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Box Drum Magic

What is a box drum? Yeah… it’s basically a box you sit on and hit like a drum.

Why play a box drum?

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 accessable 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 be clear… 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.

Add joy to your life

My approach to drumming is a meditative, and even “spiritual” approach. (Remember… we danced religion well before we prayed it.) 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 & 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.

Practice… practice… practice…

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 8 songs. Here’s a big YouTube playlist of songs (also available on my home page via the “dance to the music” link) you can use to play along to. I move new songs to the top of the list regularly so you can start the playlist from the top and have different songs to practice to each day.

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I drum outdoors on days when the weather gods say it’s going to be warm enough, not raining, and when winds are not a threat to blow me away like Mary Poppins.

During the week (Monday-Friday) you’ll find me outside at the flag pole near the library, from 2-4pm.

On the weekend (Saturday & Sunday) you’ll find me in the park at the mud hole, near the 2 picnic benches from 1-3pm.

I send a tweet when I’m heading out, or if I have to cancel for some reason, so keep on eye on my tweets.

See also the NutleyLife.NET calendar.

Remember… I’m drumming for the joy of it, not running a business. But I am also looking to help people get started understanding the joy of drumming, so one of the reasons I try to keep regular times is to make it easy for anyone that wants to learn to drum. The more regular I can make my routine, the easier it becomes for people to know when and where to find me.

I can get someone started with just a lesson or two, but if you really take to drumming I would be happy to continue to show you more and more of the stuff I have learned if you wish.

Whether you wanna come by with your drum or without it, I can give you a few pointers and exercises that you can take home to practice with. This is a perfect scenario to do during the Coronavirus times we are experiencing. We meet outside. We remain 6+ feet away from each other. You get a little break from being inside all day. You don’t need to remain the entire time. You can come, get a exercise to practice at home, or ask about something your having particular difficulty with, and then head on home.

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Here’s the box drum I’m currently using & recommending. 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. It’s also the first box drum I purchased, and at this point feels like an old friend. I still use the first one I purchased 3-4 years ago(?) and have travelled with it down to the park, a few years ago pushed in a shopping cart, and now walking it with the case used as a backpack. The point being… 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. It’s also the box drum I use when I teach others. There is some advantage to a teacher and student having the same instrument, so if you want to learn from me, this would be a good box to get.

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 no 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.

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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.

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Can’t afford a box drum at the moment? No problem, I can show you how to use certain cardboard boxes, or even an old scrap piece of wood propped against a chair or stool to start. Or even show you how to begin drumming with just your hands and feet on a wide variety of everyday objects.

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.

Nothing can stop a drummer from drumming. Let me help you get started.