drum vibrating, and to add fullness & flow while drumming, play touches where there are rests.

Drum Tip: Play every NEW rhythm slowly; learn each rhythm slowly.  Your mind and body will automatically know when it is ready to play faster.

Drum Tip:  Gently muffling the head with one hand or finger while playing a slap with the other hand creates a slap with a strong crisp sound.

Drum Tip:  To achieve the best singing open tone be sure that your non-playing hand is not touching any part of the drum - including the head, rim or any other part.

Drum Tip: To help develop your consistency for tempo practice with a drum machine or metronome.

Drum Tip: Sometimes play exactly as the drum machine or metronome is playing; other times solo and improvise above the machine's beat

Drum Tip: Breath work is one of the best ways to develop great consistency with tempo.

Drum Tip: Locate and learn the sweet spots of your conga head.

Drum Tip: Hand drumming is a rigorous activity.  Your hands are required to hit and pound; your legs are required to hold and balance; your arms are required to remain elivated.  The better the physical shape you are in, the easier drumming is.

Drum Tip: When you are alternating bass tones with both hands, point your hands straight ahead upon striking the head; move in a slight circular motion so your hands don't hit each other when moving up or down

Drum Tip:  Develop practice rituals are positive for you and your schedule 

Drum Tip:  You do not have to be in front of your drum to practice.  Practice your rhythms by saying or singing them, even when your drum is not physically present.

Drum Tip: Conceptual practice - practicing by thinking (and speaking) when no drum is present is practice for the mind and spirit.  Conceptual practice develops mental and spiritual skills that are also used while physically drumming.

Drum Tip: Drumming is a mental, physical and spiritual activity.  Drumming involves all three areas of our being.  

Drum Tip: When you are alternating bass tones with both hands, point your hands straight ahead; move

Drum Tip: Play along with favorite recorded music and jamm!

Drum Tip: Isolate difficult parts of a rhythm and practice them separately.  Practice new rhythms slowly.

Drum Tip: If you keep making the same mistake; take an few deep breaths - breath out all your frustration - and then begin anew when you are calm and clear.

Drum Tip: Do not be angry at yourself if you are having a difficult time learning a rhythm or skill

Drum Tip: Different hand patterns can create different rhythmic feels even for the same rhythm.  The most efficient hand pattern is usually the best.

Drum Tip:

Drum Tip: Be aware of the relationship of your hands to the drum head.  Usually it is best to keep your hands close to the head. However, when you want to slow the tempo or strike the head with a lot of power, it can be helpful to raise the hands higher above the head than usual.

Drum Tip: Be aware of the relationship of your hands to the drum head.  Sometimes, in order to half the tempo or increase volume, it is helpful to raise the hand higher from the drum head; at other times, when you want to double the tempo or decrease volume, it is helpful to brings the hands closer to the drum head.

Drum Tip: If you want to play very fast keep your hands very close to the drum head

Drum Tip: Pretend like you are dribbling a basketball when you are drumming


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