How to Play A Rattle (and Shakers) and Stay In Time


Rattles and shakers can be found in musical traditions all over the world. The importance of the these instruments lies in their layering quality. Add a rattle to any music and you have a layer almost equivalent to a drone: a sound that continuously fills up a certain frequency band. This tutorial video shows how to play a rattle with some basic warm-ups and exercises.

The rattle is an important shamanic tool and is often utilized by singers to accompany themselves in chant and song. I have learned a lot about the rattle studying shamanism with Maestro Manuel Rufino and the Golden Drum Community.

One of the most important aspects of how to play a rattle is to have a flexile wrist. In this video I show how to warm up the wrists and use them properly for rattle playing.

Another important aspect is playing in time. Utilizing a metronome, this video explores how to play a rattle or shaker precisely in time.

A rattle and a shaker are essentially the same thing. The term “rattle” is usually assigned to a shaker on a stick, while the term “shaker” really applies to any resonant container with beads inside. The “beads” inside a rattle can be any small hard pieces such as rocks, seeds, grains, cactus spines, pieces of plastic, etc.

When buying a rattle or shaker it’s important to play it and feel how the weight sits in your hand as you shake it. An ideal rattle or shaker has a good balance of weight and range of movement.

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AJ Block is the director of Didge Project and is active as a didgeridoo teacher and performer. In addition to didgeridoo, AJ has spent years studying music traditions from all over the world including jazz (trombone and piano), western classical music, Indian Classical Music, guitar and world percussion. AJ has developed a number of programs for Didge Project including The ABCs of Didgeridoo, The Didgeridoo Skills Course, and Circular Breathing Mastery. He is also the author of Didge For Sleep, a didgeridoo learning method designed specifically for people with Sleep Apnea. As a performer AJ is the leader of the Didge Project Music Collective and a member of Dream Seed: A Shamanic Sound Journey. AJ is a founding member of Sacred Arts Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred art traditions through education, ritual and study. As a student of spiritual teacher Maestro Manuel Rufino AJ is an active member of the Golden Drum community.