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Learn to Play the Djembe Drum

Published on 12/05/2012

  • Learn to Play the Djembe Drum

The djembe is possibly one of the most enjoyable instruments to learn to play! Hand-crafted djembe drums are beautiful instruments with an attractive sound. Popular instruments for drum enthusiasts, the djembe is all about energy and fun, traditionally played for people to dance, sing and clap along with.

Originating in West Africa, djembes were originally used in ceremonies and for motivating warriors into battle. They are still used to unite communities and as a form of entertainment. They are one of the most versatile drums in the world and have become more mainstream. In schools they are used in ensembles and are also used in music therapy. They are a really versatile instrument, being  easier to carry around than a drum kit!

You can create entire songs and rhythm patterns on a djembe. If you are a vocalist, they can help with rhythm and beat counting.

Traditionally djembes are carved out of hard wood with hollow bodies, and the drumheads are made from untreated rawhide. They come in different sizes.

How to Play
Played with bare hands, the djembe makes bass, tone and slap sounds. It is played between the knees, at an angle to the floor so the sound escapes from the bottom of the drum. When you strike the skin with your palm near the drum's centre, a bass note is prouduced. The slap sound can be activated by striking the rim. To achieve a tone, the player keeps the fingers together and strikes the drum's edge at a flat angle. Slaps are sounded with open fingers on the drum's edge in a fast percussive attack.

Learn how to play with a Djembe DVD.