How to Play the Djembe : Jim Donovan’s Rhythmic Foundation

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Get the full DVD at or See more lessons at Beginner Djembe Lesson. A detailed, step by step lesson on how to play the Djembe drum. Includes basic tones, positions, how to sit and more. Jim Donovan was a founding member and driving force of the multi-platinum band Rusted Root from 1990-2005. Donovan studied and played African rhythms with various master drummers such as Congolese master drummer Elie Kihonia and Etse Nyadedzor. He also studied African Music with noted scholar Kwabena Nketia from Ghana. Donovan’s music has been featured in major motion films such as Ice Age, Twister, Mathilda as well as on various network television shows such as American Idol, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Party of Five, and the PBS “Web of Life” documentary.

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islandmamma says:

hey thats good advice I was holding my breath!

trancebynature2 says:

very helpfull tips

harrydfrisch says:

Root, DUDE!! I recorded at Mr Smalls a long time ago…

willtopper says:

I have gone to 5 of his workshops… GREAT TEACHER!!!!!! He makes it make sense. He makes it build on itself. He works on relaxing and breathing with you. an Incredible experience as much fun as education. And he is a really a nice guy. If you get a change to go GO TO ONE OF HIS WORKSHOPS

FortissimoMusic says:

me pops just got one! there awesome!

Nigriff says:

You are a true gift Jim !

Izzy94bg says:


sheliaann1969 says:

Thank you fo rthis, it is indeed helpful adn appreciated.

XXmikeypaulXX says:

this guy is so good on explaining things that i got my new djembe with me practicing

XXmikeypaulXX says:

this is excellent! the lesson is easy to follow which is good for me because my head isnt on straight sometimes if u get my meaning. im getting my djembe today or tomorrow and have been looking up lessons and i think this is the best.

happyslap300 says:

please make sure when you are playing that you keep breathing Lol

maximon72 says:

i think you also need to mention the way the base of the drum rests on the ground because for a beginner it may be overlooked that if the base opening is resting completely flat on the ground it will muffled the sound and you wont get the basic sounds you are demonstrating n your clip.

stratosphy says:

I do forgot to breathe.. 🙂

rmbarata says:

Yeah me too but it’s true… sometimes i find myself holding my breath when playing !! hehe

RumTumYummy says:

awesome tips

annlandau says:

I am new to djembe playing…just bought my drum today. I particularly like that he plays the same visual perspective so I can imitate more easily. Other videos I have to remember which hand to use as the instructor faces me. Excellent instruction! I also wasn’t breathing when he made that comment :-))

MsSmorgan says:

Very helpful thank you.

TheBassHeavy says:

I need to get one

flashkwf says:

i personally love how after he warns us not to hit the edge of the drum on open tones the second thing he does is miss the head completely and hits the rim

MapleLeafTourmaline says:

Just bought a djembe and this video was very encouraging. I will be buying the DVD. Thank you!

TheOwenmatthess says:

very helpfull, thankyou very much

TuckmanJiggityJones says:

Haha, wow… I’ve never felt so musically competent.

Violation1 says:

“please make sure as you play that you are still breathing”

that made me giggle

DFunk216 says:

This is a wonderful lesson, and by far the #1 thing he says is take your jewelery off first. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes you can forget. He knows whats hes talking about.

SmokieMac says:

Lots of beginners Djembe videos on YouTube. Yours is the first I’ve seen with someone who actually knows how to teach. Great job!

bPofDuluth says:

Excellent teaching. Very clear.

luciefeenstra says:

i’ve a callus on both my thumbs from wacking them when i play. i should really stop doing that but old habbits die hard

Lauranyyfan says:

Thank you for making it easy to learn the basics. Should you expect your fingers to swell or am I not striking properly? (mainly my Left index finger, middle)
Thank you.

amordemadre says:

I agree whit catmari1963 , great job!

captainobvious9999 says:

Added to favorites. Excellent video friend. I look forward to watching your other ones now. I am learning traditional acoustic drums and have been wanting to pick up a Djembe and now I think I will. Thanks for the excellent instruction. You have a talent for teaching.

meerkatzzz says:

Thank you. I’m a beginner, I found your videos easy to understand and really enjoyable to learn.thanks again!!

badgextc says:

i definitely learned something..
thank you

thoushallrockhard says:

groovy video thanks,very helpful

totemdrum777 says:

…very cool,man…what happened with Rusted Root anyways?….you are the man…Back to the Earth !!

hoprehopre says:

thanks – very helpfull. Here is a comment from a beginner: if you start and end with nice (for us difficult) playing this would motivate the beginners…

bren79ren says:

Really really helpfull. thanks

ShawnBecker1 says:

Can someone reccomend me a nice djembe that’s around 150-250 dollars?

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