How to Play the Hank Drum

While a MILLTONE will be played differently from something like the 1TONE Eclipse, and a home made propane tank drum played differently again, with each different model of Hank requiring its own unique style of play. All Hank/steel tongue drums have certain qualities in common, that make at least one playing technique necessary across all formats, in order to produce crisp, clear notes from your instrument.

Drop it like it’s hot!

Or rather, slap/tap it like it’s hot. This technique, as recommended by Dennis Havlena (inventor of the Hank drum), is considered the best method for coaxing the best sounds from any Hank drum, and essentially involves playing the Hank as if it were red hot, with each stroke of your hand making only the briefest of contact with the surface of the tongue. Or in the words of Dennis Havlena: ‘a far better tone is obtained if you hit very quickly - not allowing your finger to rest on the tongue even for an instant -- tap it as if you were testing a stove burner to see if it's hot.’

Additionally, when playing a steel tongue drum, try not to restrict the natural vibrations of the tongues as you strike them.  Playing the Hank drum with single digits (or two) rather than an open palm, helps to reduce this tongue restriction.
Get that right and your pretty much home free from there. With practise and experimentation being far more important than any form of formal tuition. And YouTube videos can make an excellent resource from which to gleam inspiration, and techniques, from your fellow Hank drum musicians.

[EDIT] While more specific to HandPans, you may also find these YouTube lessons useful: HERE.

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