Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Select a Djembe Drum to Buy | BYBS

Having the opportunity to help someone else is considered to be a blessing by Jews and by Buddhists. Both groups have sayings to that effect. 

I think it is always a blessing, if you take the opportunity and do help, and if you do it with a glad heart. I feel sure that there are people in other spiritual belief systems who feel the same.

Yesterday I got an email from someone I have never met, asking how to choose a djembe as a present for her son. I'm glad I took the time to write some guidelines for her, and now I can share them with you.

My drum teacher, Abubakr Kouyate, says that traditional West African people consider the sound of the djembe to be a healing sound. He says the healing actually comes from the tones (one of the three types of djembe strokes: tone, slap, and bass). 

So playing traditional rhythms on the djembe and its accompanying dunnun family of drums is a very old way of healing with sound. Generally djembe ensemble rhythms are played to heal a whole community.

In case you have thought of learning to play djembe in the traditional way, here are some guidelines for choosing one.

1. Wooden body with a real goatskin head. If you buy a "djembe" with a fiberglas body and artificial head, you will quickly become unhappy with the sound as soon as you hear real djembes.

Artificial drums are OK for camping, because they are light to carry and resistant to moisture. But the sound is very different from a real djembe.

2. Do not buy a so-called djembe that has metal bolts around the top edge to hold the head on. That is a sure sign that the drum is artificial and the sound will be wrong. The heads of real djembes are laced on with strong nylon cord (such as mountain climbers use). That allows them to be tightened.

2. Make sure the wood is not cracked. Examine it closely.

3. The body of the djembe should be made from a single piece of heavy tropical African hardwood, called lingue wood, hand-shaped on the inside. Definitely you need a hard, strong wood.

4. Carving on the outside is just for looks. Don't let it sway your choice. You could end up with a low-quality drum that only looks pretty.

5. The head must be goatskin (not cowhide). Only goatskin is thin enough to give the right sound.

6. Make sure the head does not have any holes or tears (even tiny ones). If it does, it will soon require reheading, which costs $50 to $100, I think---unless you get a super deal on a drum with a broken head and can factor reheading cost into the price.

That is, if you get the wooden body cheap enough, you could afford to have it reheaded.  That's a good thing, because drum heads only last a few years anyway. A reheaded drum is like a brand new drum. You know it will be good for several years, unlike a used drum with an old head.

7. Any drum that has been played a lot, or that has not been used in awhile, even a new one, may need to have the head tightened. That is not hard to do, but you need to know how. My teacher or any **real** djembe drummer can show you how.

8. Real, authentic djembes, come from Africa, from Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and other West African countries. However, some nice djembes are also made nowadays in Indonesia (if they use a heavy tropical hardwood), and they will be less expensive.

9. Must be big enough! A real djembe is about 24 to 28 inches tall and 10 to 15 inches in diameter. You need it to be tall enough that you can stand it on the floor, tilt it slightly away from you, and play at a comfortable height.

Also, it needs to be plenty big enough to spread out both hands flat above the near edge of it at once. Anything smaller than that is too small to play and will not give a good sound.

I hope this helps in selecting a djembe for yourself or for a gift. Playing a djembe in the traditional way is not only healing to those who listen. It is even more healing to those who play. It is a real blessing either way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Water Crystal Healing Music | BYBS

I've just started working with a very interesting book, Water Crystal Healing, by Masaru Emoto, the best-selling author of Messages from Water. His work was featured in the film, The Secret.

Dr. Emoto has what seems to me to be a whole new take on the subject of sound for healing: viewing a crystal formed by the energy of a musical piece while listening to that particular piece of music.

He says "when you listen to a piece of music and look at the water crystal created by the vibration of that music simultaneously, you can 'see' the vibrational pattern of the music in the crystal and absorb all the vibrations into your body through your eyes and ears."

In case you are not familiar with Dr. Emoto's work, his lab developed a way to photograph individual water crystals. They found that the emotional atmosphere around the crystals affects their shape. Even taping printed phrases to the outside of a water container would affect the shape of the crystals that formed in the container.

The results were not caused by the experimenters. Similar crystals were caused by similar sentiments even when the phrases were in foreign languages and the technicians did not know what they meant.

Unpleasant words made for ugly, blob-like crystals. Phrases expressing sentiments like love, gratitude, and other benevolent emotions caused intricate and beautiful crystals.

What does that have to do with using sound for healing, you may ask? Well, the premise of this book, which comes with two music CDs, is that when certain pieces of music are played in the presence of pure water, the water forms exquisite crystals with a certain energy vibration, or (in Japanese) hado.

Gazing at a photo of particular crystal while at the same time listening to the piece of music that caused it to form will supposedly convey to you the healing benefits of that particular piece of music.

This is all very interesting, you may say, but how did they measure the effects of the music? All I can tell you is what Dr. Emoto wrote. He says that he measures the energy vibration, or hado, of the water crystal photograph by placing it on a hado-measuring device called a Magnetic Resonance Analyzer (MRA).

Dr. Emoto says he has been using the MRA for years to analyze people's hado and treat water for them to drink to adjust their energy so that they are healthy. He says it works. He says "Organs and diseases have measurable hado, a subtle form of energy that is easily transmittable and present in all things. In English, hado translates as 'wave' or 'vibration'."

Because he had discovered that he could analyze photos of absent patients with equally good results, he figured out that he could measure the hado of music by playing it in the presence of vials of water (50 samples for each piece of music) and measure the hado of the resulting water crystals.

So if this seems like somewhat circular logic to you, well, it does so to me, too. I have admired Dr. Emoto's work in the past. I've read a couple of his books and watched his video. But this seems a little far-fetched to me.

The music on the CDs is all European classical music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To each musical selection are attributed emotional hado and physical hado.

For example, the first selection is The Moldau, by Bedrich Smetana. It is said to convey emotional hado of calmness, peace of mind, and relief from irritability as well as physical hado of improved lymphatic flow. The crystal is especially intricate and lovely.

My favorite crystal is the one that represents Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The emotional hado is said to cleans the heart and body and relieve emotional stress. Physically it is said to affect the lumbar vertebrae and improve lower back pain.

I would love to know what Jonathan Goldman would say about this one. And I would love to know what you have to say about this book and CD set after you have worked with it.

Anyway, the musical selections are lovely, and I love the photos. Just when you think there is nothing new in a field, here comes something like this. Whether it works as advertised or not, it is fun to experiment with, and I feel blessed to have found it.

I'll let you know how my experiments turn out. Please leave a comment to tell the rest of us know about yours, OK?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Today I'm grateful for a wonderful blog network called Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Through them I have met some wonderful people and read some great blogs. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in joining, go to for more information.

Intention and Sound Healing

Since I reviewed the book, 7 Secrets of Sound Healing by Jonathan Goldman, I've been thinking. One of the main points of the book, almost the main idea in the book, is that intent is the most important element in healing.

All right, that is true in energy healing. And sound healing is, I guess, a form of energy healing. But what about all the medical research that shows that certain speeds of steady, unison drumming cause specific changes in brain waves?

Of course, Goldman is talking mainly in terms of assigning various notes to various ailments or parts of the body, or the idea that certain genres of music are healing, while others are not. His point is that the right note to heal one person of a specific problem might not be the right note to heal another person with the same problem---or even the same person at a different time.

So maybe the medical research does not invalidate what he is saying. But i wonder.

If you work with sound healing, especially if you have read 7 Secrets, what do you think?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

7 Secrets of Sound Healing | BYB

I just read 7 Secrets of Sound Healing by Jonathan Goldman. It is the best introduction to healing with sound that I have ever read, and it comes with a 26-minute CD of healing music composed by Goldman.

The small hardback book is not much larger than the CD it contains, but it is about three-fourths of an inch thick and 161 pages long. It is beautifully designed.

The book is printed entirely in Indigo ink on cream-colored paper. That is startling at first, but it is easy to read. And the dark, dark blue becomes a soothing element, contrasting with some startling ideas.

7 Secrets of Sound Healing is full of good information and experience from one of the pioneers of modern sound healing. Even without the CD it is worth the $17.95 list price. I bought it at, though, and paid only about $12.50. And the CD is lovely.

Goldman was a rock musician until he decided about 25 years ago to pursue the possibilities of healing with sound. Since then he has founded the Sound Healers Association, has won Grammy Awards for his healing music CDs, and has authored several successful books on healing with sound. He has devoted his life to studying and teaching the use of sound for healing.

This book not only explains the basic principles of healing with sound. It also debunks a lot of myths about sound healing, including some that Goldman himself believed in until research evidence and experience taught him otherwise.

Although I will probably write more about this book in the future, I won't list the 7 Secrets right now. Each one takes a whole chapter to fully explain.

I just wanted to let you know about it as soon as possible if you haven't read it already. This is by far the best book on Sound Healing that I've read. I highly recommend it. Whether you are just starting out or have been in the field awhile, I believe that you will find this book valuable.

7 Secrets of Sound Healing
will make you think, and it may force you to reconsider everything you have been taught about healing with sound. And that could be a blessing in disguise: It could make you a much better healer.

Please read the book, listen to the music, and let the rest of us know what you think.