Learning how to play a tongue drum

The steel tongue drum is a musical steel instrument that produces melodic sound. It can also be referred to as the hang, handpan or the tank drum, so whenever you hear people talking about the hang drum don’t be confused; they are also talking about the steel tongue drum.

You can play the steel tongue drum using your hands or mallets

However, if you want the sound to be sonorous, you need to play it with the mallets or sticks. The musical scales of the steel tongue drum have been carefully chosen to ensure all notes complement each other. You can’t go wrong with a steel tongue drum; it gives room for creativity and builds up your confidence. No wonder a steel tongue drum is an excellent tool for therapy and education especially with children.

Using the drumsticks provided

Play a scale, from the lowest to the highest note. Play all the notes in circular order, e.g. 1, 7, 5, 3, 2... And so on. Play only the left hand side of the drum, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7. Play only the right side of the drum, e.g. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8. Harmonise by playing the left side twice, then playing the right side twice (or 4 times, or whatever). Try seeing which 2 notes complement each other. E.g. focus on note 4. Play 4 then note 5. Do they sound nice? If not try a different combination. Play 4 then note 7. Keep trying until you like how it sounds. When you find more than one pair of complementary notes, try the following: Using 2 drumsticks, play a pair of notes at exactly the same time, to create a chord. Play one of the complementary pairs one note at a time. Repeat 4 times. Then do the same for the other pair of notes. Is it starting to sound like music? When you find even more complementary pairs or sequences that you like, play them one after the other and soon a melody might start to form. You're a musical composer.

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