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Playing Shaman Drums In Indian Ceremonies and Drumming Groups

Jun 24, 2008
Looking for an easy way to give your home decor southwestern or country flare? Try including Shaman drums along with your Native American style home furnishings like I did. My love for these unique, American Indian drums started right after my husband and I bought our new home last year. We knew that because of our love for the old west, we wanted true southwestern and Native American style decor with unique rustic home furnishings.

Once that was determined I started filling my new home with beautiful southwestern and Native American pieces that would go with my rustic decor and entertain my guests by telling a story at the same time. That is when I came across how simple it was to give my home that beautiful southwest style that you see in designer home magazines, by decorating with shaman drums.

Maybe you are like me when I first started digging into the history and meaning of Native American drums, and have only a vague idea of what the Shamans drum is. Or, maybe you are wondering how to choose the best drum to play in your Shaman drum circle.

Whatever the case, it is important to understand the significance this raw hide drum plays in Native American culture so you can develop a true appreciation for its art and let its power lead you in the right direction.

If you are fortunate enough to be present at a Shamanic ceremony you will notice that the Shaman, or spiritual leader, will beat a unique looking raw hide hand drum with a soft mallet to create the soothing monotonous beat needed to take him to an altered mental state. During this altered state of mind, called the Shamanic journey, the spiritual leader receives healing and spiritual powers he uses to help his people.

If you look closely at the Shaman's drum you will realize that unlike many other leather Native American drums used during tribal ceremonies, these rustic drums have natural raw hide, stretched over a wood frame on one side and are laced with raw hide string on the other side.

They don't have the loop hold like many other tribal drums do. A drum made in this way allows for a natural hand holding position so you can be in full contact with the drum and easily manipulate the sound that is very important in bringing out the right tones needed to take you on your Shamanic journey.

You will also notice that many Shaman drums have symbolic paintings on the rawhide playing surface. These unique southwestern symbols often depict a map of the universe or symbols of spiritual powers you can use to guide you in your meditating and journeying experience.

If you are using the drum for Shamanic work, take time to study the significance of the painting. Since the southwest paintings have a special power that influences the journey, you want to make sure it is in agreement with your own practices and influences you in that direction.

Also, I like to check the quality of the drum before choosing. It's critical to make sure there are no thin places at the points where the cords of the drumhead are attached. This is important for the quality and life of your Shaman drum and will save you money in the long run by not having to have it repaired or buy a new one.

Most focus is placed on the drum alone but don't forget to choose the right striking mallet so you can enjoy the resonating sound of these native drums to its fullest.

You will find that there are many different types of mallets that create different tones from the drum and although I personally like using a mallet with a fur covered head, it is a matter of what you like best.

Whether you are purchasing Native American musical instruments such as drums to add to your home decor or are using it to lead you in your spiritual journey, you will no doubt fall in love with the true Native American style and southwest charm added to your life and home by Shaman drums.
About the Author
Craig Chambers is the director of Mission Del Rey and offers free tips online about using Shaman drums for playing in native drumming groups. For more information visit http://www.missiondelrey.com
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