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Dancing Drum News & Updates

February 12, 2019

Dancing Drum on YouTube!

Come visit Dancing Drum at YouTube! Our channel features many videos of Dancing Drum programs, products, and adventures over the years. Follow us and you'll receive updates whenever we post new videos.

October 18, 2018

New Early Childhood Percussion from IQ Plus!

We're pretty excited to try out these new samples from IQ Plus Music! Created by the same company that makes the Dancing Drum BoomBa Series and our Signature Series of djembes and djuns, these are high-quality instruments for early childhood music classrooms and family play time. Learn more at

Fundraising with Donors Choose

Every school year, we field many requests from teachers who would like to fundraise for a set of drums and/or in-school programs from Dancing Drum. Donors Choose is a popular and effective platform for crowd-sourcing funds for this type of project.  View full article →

What Makes Dancing Drum Djembes Special?

"We were able to source wood from sustainably managed plantations, wood that's grown and harvested on a 7 or 8 year cycle." This would be a much more eco-friendly option than using 100+ year old hardwoods. "We worked with Tycoon to design a djembe shell that would use a traditional shape inside and out, using a staved construction. Our goal was to create a drum with a very traditional sound and feel, using responsibly harvested wood, and offering it at an affordable price point."  View full article →
November 03, 2017

AOSA Conference, Nov 8-11, Ft. Worth TX

Dancing Drum’s Musical Director, Steve Campbell, will be presenting 2 hand-on sessions combining drums, xylophones, movement, and voice, based on our new “The Rhythm Is Here!” curriculum. You’re sure to gain some new ideas, arrangements, and inspiration to share with your music students!  View full article →
August 14, 2017

"Drumming Up Character" in the new school year

As we zip towards the beginning of a new school year, we like to remind ourselves why we do what we do. 

Drumming is not only about making music, it’s also a medium through which students can work together to build school community, learn to focus in a dynamic environment, and enjoy creative self-expression.

Drumming can be the "hook" that grabs students' attention as we seek to teach them lessons about good character and how to be a better person. That's the inspiration behind "Drumming Up Character". Through drumming, dancing, and good character raps, we're turning a subject that many students previously thought of as "not cool" into a vibrant, exciting, high-energy experience and exploration of life skills.

We love this program and we are always thrilled to hear feedback from schools that have implemented "Drumming Up Character" with their students. 

In fact, we just came across this link to a news story from last fall, where Dancing Drum's Musical Director, Steve Campbell, brought Drumming Up Character to schools in Mequon, WI. This was a School Drum Day program, where he saw the entire school in workshops throughout the entire school day.

And here's a link to the full article.

Are you "Drumming Up Character" at your school this fall? What strategies have worked for engaging your students in character education?

August 10, 2017

Announcing the Asheville Community Drum Ensemble (AC/DE)!

Drumming enthusiasts in the greater Asheville/Western North Carolina area are invited to join us for a new program called Asheville Community Drum Ensemble (AC/DE)! 

Some years ago, we started a Community Drum Ensemble in Santa Barbara, which went on to play some really fun events like parades, concerts and festivals. Lots of new friendships and connections were born from the experience rehearsing and practicing at our studio on the Eastside of town. We even wrote a book with some of our favorite community ensemble arrangements!

Now that we're based in Asheville, North Carolina, it's time to resurrect Community Drum Ensemble. We hope to provide a new type of drumming experience that can be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experienced drumming pros and drum circle regulars.

The CDE format provides both structure and room for improvisation. We focus on rhythms that are heavy on groove and designed to make people dance! We'll cover some world rhythms and some original beats. Multi-part polyrhythms, drum breaks, and solo opportunities abound! 

Everyone is welcome, ages 12 and up. Bring your own drum (djembe or ashiko) or use one of ours. More info at this link:

Here's a video of the Santa Barbara Community Drum Ensemble in action!

And here's a look at some of the music that we'll cover and the instructors for our sessions:

We hope that you can join us for the NEW Asheville Community Drum Ensemble (AC/DE)!!

Steve & Lindsay

August 02, 2017

Tuning Your Rope-Tuned Djembe

Some of your drums may have gathered a bit of dust over the summer if you had them in storage in your classroom. Lonely drums sometimes loose a bit of their tuning. Not to worry! It's easy to pull the ropes and tune your djembe back to its fullest sound. Here's a video with Dancing Drum's Musical Director, Steve Campbell, that shows you exactly how to do it:

Have you tried to tune your djembe? Let us know how it goes!

January 14, 2016

FMEA 2016

This week, we're presenting and exhibiting at the FMEA conference in Tampa, FL. Booth #3040. Hope to see you there! DD

FMEA 2016 Session Flyer

Successful West African Drumming in the General Music Classroom

West African drumming is a fantastic experience I recommend for all music educators to expand their musical repertoire. When I traveled to West Africa, I was amazed and inspired by the depth of rhythmic and melodic expression that exists in this art form. I say melodic because the rhythms are taught in the form of a song of various pitches that the drum can make. All of the master drummers I studied with would sing the rhythms to me with their own language or “drum talk.” I found it was much easier to learn and retain these rhythms by singing them while I was playing them. 

Upon my return to the US, Dancing Drum co-creator Lindsay Rust and I developed a version of this technique called Rhythm Phonics, which uses drum sounds, words, and syllables to teach rhythmic patterns. The Drum Sounds are distilled into two essential tones: a low sound called “Boom” and a high sound called “Ba”.  These correspond to the Bass and Tone sound of the djembe. There is a third, higher slap sound played on the djembe, but that sound is too difficult for most K-8 students to make, so we do not use it in our general music programs.

The Words & Syllables of Rhythm Phonics are a verbal piece or song written so that the syllables of the phrase match the notes in the rhythm pattern. As this is a tool for learning, memory, and retention this phrase doesn’t necessarily have to originate from the West African source; we create a phrase that students can remember easily. We have used this two-part Rhythm Phonics method over the last decade in all of our Dancing Drum programs with incredible success.

When you hear West African drumming, there are so many rhythmic layers and syncopations happening that it is often difficult to know how to teach it successfully. Many music teachers have expressed to me how amazing it was to play a West African drumming piece at a conference session with all of their colleagues, but find it very difficult to replicate that experience in the general music classroom. Inside the polyrhythmic layers of a West African drumming arrangement is a pattern that contains its essence or theme and is usually the first rhythm taught to establish the foundation of the piece. In Dancing Drum, we call this the Signature Rhythm and I recommend starting your lesson with this pattern. 

To begin, introduce the Signature Rhythm verbally using Rhythm Phonics. After your students can sing this rhythm, have them play it in unison to develop their sense of groove, steadiness of tempo and understand the “feel” of rhythm. This unison playing is what we call a “Level 1” arrangement. Students should be able to play Level 1 before moving on to Level 2. For younger grade levels and student groups, a Level 1 arrangement can be the best fit for their abilities and works great as a classroom activity or performance piece. I encourage music teachers to not underestimate the benefits of focusing on a unison rhythm to teach students how to play in an ensemble and enhance their group listening skills. Once you have established a solid foundation by playing the unison Signature Rhythm, adding a 2nd and 3rd rhythm will be much easier and successful for your students.

In Level 2, we add a second part or “accompaniment" to make a two-part polyrhythm. We introduce the accompaniment verbally first, using Rhythm Phonics, then move to the drums to practice the part in unison. When the entire group has a good grasp on the feeling of the accompaniment, then we’re ready to try the Level 2 arrangement. When your students are ready for Level 3, repeat the same process and add the 3rd rhythm of the arrangement.

Our “Drumming Up World Music: West Africa” curriculum book utilizes all of these methods with drum and xylophone arrangements from 5 West African countries to get your students successfully playing and enjoying the richness of this music in the general music classroom. For more info about this book and Dancing Drum, please visit,

Happy drumming!
Steve Campbell, Musical Director
Dancing Drum