Hand Drum Lessons & Notation for Djembes, Dununs & Bells

Drum Jamming Made Easy (Sometimes)

Two new publications are available this week for beginning or experienced drummers to learn from. Both written in 1996, these resources now make accessible rhythms and experiental lessons that helped me in the early phase of my journey as a hand drummer.

Friday Night Jam is a kind of anecdotal, instructional how-to (and sometimes painful how-not-to) guide to group improvisation, based on my firsthand learning experiences in a weekly open jam in rural British Columbia, in the early 1990s. African drumming was booming in popularity then but not well integrated into conventional Western music mixes. This chronicle conveys the challenge of merging diverse musical instruments, genres and personalities; of attempting to produce quality music in a venue that welcomes relative beginners, lifelong amateurs, and random drop-ins for the night. The elusive magic of group improvisation, so sensitive to the interplay of diverse factors, proves emblematic of all human relations.

This 57-page ebook offers an experiential overview of the confluence and conflict of different musical styles and expectations: acoustic/electric, world beat/rock, drummers/guitarists, perfectionists/amateurs, safe/risk, stoned/straight, standards/improvisation, men/women, fifties/sixties, tight/free. At the core of the journey is the learning of the limited individual ego, with its unique talents and limitations, to negotiate the free and structured spaces with others, to merge in the greater group striving for excellence and beyond, ecstatic union. In rendering this spirit and process, the words too can speak for themselves, players in the mix, jamming on the universal pulse.

Get Friday Night Jam from the Amazon Kindle store.

Roots Super Jam
Roots Jam, the series of three popular rhythm studies for African drummers, is now available in print from Amazon. 

Roots Jam is a unique resource which contains hundreds of rhythms from the African, Latin and rock traditions, along with inspired improvisations. Easy notation, useful for all levels, from beginners to performers. Includes lesson guides, arrangements, popular styles, practice exercises, and a list of other resources. Fully indexed.

Roots Jam is a compilation of hand drum rhythms that is well presented, with an easy-to-understand-and-use notation that appears to be gaining some acceptance as a standard for hand-drum rhythm notation. This foundation has allowed me, a beginner, to use Roots Jam as one of my primary instructional books. I highly recommend this book to any one who hand drums.” –A.E. Rice, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Now available, all three Roots Jam books! Order now from Amazon:


Also see my free djembe lessons for beginners on YouTube!


Your thoughts...?