Pandeiro Lesson #1 – The Basics and Building Your Left Wrist Technique

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As I mentioned in class and as I always say, the pandeiro is not an easy instrument to learn.  It requires discipline and practice.  Don’t be in a rush to play fast or play a bunch of grooves.  You need to walk before you can run.  Take your time building a foundation with proper technique and you’ll be able to play any groove you want, at any tempo, for the rest of your life.   A solid foundation on the pandeiro means focusing on your left wrist (the hand that holds the drum) and building the muscles and coordination.  Remember, we’re using the “grid technique” that I discussed in the previous blog post which requires you to focus on your left wrist, gain full control of the jingles and build endurance.   Here’s a few steps that you can take to start building a proper technique on the pandeiro.


  1. How to Hold the Pandeiro: This is the most important step.  If you don’t hold the pandeiro correctly you run the risk on harming yourself and developing tendonitis.  Notice that your thumb is diving the pandeiro in half which helps you visualize your axis which is very important.  We have to divide the pandeiro into equal halves to get an even sound.  This will help your articulation, sound, feel and overall dexterity on the instrument.  Here’s a short video lesson that I did with my friends at Meinl Percussion where I discuss the proper way of holding the pandeiro.   Start here if you’re just beginning to play the pandeiro.


  2.  The next step is adding your right hand onto the drum.  We will call the palm of our hand “heel” and the finger tips “toes”.  Our motion will always be in the grid which is Heel-Toe-Heel-Toe.  The placement of your right hand should be on the outer rim of the drum and you should aim for only hearing the jingles, no bass tones.  (some drums will have an overtone when you play on the rim, that’s ok)  Pay close attention to your articulation and make sure that your sound is even!  Don’t let the heel be louder than your toes.  Here’s a video lesson to help you with this step.


  3.  Here’s a few accent exercises to help you develop this technique.


I highly recommend that you master these lessons before moving any further on the pandeiro.  This is your foundation for everything that you will be doing on this instrument in the future.  Take your time, there’s no rush!  And remember, HAVE FUN…it’s MUSIC!!


I’ll see you in the next blog post where we’ll be adding some bass tones and new exercises.

Your partner in rhythm,

Scott Kettner

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