Typically speaking, it is more common to see images of men drumming than those of women, and many people are shocked to know that a beloved drummer in a band is, in fact, female. While there is certainly enough evidence in the world to point to the influence of women as drummers, continuing to inspire women and girls in rhythm is just as important as continuing the promote music itself. Not that men are any less talented with a drum set, djembe or a set of maracas, but, in the spirit of equality, there is a lot a woman can bring, rhythmically, to any and all styles of music and drumming.
When looking at hand percussion, the roots of the instruments go back to civilizations where females were not encouraged to play, at times. Historically, drums like the djembe or doumbek were mostly played by men, especially when it came to spiritual or religious ceremonies, or in times of military conflict. As there is much evidence of the suppression of women in more tribal communities around the world, it stands to reason that a main tool for communication, celebration and spirituality would be used primarily by men. Today, however, women are gladly picking up these same drums, and creating their own beautiful, unique rhythms that are deeply connected to the rhythms of nature, the earth, and humanity itself. From Latin percussion and African hand drums to Taiko drumming, women are quickly picking up the beat and reclaiming rhythm.
The number of women behind a drum set is also increasing, with more women finding acceptance and encouragement to “hit like a girl,” so to speak. There are plenty of contests and showcases for women who love the raspy sound of a snare drum or the deep thump of a bass. Online videos show women of all ages with incredible talent on a drum set, increasing the presence of women drummers around the world, and famous female drummers like Sheila E, Cindy Blackman and Meg White each show that women drummers are… epic.
The landscape of music today is changing, and women are making more of an impact in the songs and styles of music we love. Women drummers are quickly discovering that just by playing a hand drum or drum set, they are adding to the evolution of music as a whole and keeping the natural rhythms of life and love alive.