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Before you head to the airport with your djembe, you should consider the details of traveling with an instrument. Djembes are large, oddly-shaped, and heavy, and can easily hold up your trip.

1. Read Before You Leave
Though you may be anxious to book your flight, check the airline regulations regarding baggage. Packing both a suitcase and a djembe will typically earn you extra baggage fees, and frequently affect the cost of your ticket as a consequence of weight. Read the fine print on your ticket deals – a flight that allows you one free bag could make or break the deal.

Most airlines cut passengers off with 62 inches of luggage (between height, length and width), and exceeding this number could cause $100 of extra fees. Measure your luggage, and plan accordingly. Some airlines are more forgiving than others, so you should read their definition of terms before packing.

Before leaving for the airport, do yourself a favor and weigh your luggage at home. The average airline caps their normal luggage price at 50 pounds. If you have only a few pounds over the maximum weight, shift some of your luggage to your carry-on.

Djembe Case
This heavy duty djembe bag has been successfully tested with overseas travel as checked baggage. Drummers traveling to Asia, Hawaii and Russia have all reported back to let us know that their drums were in great condition.
2. Pack Creatively
You're a musician - be creative! Use your clothing as extra padding for your drum. Layer shirts and jeans around the drum before putting it in the case. You can even put socks inside the base of the drum (not all the way inside the bowl though... you'll want to keep that area clear so there is no risk of damaging your drum head). Be sure to take advantage of any pockets on the case as well - these are great for toiletries and jewelry.

3. Choose a Case
Even if you don't have one already, be sure to find a sturdy djembe case. Whether you're touring or traveling for pleasure, you should have a reliable case, so you don't have to shop for one in some exotic location that may not have the supplies you need. If you're buying a new case, find one that you can pack your luggage in as well, but isn't necessarily too large for everyday use.

4. Research Your Destination's Options
Not all countries have the options you need to play your djembe the way you do back home. Before you leave home, research the music stores in the area you'll be traveling in. If you're picky about drum sticks, amplifiers, or other musical equipment, be sure that they carry them. Otherwise, stock up before leaving home. You'll be glad you did when the one thing you need to play can't be found anywhere in Europe.

5. Consider Shipping Your Djembe
Some musicians may consider shipping the djembe to meet them in whatever location they're visiting. Although this is a questionable maneuver, especially to areas with poor mail service, shipping within the US and most areas of Europe is generally reliable. Make sure you choose a mail service that can get you your instrument in the needed time. Although it may cost more for faster service, imagine how much more expensive it would be to buy a new djembe.

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Tips for Proper Drum Playing Posture

Posted by X8 DRUMS Thursday, September 24, 2009 0 Comments
When you play your drum, be it djembe, congas or a kit, how tempting is it to slouch over? Resist the urge! Proper posture is the first step to playing with the professionals.

After the news of Phil Collins' retirement from drumming as a consequence of back surgery to repair dislocated vertebrae injured due to poor posture while playing on the last Genesis tour, drummers are looking for ways to prevent similar damage to their spines. After all, if Collins had kept posture in mind, he might be playing for another fifty years!

Though beginners should learn to practice good posture from the beginning, it's as important to learn for a veteran.

Darcy Macrae
Professional drummer, Darcy Macrae: "It's important to learn to sit with good posture at the drums from the beginning. Needless to say, good posture should not only be practiced on the drums, but should be practiced in everyday lifestyle."
Darcy Macrae, drummer for the National Tour of the Broadway Musical "Wicked," stated that "As far as posture at the drums is concerned, it's important to sit in a comfortable position with your thighs parallel to the floor, back straight up, and arms as relaxed as possible." Keeping your body straight will prevent any stress from accumulating on your back. Try sitting upright the next time you play a show, and notice how different you feel.

In terms of better playing, practicing better posture can make it easier to play the lower drums when your legs are kept at 45 degree angles, which allow you to move your heels up and down on the pedals. One of the most important aspects of being able to move your legs as needed is choosing the right drum throne. Buy whatever throne is the best quality in your price range. Macrae suggests the Roc N Soc saddle throne, claiming that it provides "great support all around."

In addition to buying the right drum throne, you need to make sure you have your seat at the right height. The height varies for each drummer depending on their own height and the build of the throne. You need enough space to be able to move your knees up and down; so be sure that your thighs slope downward towards the floor, making it easier to kick the bass drum.

As with practicing any instrument, it's imperative to remain relaxed. Keeping your breathing even helps keep your body relaxed, preventing tension from impeding your practicing. Be sure that no matter how comfortable you get, you don't sacrifice your hand grip technique, as too much relaxation in this respect can create a serious problem in your playing. Yoga is a great exercise that can combine physical exertion with relaxation, leading to the importance of staying in shape.

Drummers who keep their physical health in mind tend to me better drummers, because they have better control, can stretch farther, and play longer. Remember how physically trying drumming can be - staying in shape is integral to your success.

Whether you're doing a quick practice or you're planning on playing for hours, performing with better drum posture is a quote to playing better and longer than ever before. The professionals are working on their posture - shouldn't you be thinking about your posture too?

Share your tips for drum performance techniques below!

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Lacey Act Musical Instruments
The Lacey Act states that it is a 'federal criminal offense to import, sell or hold any product containing wood or plant material that was harvested in violation of any law in its country of origin'. The Act affects all imports of pianos and stringed instruments such as guitars or pianos.
It's a sad fact in our society that we all simply assume we are going to have unlimited global resources for our children and our children's children. Perhaps there is a feeling of not really caring, because the real issues with global warming are going to crop up long after we are gone from this earth. No matter how unimportant it may be to some, it is still our duty to preserve the earth for future generations. You might think twice about throwing a plastic bottle in the garbage or whether or not to drive your car to work, but did you ever think about how your favorite musical instrument came to be? Most instruments are made from wood, and it's our job as environmentally conscious people to question where that wood came from.

In keeping with this mindset, the US Department of Agriculture implemented the federal Lacey Act to assist in staving off deforestation. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a subset of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the main organization that is executing The Lacey Act. The Lacey Act states that it is a 'federal criminal offense to import, sell or hold any product containing wood or plant material that was harvested in violation of any law in its country of origin'. The Act affects all imports of pianos and stringed instruments such as guitars or pianos. It's a huge wakeup call for those companies, whether in the US or abroad, that create instruments such as guitars, pianos, and drums. If the wood that the instrument is created from is illegally harvested, the construction of that instrument is a crime punishable by law.

With our current level of awareness regarding the impact of deforestation and global warming, it shouldn't have to come down to jail time in order to stop those who are illegally harvesting timber. Why would one choose to purchase illegally harvested wood as opposed to legally certified? It boils down to one word: cost. It's more expensive for companies to purchase wood that has been approved for purchase. Business is business, and a company must turn a profit to survive. Unfortunately, the environment is suffering due to their desire to create a big revenue stream.

Starting in 2010, these companies will be held accountable for their wood purchases. For each wood product that is brought into the country, the company must record the precise name of the wood and anything else used to create the product. In addition, they must state the country that the wood was purchased from. Although the Lacey Act currently controls the imports of pianos and stringed instruments, there is interest in expanding to other pieces such as wind musical instruments and drums. In a nutshell, the Lacey Act is going to make it very difficult for big companies to import illegally harvested wood products.

There are huge environmental benefits to using legal wood for musical instruments. Controlled logging cuts the rate of deforestation by removing only certain trees and encouraging new tree growth. When lumber is legally harvested, new trees are planted to replace the ones taken away. It's a win-win system for the environment, and one that must not be tampered with.

Our musical instruments become treasured possessions. The next time you are strumming your guitar or tickling the ivories of your beloved piano, take a minute to consider where your instrument came from. You'll feel a lot better about playing it if you know that the path it took to get to you was a green one.

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Phil Collins Gives Up Drumsticks

Posted by X8 DRUMS Friday, September 18, 2009 0 Comments
This week, Phil Collins, legendary drummer from both Genesis and his own solo career, announced that, as a consequence of surgery to fix damaged vertebrae that became dislocated during his tenure as a musician, he will never play the drums or piano again. Collins is incapable of holding drum sticks or curving his hands to play the piano, because the pain is too great.


The operation, although successful, limits Collins' use of his hands, a fact that, strangely, hasn't affected the musician. Despite fifty years of playing the drums, Collins has taken the news in stride, saying to the Daily Mirror, "I am not in any 'distressed' state -- stuff happens in life." Although the damage may not be permanent, Collins isn't particularly worried, as he is still able to write music and sing. The damage to his hands may be repaired in a few years.


Collins initially fought the pain, going as far as to tape his drum sticks to his hands in order to be able to hold them. However, after accepting his condition, Collins has stated that he considers his health to be more important than playing the drums.

Collins believes that the damage to his spine was incurred during his last tour with Genesis, in 2007. Because Collins neglected proper drumming posture while touring, he compromised the alignment of his spine, causing a few vertebrae in his neck to dislocate, crushing his spinal cord.

This information comes after Collins' 2008 declaration that he would no longer be making music, as he reported to the London Times. Though he may not be planning any more tours or studio albums, he does plan to continue writing music, if only for himself. Instead of music, he plans to devote himself to his Alamo memorabilia collection.

Collins is currently working on bringing the Prince's Trust, a charity run by Prince Charles, back to Britain. The Prince's Trust had its first concert in 1983 at the Dominion Theatre and was revived in 1988 at Royal Albert Hall, a concert which is available on DVD. The Prince's Trust concerts featured famous rock stars like Collins, Elton John, Sting, Ultravox's Midge Ure, Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton.

Collins entered the music scene in the big 1970s in Genesis as a drummer after answering an ad in Melody Maker. When Peter Gabriel left to pursue a solo career, Collins replaced him as the lead singer, and their album, A Trick of the Trail, reached number three of the music charts. Collins played with Genesis until 1996, before rejoining for the tour in 2007.

Meanwhile, Collins also had a strong solo career, with albums like Face Value reaching number one on the music charts, and his singles ranking high as well. Fans will recognize "You Can't Hurry Love" and "In the Air Tonight" as some of his most popular songs. "In the Air Tonight" was featured in The Hangover and a line of Cadbury's advertisements, bringing Collins to a newer generation of fans.

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As a young child, your first foray into art was when your parents put a single crayon into your hand. Pulling out pads of paper, you drew dogs, cats, and your family surrounded by a beaming sun and endless blue sky. Your first musical instrument could have been a butter container and a spoon, an activity put together by your mother to entertain you for hours. Whether a child is creating their first painting or dancing to a children's tune on the radio, Art and music have long since been thought of as the building blocks of learning.

When President Obama stepped into office, he let it be known how important it is to his administration that each child deserves to have a well-rounded education. As a parent himself, both he and the First Lady have established that music is a vital part of their Administration. The have put on Jazz Workshops at the White House for students, as well as hosted major music artists in concert as an effort to support the creative arts. Therefore, it is no surprise that various funding initiatives supporting the Arts have come from the Obama Administration within his first 100 days of service. NAMM, the International Music Products Association, recently hosted the SupportMusic Coalitions conference call with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan discussed a recent letter that was sent out to schools and a host of educational advocates. The letter asked those involved with educating the students of our country to understand that the monies available under the State Fiscal Stabilization fund, as well as other grants and programs, can be used to develop Arts programs in schools. It has long been an issue that, in an effort to develop programs that focus on the core basics such as Science and Math, the Arts are left to the wayside. The common misconception is that the Arts play little importance in a student's education, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Why should Arts not be thought of as a broad part of a child's education? Although The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has established that the Arts are a core academic subject, educators have been unable to come up with a way to 'test' the development of a child's ability when dealing with music and the creative arts. When budget cuts are to be made, it's Arts programs that often suffer. While discussing his letter with the SupportMusic Coalition, Duncan stated that "Only 57 percent of eighth graders attended schools where music instruction was offered at least three or four times a week." Duncan's plan to promote Arts education is to send his letter out to educators, and then begin to conduct surveys of school art programs. His goal by 2011 is to promote both music and art within elementary and secondary schools, as well as to allow educators to make better informed decisions when planning their yearly budget.

NAMM and the SupportMusic Coalition stress the importance of working together as a whole to change perspectives on the Arts in schools. Every educator who is making the decision to develop programs that promote music and creative arts in their curriculum is contributing to the future of a well-educated child. Those in doubt of the benefits of your school's music and art programs need only to ask the children who participate in them. Budding Picasso's and future Beethovens all begin with a single crayon or a twirl around the room to some much loved music. A well-rounded Arts education can be the gift of a lifetime.

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This post is by guest blogger, Jim Greiner, an internationally renowned, award-winning percussionist, community drumming leader and educator.

Group drumming is one of humanities oldest, and most universal, ways to energize and focus groups, build community bonds, enhance communication skills and to celebrate important events.

During the two years I spent drumming in Africa, I was profoundly moved by the way that the people used community drumming to uplift and unify themselves in very down-to-earth ways.


Community Drumming with Jim Greiner
Recent clinicical studies undertaken by Dr. Barry Bittman, MD (http://www.mind-body.org/bittman.html), have also demonstrated that purpose-driven group drumming has real-world benefits to people from all walks of life, including reducing staff burn-out, and even enhancing the body's immune system!

I've found in my worldwide drumming travels, that purpose-driven, group drumming, rooted in specific themes and goals, whether by African farmers, corporate employees or conference participants, is grounded in the same fundamental, universal principles that are the foundation of all thriving communities.

The fundamental nature of focused group drumming activities is that each participant has a part to play; each of these interdependent rhythmic parts then fit together to create the complete group rhythm.

These universal fundamentals then become a fun, lively and enduring way for groups of all types and sizes to reinforce, in immediate and powerful ways, the importance of each group member to contribute her or his individual skills, talents and personalities to shared goals and common values.

In this way, each group member contributes to creating a powerful, synergestic group rhythm that, in turn, supports the participants to be creative... to be innovative in their approach to meeting the challenges of today's work environment.

As one of my clients, Ralph Norris, CEO of Air New Zealand, said of one of my programs in New Zealand, "I particularly appreciate (that) you drew parallels between the theme of our conference, and the essential principles needed to make great, harmonius music."

Making harmonious music, and building powerfully productive community rhythms, by drumming together with a clear purpose, and rooted in fundamental rhythmic principles, has endured throughout humanity's history for one simple reason... it works!

Read more about the healing qualities of drumming.


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Jim GreinerJim Greiner, founder of Hands-On! Drumming® Events, is an internationally renowned, award-winning percussionist, community drumming leader, educator and inspirational speaker based in the Montery Bay Area of California. Since the 1980's, Jim has conducted interactive rhythm programs, including drum circles, worldwide for corporate team building, conference and meeting ice breaking and celebrating, community groups, schools and private groups. Jim's numerous awards and recognitions include seven Drum! Magazine Readers Polls including three for Drum Circle Facilitator of the Year, two for Percussion Educational Video of the Year and once for Percussion Clinician of the Year. More info, including videos, articles and percussion lessons can be found at http://www.handsondrum.com.

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Last week, X8 Drums teamed up with Art House Productions to host the first ever "JC Fridays Drum Circle" as one of the community events during the fall season of Jersey City's JC Fridays.

JC Fridays is a citywide celebration of free arts and culture programs in Jersey City, New Jersey. JC Fridays is held at the start of every season, offering an exciting lineup of events open to the public.

The drum circle was facilitated by Jersey City Drummer and African Dance Instructor, Dion Rivers who taught the group Dansa and Mendiani African rhythms on djembe.



Thanks to Art House Productions and all of the participants at the event, especially those that came with their X8 Drums in hand. We spotted a Ramadan Djembe, Duafe Djembe and the World Rhythm Djembe at the event!

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Music Appreciation Boosts SAT Scores

Posted by X8 DRUMS Thursday, September 10, 2009 0 Comments
With funding to education being cut nationwide, most schools are focusing on reading and math as a consequence of the Center on Education's policy, No Child Left Behind. Because funding overall is limited, money that had previously supported programs in physical education, the arts, and other areas of study is disappearing in favor of state-tested subjects.

Student Bongos
Student on bongos learns the benefits of improving their talents through practice and dedication.
However, schools are making a mistake when they cut funding to their music programs over their math or English programs. As reported by the College Entrance Entrance Examination Board, students who have studied music score at least 40 points higher on each section of the SAT - 44 points above their peers in math, 63 points above in verbal.

These findings are reflected in the average American's views as well, as a Gallup poll by NAMM (the trade association of the international music products industry), show that almost all Americans, 94%, believe that studying music increases intelligence.

NAMM has also shown that music studying can help in other avenues of life as well. Students who have undergone music training are better adjusted, and work well in groups. They also exhibit a higher level of confidence than their less musical schoolmates, and later in life, turn to academia rather than alcohol, cigarette, or drug use.

A study performed in 2003 backs up these views: researchers in Hong Kong analyzed the effect of musical training on ninety students over the course of five years. Half of students were given lessons on traditional instruments and played in the school's orchestra, while the other half took no lessons. After five years, students who played with orchestra showed a greater increase in verbal memory than their nonmusical peers.

In fact, learning to play music has been linked with increased development of brain tissue, which leads to a better sense of proportions and verbal skills. This helps in an increase in intelligence that helps not only the SAT test, but in life as well.

School Music Programs
Virgil Griffith, a CalTech grad student, recently charted his peers' taste in music against their average SAT score. During this test, he found that students who listen to music, like Beethoven, scored around a 1300 SAT score, while his peers who listened to music forged on a less classical tradition, like reggaeton or country, scored between 900 and 1000 on the SAT. By cutting funding to arts programs, schools are limiting their students abilities and their opportunities to exceed.

The First Lady has begun a program from the White House that teams professional musicians with music students in order to foster their interests and provide a positive outlet for creativity. This program, which began in June, is planned to continue during Obama's term of office. Although changes have begun in the White House, they're taking hold elsewhere as well.

In Boston, schools are struggling to hold on to their music programs. Despite cuts to music programs, 70% of Boston students are still enrolled in some variety of a music program. For students in other states, there are a number of programs outside the classroom you could try.

X8 Drums is proud of the relationships we have developed with school districts and music teachers across the country. We have worked with state boards of education, school principals and private drum instructors to develop complete drum circle packages for a variety of classroom environments. Find out more about integrating drum circles at your school.

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Ask a person what regret they have from their childhood is, and very often they will say that they wish they had learned to play an instrument. Whether it was the guitar, piano, violin, or drums, a child's innate ability to learn music and excel as they grow cannot be matched by an adult attempting to learn a similar instrument. Musical talent is not something that everyone has, but with practice it can become a valuable part of your daily life.

Learning to play a musical instrument
Learning to play a musical instrument can be difficult but it can also be a very fulfilling part of your life.
Music is all around us. It is such a powerful force that you can't walk down the street without hearing some type of music. It has the ability to elevate mood and relax us, and the creation of music can be extremely therapeutic. Autistic children, for example, benefit greatly from the creation of music. Group sessions involving music, such as a drum circle, allow the children to form a sense of connection with their peers. Music therapy is a widely prevalent form of treatment for anxiety, stress, and depression.

Learning to play music doesn't come as easily for some as it does for others. If you are in your 30's and just starting out, your learning curve on the instrument will be steeper and it may take you a bit longer than a younger person to pick it up. Why is it more difficult as you get older? For one, our brain's ability to learn new things declines slightly with age. We are no longer a sponge, ready and able to pick up new things, in the same way that children are. Another reason adults take longer to learn to play music is that they lack motivation. For adults, there are many distractions that will prevent us from focusing solely on music. Children, without a care in the world for the most part, can concentrate on one task without worrying about work or what to make for dinner. Yet another reason is that, as we age, we develop into left or right brained functioning people. Some people are artists, some excel at business. We are all different, and as such our musical abilities are different as well.

If you are looking for an instrument that suits you, consider your interests first and foremost. What type of music do you like? Rock, classical, pop, Latino? Focus your instrument search on the type of music that suits you best. Second, consider your budget. How much money do you have to spend on an instrument? Items such as pianos can be rented, but guitars or drums are inexpensive and easy to purchase. Third, ask yourself if you are planning on playing an instrument as a social medium. Do you want to participate in a band and play electric guitar or a drum kit? Are you interested in drum circles and want to join a community of drummers playing the djembe, congas or didgeridoo? Music can be part of a social setting, but also can be used as a solitary mode of relaxation.

Learning to play music can be difficult, but it can also be a very fulfilling part of your life. Decide which instrument or style of music is the best for you and focus on it as much as possible. With time and dedication, your ability to play music will flourish.

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Nature, magic, and drumming: The electric Pagan Drum Circle

Posted by X8 DRUMS Saturday, September 5, 2009 0 Comments
You can hear the sounds coming through the trees in the clearing; a low, rhythmic drumming catches your ear, and you can hear the music carrying through the forest. Getting closer, you smell incense and feel the warmth of a fire. People are dancing to the beat of a circle of drums; each person keeping tune and rhythm with those around them. The throb of the drums pounding together makes the ground vibrate under your feet. Even if you have never experienced one before, the electric feel of a Pagan Drum Circle can leave your spirit charged for hours.

Spirit of the Pagan Drum Circle
Paganism, or Neopaganism refers to a polytheistic religion such as Wicca. Rather than worship Jesus in the way that Christians do, those who practice Wicca worship a Goddess and a God. In Wicca, the God and Goddess are ever around you and manifest themselves in nature. Wiccans believe in the power of magic or sorcery, and often evoke such power in magic circles. As air, water, fire, earth, and spirit are united, a Wiccan is in touch with the power of the Universe. Magic circles are cast to so that Wiccans can cast spells or perform rituals.

Rituals are vital to any religion, and Wicca is no different. Catholics baptize their babies in holy water inside a Church. Wiccans baptize their babies through Wiccaning, in which it is asked that the child be under the protection of the God and Goddess. It is rituals such this that require magic circles, and the sights and sounds of nature are a major part of any circle. Singing, clapping, poetry, and most importantly, drumming, all become part of the magic.

A Pagan drum circle is very much a part of Wiccan ritual. A magic circle of purity is drawn around a fire, and each djembe drum converges around the fire or off in a corner so that they may all sit together. A drumbeat is started, and each drummer beats to the rhythm. There is no one leader to this type of drum circle; the spirit simply takes everyone away and a rhythm is kept from each contributing. Ritual singing and dancing occurs around the fire, as each individual gives themselves up to the beat of the drum and the connection to their God, Goddess, and each other. Often these types of drum circles last until dawn, and are considered a ritual or part of a spell.

Why a drum circle to invoke a connection to a higher power? Drums have often been thought of a way to connect to your own spirituality. For thousands of years, people have been drumming to connect to themselves and others around them. The consistent beat of a hand drum can allow you to enter a level of relaxation that will bring upon a new level of consciousness. Drumming, in a word, calms a restless soul. It is no wonder that Wiccans widely incorporate drumming as their main choice of sound for a magic circle, spell, or ritual.

Although Pagan Drum Circles are very different from the average gathering of drummers, it is with the same spirit and love of rhythm that one becomes involved in a drum circle. Wiccan, Christian, old or young: the sound and spirit of the drum surrounds you and gives you a connection to the world that you may have otherwise been missing.

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