28th Oct 2014

Discovering Drum Circle Instruments

Drum circles are lively and energetic and can be a lot of fun to participate in. There are a variety of instruments that can be played in a drum circle to add to the depth of the performance. These instruments range in the amount of skill required to play them, so there is something for people at every level.

Hand percussion instruments can be a great way for beginners to start performing in drum circles. These instruments include rain sticks, kalimbas, woodblocks, maracas, cowbells, and claves.


Rain sticks are long hollow instruments. These instruments are filled with small objects that rush over tacks, nails, or other similar obstacles when turned upside down. This produces a soothing sound similar to that of a gentle rain. Kalimbas, sometimes called thumb pianos, are hand held percussion instruments with metal tines. The tines are plucked to play different notes.

Wood blocks are exactly what they sound like. Usually they have slits in them that act as a resonance chamber for sound and are played by striking each block together, much like claves. Wood blocks and claves are great instruments for beat keeping in a drum circle; they are highly portable, which makes them a popular option for drum circles worldwide. Maracas are another popular instrument in drum circles. They are played by shaking and produce a sound similar to a rattle. Maracas are a favorite of many because of how fun and easy they are to play. Cowbells are another popular hand held percussive instrument. Striking cowbells of different sizes will produce different tones.

For more advanced drummers, djembes are the obvious choice for drum circle instruments. Djembes are a tried and true favorite of drum circles. The range of tones they provide to a circle is wide and expressive and traditionally, they are linked to ideas of communication and community. Playing the djembe can be stress relieving and help to promote general wellness. The djun djun or the bougarabou may also be a nice choice. These instruments add a nice bass tone to any drum circle, but, no drum circle would be complete without a set of bongos, a conga drum or two or the versatile sound of the cajon.

New instruments can add excitement and layers to the music of a drum circle. No matter what stage of playing you are at, there is an instrument that suits your musical needs. In no time you will be creating music and memories that will last a lifetime.