How to Play the HandPan - Intermediate to Advanced Lessons

The worst thing about attempting to review the DVD, “HandPans and Sound Sculptures - Intermediate to Advanced", by Colin Foulke, is that every time I sat down intending to write the review, I got so caught up in learning a new trick, and then trying to integrate it within my own style, that I’d completely forget to write anything down at all (which can only be to a DVD of this natures credit).

Available for sale: HERE

I was a little worried prior to receiving the ‘Intermediate to Advanced’ chapter of Colin Foulke's range of HandPan tutorial DVDs, unsure if I was of the level yet ready to tackle such things. I’ve never really felt like a ‘natural’ on the HandPan, despite putting in the hours. But, as somebody who watches the greats on YouTube with awe, and dreams of the day that I can count myself among their numbers as a bona-fide HandPan ninja - I inserted the DVD (part one), and pressed play.

After a brief introduction we were off and running, and while within this review I’ll strive to not give away the tips and techniques in their entirety (possibly depriving Colin of a well-earned sale), it was something of a revelation, to learn something new, and something that personally I’d never given any thought to at all before, within the first two minutes of viewing...
Next came ‘Harmonics’, something that I have experimented with in recent times having seen other players use this technique to great effect. And Colin’s DVD covers this topic with clarity, and the desired amount of detail - to the effect that having watched the harmonics chapter several times through now, my skill in this area is already much improved.
The ‘Tricks’ section of the DVD walks us through most (if not all) of the known HandPan trickery that can be used to add extra depth to your playing. From what I know as ‘finger slides’ (the only trick on the list that prior to watching this DVD I’d already half-mastered), through to ‘note-bending’, ‘mouth-warbling’, and ‘Ding-singing’, the arrows in the quiver of the HandPan ninja that separate man from boy (metaphorically speaking) - Colin offers up the secrets of the masters, in a manner that leaves you confident, that with practice (we can’t all be child prodigy), we’ll soon enough be integrating these skills into our own sessions..
‘David Kuckhermann’, walks us through a chapter on ‘effects’ with regards to percussion and melody, demonstrating the integration of ‘grace notes’, and ‘palm bass’ into play for increased depth of sound.

The chapter on ‘Vertical Play’ teaches how best to hold your HandPan, shares some basic rhythms suited to the style, and expands with some striking techniques that you may not have considered previously. And as somebody who finds himself attracted to faster HandPan play over slower, the chapter on ‘Speed Techniques’ (which utilizes Colins own HandPan notation system - explained elsewhere on the DVD) was particularly useful - breaking down play that might look unimaginable while watching a YouTube vid, into comprehensible bite-sized chunks..
The second DVD (part 2) moves on from effects and flair, and picks up somewhat from the earlier beginner DVD, teaching grooves, patterns, and flow - though as you can imagine on an intermediate to advanced DVD, this takes it that much further (and again, the notation system makes it that much easier to understand what’s going on - and to play along). While the chapter on playing multiple HandPan turned out to be one of my favorites, primarily because it gave me the confidence to have another go at playing my two Hang together (something I’d previously written off as making a fairly horrible sound) and finding out that actually, some of the notes did play well together, opening up a new world of play for me.
Ultimately, and I said something similar about the beginner DVD, if you’re the sort of HandPan player who’s happy to take your pan to a beach, or a lake, and video yourself looking all tranquil for YouTube while you slowly tap out a few notes - and that’s all that you’re looking for from your HandPan (and there's nothing wrong with that ;) ), this DVD may not be for you. But if, like me, you drool over the playing of YouTube greats, and one day dream of becoming that HandPan ninja I described at the start of this post - HandPans and Sound Sculptures, Intermediate to Advanced, dropping through your mailbox, is a little like taking up a correspondence course with Yoda (‘Using the Force - Intermediate to Advanced’). Arguably not as fantastical as a trip to the murky swamps of Dagobah for training, but even so, you’ll soon be moving stuff around with your mind regardless...

You can purchase your copy of Colin Foulke's instructional DVD from HERE

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