A steel tongue drum has many names. You may know it as a rank drum or hank drum. The instrument is usually made of an empty propane tank of 20lb.
Tongues are tuned by the specific length of each cut or by the weights that some musicians add to the tank in the form of a magnet. Steel tongue drums appeared only in 2007.
The instrument is relatively new and unknown to the broad audience. This is what makes it unique and desirable to explore.
Basics for Beginners
You can play a tongue drum either with your hands or drum sticks. It depends on the style of the music you perform. Each of them has its unique features:
- Stick or mallets bounce off the drum with ease, providing a clear and more exact sound. The sounding here is also deep. Mallets create louder sound;
- Playing drums by hand provides less loud sounds. Fingers and palms create unique beats. It is easier to follow the rhythm when you can actually feel it with your hands. You can extend your repertoire. Some experienced musicians use finger sleeves and rubber picks to experiment with new melodies. Moreover, the rubber increases the volume.
- This instrument does not require any specific position or way to hold it while playing. However, professional musicians prefer to place it not close to the body, so they can keep it in order, move up the scale, starting from the left side. This habit helps to quickly remember the location of music notes. Newbies usually use drums with stickers on them. Each sticker contains a specific number for note identification. You can follow the sheet music using these stickers.
Exercises That Help to Start Playing
The first things you have to do after you receive a drum is to touch it, feel the sound, and try to hold it. Pick the most comfortable position. Follow the next recommendations from professional musicians:
- Check out whether there are notes on your tongue drum and play all of them one by one. You have to feel the whole range of sounds. Later you may add something new by mixing the sounds you hear, but for now, playing the entire notes scale from the lowest to the highest is enough. Do it as long as you want;
- Play a game: start from any note you want and play all of them in a circular order. It will help you to remember the sound of each note and keep in mind their location so that you can quickly find them;
- Now pick the note and play it many times. You can try to play only notes on your left or on your right;
- Play notes that are on top of the scale at the bottom. Take some time to learn them;
- Try to create specific patterns. Follow your guts. Play anything you want without checking out the sheets. Just enjoy the sound, it does not have to be perfect or remind you of something;
- Now you can try to find two notes that will create a melodic tune. Play them together. Turn them into the chord. Repeat this procedure several times, until you make the move automatic;
- Another great exercise is to change the force. You may start with soft, almost quiet sounds and move to the loudest music you can perform. Before you do this, make sure there is no one you can easily annoy nearby. You can’t be interrupted by these explorations.
- If you want to play tongue drum professionally, you have to dive deeper into the process, learn the notes, and get the music sheets of the songs you like. Practice your skills every day before you become a true musician. The tongue drum is not the hardest instrument to learn, and you can do it at any age. However, a sense of rhythm makes the process easier. If you just want to have fun, you can do it any time you want.
After some time, you will be able to create your own music if this is your goal. And once you feel comfortable with the instrument, you have to challenge yourself further, using both mallets and hands together.
You will be able to intensify the sound, play long and short notes. There is no limit to your perfection as a musician. However, you need to keep practicing even when you see obvious progress. Don’t relax just yet. It is never a good idea. Stick to your daily music schedule.
Is It Worth Trying Steel Tongue Drum?
You will never know how good you are with a steel tongue drum unless you try it and learn. This instrument is a beneficial addition to any band. It significantly increases the range of music you can perform.
Check out all your options, order the most suitable model for you, and learn something new while the rest of the world experiences anxiety of the pandemic. It is a perfect time to learn how to play while sitting at home.
There is no better timing like 2021 to start learning something new, especially musical instruments. A steel tongue drum will help you get over the anxiety of the past and current years. Consider this instrument as a remedy from the shattered nerves and depression. All you need is to start.