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Info for Shamanic Drum Building Attendees

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Thank you for participating in our Shamanic Drum Building Workshop! We love offering this experience; it is always joyful and we are meeting an amazing group of people teaching these!

This blog contains a great deal of information. First, we really enjoy seeing photos of peoples’ drums, especially when they are decorated, and videos letting us hear their sounds when you play them so please feel free to share Also, following us on Social Media is the best way to keep track of our upcoming events.

Social Media Links




Public Blog

RESOURCES for The Science and Spirit of the Healing Drum: This includes links to the HealthRhythms and Strong Institute materials.


including our Drumming Books and CDs


Subscribe to our Rhythm-A-Day Daily Video Lesson & Blog here:

Just $5 a MONTH for a video-mini lesson on a new thythm every DAY! (And you have access for at least a full month so you don’t have to log in every day.)



After the Workshop

Drying: It will take 48-72 hours for your drum to completely dry. I recommend not playing it much, and only gently during this time. It will dry best leaned on an angle so that both sides are exposed to the air. Or, as one of the women in a recent building demonstrated, if you use clothespins to form the edge of the skin to the shell, you can flip it over and stand it up on those and it works great. You can dry it in the sun; make sure you expose both sides (playing head and inside of drum) to the sun, and be mindful as you can overstretch the leather if you leave it in the sun too long.

Clothespins and staples: These are used to hold the rawhide wrapped around the frame tightly in between the laces. Clothespins may be removed after 24 hours drying; staples can be pulled once the drum is completely dry (48 to 72 hours).

Trimming the lace: We will be leaving an inch or so of lace at all knots until the drum is dry. This is because if we trim them close while the drum is wet, they can pull through and untie. Once completely dry you can trim them close.


You can use fire to dry out and heat the head to tighten the skin. You can overheat the head and cause the leather to split if you are careless. A good rule is to never place the drum closer to a heat source than you can hold your hand indefinitely.


If your drumhead becomes detuned through use, and is not responding to sun or heat for tuning, you can dampen the head and sides of the drum by placing it on a wet towel, head down, with wet towels wrapped around the sides. Stop short of the lacing (the knots can pull out if they get wet).


Changes in humidity will change the tone of your drum as the skin absorbs the moisture. In a very humid environment like Florida, the drum can detune fairly quickly outside. This is the nature of natural rawhide. 

Treatments: There are a few things you can use to treat the drum head so that it will not be as subject to humidity. I’ve repaired a few banjo skins for players who prefer non-synthetic heads, and since the bridge sits right on the skin, if the skin is detuned by moisture the entire instrument goes out of tune. They introduced me to the practice of coating both sides of the skin with Thompson Deck Sealer. It goes on very thin and is very effective.


Artwork on the drumhead: Once it is fully dry you can decorate the head of your drum. The best medium I have used so far is permanent India Inks. You can also use permanent Sharpie Markers. 

The Handle: You can wrap the handle with cloth or suede to create a more comfortable or more decorative grip.

Tying things on Your Drum: Wait until it is dry and tie onto lacing as you see fit.

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