Friday, September 24th, 2010

Playing Shekere


From about the time I was in 3rd grade and watching my older cousin play snare drum in her school marching band, I wanted to be a drummer. This wouldn’t come to fruition until I was 22 and owned a home with my now husband. I started on drum kit, but eventually grew bored with it. In 2002, my husband bought me a hand drum – an African djembe as a wedding present and it really helped me to fill that life-long desire to drum as I still play it to this day. But the instrument that really allowed me to break out was the shekere. A traditional shekere is made from a large hollow gourd- it has a woven net over top which loosely holds beads or shells that can be shaken against its surface. The one I play is a synthetic version made from fiberglass.

The shekere is an extremely loud instrument and even on a stage packed with musicians it can easily heard without being amplified. The network of beads can be shaken or manipulated in ways that add another layer of percussive sound to the mix. In the image above, I am playing in the middle of a group of women performing African dance at the Great Rhythm Revival in Sherman NY. On stage behind us, are various members from Jim Donovan’s band, Drum the Ecstatic. I especially love to play this instrument as you can dance with it as you play.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Photo taken by Jessica MacIntyre

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