How to Play Djembe Drum For Beginners?

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to play the djembe drum for beginners.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast or an aspiring percussionist, this article will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to kickstart your djembe drumming journey.

From understanding the basic sounds to mastering specific rhythms, we’ve got you covered!

In this guide, you’ll learn the essential beginner djembe drum techniques, including the three basic sounds: the base sound, the open tone, and the slap.

These fundamental sounds form the foundation of djembe drumming and allow you to create captivating rhythms.

How to Play Djembe Drum For Beginners

Basic Djembe Playing Position

The playing position for the djembe depends on whether you are sitting or standing. When sitting, it’s important to find a comfortable and ergonomic position that allows you to play the drum with ease.

Tilt the drum away from you so that your hands are in a natural “V” shape. This position not only ensures that you have a comfortable grip on the drum but also helps produce the best sound.

If you prefer to play the djembe in a seated position, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on a chair or the floor, making sure your back is straight and relaxed.
  2. Place the djembe between your legs, with the bottom of the drum resting on the floor.
  3. Tilt the drum away from you at a slight angle, so that the playing surface is facing slightly upward.
  4. Rest your hands on the drum, forming a “V” shape with your fingers.
  5. Keep your wrists relaxed and your fingers slightly curved.
  6. Use your hands to produce different sounds by striking the drum with different parts of your hand.

If you prefer to play the djembe in a standing position, you have a couple of options to consider.

One option is to use a harness that allows you to wear the drum while standing and moving around. Another option is to use a stand that provides stability and holds the drum at a convenient height.

When using a harness, follow these steps:

  1. Attach the harness securely to the djembe, making sure it is snug but not too tight.
  2. Put on the harness, adjusting the straps to fit comfortably.
  3. Position the drum so that it hangs at a comfortable height, allowing your hands to reach the playing surface easily.
  4. Stand up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and your arms hanging naturally by your sides.
  5. Use your hands to play the djembe, utilizing the same hand positions and techniques as when sitting.

When using a stand, follow these steps:

  1. Set up the stand according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring that it is stable and secure.
  2. Place the djembe on the stand, making sure it is secure and at a comfortable playing height.
  3. Stand in front of the drum, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  4. Rest your hands on the drum, forming a “V” shape with your fingers.
  5. Play the djembe using the same techniques as when sitting, focusing on producing clean and consistent sounds.

Remember, whether you choose to play in a seated position or a standing position, it’s important to find a comfortable playing position that allows you to fully enjoy and express yourself through the rhythms of the djembe.

Choosing the Right Djembe for Beginners

When it comes to choosing a djembe, there are a few key factors to consider. Whether you’re a professional player or a beginner looking to dive into the world of djembe drumming, finding the right instrument is essential.

The right djembe can greatly enhance your playing experience and help you achieve the desired sound.

If you’re a professional player seeking the utmost in craftsmanship and sound quality, consider investing in a professional djembe such as the Wula Drums.

These drums are renowned for their exceptional sound and exquisite craftsmanship.

Made with premium materials and expertly crafted, they deliver professional-level performances that will impress even the most discerning musicians.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner or simply looking for a budget-friendly option, there are plenty of beginner djembes available that offer great value for money. One such option is the Toca Drums.

These beginner-friendly djembes are designed to provide a solid foundation for beginners and weekend drum circle players. They offer good sound quality at an affordable price point, making them a popular choice for those starting their djembe drumming journey.

When choosing a djembe, it’s important to take into account your skill level, budget, and intended use.

Consider how often you’ll be playing, the style of music you’ll be playing, and your long-term goals with the instrument. By considering these factors, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and choose a djembe that suits your needs and preferences.

DjembeTypePrice RangeRecommended For
Wula DrumsProfessionalHigh-endProfessional players seeking top-notch sound quality and craftsmanship
Toca DrumsBeginner-friendlyAffordableBeginners, weekend drum circle players, those on a budget

Proper Hand Position and Technique

When playing the djembe, getting the hand position and technique right is essential for producing the desired sounds.

The way you position your hands on the drum greatly influences the quality and clarity of the sound you produce.

Start by forming a “V” shape with your hands, with your fingers almost touching. This allows for a comfortable grip on the drum and enables better control of your movements. Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed will help prevent tension and stiffness while playing.

The djembe drum produces three basic sounds: the base sound, the open tone, and the slap. Each sound requires a specific hand technique to achieve the desired effect.

Base Sound:

The base sound is the deep, resonating sound that comes from playing the center of the drumhead.

To produce this sound, use a flat hand and strike the drumhead with a controlled downward motion. The center of the drumhead provides the most rebound and produces a rich and powerful base sound.

Open Tone:

The open tone is a brighter and more high-pitched sound compared to the base sound.

To create an open tone, play near the edge of the drumhead using your fingers. Gently strike the drumhead with your fingertips, allowing the drumhead to vibrate freely. This technique produces a clear and vibrant tone.


The slap is a sharp and percussive sound that adds a lively and distinct flavor to your rhythms.

To execute the slap, hit the rim of the drumhead with the knuckles of your hand. As you strike the rim, allow your fingers to bounce off the drumhead, creating the “slap” sound. The slap produces a crisp and cutting sound that adds texture to your playing.

It’s important to practice all three sounds with both hands to develop consistency and precision. Experiment with different dynamics and combinations to create your unique style and expression on the djembe.

Remember to maintain good posture and stay relaxed while playing.

Regular practice and patience will help you master the hand position and technique required to produce the desired sounds on the djembe.

hand position for playing djembe
SoundHand Technique
Base SoundFlat hand strike at the center of the drumhead
Open ToneFinger strike near the edge of the drumhead
SlapKnuckle strike on the rim, allowing fingers to bounce off the drumhead

Playing Specific Rhythms on the Djembe

Once you have mastered the basic techniques of playing the djembe, you can start learning specific rhythms.

One popular rhythm is the Djembe Casa Rhythm, which consists of three sounds: the base tone, the open tone, and the slap tone. The rhythm is notated with letters indicating which hand is best to play the rhythm, but you can use the opposite hand if you prefer.

Practice playing the rhythm and experiment with different variations to make it your own. Remember that rhythm is like a language, and you can use the djembe to express yourself through different sounds and rhythms.

As you progress in your djembe playing journey, expanding your repertoire of rhythms will add variety and depth to your performances.

Learning different djembe rhythms will allow you to participate in drum circles, jam sessions, or even create your compositions.

  1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the Djembe Casa Rhythm, as it serves as a foundation for many other rhythms.
  2. Practice playing the base tone, open tone, and slap tone separately to develop precision and control. Focus on achieving clarity and consistency with each sound.
  3. Once you feel comfortable with the individual sounds, begin combining them according to the rhythm’s notation. Pay attention to the rhythm’s timing and accents.
  4. Experiment with variations by adding your flair to the rhythm. Don’t be afraid to improvise and explore different patterns and embellishments.
  5. Expand your repertoire by learning other popular djembe rhythms, such as the Djansa, Kuku, or Samba Reggae. Each rhythm has its own unique character and cultural significance.
  6. Attend workshops or classes led by experienced djembe players to further enhance your skills and gain insights into the rich tradition of djembe drumming.

Remember, mastering djembe rhythms takes time and practice.

Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of discovering the endless possibilities that the djembe has to offer.

Accessories for Djembe Drumming

There are various accessories available to enhance your djembe drumming experience.

Whether you prefer to play with a stand for added stability or use a strap to play in a standing position, these accessories can greatly improve your playing comfort and performance. Let’s explore some popular options:

Djembe Stands

If you’re looking for a stable and convenient way to position your djembe drum, a djembe stand is a great accessory to consider. Here are two popular options:

REMO Lightweight Djembe Floor StandA lightweight and portable stand, perfect for players who want to easily adjust their drum’s height and tilt.
Gibraltar GPDS Heavy Duty Pro Djembe StandA heavy-duty stand that provides solid support and stability, designed for professional players and stage performances.

Djembe Straps

If you prefer the mobility of playing in a standing position, a djembe strap can be a valuable accessory.

It allows you to wear the drum on a harness, leaving your hands free to play. One popular djembe strap option is:

  • Djembe Strap by Mother Rhythm

This strap is adjustable and provides a secure and comfortable fit, allowing you to move around freely while playing your djembe.

When choosing accessories for your djembe drumming, consider your playing style and preferences.

Whether you opt for a stand or a strap, these accessories can significantly enhance your drumming experience and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the rhythm.

Note: It is important to remember that accessories should complement your skills and personal style; they are not essential for beginners or those who prefer a more traditional approach to djembe drumming.

The decision to use accessories ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences.


Playing the djembe drum is an exciting journey that opens up a world of rhythm and self-expression.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or have some drumming experience, learning the basics of djembe drumming is essential to starting your rhythmic adventure.

First and foremost, understanding the proper playing position is crucial. Whether you choose to sit or stand, finding a comfortable and ergonomic position helps you maintain control and produce the desired sounds.

Experiment with different positions and find the one that suits you best.

Next, mastering the hand position and technique is key to creating the distinct sounds of the djembe.

The base sound, open tone, and slap all require specific hand placements and movements. Practice each sound diligently, using both hands, until you achieve consistency and control.

As you become more familiar with different rhythms, feel free to experiment, improvise, and add your personal touch to create unique grooves.

Remember, learning the djembe drum is a process that requires dedication, patience, and regular practice.

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