Learn To Play Djembe
Your Road Map To Virtuosity
Do you want to learn to play djembe like an African? This road map
you the way from being a complete beginner to becoming a
Africans get born right into a drumming culture. They learn more
naturally, because djembe rhythms are part of their everyday life.
But even in
the West you can successfully take djembe lessons!
course nothing happens over night. This one is as challenging as
any other musical instrument. It will take a lot of practice and a
proper instruction plan to learn how to play djembe:
Learn Djembe Percussion - Is It Really For You?
A djembe workshop is a great opportunity to get a taste of djembe
events are commitment-free and don't require you to have an instrument.
It helps deciding if its really for you before
you invest money in djembe lessons or in a drum
Can't Find A Workshop?
Don't panic. There are other ways to get a taste of African
"Remembering How To Drum" (an excellent
DVD by Michael Taylor) is a great
drum shops, music schools or African culture festivals around
They usually offer such workshops to get people interested. Maybe they
can even inform you when a real African Master Drummer comes
Never hesitate to sign up for a workshop with Mamady
Keita, Famoudou Konate, Adama Drame
etc. when you get a
chance to! With these
you can be sure that you learn proper African drumming.
You know your excitement will last? Then you can start to think
Buying A Djembe Drum
I recommend to wait with buying a djembe until you have tried out
several ones in a
workshop. You'll notice features that you prefer and some you don't
Also inform yourself well about the different types of
. Not all available on the market are suitable
You've found a djembe that suits you well? Now it's important to first:
Get A Good Foundation
Do you want to learn to play djembe properly? Then work
on the basics
! Good technique and proper strokes are the
foundation that you
will build your skills upon.
Unfortunately, good djembe instructors are
In workshops and drum circles they usually make you
play rhythms as soon as possible. That's fun, but the lack
skills will cause you frustration later on
If you can't take private lessons with a Master Drummer, it's a good
idea to work on the foundation yourself. There are excellent
properly introduce your new instrument and teach you all the important
A good foundation makes confident, doesn't it! You're now ready to:
Join A Drum Circle
This drum is not meant to be played home alone! It's much more fun and
rewarding to learn to play djembe in a group. Look for a drum circle to
once a week or so.
Some of them are free for anyone to just come and jam, while others
offer formal djembe lessons for groups. No matter which type is
available in your area:
This is where you'll learn to play djembe rhythms!
With intense and frequent playing comes the need for:
Your drum will need tuning and repairing from time to time. A good
start would be to read the djembe
repair, tuning & care guide
and do it yourself.
opportunity to get a better feel and understanding of
To learn to play djembe includes really getting to
know your instrument: Study how the roping is done. Compare
wood and skin to other drums.
Check the interior and external shape.
Over time you will start to see the connection between features,
climatic conditions and sound quality. In addition to a good playing
technique, this will help you take your djembe to its
When your technique and knowledge is solid, the next step to progress
Train Your Ear
African drumming is much more complex than Western. It can be hard for
us to "feel" the rhythm because we are not used to the concept of
only solution is to train your ear and tune it to the
Even African percussionists learn by listening to the
same rhythms over and
Find yourself a good African drumming CD. Listen to it
attentively until your ear can clearly make out every fine detail. The
initially unfamiliar rhythms will enter your
and playing them will
become part of your nature.
With this foundation, you are ready for advanced African drumming:
Deepen Knowledge & Broaden Skills
Drum circle rhythms are not all there is to it when you want to learn
to play djembe. Solo and ensemble playing are the next
Did you know that traditional African drumming and dance are
inseparable? Learn how to accompany and musically interact with
Keep studying and dig more deeply into African culture. As a start,
learn about djembe history
try to understand the cultural context of traditional drumming.
For the very latest, this is the time to consider going on a:
Study Tour To Africa
Absolutely no website, video, workshop or private lesson can replace
experience you get from a study trip to Africa, the homeland
Whenever you can find the time and the money, please, please travel to
Go with open ears, open eyes, an open mind and an open heart. You
will learn much
more than just moving hands
to create rhythms. You'll realize why a Westerner should learn
to play djembe in the first place:
To gain understanding and respect for the African
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