Percussion

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Drums & other percussion instruments:

Bodhran: Smith's College Museum of Ancient Inventions has a page on the Bodhran. Bongo drums: I found a nice page on the bongo drums  it includes a bit about playing them. Here is a nice page to percussion sites on the web and  here's another.   I do like my conga drums if you do, too, go to the Conga drum page! Or maybe you'd prefer to make your own drum - this link will take you where you can  order drum building supplies.


Picture of various percussion instrumentsI have so many percussion instruments now.; enough to hand out to a grade school class and have stuff left over which is what I did at Meadowlawn School. I did drumming with the entire school. I got every class for 10 minutes. Not a long time to explain the instruments and drum. But it was long enough to allow the kids to briefly try 3 or 4 instruments. They had a great time!

            Pictured above (click to see full size) Egyptian tambourine, whirleys, small Native American drum, triangle, rasps, lummi sticks, whirling drumshaker, yo-ball stick

          I bought my dum dum - African talking drum - from an African who was in Sandusky at a festival. He was from a store in Oberlin, Ohio called Ade's Place. The store has wonderful things African. I bought my Egyptian-made tambourine from Ade's Place, too.

          I am very fond of Ebay Auction. It is a fun place to pick up odd used and new instruments. I bought my conga drums, black African drum, dumbecks, bongos, maracas, and..... (the list keeps growing.)

          Egg shakers are easy to make from those plastic Easter eggs. Fill with some dried beans and tape it. I use black electrical tape. I have a couple of the nice commercially made ones, too. They are less likely to break....

          The finger cymbals were purchased used from a local music store, Sandusky Music.

Picture of unicore limberjack          The limberjacks were purchased from Elderly Instruments.  I have two: Mr. Tap and Mel Gibson. (I was looking through magazines to find a picture of Clinton to put on the limberjack but decided on Mel instead.)  Firelands Dulcimer Club owns all the animal ones available from Elderly. One of the members painted them. The frog is my favorite.

          I took a class and made my Native American hand drum and beater. It is a neat instrument. Skin is a deer skin from a deer killed in Michigan. The hide was tanned (I didn't do it) in the traditional way. Deer brains were rubbed into it to preserve it. The beater is stuffed with cattails (plant). Drum is decorated with deer hooves....

          The rasps were made by my dad. I got the directions from a book from the library. It is a  Native American instrument. When I put the end on a drum, it does sound a bit like a growling bear.

          My bodhran was purchased from Elderly Instruments.   I bought a nice tipper from Lark in the Morning  I was describing the instrument as an Irish bodhran when I was stopped by Brad Keppler. Brad is "the Great Lakes Minstrel" and sings American and Celtic folk music. He is of Scottish descent.
          He said "You can't call it an Irish bodhran; the Scots have them, too!"
          I said "You are absolutely correct, Brad. Actually, this is a Pakistani bodhran because it was made in Pakistan!"
          Brad is a really good musician and singer. He knows many really neat songs about the Great Lakes. I always enjoy meeting up with him at festivals.

Picture of homemade shakers          Tin can shakers/maracas are fun to make. I bought cans of chicken bouillon which are easy to empty through a hole in the center of the lid. Then another hole is put in the center of the bottom. Clean it thoroughly and let it dry. Put Picture of rainsticks a dowel through the holes. The method I used to keep the dowel in place was wrapping the dowel next the the can very tightly with string covered in glue. Then decorate...

       
  I bought my rain stick at the Sandusky Mall. I was just given a homemade one from a teacher at Meadowlawn school. My circular one? You know that flexible plastic pipe that is all wiggly? Just put some rice in it and bend it into a circle and fasten. Works great! Picture of my rainsticks on the left.

 

Bones:

             "One of the oldest instruments known to man or beast, the bones can be played with either one hand (English Style) or with a pair in both hands (American Style). For proper bones plying, you need to have them dance in your hands to the rhythm of the music. Be sure to hold the top bone, the one between your first and middle finger rigid. The clacking is all done by the movement of the bottom bone, the one between your middle and ring finger.

            "To get the bones to dance and keep rhythm, quickly rotate your forearm and snap your wrist in time with the music. You can get different sounds by where you hold the bones. Double clacking can be accented by holding the top bone more rigid."

from Hills Craft Instruments

            "As folk instruments, traditionally dried rib bones from cooked beef. Commercial varieties are made of rosewood or hard plastic. The bones have been popular instruments since long before the Victorian association with troupes of "Black" minstrels."

from The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments


I didn't learn from a video. I learned from a local fiddler, Howard Schlegel, who plays Civil War Fiddler Music from the North or South.  I bought two sets of carved wood bones so I can play American style. I ordered several sets of plastic ones from Elderly Instruments so I could show grade school kids how to play them. I recently inherited my great Uncle Strobel's bones......

Click here for Lark in the Morning which has all kinds of bones to order and neat information about them!

 

Lummi sticks:

Wow, isn't the Internet great! I finally found someone who knew something about them and click here for her web page!  The following is from her page - by  Carol Greene, Los Gatos, California / Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County


            "Currently, much emphasis is being placed in the schools on exploring many different multi-ethnic cultures. Lummi Sticks is a game that originated with the Lummi Indians who are the farthest north of the Puget Sound tribes. (Lummi is generally pronounced with a short u, but the tribe name has a long u sound.)"


Click here for a Maori web page with a song to sing with rhythm sticks!!

 

Popgun:

How can you possibly to justice to "Pop Goes the Weasel" without one? I got mine at a festival at Put-in-Bay.  Here is a bit of history from a web page on 19th Century Amusements:

              "The popgun has been around since at least the 1700's. The earliest reference we've found that illustrates a popgun is from a boy's activity book printed in 1860. The popguns sold by settlers at re-enactments are almost identical to that one. Using a simple piston, the popgun fires a cork attached to a string. If the handle is pulled back far enough to force the cork stopper back into the tube of the barrel, it reloads and is ready to "pop" again."

 

Spoons, catspaws, cheater spoons:

There is a really nice web page by David Holt on how to play spoons...and if you still can't get it, you can order his video! Catspaws are carved out of wood and are like having two wooden spoons stuck together! Easy to play!

 

Thumb piano or Mbira:


Interested in this instrument - click to go to the Mbira website! This is a great site on African music! I bought mine from Ebay.

 

Washboard:


Picture of two washboards
I have two washboards. The large one is for regular laundry and the smaller one is for delicates or traveling. Neither one has ever seen water....bought them from Wholf's Hardware here in Sandusky - before it closed. Washboards are still manufactured in Columbus, Ohio by the Columbus Washboard Company.  Each year a new limited edition washboard!!

Link to Rhythm Board Ray from West Virginia
Link to a French washboard web page - in French or translated to English

 

 





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Barbara F. Gregory, Columbus, Ohio


Last modified: January 19, 2014