Caring For Your Drum

Temperature and humidity changes: Like your skin, drums will become slack or taunt with varying temperature and humidity changes. For example, when it is very wet and cold a drum has the tendency to literally soak up the moisture in the air and lose tension in the head. This makes it go "dead." In other words, it sometimes becomes so loose that when it is struck with the beater or hand there is no resonance to the sound. It is dull and lifeless. This is a typical scenario the further north you live or any humid climate. In this case the drum then needs to be warmed up and dried out. The best way to achieve this is to get it into a warm dry room and let it acclimate itself once again. Do not put it too close to any heat source (heaters, hair dryers, stoves, candles, etc.) as it will cause it to dry out too fast and could do damage to the skin. Think of how your own skin reacts to such conditions. Ouch! Just by keeping your drum in a sunnier room, but not in direct sunlight, the drum always had a good, playable voice. If your drum is not completely "dead," you can warm it up by simply holding it against your heart for a period of time and your body heat will help it to sing. Plus, what a wonderful way to make a heart connection with your sacred friend and helper.Where ever you live if drums may have to deal with the high humidity pretty much at all times.The worst times are in the spring and Autumn when we are not generally prone to turning on our air conditioners or heaters which dehumidify the air inside our dwelling. You might try letting your drum sit in the sun just for a short period of time to dry it out. We never recommend it sitting in direct sunlight too long because it can dry out the skin. But in the short term, this may be a viable way to dry out your drum. It will love the fresh air, but don’t forget about it. If your drum’s voice becomes very high, than you’ve left it out in the sun too long. Get it back to shelter and it will be fine. Of course, playing your drum in the sun is fine.The other extreme conditions is dry and hot weather. With these types of conditions your drum will become very taunt and have a much higher sound. Worse case scenarios are the skin actually becoming too tight that it splits. Get it in some shade or a cool place inside. Carrying a small plastic spray bottle filled with water when travelling in hot areas. Use it to lightly spray the dry tight drum head which helps to cool it down. Don't leave your drum in the car exposed to sunlight. You want to be careful not to leave your drum in a hot car uncovered or directly in the sun for a long time. We bury our drums in sleeping bags under blankets and pillows to help keep them cool. Always treat your drum with respect and according to the climate conditions.


Do not lay your drum on its face or anything that could damage it. This only stands to reason and is the natural way to treat anything that you love and care for. Remember that your drum came into your life as a guide. Give it the respect that it is due. 

Cleaning and Moisturising: 

To clean your drum just wipe it with a damp cloth. To moisturize, just rub your hands over the face. The oil from your skin will help it to stay beautiful Plus, its just such a wonderful feeling and sound! If, perchance, the rawhide of your drum happens to dry out far too much, you can use a leather cleaner and moisturizer. We suggest that you use a half water/half solution and just wipe your drum with a soft rag that's been soaked in it and then wrung out. Most will never have to do this. It only seems to be at all necessary if you are in a very dry climate and then only every couple of years. 

PLEASE NOTE - If done too often, it can soften the hide too much. 


We like to open a relationship with each drum we play before we use it. Holding it against your heart, as we mentioned above, and just melding with its energy is a good start. Also, rubbing your hand across its face in whatever way feels best to you (clockwise, outside to inside, inside to out, etc.) is a good way to warm your drum up and get to know it. When you feel you and the drum are ready, just begin. That is the beauty of a frame drum. You really can't do anything wrong. So you think you can't carry a beat or don't know anything about drumming. You might find out that as you allow yourself to meld and melt into the energy of the drum, it will help you to play the most heartfelt and spontaneous of beats.

If you are playing with a group, after you have melded with your drum then allow yourself to meld with the group energy. Listen with your heart and then begin to play. There's nothing less powerful about playing softly. If you're feeling timid, that's OK. Just let go and let your body/Soul do the "talking." Drumming is one of the most wonderful ways to create community. Humanity has been doing this from the beginning. Let yourself remember. 

And most of all have fun! 

Michael Drake

I recommend visiting the website of Michael Drake who has a wonderful array of information about drumming, various beats and shamanic drumming wisdom.

Thank you for choosing to buy your drum from

Southern Spirit Drums - Aotearoa



New Zealand 

Warming Your Drum  

The sound of the shaman’s drum is very important. A shamanic ritual often begins with heating the drum head over a fire to bring it up to the desired pitch. It is the subtle variations in timbre and ever-changing overtones of the drum that allow the shaman to communicate with the spiritual realm.

Created by Rustle Phillips