1129939_21193_popupOn Friday, I posted three tambourine videos by Christopher Deane, Associate Professor of Percussion at the University of North Texas. (If you missed them, stop reading and go watch them. It will be the best 10 minute investment that will improve your tambourine technique forever.)

Periodically, I plan to post tips and tricks that I have learned and used over my experiences playing percussion. Since I posted the tambourine videos on Friday, I wanted to start with a tambourine tip. If you watch the first Christopher Deane video, you will notice that he is playing an incredible finger roll (sometimes called the thumb roll) in the Britten excerpt. I call it a finger roll because he is using his second finger. (BTW, I prefer that way for soft rolls, but I will talk more about it when I post my tambourine technique videos.) If you are not familiar with soft roll technique on a tambourine, you may wonder how he is able to do this. There are many ways to execute the soft roll and they all require putting something on the tambourine head. This leads to today’s tip:

Percussion Tip #1
When executing a soft roll on a tambourine, I prepare the tambourine head with Sticky Bumps Warm/Tropical Water Surfboard Wax. This is available at any surfboard store or at Amazon.com. I prefer the Sticky Bumps over the Sex Wax Surf Board Wax. (Really!)

Before you click away from this site, let me explain my rational. Why surf board wax? Think about it. What happens when you are on stage, wearing a tuxedo under the hot lights? You sweat, right? Well, sweat is basically salt water and surf board wax is designed to hold up against salt water. I also use the Sticky Bumps Warm/Tropical Water Wax because it tends to hold up better under the hot lights, especially if I am using a heating pad to keep the head tight. I am not sure who thought of this first, but this was introduced to me by Erik Forester, my mentor and teacher at USC.

This is not the only thing people use to put on their tambourine heads, but for me, I have found that it holds up better and doesn’t remove skin from my fingers. Here are some alternatives:

• Black Swamp Beeswax Thumb Roll Compound

• Grover Roll Ring

• 000 (aka Triple Ought) Sandpaper (from Home Depot or Ace Hardware) with some Elmer’s Glue. Cut the sandpaper in a circle and you have a homemade version of the Grover Roll Ring.

I have also seen people put about 1″ of glue on the edge of the head and then pour sand over the glue.

I am sure there are other home remedies and techniques for preparing a tambourine head. What do you use? Leave a comment below. Now get in the practice room and work on your Britten excerpt.

Dave Gerhart

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