How to Play an African Tambourine

Egyptian tambourines are a popular musical instrument in Africa and the US both. People love them for their hand-made look and authentic Egyptian sound, along with the fact that they are very easy to play. While many people know how to shake a tambourine, few know how to get the most out of this instrument. So here is how to play a tambourine:

Step #1 - Tone: A tambourine sounds most articulate when held in a horizontal orientation. When holding your tambourine, don't mindlessly hold it at the same angle for every situation! For example, hold a tambourine in a horizontal position (parallel to the floor) and tap the head. Now turn it to a vertical orientation (perpendicular to floor) and tap it again. Notice the great change in tone!

Step #2 - Cradling: Hold your hand open, palm face up and extend your fingers as though you were holding a basketball. Then place the tambourine on top of your fingertips. Lightly tap the edge of the head (it is OK to play directly on top of the rim). You will hear how articulate, dry and clear the resultant sound is.

Step #3 - Tambourine Rolls: There are several ways to achieve a tambourine roll. The easiest is to rapidly rotate the hand holding the tambourine back and forth, pivoting at the wrist.

Step #4 - Other Ways to Play: You can also play the tambourine by banging it on your knee or placing it on a stand and hitting it with a drumstick.


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