Drumming Gloves help people enjoy playing

March 1, 2011 12:48 am in World by Kalani

Since Vic Firth introduced drumming gloves to the recreational and educational drumming communities, they’ve been growing in popularity, and for good reason – They work!

Drumming Gloves just makes sense.

As a recreational drumming facilitator, music educator, and music therapist, I see the positive effects of using drumming gloves in several areas of my work. Here are a few real-world examples:

Education

During an artist-in-residency gig at an elementary school in Southern California, I was teaching West African drumming to fourth- and fifth-graders. The students were very excited about playing djembes, but they didn’t have the skills or chops needed to play more more than a few minutes without feeling it in their hands. This is perfectly normal for students who are either new to hand drumming or who don’t play very often. I broke out a few pairs of drumming gloves and within minutes the kids were happily drumming. They used the gloves for rehearsals and the concert we presented for their parents.

In addition to recommending that the students use drumming gloves, I also advise music teachers to use them. Why? Teachers are often required to present lessons on many subjects, especially music teachers. They often don’t have the time to build the techniques and stamina one needs to play hand drums for very long without feeling it in the hands. By using drumming  gloves, teachers can enjoy playing congas, djembes, bongos, and other drums for longer periods of time and with more comfort.

Recreational Drumming

When presenting an Interactive Drumming experience at the Summer NAMM show, I noticed that several people were looking for something other than a drum to play. Upon getting more information, I learned that the reason was not that they didn’t enjoy drumming, but that their hands were starting to hurt. one gentleman had an injury while an older woman’s hands were a bit too delicate for a conga drum. I gave them both hand drumming gloves and their faces lit up! The man said “These are EXACTLY what I needed! Can I buy them from you?!” The woman went on drumming as happily as can be. These are just two examples of how having some extra pairs of drumming gloves around can really make ALL the difference in the world. The thing you have to keep in mind is that most people assume that drumming gloves don’t exist so they won’t automatically ask for them. YOU have to remember to OFFER them!

Performances

During a workshop tour of Australia, I was invited to participate in the opening ceremony for the Olympic Torch relay. The call was very early in the morning (the sun wasn’t out yet) and it was very cold. All the drummers were standing around on a grass hill that was very damp and downbeat was at least two hours away. By the time we started, we were all freezing and even though the sun had come out, it would be a while before it would make any difference. For stick-drummers, cold weather is not fun, but it doesn’t pose as big of a problem as it does for hand drummers. There’s nothing quite like hitting a djembe with a cold hand – and without warming up at all (We couldn’t play before the ceremony because it was in a public setting.) Fortunately, I had a pair of drumming gloves, which helped with the cold, but helped even more with the impact. The feeling of frozen fingers on cold goat skin wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. The gloves provided some warmth and a lot of comfort during the early morning gig. The gloves are great to use when warming up or for cold weather. As we get older, it’s even more important to use adaptive gear and take care of our hands.

General Safety

During a recent Music Therapy session with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) client, a costly event could have been avoided. The client was playing a drum with a very thin skin (djembe). He was also wearing a ring, which many people do. Normally I advise people to remove rings and jewelry when playing hand drums to protect both the drum head and their fingers (rings can become uncomfortable and even bruise fingers if playing is intense). He was doing fine, then suddenly the skin broke near the edge. It seems that the ring struck the head very close to the edge where there’s almost no give. Not only could this have been easily avoided with drumming gloves, but he probably would have been more comfortable as well. Using drumming gloves allows people to leave their rings on while protecting the head at the same time. It really is a win-win.

In Summary:

  • You can provide hand drumming gloves to children and adults who don’t have much experience with hand drumming to give them the chance to play longer than they normally could.
  • You can provide drumming gloves to your recreational drumming participants who might need a little extra comfort and protection to keep their hands safe.
  • You can use drumming gloves to warm up and to reduce the discomfort that often comes with playing in cold weather.
  • Drumming gloves protect both fingers and drum heads, allowing those with rings to leave them on.

Drumming Gloves just make sense. They’re easy to use, come in four sizes, and you can wash them. (Make sure you air-dry them!). I keep about ten pairs in my kit (various sizes) to lend out to people who need them. It’s a nice feeling to see someone’s face light up when they discover that they can be more comfortable playing! Providing protection and comfort to people shows that you care – and it lets them know that you’re looking out for them. As teachers, facilitators, and performers, it’s part of our job to know what technology is available and how to use it to help make drumming more fun for everyone.

Get a few pairs today and enjoy playing hand drums – even more. Post your thoughts and stories below.

Kalani, MT-BC