Music is a powerful tool. Music is composed of rhythm, melody, and harmony. As a drummer, rhythm is the part of music that has always appealed to me. I believe rhythm is the “heart beat” of not just music, but of life, and has great power. It’s also accessible to everyone at any time.
Everyone has experienced the joy of clapping along to a song. When you’re doing that, you’re drumming. Let me say that again… you know how to clap, you’re an awesome clapper, so… you’re already a drummer. Since you’re already a drummer, I hope to convince you to explore the power of drumming further, and use it’s power to make your life happier.
You can use my songs playlist to play along to songs, or just listen to some music each day, so you begin develop a love for music and it’s rhythm.
My approach to drumming is meditative. The repetitive practice of counting; 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, or even 1 da & da 2 da & da 3 da & da 4 da & da form a meditative background to push out the stress and worries of daily life, and provide a framework for further exercises with the hands. Hand patterns, like the magical “paradiddle” RLRRLRLLRLRRLRLL… the “mother of all rudiments”, help you concentrate, which in itself is one of the foundations of happiness. Counting, hand patterns, and the music you play along with are all combined into a total experience. All this helps you eventually achieve something like what in modern psychology is called a flow state, what ancient Greeks referred to as an ecstatic state, and Buddhists refer to as the jhānas.
The goal of this approach is to learn to enjoy music to the point that you feel connected to, or part of the music. To have the feeling of “dancing with your hands”, and over time, your entire body, an experience that will give you a feeling of inner joy.
I also hold the view that learning to drum should be fun. That means never losing site of the fact that you’re learning to play drums so that you can make music. And that means we’ll spend a lot of time playing along to actual music. That means learning to drum will include a music appreciation element. Of course one day eventually you’ll have to spend some time working with the dreaded metronome, but… I take the approach that, if practice and playing isn’t fun and enjoyable, the student will simply give up and take up fishing or hockey instead. So… we’ll play along to and listen to a lot of music. And because music is awesome, that’s gonna be… fun.
It should go without saying… the more you play your box drum, the better you will get. Practice will help you with your timing, and will also help you to get the exact sound you want each time you strike the box drum. There is no substitute for practice. That’s good advice for pretty much anything in life, not just drumming.
A good length of time to practice each day, in the beginning, is about a half hour or about 7 songs. Here’s a big YouTube playlist of songs you can use to play along to. I move new sons to the top regularly so you can just start the playlist at the top each day and play along. Maybe try to the YouTube random feature occasionally too. But… try practicing along to about 6-8 songs each day.
The newest drum in the collection is the $99 KTÄK - Round Portable Cajon by Kandu. I really like this one. It’s a travel cajon, that is round, so, if you’re holding it on your lap in a chair there is no point to dig into your leg or belly, and you can strike the head from lots of different angles. Plus… this one comes with a strap so that you can strap it around your waist, and keeps it from slide down. This is my favorite travel drum so far, and after I played with the first one, I ordered 2 more so I could stick them all in my backpack and have some extras when I play in the park and others want to join in.
Here’s the first box drum I got, and I still today. The manufacture (Sawtooth) has links to purchase online via both Amazon & Walmart. I’ve ordered this model from both Amazon & Walmart and can recommend either. The other vendors listed on the purchase pulldown, I have never tried, and therefore cannot recommend them personally.
I like & recommend this model because it is inexpensive, but a good quality product, and comes with a carrying case included. Since it’s also the first box drum I purchased, at this point feels like an old friend. This box drum has taken a licking and is still ticking, after some heavy travel use. It’s certainly a first box drum you can’t go wrong with.
Another model I have and love is the Latin Percussion Cajon (LP1428NY). LP is a hugely respected name in the percussion industry. LP is the industry standard. A box drum you cannot go wrong with. This box drum is more expensive than the Sawtooth model, and does not come with a case, so you’ll be paying even more for a case. But, I do like this drum, and is one I will play in the apartment, especially when I am being careful to play extra quiet.
If you’re lookin for a case for the LP model, you might look at the ChromaCast CC-CBAG-L Large Padded Cajon Bag with Carry Handle and Shoulder Straps. Order the one that is mentioned as “large”. The one that includes; Sized to fit Large sized box drum with dimensions approximately 21” X 14” X 12.5” - Not the “standard” which is only 20” tall. I’m not sure the inch makes a difference, but I can confirm that the 21” fits the LP box drum mentioned above.
Regarding bags… I’m finding these box drum bags rip. I’ve ripped 3-4 of them. And 2 in one week once. I’m currently looking for a better travel solution, and will keep you informed when I come up with one.
A/O 5/13/2020 here’s a travel box drum I am recommending. Joy 101 Pad Series Cajon with veined Ebony Tapping & Birch Wood Body, Mini (JOY101). It’s like the size of a hardcover book, and fits easily in any of my backpacks. In fact, I just ordered 3 more, and think I’ll be able to get all 4 in the backpack I used to use at ShopRite which will make it handy to bring a bunch of drums to the park and share the joy or drumming with the world.
One thing I have noticed is that box drum models and prices are changing all the time. I’ve paid different amounts for the same exact drum on a Monday from when I re-order the same drum again from the same vendor on that Friday. And then a month later can’t find the drum at all online. So… if you want to buy a drum, and are having problems linking to any of these, or just want my advice if you’re looking at two or three models and are trying to decide between them, I’d be happy to help you out.
Finally… I have no relationship with Sawtooth, LP, or any other manufacturer and make no money promoting drums.
When I started lessons as a yute, I began with sticks on a practice pad, and it was years before I got my first drum. In fact my family initially took me to drum lessons because for months before that I was using wooden spoons on upside down pots and pans and an old stovetop potato baker to the Elvis Presley song Jail House Rock and The Supremes song You Can’t Hurry Love, those two songs over and over as a 5 year old kid. Yeah… I was mental even as a 5 year old.