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The handpan, a fascinating percussion instrument, captivates a global audience with its rich sound, combining melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. This hang drum, despite its recent introduction, offers unmatched versatility. For musicians of all levels, mastering the handpan requires refined technique.

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This article reveals methods to perfect your play, from correctly holding the hand drum to executing sophisticated scales. Explore advanced strategies to enrich your musicality and tips to progress in your practice. Get ready to excel in the art of the hang steel instrument with insights from Zena-Drum.

To read: How to choose your first handpan ?

1. What is a handpan and how does it work ?

The hangdrum is a hollow-bellied percussion instrument that can rightfully be mistaken for a flying saucer. It consists of two half-shells made of steel or other metal that have been hand-hammered and shaped to create a series of notes.

The handpan can be played standing or sitting, placed on the floor, on your legs, or on a suitable stand. To produce sounds with a steel hang drum, the player strikes the notes with their fingers, palms, or by using mallets.

There are various striking and pressing techniques. The pan hand drum is capable of producing a range of melodic and harmonic notes, making it a versatile instrument for playing music across different genres.

Meet your new handpan by exploring our collection here.


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2. Why is playing technique important for the handpan ?

The playing technique is crucial as it allows you to fully enjoy all the possibilities offered by this instrument. By mastering different striking techniques, you will be able to produce a wide scale of sounds and notes, giving you the ability to play many styles of music and create original compositions.

Here is a perfect video example of a beginner's playing technique by Thierry Bleton.

A good playing technique also enables you to play smoothly and musically, which is essential for achieving good results when playing solo or in a group. It will help you produce quality sounds and avoid errors and technical issues that can spoil your performance.

Finally, the playing technique is important for the steel handpan as it allows you to develop your creativity and musical expression. By mastering different playing techniques, you will be able to play more freely and explore new musical ideas. This will help you progress as a musician and find your own path in the world of the hung drum.

3. Basics of Handpan Playing Technique

Understanding the fundamentals of how to hold and play your handpan is essential for producing beautiful, resonant music and ensuring a comfortable, effective playing experience.

a. How to Hold the Instrument

How you hold your handpan is important for playing comfortably and effectively. There are several ways to hold the instrument, but here are some general tips:

Sit comfortably and place the handpan in front of you. You can place it on your thighs, on a stand, or on a flat surface. If you place it on your knees, make sure the instrument does not touch other parts of your body, as this could absorb vibrations and reduce the intensity of the notes played.

Ensure that your hands are at a comfortable distance from each other and that you can easily reach all the notes of the instrument. All the notes should be easily accessible so you can play without limiting the instrument's potential.

It's important to note that each player has their own way of holding the instrument, and what works for one may not work for another. The best way to find the playing position that suits you best is to practice and find what works best for you.

    b. How to Strike the Notes and Produce Sounds ?

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    To produce sounds with your handpan, you can use your fingers, palms or chopsticks. The technique you use will depend on the sound you want to produce. For example, you can strike a note with your fingertips to produce a clear, crystalline sound, or with the flat of your hand to produce a duller, lower-pitched sound.

    Here are some additional tips to help you produce sounds with your handpan:

    - Experiment with the instrument's different notes to find the ones that suit you best and produce the sounds you want to play. Each hang is unique and has its own range of notes and sounds, so take the time to discover all that your instrument has to offer.

    - Don't give up! Practice regularly to improve your playing technique. The more you practice, the more adept you'll become with your instrument. We're convinced that after just a few hours' practice, you'll notice the difference. Your playing will become smoother and more pleasing to the ear.

    - Listen to other handpan players and try to reproduce their playing techniques. This will help you discover new ways of producing sounds and playing the instrument. You can also watch videos online to discover different playing techniques and get inspired by the way other musicians play the handpan.

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    c. How to play harmonics and scales?

    Harmonics and scales are essential elements of handpan playing technique. They help you develop your musical ear and agility, and familiarize yourself with the instrument's different notes.

    Here are some tips for playing scales on your handpan:

    • Start by learning the scale of your instrument (usually G Minor for most handpan models). This will help you get familiar with the notes and develop your musical ear.
    • Pay attention to the accuracy of the notes you play. Ensure you strike each note precisely to achieve a clear and pleasant sound.
    • Use a metronome if needed to maintain a steady rhythm and improve your rhythmic accuracy.
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      In addition to working on your scales and handpan scale, it's important to develop your improvisation skills and playing fluidity. To achieve this, you can:

      • Learn pieces from the repertoire or compositions specifically written for the handpan.
      • Create your own compositions using the techniques and scales you've learned.
      • Experiment with different music styles and phrasing to find what suits you best and have fun while playing.

      In summary, to become a better handpan player, it's important to work on harmonics and scales, but also to develop your ability to play pieces and compositions, and to express your musicality. Explore more at our handpan store and discover the beautiful son du handpan.

      4. Advanced handpan playing techniques

      Once you've mastered the basics of handpan playing technique, you can explore more advanced techniques to enhance your play and produce even more complex and interesting sounds.

      Here are some advanced handpan playing techniques you can explore:

      • Slap Techniques

      Using broad wrist movements, you can produce percussive sounds by striking the notes quickly and sharply. This technique is particularly useful for adding intensity and "punch" to your pieces.

      • Vibrato

      By vibrating the notes, you can add more expressiveness and warmth. To produce a vibrato, you can use different techniques, such as sliding your fingers on the notes or shaking your hand above the note you just struck.

      • Slides

      By sliding your fingers on the notes, you can produce softer and smoother sounds. You can use this technique to add coherence to your pieces and to transition smoothly from one note to another.

      Explore these techniques and more with Zena-Drum to perfect your handpan playing.

        5. How to play the handpan with other instruments ?

        Let's start with this wonderful example of combining the handpan with the Udu.

        Enjoy the result for yourself.

        Playing the handpan with other instruments can be a highly enriching and creative experience. It allows you to discover new sounds and create original compositions by combining the different musical properties of your instruments.

        Here are some tips to help you play the hang drum harmoniously with other instruments:

        The steel hang drum is primarily used as a "background instrument," helping to establish a musical atmosphere and accompany naturally more prominent instruments (piano, violin, guitar).

        Practice regularly with your fellow musicians to develop your synchronization and precision. If you are playing established pieces, make sure you know the music sheets (or keep them in front of you).

        Be creative and flexible by trying new things and adapting your playing to the needs of the composition.

        Improvisation is an important part for all hang players. Don't be too hard on yourself and let the magic of the handpan work its charm.

        Discover our exclusive collection of handpans to enrich your musical experience in harmony with other instruments. Visit our store today to find your perfect musical partner !

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        6. Summary of essential techniques for mastering the Handpan

        Technique Description
        Hand positioning Keep your hands relaxed for optimum resonance and avoid fatigue.
        Typing notes Use your fingertips for a smooth, precise touch on the notes.
        Rhythmic play Incorporate a variety of rhythmic patterns to enrich your musical compositions.
        Improvisation Practice improvisation to explore sonic possibilities and develop your own unique style.
        Handpan maintenance Clean your handpan regularly with a soft cloth and protect it from extreme weather conditions.


        This chart aims to provide a clear understanding of the fundamentals for advanced handpan mastery, ensuring harmonious progression in your musical practice.

        Master the hang instrument with our essential techniques. Browse our complete guide and start your musical journey today! If you're ready to begin your musical adventure, explore our full collection here!

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        Exploring advanced techniques can greatly enhance your play and produce more complex, interesting sounds on your handpan. In addition to honing your playing technique, it's crucial to develop your musical ear and creativity. Listen to music, replicate the phrases and techniques you hear, and create your own pieces using the various scales and techniques you've learned. Discover the full potential of your instrument hand drum with Zena-Drum.


        1. How long does it take to learn the handpan?

        Learning the handpan can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on your musical background and practice frequency. With regular practice and the right guidance, you can start playing simple melodies within a few weeks. Explore resources at Zena-Drum for beginners.

        2. Where can I learn handpan?

        You can learn the handpan through online tutorials, workshops, and private lessons. Websites like Zena-Drum offer comprehensive guides and videos to help you get started. Joining a local or online community can also provide valuable tips and support.

        3. What is handpan used for?

        The handpan is used for various purposes, including meditation, relaxation, and music therapy, due to its soothing sounds. It's also popular in musical performances and recordings across different genres, adding a unique, ethereal quality to compositions. Discover the versatility of the instrument handpan at Zena-Drum.

        4. How easy is it to learn handpan?

        The handpan is relatively easy to learn, especially for beginners. Its intuitive layout and harmonious scales allow you to produce pleasant sounds quickly. With consistent practice and the right resources from Zena-Drum, you can progress from simple rhythms to more complex compositions.

        5. What are the benefits of playing the handpan?

        Playing the handpan offers numerous benefits, including stress relief, improved concentration, and enhanced creativity. It also provides a unique way to express emotions and connect with others through music. Explore the therapeutic and musical advantages of this instrument hand drum with Zena-Drum.