Caring for your Shamanic Drum

Your drum is a living being. It will become your teacher, your healer and your friend. As such, you will want to look after it and care for it properly. When it is cared for, your drum will want to sing for a long, long time. Having a hide drum, it is necessary to consider where you store your drum, how you transport it, where you play it, and how you look after it.


Transporting your drum

When travelling with your drum, be sure it is wrapped up and covered up to be protected. If it is going to be traveling in your hands or on your lap the whole time, you may just want to wrap it in a scarf or blanket. However, if you are taking your drum out more often, especially if you are taking it outdoors in the woods or countryside, you are going to need a more substantial and protective drum bag that is going to prevent it from getting knocked.

Heron Drums supplies our very own design of Shamanic Drum bag, which is insulated and provides enough space for a second drum or for other medicine tools. Visit the shop page to see our Shamanic Drum Bags.


Drumming outdoors

Just like our skin, the skin on the drum will become taut or slack as the temperature and humidity changes in the place that you are drumming. If we are drumming for the sunrise on a cold and damp morning, for example, we are going to find that drumhead will start going slack and it makes the sound of the drum go flat. Later on that warm and dry day, we will find that the drumhead will become taut again and the drum is singing beautiful. However, as we move into the afternoon, drumming under the hot summer sun, the drumhead can become extremely taut and the pitch of the drum becomes very high pitched, and somewhat tinny. We need to take care of our drums in these extremes of temperature and humidity and there are a number of ways you can do this.

  1. When you are not actually drumming, you can place your drum in its drum bag to keep the damp or heat from it. It is not a good idea to leave a hide drum in the damp grass.

  2. Alternatively, and preferably, hug your drum, keeping it close to your chest, even underneath your coat. This way your body heat will help keep the drum head warm.

  3. When drumming around a fire, you can hold the drum head towards the fire until it is taut and singing once more. This should be done very carefully. Do not place your drum on the floor next to the heat of the fire and leave it there – just as our skin burns when placed next to a fire, so will your drum.

  4. On a hot and sunny day, it is a good idea to have a small water spray which you occassionally use to keep the drum head from getting too dry and tight. Avoid leaving your drum out in the sun for too long – try and find some shade regularly.

  5. If your drum is cold, warm it gradually. If your drum is hot, cool it slowly. Be patient in restoring your drums tone before playing.

Storing your drum

At home and indoors, it is much easier to keep our drums at a comfortable temperature.

  1. Keep your drum somewhere cool and dry in your house, where it is not going to experience these extremes of temperature. Shamanic Drums are best kept somewhere in the house, off the ground, wrapped in their blanket or their bag.

  2. Avoid storing your drum above a heater or in front of a south facing window; don’t leave it in the conservatory or in the damp corner of the shed.

Storing your drum somewhere safe is important. If a drum is stored somewhere where it gets extremely hot, like being left in a car, it could damage your drum to the point that the drumhead become so tight that it breaks the wooden hoop, after which the drum would need to be remade. By leaving a drum in the car, the hide on the drum head becomes stretched to the point that, at normal room temperature, it will sound flat. A drum left in cold damp conditions for a very long time may become so flat that it is rarely playable. It takes a very long time after this to reacclimatise the drum, and often it would require the drum being remade.

Most people store their drums in their home in a room where they spend most time, like the lounge or bedroom. If you are comfortable with the variations of temperature in that room, it is likely that your drum will also be comfortable with it.


Oiling your drum

As you play your drums, you can use the natural oils from your skin to moisturise the hide by rubbing your palm over the drum head. It becomes a gradual and constant part of caring for and connecting with your drum, and builds that connection even stronger.

If your drum becomes too dry, you can oil it with natural, oil. This can be regular light olive oil, it can be Neatsfoot oil or you can even use Shea Butter. Just gently rub a small amount of this into the drum head with a cloth and into the lacing on the back using a pastry brush. This need only be done once a year, and only if it becomes too dry.

I have created this video below to show how and why to oil your Shamanic Drums

Respecting your drum

When you consider your drum as a living being, all of the above becomes obvious; if you were to read the above recommendations, replacing “drum” with “child”, a lot of it would be needless to say. We treat our drum as we would treat a close friend, we treat it’s skin as we would treat our own. Our drum isn’t a table, or a tray to rest things on. When we lay our drum down, you do not want to lay it down on the drum head. From a practical point of view, anything sharp or gravelly could damage the drum head, but beyond that, it is no way to show the love and respect that your drum deserves. Your drum will want to sing and its spirit will beat. It will become your friend, teacher and healer. Treat it well, with honour and respect and it will bring you much love and joy as your hearts beat as one.


With best wishes from Jonathan at Heron Drums



Note: It would be advisable to insure your drum or to check your home content insurance. Once you have received the drum, you are responsible for its care. We do not offer refunds or exchanges on damages to drums or wear and tear due to misuse or lack of care for your drum.