How to Hand Drum on the Djembe: The Basics

Learning and practicing hand drumming is a valuable way for every percussionist to learn how to create wonderful sounds on every percussion instrument.

When you play timpani, snare drum, or xylophone for example you always have a stick between you and the instrument, so it’s important to have some experience in making a good sound with just your hand on a percussion instrument.

When you understand the technique necessary to make a quality sound just with your hand it brings you closer to the instrument and helps you to understand how to make a quality sound on the other percussion instruments when you’re playing with a stick or a mallet.

Watch this Video Lesson on How to Play Basic Djembe

What Are the Basics of Hand Drumming on the Djembe?

The Djembe is a drum from West Africa with a long and wonderful history. The drum is made in an hour glass shape with the shell made from a hard wood like mahogany and the head usually made from the skin of a goat. The Remo company makes djembes out of synthetic material that sound amazing and there are a lot of quality instruments available at reasonable prices.

Djembes are a great instrument to play if you’re interested in Drum Circles and they sound terrific when they’re played in a combo with other percussion instruments or to accompany other musicians from guitarists to bagpipers.

A Djembe is a popular drum that has a lot of different sounds and it’s a great instrument to explore your sound as a percussionist.

  • Open tones are produced with a relaxed flat hand striking the drum just off of center
  • High tones are made by striking the drum with your finger tips very near the edge of the drum

Practice playing both open and high tones on a djembe and watch this video for a brief djembe lesson.

Need a Little Extra Help?

Free Percussion Lessons now offers private, one-on-one, online percussion lessons and tutoring. Get professional guidance on how to nail your next audition, improve your grade in band class, or just get back into playing again.


  1. PAUL DE WILDE says:

    Do you have any video’s for learning Djembé , Conga and/or Bongo ?
    If you do , I would like to buy one.
    Can you give me any information about this ?
    Thank you ver much.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    It is a nice and awesome video here to learn about drumming. I really like your tips. The one thing I want to add here for beginner drummers is that to start up with very basic setup. The reason behind this is that as a beginner you are not much aware about each drum and it’s symbols. So starting with basic set up can prove to be a wise and reasonable decision.

Have a question about a lesson? Leave a comment