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TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR SHAMAN DRUM

Updated: May 11, 2022

The shaman drum, which is both your teacher and companion, is also a living tool. It adapts to climate, temperature and humidity. Here you will learn a little about what affects the voice of the drum, playing technique, voice system and several good tips.


STORAGE AND MAINTENANCE

The skin from which the drum is made is affected, especially by temperature. A rule of thumb is that drought and heat tighten, moisture loosens. This allows the drum to sing differently from morning to night. This is some of the charm of your shaman drum. The ultimate consequence, which is not so much fun, is that if it gets too dry or hot, the drumhead can become so tight that it eventually cracks. Then you no longer have a drum. I will therefore go through some basic tips on how you can best take care of your shaman's drum.



By taking care of your shaman drum today, it will stay with of you for the rest of your life.




STORAGE


The drum should preferably be stored in a "normal" room with a comfortable temperature where it is dry (not sheds, garages, damp rooms). It should not be too large temperature fluctuations.

The drum can hang on the wall. It is both great to look at and has a deep, personal value. If you are going to hang it on the wall, make sure that it does not hang on the leather edge, but on the frame. This can be done by attaching a hook to the wall that holds the frame. You can also tie a loop from the handle that you can hang on a hook / nail in the wall. You can also store the drum horizontally with the drum side up. The drum can also be stored in a piece of cloth, drum bag or similar.

Some things to keep in mind when storing your shaman drum:

  • Never hang the drum over an oven

  • Never store it in direct contact with sunlight

  • Do not store it near air conditioning or other air systems.



TRANSPORTING THE DRUM

As mentioned earlier, the drum is our companion, and there are many wonderful occasions where you can take your shaman's drum with you. It can be when you go out in nature, on a tent trip, bonfire gathering with friends, drum circle, holiday, etc. When we travel with the drum, the same rules apply as mentioned under the theme Storage. In addition to these, one must be careful with sharp objects that can scratch and make holes in the drum.

Some things to avoid:

  • Never store the drum in a hot car. If it is not hot outside now, this can quickly turn around and we all know how fast the temperature rises inside a car.

  • Do not store the drum in a cold car. Cold is often synonymous with dry air, and this can also tear the eardrum.

  • Wrap it in a damp towel or cardboard box with a damp towel around it.


OIL THE DRUMHEAD


It is normally not necessary to oil the drumhead. On the other hand, it should be part of your drum ritual that you iron the drum skin, the side of the drum, the laces and the handles with your hand. That way, you transfer some of the oil you have on your hands to the drum every time you use it. This is often enough for the drum to have sufficient lubrication.


However, in some cases, and often based on where the drum has been stored and what type of climate it is where you live, the skin can dry out over time so that it may make sense to add some oil. It is then recommended Shea Butter or Extra Virgin Olive. You should use a minimal amount of oil, just a few drops in your hands at a time. Rub this into your hands, then gently stroke the skin, sides, laces and handles.

YOUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE DRUM

Many of us live in a very hectic everyday life, where we make many choices in automation, and some unconsciously. A healthy habit to acquire is to be present and conscious in the present. This increases the value of the experiences that come our way, and we make better choices.


When you get to know your new drum for the first time, you will want to set aside some time for this. The relationship between you and the drum is something that will hopefully last for many years, maybe even a lifetime. That journey is conceived at this meeting!


Incense from certain types of plants and herbs is widely used among primitive cultures and within shamanism, to both purify you and the drum, but also to invoke the good spirits. This is called smudging, and a great way to end what you came from; work, traffic, rush, and anchor yourself in the moment.


I therefore recommend going for the purchase of white sage, black sage or black grass or a combination of all three. These smell good, and have a long history of purification among indigenous peoples.


Take some of the plant, put it in a small porcelain bowl and light it. It ignites fairly quickly. When parts of the plant have ignited, you can blow out the flame, and you will then get a smoke that smells. You first fan this on yourself with your hand or a feather or other fan, and then on, over and around the shaman's drum.


After this initial ceremonial act, you can hold the drum next to you. Feel the drum and feel the gratitude for everything and everyone who led this drum to you.

Etter denne initielle seremonielle handlingen, kan du holde trommen inntil deg. Kjenn trommen og kjenne på takknemligheten for alt og alle som ledet denne trommen til deg. The tree that gave you the frame, the tree that gave you the drumstick, the animal that gave you the skin, those who carried these materials, and so on.

Then you can clarify your intention with this particular drum. What do you want to do together? What are the positive and valuable things you should experience and give to others.

HOW TO DRUM

All drums have their very own sound. Your shaman's drum has its voice, and there is no other drum that sings the same. This is one of the things that makes your drum unique. The skin also varies in thickness and pattern, and there will therefore be certain places on the drum that you may find sing better than elsewhere. Try your best by holding the drum in front of you (not on your thigh or otherwise, as it muffles the sound) and gently tapping the drum one place, and then a few inches in another direction until you have walked around the entire drum. Notice the different sound qualities in the different places.

We usually do not beat in the middle of the drum, as this is considered to be the center and heart of the drum. This is also where I think the drum sounds most flat. Instead, try to strike between the middle and the edge. Thats where the drum will sing best.


THE DRUM BEATER

The drumsticks I make have a soft side and a hard side. Both the soft side and the hard side are from Elgskinn. This gives you great variety in the game. By using the fur side, the drum sings a more subtle beat. By using the leather side, it sings a more direct and intense beat. Try to listen, not least feel, to what best suits your area of use.

The drumstick is quite heavy and long. This allows you to let the drumstick beat itself, without having to use so much force. Find the balance point where the stick itself falls down to the drum and is turned up again. If you need more power, hold further down on the stick. For softer strokes, hold closer to the head of the drumstick.

A drum beat often lies in the fingers and wrist, not in the arm. So try to play as subtly as possible, with as little effort as possible. When this technique is in place, you can increase the intensity and impact force.



THE TUNING SYSTEM

The biggest challenge most shaman drums face is climate, temperature and humidity. For many, it is almost impossible to use the drum outdoors without access to a fire, as the skin must be heated for the drum to sing.

I make my drums with a voice system that allows you to tighten the skin in a few seconds. You are therefore no longer dependent on heating the drum with an oven or fire. If you want to take the drum out, and it is humid weather that has made the drum skin slack so the drum does not sing, take the air pump and blow in 2 blows. This will often be enough for the drum to regain its tension and voice. If the skin is still limp, blow in 1 more blow at a time until the drum sings as you wish. But, keep in mind what was mentioned earlier; the drum has its natural sound, and one should not make it brighter than what is natural for it.

Be careful not to blow too much. It can have the same effect as dry and hot air - the skin can crack!


PS: when you take the air pump off the valve you can sometimes hear that some air came out. This is perfectly normal, and can cause the voice system to not get as much air as you wanted. Then top up with another blower.



I hope that with this information you and your shaman's drum can have many nice, deep and meaningful experiences together. I thank you deeply for choosing me as a contributor on your path.


If the skin above the valve is difficult to reach with the air pump, you can remove some of the skin to make the valve more accessible. Feel free to lay a wet cloth directly on the area you are going to remove skin from for 30-60 minutes, so that it is easier to cut or cut. Use a small sharp pair of scissors or a small knife. Follow the instructions and look at the sample images below.

  1. Do not cut too close to the lace holes, as this can create a weakness. Start 1.5 - 2 cm from the lace hole if possible.

  2. Cut inwards a little at a time, or pull the knife often up and down with very little push so that it cuts slowly.

  3. Feel free to hold the piece that is going off, for easier maneuvering. Cut / cut of leather in a U-shape.

  4. Test with the air pump.




I hope that with this information you and your shaman's drum can have many nice, deep and meaningful experiences together. I thank you deeply for choosing me as a contributor on your path.


Best wishes,

Axel




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