Why you need an authentic Djembe drum to learn how to play.by Alpha (Administrator) on 07/08/15
I’m sure most Djembe beginner students asked themselves this question at some point. As an instructor for many years now, I can tell you that once you know you fell in love with Mandingue percussion and decided you will play for long, buying a professional instrument make perfect sense.
All you need is an authentic Djembe. Not all Djembe looking drums presented to you as “African Djembe” are authentic Djembes, mainly due to a new generation of opportunistic craftsmen (mainly from Bali Indonesia and Ghana) producing lower quality Djembes looking drums.
These look-alike drums end up being sold in most North American music stores and online stores that usually display huge inventory.
For further information about how to recognize an authentic Djembe, read our blog article entitled “Djembe buying guide”.
Unlike modern look-alike drums, you can learn how to play on any authentic Djembe. The two things that all authentic Djembes have in common are:
- The ability to tune them up or down, in harmony with the Doundoun drums of the Mandingue orchestra.
- They also allow an experienced player to distinctively produce the different notes on the edge of the Djembe (Slap and tone), even though as a beginner, you might not be able to hear the note differences yourself while trying to play them yet.
Most modern synthetic look-alike drum head shapes won’t even give you a chance to play with a proper hand technique. Because the look-alike drums have either a flat surface on the rim edge, or a wide gap between the head fold and the edge of the drum, they will make it close to impossible for a beginner to develop a proper hand technique, resulting in excessive hand pain.
Picking any tunable look-alike tunable drum that somehow allow to hear a slight difference between the tones and slaps is not enough.
I’ve had countless students showing up to my group classes with one of these synthetic look-alike drum, and asking to borrow one of our drums half way through the class because they could hear such a sound difference between themselves and all the other players that they felt embarrassed by it.
Buy from a dealer or place that sells Authentic Djembes, and you will only have to worry about learning and improving your hand striking technique to hear the beauty of your Djembe drum in the orchestra.
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