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  • Starting a drum

    For many years I have gone to powwows and have been asked to sit and sing with different drums. Now for the past 2 years people have been asking when I am going to start a drum of my own, I recently was speaking to a friend of mine who makes drums and he told me that he was making me a drum and that it was up to me to start when the time was right. Well I feel the time is right but being of mixed blood I feel there is something I need to do before I start getting guys together and practicing. If there is anyone here who might be able to help me it would be great. I do not want to be disrespectful to other drums out there I want to do this right. So what is my question? When starting a new drum group what must be done?

  • #2
    Originally posted by youandme View Post
    When starting a new drum group what must be done?


    You,

    One good piece of advice is to select singers that already know how to sing and aren't committed to other drums.

    Get them together at a singing practice to see what songs you know incommon and get to know one anothers strenghs and weaknesses.

    Next, start composing your own songs and setting up at as many powwows as you can, to get exposure.
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

    Comment


    • #3
      As Usual....

      Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
      You,

      One good piece of advice is to select singers that already know how to sing and aren't committed to other drums.

      Get them together at a singing practice to see what songs you know incommon and get to know one anothers strenghs and weaknesses.

      Next, start composing your own songs and setting up at as many powwows as you can, to get exposure.
      Who Me is helpful...Just to add....Think about what community you come from? How does that reflect or repesent you or vice versa? Approach a respected experienced singer and share your idea with them, they may share some good things with you. Realize that it can be a bumpy road, but with dedication and persistance it's certainly worth it. As long as you approach things with respect and maintain a positive attitude there is alot of potential...
      "She also has a very soft skin. The only trouble with snake women is they copulate with horses, which makes them strange to me. She say's she doesn't. That's why I call her "Doesn't Like Horses". But, of course, she's lying."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Coyot_In_The_House View Post
        Who Me is helpful...Just to add....Think about what community you come from? How does that reflect or repesent you or vice versa? Approach a respected experienced singer and share your idea with them, they may share some good things with you. Realize that it can be a bumpy road, but with dedication and persistance it's certainly worth it. As long as you approach things with respect and maintain a positive attitude there is alot of potential...
        so far theres not a whole lot to add. just that running with a drum is going to be like running with any other music group.youre going to have creative differences within the group, youre going to have differences in ideas and theres going to be bickering. you have to make sure you have a clear chain of command, who is in charge. other wise youre most likely going to have a mess and a short run.

        ive been invited to sit at a drum before too and i know its a good time and loads of fun to drum at a powwow. but i also know its not all fun and frybread. its lots of work too. make sure your people know that practice is just as important as powwows.

        other than that, best of luck to you and we'll look for ya at the arbor

        The older I get the less of a deterrent life without parole gets

        Comment


        • #5
          Not overnight....

          Its going to take time....That is if you want a stable group. These days folks spike up or hop in with everybody. hey that's fine, but to have your very own crew, well that takes determination. Alot of different types of dance out there and you need to know just what fits what. Do your homework....It's okay to walk on the beaten path, but if you blaze your own trail, folks will take notice....If you get popular, don't let it go to your head cause just as fast as you rise to the top you can fall flat on your face...
          "She also has a very soft skin. The only trouble with snake women is they copulate with horses, which makes them strange to me. She say's she doesn't. That's why I call her "Doesn't Like Horses". But, of course, she's lying."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Coyot_In_The_House View Post
            Its going to take time....That is if you want a stable group. These days folks spike up or hop in with everybody. hey that's fine, but to have your very own crew, well that takes determination. Alot of different types of dance out there and you need to know just what fits what. Do your homework....It's okay to walk on the beaten path, but if you blaze your own trail, folks will take notice....If you get popular, don't let it go to your head cause just as fast as you rise to the top you can fall flat on your face...
            yeah, what he said

            The older I get the less of a deterrent life without parole gets

            Comment


            • #7
              OK, here is a question from a novice. I know a man that states that after he built his drum, eagle feathers were placed inside and songs were sung into the drum before they enclosed it, ever heard of this? Whome, doesn't it take more than just showing up to an event?

              Comment


              • #8
                dunno.... ive built a couple shells but not any complete drums. i guess people figure they can save a few bucks on the drum if they lace the heads themselves. ive seen a few drums priced well into 4 digit figures, while my familys drum was only 400$

                The older I get the less of a deterrent life without parole gets

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by WocusWoman View Post
                  OK, here is a question from a novice. I know a man that states that after he built his drum, eagle feathers were placed inside and songs were sung into the drum before they enclosed it, ever heard of this? Whome, doesn't it take more than just showing up to an event?

                  In my lifetime I have seen bells, eagle plumes, tobacco and prayers put inside a drum before it was sealed.

                  Different people have different teachings.

                  Great lakes tribes have a whole ceremony around "the big drum" and take their ceremonial drums very seriously.
                  Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Likewise...

                    Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
                    In my lifetime I have seen bells, eagle plumes, tobacco and prayers put inside a drum before it was sealed.

                    Different people have different teachings.

                    Great lakes tribes have a whole ceremony around "the big drum" and take their ceremonial drums very seriously.
                    I suppose whatever floats the boat....
                    "She also has a very soft skin. The only trouble with snake women is they copulate with horses, which makes them strange to me. She say's she doesn't. That's why I call her "Doesn't Like Horses". But, of course, she's lying."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Another question

                      This is what I was looking for , thank you all for the advice. I am in the process of recording songs to send to those who are interested in sitting at the drum so that they may start learning them.
                      Now here is another question I had. Songs : Is it fine to start out with generic songs to help these guys learn more i.e. Flag Song, Inter-tribal, Grass Dance, Sneak-up etc. ?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Gonna take some time....

                        Originally posted by youandme View Post
                        This is what I was looking for , thank you all for the advice. I am in the process of recording songs to send to those who are interested in sitting at the drum so that they may start learning them.
                        Now here is another question I had. Songs : Is it fine to start out with generic songs to help these guys learn more i.e. Flag Song, Inter-tribal, Grass Dance, Sneak-up etc. ?
                        Realize it will not be a fast process....If its going to be worthwhile that is....Before you set up learn several songs, cover your bases...Cause if you set up and your asked to sing something...well you should know the appropriate song. Get me?
                        "She also has a very soft skin. The only trouble with snake women is they copulate with horses, which makes them strange to me. She say's she doesn't. That's why I call her "Doesn't Like Horses". But, of course, she's lying."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          some advice from another novice

                          Boozhoo niji,


                          We have a couple of similarities. I wish I knew what area you live in, if its Florida I can tell you starting a drum group is very hard indeed.

                          I was sorta called to build my own drum. It took me a few months to do so. No I didnt put any eagle feathers or bells or tobacco or anything inside the drum when it was closed. I myself put in my determination and sweat into it to make it a good drum. And a good drum it is.

                          I was told that before I could sing with it at a pow wow I had to have ther drum blessed by a warrior or an elder. This was done at a 49. I knew a lot of people that could do this, gave tobacco to one and this was done.

                          I know lots of singers. I have met lots of people, but for me finding people to come and sing on my drum was a challenge in of itself. No one i knew lived close to me to come and practice. The drum itself is heavy, 60 pounds, and I need help just to carry it. With people living so far away from me it is hard to get singers to come in.

                          If you have singers that live close to you, get them to come in and practice practice practice all that you can. Oh and by the way practice some more. You have to get where all of you can get your voices together and sound good. This makes the difference between a ho hum drum and a really great drum.

                          Having the drum made for you and gifted to you is a great thing. I was talking to the drum carrier for Eyabay, and we spoke for some time. Both of our ways are acceptable, either being gifted a drum or dreaming of one and making it yourself. But he also restated the drum must be blessed before being brought in at a pow wow.

                          When bringing your drum to a pow wow for the first time, the best first person to talk to is the MC. Get there early. Have tobacco. Be prepared to ask the arena director and the host drum. This is just ettiquitte.

                          Finally take care of your drum. The person that made your drum will tell you what to do, but here is a couple of other things. You already know about the blanket right? The important thing is, if you are going to leave your drum in the circle unattended, (and someone will probably correct me here BUT) put it on its side and put the blanket over it. I was told by some Shinobs from Canada this is acceptable. Also good is to feast your drum once a year. Take one weekend off the powwow circuit and prepare a good meal for some family and friends you invite over. Put out a spirit plate with some tobacco, have your drum there too, uncovered, eat and sing a few songs.

                          Learn what your drum likes. It is a relationship. That drum will talk to you and teach you things, will tell you when its unhappy.

                          My drum loves the cold weather. It loves it when it dips below freezing. I remember the second time I took it out for 49 at Chambers pow wow, I had just feasted my drum, and put it by the fire to get warm. The temp dropped to 16. I carried it over to where some other people were already singing. There were already three drums sitting around the fire but no place for mine, so I set up away from the fire. I wore the heaviest parka I had but I never left my drum to go and sing with those guys. So after a couple hours, the man in charge of the whole thing, Bodie Ward asked me if I was going to sing one.

                          I said I didnt want to interrupt them, but I waited so long I thought my drum had gotten cold. He said to play one anyway. I touched my drum and it was ice cold but tight. I put some tobacco on it and started to sing. The drum had an interesting sound, it was tight and loud, but when you hit it, the sound carried on, like with resonance, instead of being a sharp beat. 10 or so of those guys left the fire to come sing with me. They heard us over a mile away. My drum has done that every time it gets cold, unless its wet outside, but at 16, it is extremely dry, there was ice on the ground.

                          Derek
                          I believe in something I want to believe, not what someone wants me to believe.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I remember someone telling me when I first talked about starting a drum... wait at least a year to get ready... and seriously, to build the drum, learn the songs, practice them until they're tight, it will take a while maybe 6 months, 9 months a year... who knows.

                            When it comes to choosing singers, I second the opinion someone else put on here, make sure they are experienced singers that don't already belong to a group... the last thing you need is a reputation for being a singer-stealer... LOL. Also, make sure it's guys you like with personalities that mesh well... noting as sad as personality clashes and struggles around the drum... not good!

                            I also recommend, when you do come out, hit some traditional pow wows to start out with. If contesting is your thing, then go for it afterwords.

                            When you go out, be humble, and teach your guys from the get go, anything they do will reflect on the group.

                            Just a few words, take them or not, it's just my own 49 cents worth...

                            Paselo~
                            I became a singer because I love to sing... and to feed my addiction to cough drops!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Starting a drum

                              Aniin,
                              Great thread! I have been a drum carrier for quite a few years and am always finding out things.
                              Biggest problem here is 80+ tribes, small community, rez's 100+ miles away from a large Kansas city. EVERYONE knows whats right ennit?

                              We lost our lead last year to cancer (42 yrs young), and still looking for replacement (my voice don't hold out long if'n I have to lead and second.) I know what some of you posted of things waxing and waning. Our drum has been the community night youth drum and as such we have been prolly much more relaxed about etiquette than most of you are experienced with. We have had over 100 people come and go- maybe some sing with ya'll? Problems with youth getting into gangs and such troubles. We just get really started and folks move, die, whatever and we are always starting up fresh again. My main drive has been my 4 kids.

                              Miigwetch for the thread.

                              Gakina Awiiya (All my relations)
                              Shinob in Oz

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