A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Steel Tongue Drums

    Playing steel tongue drums is not a tough task. Initially, it was inspired by the invention of an instrument called Fella Vega, after which the steel tongue drums came into existence. These are the perfect instruments for jamming.

    It is an instrument that has evolved after variations and now is easy to carry and seamless to play. The best part about steel tongue drums is that these not only produce one musical tone but also have chromatic sounds. 

    Do we need talent to play this instrument?

    This instrument is easy to play invention and therefore, does not compel you to have any unique talents or learn skills to play them. You can even play the instrument using your hands, but if you want to sound more enhanced, then you must use mallets or sticks. They help in producing proper vibrations from the drum and musical scales.

    It really does not matter if you are a drummer, or have experience on the musical side; a steel tongue drum wouldn’t demand much effort. Basically, just some skills that you attain while jamming with it.

    What to prefer while playing: hands or mallets?

    For beginners, it is preferred to use mallets as these are handy to yield sounds from the drums in enhanced versions. It is easy to learn as a beginner. Although playing steel tongue drums with hands requires techniques and much practice, it is also the most popular way to play them.

    It is said that using hands to play puts proper vibrations on the drums. Furthermore, it brings out the diversity of sounds from these drums. If you know where to strike with fingers and where to use your palm, you can actively produce more and more sounds from the drums.

    How to play?

    Steel tongue drums are really easy to play as they do not require much effort or any special skills. Even the least amount of pressure or force applied to drums bring out big sounds. The practice is the only key to expertise with these drums.

    It is about your hands and the fingers that produce the most sounds. While you put your palm at the center, use your fingers to play at the tongue of the drums. This creates beautiful sounds from it. On one side, using hands to play the tongue drums with hands really creates a feeling of connection with the drums, while on the other hand, mallets or sticks are easy to use for beginners as these require minimal efforts to bring more music. In fact, the clearest sounds are made from the mallets.

    How are they different?

    Although they are of varying shapes and sizes, yet, produce similar sounds. These are best for jamming sessions and playing beats. While playing these drums, you do not need any additional music in the background as it itself is self-sufficient and can bring varied sounds. 

    However, consider the sizes. Generally, the smaller steel tongue drums produce a different sound than that of the larger ones. Most people like the sounds produced by the larger tongue drums and recommend others to buy larger ones. As it is said, the larger the drum, the better it sounds. You can read a full review at instrumentinsider.com to learn how to choose the best type that meets your sound requirements.

    Do’s and Don’ts

    When you are new to instruments, you must be careful with the handling and must consider some points. Instruments are delicate and must be taken care of. Therefore, here are some points to remember while using steel tongue drums.

    • Use the palm to produce force. 
    • Use the wrist for the motion as it is all in it. 
    • Do not use the fingers in the middle of the tongue.
    • Do not move the elbows.
    • Do not wear rings or any other jewelry while playing the instrument.

    Here are some tips and guide about playing steel tongue drums in case of a beginner. There is not much to learn to play the instrument but practice. This instrument is so simple and easy to play that a few sessions of training can bring out some really awesome music from it. Be it using the mallets or your hands itself; it is the beauty of the sound coming from the instrument that attracts hearts.


    • Tom La Vecchia

      Founder of New Theory & X Factor Media

      Founder and Publisher of New Theory Magazine and Podcast. Serial Entrepreneur who loves wine, cigars and anything that allows to people to connect and share experiences.

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