How to Play the Tambourine

The Basics of Playing the Tambourine

Hold the tambourine in one hand and strike the head of the tambourine with your other hand. If you are right handed I suggest that you hold the tambourine in your left hand and strike it with your right.

Different sounds are made depending on what part of your hand you play the instrument with. For instance if you strike the drum with your knuckles you get a very sharp and articulate sound with a lot of punch (pardon the pun). And if you play with your fingers the sound is more subdued and it’s easier to play soft rhythmic passages this way.

Hold the tambourine at a vertical 45 degree angle for most playing situations. This is the best way to have just enough of the jingle sound, and the jingles won’t last longer than you intend.

Hold the tambourine up high over music stands and the musicians on the stage with you so that your sound will project well. It’s a treat for the audience to see you play this amazing instrument so be proud when you play the Noble Tambourine.

How to Play a Tambourine Roll

There are two types of roll on the tambourine. The Thumb Roll will be discussed in another lesson so this lesson is all about the Shake Roll:

Hold the tambourine vertically and with what I’ll call a “Controlled Spasm” you shake the instrument so that the jingles vibrate vigorously back and forth
The roll is NOT a rotation but really a shaking of the instrument in a very fast and relaxed back and forth motion.

Watch this video for a quick lesson on how to strike and perform a shake roll on the tambourine

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  1. I’ve been searching for a way to play different notes on a tambourine, any?

    • I’m not sure I understand your question because tambourines really don’t play notes, just rhythms. Frame drums can sound like they have a pitch and the pitch may be bent by applying pressure to the head with the thumb or fingers.
      I’ve I’ve miss-understood, please clarify.

  2. samuel ayomide says:

    How can I improve my techniques and stokes in playn tanborine

    • Thanks for your question. Of course you can improve any skill by practicing. Remember that consistency beats intensity, so if you’re trying to improve your roll you have to do a lot of rolls. Start slowly and don’t expect to achieve the perfect roll over night. The same goes with speed, precision, and musicality. You simply have to do more of what you learn.
      In addition to my videos, check out a book by Keith Aleo “Complementary Percussion: Handbook for Developtin Tambourine, Triangle, Cymbals, and Bass Drum Performance”. BACHOVICH MUSIC PUBLICATIONS – percussion. Keith has written out a lot of valuable exercises to practice your tambourine chops.

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