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What's That Sound? How To Make Different Tones with Your Finger Cymbals

"When you first start out, it’s best to use just the basic sound, but as you advance, you can add different sounds."

Choosing from the various sounds that can be made with your Finger Cymbals not only shows your ability as a musician, but it gives you options based on the environment that you are playing in. Depending on the venue, you may need to adjust. For instance, "if you were playing in a loud restaurant, you need the sound to be bigger." If you are in a quieter environment such as someone's home, you would need to bring the volume down a level.

Below are the various sounds that I teach, and i hope that you find them useful!


Standard version: this is the most often used sound when playing the Finger Cymbals. To get a good ring and not muffle the sound, hit the thumb and middle finger cymbals together quickly and straight on before springing open your fingers immediately. "This will get you a pure, clear, celestial note." Here's a tip: "Always use your entire hand to produce the sound, not just your thumb and middle finger," as this will help you to play better and for longer periods of time.

Alternative version: While most dancers will use the "standard" version, an alternative is to get he ring by making the stroke just on the edge of the Finger Cymbals.


"You can also use a snap where are you slide the middle finger across the thumb," which will give you the same sound as the Ring.


This can be used for an accent on certain strokes within the Rhythm, or anytime that you want to drop the volume." You make this sound by tapping the two Finger Cymbals together just on the edge, in a 90° angle configuration. You will support the thumb Cymbal by bending the thumb joint and brace that Cymbal against the palm. You will muffle the sound with the index and ring fingers on the other Cymbal, and tap the two Cymbals together, just on the edge. Placing the index finger on the Cymbal gives "you not only speed, But also control."

Tip: Avoid making a "T" shape where the thumb Cymbal hits the elastic inside the middle finger Cymbal, as this muffles the sound in a way that you don't want.


This one is used for great emphasis because of the muted and earthy tone. Place the index finger and ring finger on either side of the middle finger on the Finger Cymbal. Hold your hands in "front of your body as if you were holding a piece of paper," and strike the Finger Cymbals together evenly, making full contact and closing completely.

Tip: Keep the Finger Cymbals close together for speed, as it "is difficult to play fast when there’s more space to cover."


You can place one finger symbol on your thumb from another set. Doing to will add a different tone also adds a different depth.



For another accent, you can use the Clap on certain parts of the rhythm, such as the Dum.


You will literally make a square or box shape with the Finger Cymbals, and strike them together rapidly, moving your hands vigorously back and forth. Use this for when your song has faded ending, or "even certain parts of your music as an accent."


This is similar to the Box, but there is no need to make that square shape. Bring your middle fingers and thumbs close together, and with the same motion as the Box, quickly hit the edges of the Finger Cymbals. I like this for endings or when I can't applause by clapping my hands because I have my Finger Cymbals on!


This is a variation of the Box or Applause. Instead of Hit the Cymbal of the right thumb with the left middle finger Cymbal (or vice versa) hit them together repeatedly and quickly.

Fez Monkey:

Spread your fingers and line the hands up. Just like the toy, hit the Cymbals together!

Patty Cake:

This is a fun way to play the "tek-a" within a Rhythm. Hit the right thumb Cymbal to the left middle finger Cymbal, and do the same on the other side.


This is more for home practice or for Finger Cymbal class to help keep the noise level down. While practicing at home, not everyone in your household may share your enthusiasm for learning the Finger Cymbals!

You can simply slide a sock over each hand, and there are two easy ways to do this. First, you can slide the sock over the hand, excluding the thumb. The second way is to slip the sock over the entire hand.

Another option is to apply four self-adhesive cork or felt pads to the underside of each Finger Cymbal. I would recommend

not doing this with your performance set, only the set that you use for practice or class.


Virginia Mesmera Caroleena Nericcio Ansuya Michelle Joyce Alexandra King Jamila Salimpour Maria Strova Tamalyn Dallal Neena and Veena

Keti Sharif

Elsa Leandros

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