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Djembe Basics

January 10, 2017

The primary focus during our classes continues to be on the FUN of drumming, the joy of it all, and on how good it makes us feel. It has always been my conviction, however, that even more fun can be had when the Djembe sings as it was meant to, and when the melodic aspects of the West African Rhythms can be appreciated.  This of course depends on us articulating the three distinct sounds of the Djembe - the base, tone and the slap.  When compared to other percussion instruments, the Djembe is relatively easy to learn and with a bit of practice, you can be properly producing these sounds with ease.  Drum circles can be fun, but are certainly not the place to learn proper playing technique.  The best way to learn is during one-on-one time with an experienced instructor where you can get immediate and direct feedback and coaching.  Next best of course is to participate in group classes.  We usually review technique with every class, and although there is less time to focus on individual drummers, everyone will get good technique tips and demonstrations (and of course have great fun playing cool rhythms with others!). Then there's always the web and YouTube where you can find hundreds of technique-related videos - a few are very good, many are pretty good, more are so-so, and lots are pretty awful, in my opinion. 

 

Everyone will benefit from reviewing the basics in between group classes, so I'm posting a few links to some good written explanations and video demonstrations of Djembe technique.  This is not an exhaustive list of course, but I do recommend that you explore all six.  You'll see that there are individual quirks and variations, but they all incorporate a good explanation of the proper playing of this beautiful West African drum. 

 

Happy Practicing!

 

http://www.larryswanson.com/personal/world-music-dance/djembe-technique/

http://www.african-drumming.co.uk/african-drumming-techniques.html

http://etno.net/en/learning_material/web/basic_technique_for_djembe

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo8wrW2Mr9k&t=51s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFh0UXH5uM4&t=3s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78IzAIfdGaU&t=42s

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