Whether this is your first drum or one of many, we want you to learn as much about your drum as possible.
The drumhead was at one time a living creature so you will want to honor your drums spirit with love & respect. Taking care of your drum is very important. Rawhide is a natural, living material, so it will be susceptible to the weather. Changes in temperature and humidity can will affect your drum.
The most important step to caring for your drum is to PLAY it! Enjoy your drum. Send its voice out into the universe with good intent. Think happy thoughts. Play joyous rhythms and remember to keep the drums beating, they are the heartbeat of mother earth!
Care of Rawhide Drums
In simple terms, a rawhide drum does best in the same conditions that people find comfortable. Rawhide will shrink or tighten on the drum as the temperature goes up and the humidity goes down. It will loosen as the temperature goes down and the humidity goes up. Cool, muggy days loosen the drum and hot, dry days tighten it.
- To carry the drum in a vehicle, wrap it up for protection. The wrapping can be any type of cloth (towel, blanket, jacket). Drum cases supply padding and insulation.
- If the weather is hot, be watchful that your drum does not get too hot. If it does get too hot, apply water slowly to the head with a mister. Do not "dunk" your drum in a bucket of water.
- Never leave a rawhide drum in an enclosed vehicle! It can overheat and damage the rawhide.
Conditioning the drumhead
Shea butter is used to help keep your drumhead(s) conditioned. In normal conditions, your drum will not need an application of shea butter more than 3 times per year. If you live in a very dry atmosphere, then it is possible that this would need to be applied more often. If you live in the south and rub your oils from your hands onto your drumhead before playing, you might never need to condition it. You will know that your drumhead needs conditioning when it begins to feel dry to the touch. Shea butter is best applied in warmer temperatures.
To apply: Put a very light amount of shea butter on hands and rub hands together, then lightly rub your hands all over top and sides of the drum making sure that it is rubbed in completely, like you would rub into your own skin. Turn drum over and do this on the backside of your drum as well. (Because your drum is laced, you just need to do the best you can on the underside of the drum.) Having too much shea butter on your drum will attract dust and dirt and allow it to stick to your drum.
After application, if your drum feels sticky to the touch, you have applied too much shea butter and some of it will need to be removed. To do this, you will need to allow the drum to warm up in indirect sunlight, then gently wipe with a lint free rag until the sticky residue is removed.
Do this with patience and love. Remember, if you are frustrated when you do this, it will transfer to your drum.
- Ideally, your drum should be put away when not in use. We prefer to hang ours, but you can lay yours face side up if you like.
- If the drum is left on display, be sure it is out of direct sunlight. Do not store your drum near a heater, stove, or fireplace. Also, do not store your drum where the air conditioning will blow directly onto your drum. Large changes in humidity and temperature in your house may make the drum produce little sounds like creaks, pops, or even booms. These sounds are harmless.
- NEVER leave your drum in a hot car. This can cause your frame or head to break.
- Always place your drum face up when not in use, never store it on its head.
- If you are outside with your drum, it should not be left on the ground. This will not do lasting harm, however moisture from the soil may make your drum go flat and lose its "voice".
- If your drum becomes too high pitched, a small amount of water rubbed gently into the head will loosen it enough to lower the pitch. Water will not harm rawhide whether it is natural or dyed.
- If your drum becomes dull sounding, it can be tightened over a gentle heat source. Use heat that would be comfortable to a baby's skin. You can use sunlight, a regular light bulb, a blow dryer, (approx. 12 inches away from these heat sources). You may also use a fire with great caution. Prolonged exposure to a campfire will quickly dry out your drumhead and cause it to crack or even explode.
- If your drum becomes dull sounding, do not continue to play until you have tightened the head. (See above) Doing so can stretch the drumhead until it will not tighten correctly.
- Remember that your drum is made of rawhide and smells just like your dog’s chew bones. Your cat will think that the rawhide is a scratching post. Be mindful of placing your drum where your pets cannot get to them.
- Your drumstick will also be very interesting to your dog.
- We do not recommend taking your drum into a sweat lodge. The extreme moisture causes the drumhead to loosen, and the wood of the frame may warp, causing irreparable damage. If you decide to use your drum in a sweat lodge, please know that you will be doing so at your own risk, and we are not responsible for the consequences.
Maple Drum Frame - Appreciation of Beauty, Directing Energy, Fun, Harmonious Sweetness, Positivity.
Alder - The Air Element, Connection with the Otherworld, Environmental and Land Healing, Invisibility and Concealment, Masculinity, Physical Healing, Protection.
Cedar- Transmutation, longevity, renewal, strength
Crape Myrtle - Rebirth, balance masculine & feminine energy, longevity & to attract positive energy.
Oak - Strength, nobility. Opens doors to other realms & pathways.
Deer - opens the heart chakra, teaching us to trust and empower the qualities of love and wisdom.
Elk - gives the stamina and endurance to get through the edges from the known to the unknown. The vibration of elk opens the third chakra, the solar plexus.
Moose - is associated with self-esteem and trusting ourselves to act in the moment. The vibration of moose helps open the crown chakra to receive information from the divine.
Buffalo - is associated with Wisdom and Abundance. It's used when we seek wisdom and guidance from the Ancient Ones, drumming Buffalo opens the door to that vibration.