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How to Play the Djembe: Striking Position

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In many cases, the discussion of proper posture and striking position is often overlooked in favor of teaching the basic djembe rhythms. In order to make your playing experience more enjoyable and effective (as well as to avoid injury and carpal tunnel sydrom), we strongly recommend that you practice proper posture and striking position.

The djembe can be played properly in a variety of different positions including standing up with the drum supported by a harness attached to your shoulders, seated on a chair with the drum held between your knees, or sitting on the drum while it rests sideways on the ground. (In whatever position you choose, keep in mind that you should always keep the bottom of the drum uncovered as to not muffle the bass tones.)

However you play, it’s important to note that the plane of the drum head and the plane of your hand and forearm should be as close to parellel as possible. Refer to the images below for examples of what we mean:

Proper Djembe Striking Position

proper djembe striking position

Djembe straight up with plane of hand and forearm relative to that of the djembe head plane.

proper djembe striking position2

Djembe slightly tilted with plane of hand and forearm relative to that of the djembe head plane. 

Improper Djembe Striking Position

To avoid nerve damage and pain during the playing process, try to avoid the following striking positions (notice that the hand and forearm form an angle that doesn’t agree with the plane of the drum head):

improper djembe striking position

improper djembe striking position2

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