The Nitty Gritty of Darbuka Playing
1) Please let us remind that the term Darbuka derivates from the Arabic word darb I ka. In Turkish darp literally means hit or beat. So make sure each stroke is played precisely. Keep this also in mind when playing fast and stress on repeating the exercises again and again. One has to be patient and practice a certain exercise or a piece as often as needed to be capable of playing it fast.
2) Make sure you warm up before playing and stretch the muscles after playing to prevent physical injuries like tendonitis or carpel tunnel. Also these exercises will help building up the muscles.
3) Don’t forget to drink enough water especially during summertime in case of hot weather.
4) To help the body internalise the rhythms or pieces you are playing, it is necessary to repeat the units a lots of times. There is a Chinese proverb that says it takes 8000 iterations until an exercise has been internalised by mind and body.
5) It is absolutely necessary to use a metronome for the exercises and rhythms you are playing. Even if there are times where you doubt the sense of using a metronome – believe me it promotes your progress enormously.
6) To extend the life of the natural skins of the clay darbukas it is recommended to obey some rules: Put a towel on the skin of the instrument to prevent absorbing too much humidity. The natural skin darbukas shouldn’t be kept in drum bags. There should be some kind of air circulation, however make sure there is no direct solar radiation. At times if you feel the skin is too dry or dirty you can even wipe the skin with a wet cloth.
7) During the months in the summer you don’t need to warm up a lot as the muscles are warmed up already due to the warmer environment so enjoy being able to practice immediately and just practice even more!
8) Some of you cannot play loud in their apartments so to be able to practice however you can put a t-shirt on the upper body of the darbuka (where the skin and the rim is located). Please don’t cover up the bottom part of the darbuka. This could have a negative effect on the bolts and the screws in the rim of the drum because of the vibrations of the doum.
9) With rain and sudden fall in temperature the pitch of the sound of the natural skin will go down. Unfortunately a lot of people put on the light bulb (installed inside of the darbuka) at maximum heat to tune the skin. I am against this logic unless you are within a recording session or playing an outdoor concert. In such weather conditions I recommend to cover the whole darbuka with a thick towel to keep the skin dry.
10) Don’t think too much about those goals you haven’t accomplished. Just start to practice the exercises or pieces you want to master at a very slow tempo and play them over and over again until you are comfortable with playing it. Only then increase the tempo.