Care of Your Drum

When you've made your own.... 

Once you have taken your freshly made drum home it's important to allow it to dry properly before you begin to play it. This will probably take around three days. Please leave it at least three days, just be be sure. You will have experienced how extraordinarily stretchy deer hide is when you were making your drum... you don't want to accidentally stretch the hide more by beginning too soon - your drum would never sound right if this happened. 

Once your drum is dry then it's ready for childhood. Traditions all around the world (so I'm told) have it that a drum needs a childhood - this is certainly my experience. So play with it, in a child like way, rather than playing it. This may only last a week, perhaps a little longer. 

At this point you are ready to wrap the handle. A short film about how to this can be found here. It's a film within Facebook, so if you don't have an FB account you won't be able to watch it. Sorry! I'm working on making a YouTube film of the same thing.

Once your drum has been played-with then it's ready to be played in earnest. This is the beginning of a hopefully long and beautiful relationship with a Spirit Ally. Like all deep friendships it begins with an introduction and with permission. Ask the Spirit of Your Drum how it would like to be played, how kept and how honoured. 

I wish you a long and wonder-full relationship. 

Please read the notes below about the conditions which are good and not good for your drum...

When I've made it for you.  

Your drum will arrive properly dry with the wrapped handle at the back already finished. It will have been played with and perhaps painted and is ready for you to begin to word with as Spirit Ally. 

Like all deep friendships it begins with an introduction and with permission. Ask the Spirit of Your Drum how it would like to be played, how kept and how honoured. 

I wish you a long and wonder-full relationship. 

Care of Your Drum 

Animal hide drums are very susceptible to changes in humidity. If it's too dry they will get very 'ringy' and the note will sound high and short, and it it's too damp they will get very 'floppy/thuddy' sounding and the note will hardly be a note at all. The smallest change in humidity will make a change in note - so if you don't like how it sounds, you can change it. 

If your drum is too dry and therefore sounds high and short - wet your palm and rub the water gently into both sides of the face of the drum. This might take a few wet palms of water. Give it a few minutes and the note will have dropped. 

If your drum is too wet then the traditional method of drying is to stand nearish the fire and turn your drum front and back letting the hide warm up gently for a few minutes. If you don't have access to a fire then the "shamanic way of the hairdryer" works well too. It rarely takes more than a minute of blowdrying to make the note rise enough to sound good. 

Holding the drum against your body also works well, but is slower, and playing it warms the drum up too. 

If your drum gets consistently hot and dry the skin may start to look a little pale and flaky. If this is the case you may with to oil it. To do this simply pour a small amount of organic extra virgin olive oil into the palm of your hand and rub it all over every part of the drum inside and out. Leave it to soak in for a few days and then your ready to play again.  If you already know that your drum is going to spend much of the summer outside and in the heat then it's a good idea to do this at the beginning of summer. If your drum is mainly played indoors or you live somewhere like Dartmoor where it's consistently damp then you may never need to do this. 

Storing your Drum

As previously stated -  your drum is very susceptible to humidity - PLEASE DON'T LEAVE IT IN PLACES THAT GET VERY HOT!  Getting very over heated will case the drum skin to tighten so much that it could potentially crack the wooden frame. If this happens your drum is dead and it needs to be taken to pieces, the frame mended and then re-strung. Very sad. 

Places that get too hot include the inside of cars in the summer, even in the British Isles. Also tents, shipping containers,  conservatories, near radiators or open fires or even just in the direct sunlight of a south facing window.  If you need to transport your drum in your car in a hot summer it's best in the boot and wrapped up in something like a blanket or towel to insulate it from the heat. 

A drum bag is a very good idea and can make all the difference to the life of your drum.