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Stories, Folktales, Folklore, Fairy Tales, Legends,
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Books about Drums, Drumming - Children, incl. Kindle
Books about Drums - Reference
, Drum Instruction
Online links to stories/info about Drums
SOS: Searching Out Stories and Info - Drums
...Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
...Teachers and Librarians

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Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more information.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience and to save you research time.

Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum (Aladdin Books) by Ashley Bryan (illus). (1987 - Ages 9-12)
Here are five Nigerian folktales, retold in language as rhythmic as the beat of the story-drum, and illustrated with vibrant, evocative woodcuts.

Broken Drum (White Mane Kids) by Edith Morris Hemingway, Jacqueline Costrove Shields and Kenneth L. Cosgrove (illus). (1996)
In 1861 Charley, a twelve-year-old drummer boy with the Army of the Potomac, is caught up in the excitement and horrors of the Civil War as he travels from Washington towards Antietam.

Dancing Drum (Native American Legends) by Cohlene. (1998 - Ages 9-12)
This enchanting Cherokee legend comes alive through the author's vivid adaptation and striking illustrations. Children will be spellbound as they read about the distinctive lifestyle and beliefs of the Cherokee people. Full color.

Divided Loyalties: A Revolutionary War Fifer's Story by Phyllis Hall Haislip. (2005)
The Revolutionary War has torn apart eleven-year-old Teddy’s family. His father is a Patriot, his mother a Loyalist. Problems at home lead to Teddy’s enlistment. He mistakenly joins the wrong unit of the State Garrison Regiment and enters a whole new world of men and boys leaving Williamsburg, Virginia, for the relief of Charleston, South Carolina. As a member of the fife and drum corps, Teddy contends with old enemies and forges new loyalties.

Drum (The): A Folktale from India (Story Cove: a World of Stories) by Rob Cleveland. (2006 - Ages 4-8)
In this story. a poor boy's dream of having a drum takes him on an unlikely path. He meets several people that guide him along the way. In time, he learns to make his own magic in this world.

Drum (The) and the Hoe (Library Reprint) by Harold Courlander. (1986)
The music: musical notations by Mieczyslaw Kolinski of 186 songs and drum rhythms.

Drumdee Makes a Drum by Floyd Darden, Ph.D. (2007 - Ages 9-12)
Drumdee is a story of imagination and the art of creativity. The power of personal motivation is expressed by Drumdee, as he focuses on his goal of building a new instrument. Kids learn with him as he discovers how to enjoy himself with friends, singing, dancing, and playing instruments just for fun. Finding what you like and how to enjoy living is a great and rewarding experience.

Drums and Shadows: Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes by Georgia Writers' Project.
Traces the persistence of African heritage in the culture of blacks living on the Georgia coast in the 1930s. In the later years of the depression, members of the Georgia Writers' Project visited and interviewed blacks, many of whose grandparents, smuggled into slavery as late as 1858, had passed on the customs and beliefs of their African past.

Healing Drum (The): African Wisdom Teachings by Yaya Diallo, Mitch Hall. (1994) - Book/CD.
Traces the extraordinary cultural legacy of the Minianka tribe of West Africa, for whom music serves a sacred, healing function for the individual and society. The authors explore the Minianka view of humanity, music, and the cosmos relative to work, celebration, herbal medicine, dance, trance, initiation, and death.
The first book of its kind, delivering a message of untapped wisdom and power from a little-known culture through the universal medium of music.

Jungle Drums by Graeme Base. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Little Ngiri is the Smallest Warthog in Africa. Tired of being teased by his bigger brothers and sisters, he wishes things could be different. When Old Nyumbu the Wildebeest gives Ngiri a set of magic drums, he is sure his wish is about to come true. But all the animals of the jungle are in for a BIG surprise as Ngiri's wish is granted in a most unexpected way.

King's Drum (The) and Other African Stories by Harold Courlander. (1962)
A collection of folk tales covering many peoples and many regions of Africa. They reflect ways of living and thinking that will soon disappear. Tales of heroes and pseudo-heroes, human and animal tricksters, conflicts and dilemmas. Some stories, like "The Song of Gimmile," which uses the strange custom of singing as a social weapon against injustice, are peculiarly African, while others, like "The Stone Lute," bear a marked similarity to tales in the folkore of Asia, America, and Europe.

Kokopelli: Drum in Belly by Gail E. Hailey. (2003 - Ages 4-8)
Relates the story of legendary Native American deity Kokopelli the Cicada. Mesmerized by Kokopelli's haunting flute music and calmed by the thumping of the drum in his belly, the naive Ant People follow Kokopelli out of the Dark World through four layers of other worlds until they reach the Green World, where sunlight ""shriveled their underground skins"" and they become the First People.

Leopard's Drum (The): An Asante Tale from West Africa by Jessica Souhami. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Osebo the leopard has a fine drum, a huge drum, a magnificent drum. All the animals covet Osebo’s drum, but he won’t let anyone else have it, not even Nyame, the Sky-God. So, Nyame offers a big reward to the animal that brings him the drum. All try — the monkey, the elephant, even the python — and all fail. Can a very small tortoise succeed in outwitting the boastful leopard?

Li'l Dan, the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story by Somare Bearden (illus), Henry Louis, Jr. Gates (Foreword), Maya Angelou (Reader). (2003 - Ages 4-8)
Li'l Dan, a slave on a Southern plantation, loves to play his drum. When a company of Union soldiers announce that the slaves have been set free, Dan has no place to go, so he follows the soldiers, who make him their mascot. But Confederate soldiers attack, and Dan discovers that he is the only one who can save his friends.

Little Music Box (The) & The Clever Toy Drum (Enid Blyton Padded Story Books) by Enid Blyton. (2004 - Baby-Preschool)
Charming stories about animals, fairies, toys, pixies and children, these Enid Blyton classics are sure to become a favorite in everyone's home and library. Just the right length for reading at bedtime or quiet moment, each book contains two stories in an attractive and child-friendly package. The stories are filled with magic and adventure to capture the imagination.

Monkey's New Drum (The): Based on a Trickster Tale from Panama (Latin American Tales and Myths) by Sandy Sepehri, Brian Demeter. (2007 - Ages 9-12)
This classic tale of friendship comes to us from Panama. The Tortoise and the Monkey end up pitted against each other in a winner-take-all speed race through the jungle trees. Whatever the outcome, they both end up winners and friends.

Patakin: World Tales of Drums and Drummers by Nina Jaffe. (2001 - YA) (Book/CD)
Where do drums come from? From the god Ayan, the Yoruba tell us; from Skeleton Woman, the Inuit say; from the stolen voice of the nevilala bird, according to the slit drummers of Vanuatu. Recounting ten myths about drums and drummers from around the globe, storyteller and accomplished drummer Nina Jaffe shows readers both the universal power of drums and the richness of folk traditions. The author plays with master drummers.

Royal Drum: An Ashanti Tale by Mary Dixon Lake, Carol O'Malia. (1996 - Ages 4-8)
A read-aloud rebus treasure from the Ashanti in Ghana. Who is the laziest animal of all? All the animals gather together to help make a drum for the king of the jungle.

Singing Story, Healing Drum: Shamans and Storytellers of Turkic Siberia by K. Van Deusen.
Explores the shamanic practices, worldview, oral traditions, and music of the Turkic peoples of Tuva and Khakassia (south Siberia), past and present. It is based on the author's fieldwork since 1993, conducting interviews, recording stories, participating in rituals and everyday life. Includes conversations, folktales, legends, adn shamanic poems that illuminate spiritual traditions, and introduces ethnographic literature in Russian, mostly unavailable in the West.

Talking Drums: Reading and Writing with African American Stories, Spirituals, and Multimedia Resources by Wanda Cobb Finnen. (2004)
Through stories, spirituals, and recommended resource books, Finnen exposes students to the rich history and heritage of Africa and African Americans.

Two Sticks by Orel Protopopescu and Anne Wilsdorf (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
All Maybelle has is two sticks – her “tried and trusty true sticks.” And so, on tables, chairs, and even her parents’ bedroom door, Maybelle takes those sticks and clicks and clacks them, whacks and smacks them – until her sleepy parents shout: STOP! But can Maybelle stop? Even coming face-to-face with eleven toothy crocodiles doesn’t deter Maybelle. She keeps her cool and her beat– charming those reptiles until she finally gets a real drum of her own.

With Fife & Drum: Music, Memories and Customs of an Irish Tradition by Gary Hastings. (2003)
A history of the uniquely Ulster Lambeg drum, including a CD ROM.

Zimani's Drum: A Malawian Legend (Legends of the World) by Lilly, Melinda Lilly, Charles Reasoner. (1998 - Ages 3-8)
While out walking with his brother Cikungwa, blind Zimani has an encounter with Mkango the lion and tries to trick him before he has a chance to kill them.


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Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more information.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience and to save you research time.

Accidental Drum Circle (The): A General Music Success Story by Mark Burrows. (2006)
The author shares how, with no more than two hand-drum lessons to his credit, he put together a drum circle program that reached hundreds of elementary students. This humorous "quick read" addresses everything from how to arrange the instruments and students to the basics of drumming to how to start a groove to how to have a drum circle without drums, and dozens of topics in between.

Alfred's Kid's Drum Course Complete (Book & 2 CD's) by Alfred Publishing (editor). (2007)
A fun method that teaches you to play rhythms and songs on a variety of drums & sound sources, including simple objects found around your home. The CDs let you hear how the music should sound, and each lesson is explained in plain language that's easy to understand. Plus, you get to learn from three irresistible drum experts - a clever, classical dog, one cool cat, and a friendly alligator.

Marching to a Different Drum: Successful Learning for All Kids by Art Attwell (editor). (2005)
What greater reward can a teacher experience than to see a student’s eyes sparkle with the wonderment of learning? This book provides six keys into the teaching-learning process through applying brain-mind research to each child’s learning style. These applications allow every child to experience the joy of learning—even those considered slow learners or developmentally delayed.

Mel Bay Drum Lessons for Kids of All Ages book/CD set by Rob Silverman and Mike Silverman. (2001)
For the beginning drum student, this book contains many essential reading and playing skills for the snare and drumset. These studies are integrated in a logical, sequential order. The author provides a fun and humorous way of learning to play drums while at the same time implementing the fundamental tools necessary to be a proficient musician. The companion CD presents eight play-along tunes with and without the drums.

Realistic Rock for Kids: My 1st Rock & Roll Drum Method with CD (Audio) by Carmine Appice. (2002)
Reader: I am using this book with a young man of 7 years old and he is learning to play the drums the right way - reading music, counting, the whole deal with very little effort or pain. I highly recommend this book. Excellent teaching materials! I also use the Haskell W. Harr Drum Method - Book One: For Band and Orchestra in conjunction with this one.

Sing, Strum, and Beat the Drum!, Level 4: A Musical Adventure (Lithgow Palooza Readers) by John Lithgow and Teresa Domnauer. (2005 - Ages 4-8)
(Yes, this is the well-known actor.)

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Online links and book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more stories / information.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
"The Tortoise and the Drum" from All Folktales.
"War Drum" by Ajay Jaiman from Pitara Kids Network.
"How Beasts and Serpents Came into the World" in West African folk-tales, from SurLaLune Fairy Tales.
Drum and Percussion
Drum Storytelling
The Nanapowe Drum Group - a Native American spiritual drum group from Wisconsin.
Kripalu drumming groups - KDZ group
Audio samples of Kripalu KDZ drumming.
Native American Rhythms
American Indian Drums
Listen to the Sound of a Native American Drum
Drum Me a Story - Wild Swan Theater study guide
Sacred Drums... Voodoo, etc.
Symbolism of the African drum and dance
Drumming With Kids by Hollly Blue Hawkins.
Drumming for Kids: Making the Basics Fun and Easy, taught by Sam Zucchini.
Drums & Percussion are FUN! from Examples of kids drumming all over the world.
Drums, percussion, musical toys, kazoos, etc. plus books and media and teaching aids from West Music.
Planet Drum: Children: Drumming is Life. "Drumming teaches self-esteem, self-motivation, coordination, focus, confidence and commitment. Most of all it teaches us how to have FUN!"
Talking Drum Game - Teaching Rhythm and Movement by Nikki G. from Argosy University. Grade level K-3.
Teaching drumming to kids.
Michael Harner's shamanic drumming CDs. They're hypnotic and repetitious. You can listen here to audio clips.

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more stories / information.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
All posts are entered are they are received at Story Lovers World. No names or attributions included prior to 2007.

1) Bimwili and the Zimwi (Picture Puffins) by Verna Aardema. The Zimwi puts the little girl into a drum and takes it from village to village until her parents hear her voice. There is another similar tale in Bobby Norfolk's The Moral of the Story (World Storytelling from August House) called Bibi and the Singing Drum.

I don't know about this story, maybe someone else knows more than just the title but it can be found on a sound cassette by Naomi Adler called: Play Me A Story (The Barefoot Book of Musical Tales) by Naomi Adler. 9 tales about Musical Instruments. There is a story from Africa called "The Singing Drum."

2) Jackie and Glenn "Papa" Wright
University City, MOs
These dynamic tellers are in demand at annual storytelling festivals. Their high-energy performances are delightfully punctuated with rhythm and sound effects using percussion instruments. Glenn is a master at finding the beat of a story. He uses many percussion instruments to enliven the story.

3) Margart Little Critter: Just a Little Music et Read McDonald has a book, Shake-It-Up Tales! I'll bet there are some in there. Also, in Tales Alive!: Ten Multicultural Folktales With Activities (Williamson Tales Alive Books) by Susan Milord there is a story called "A Drum." It is a folktale from India.

4) There are two African drum stories in Troubador's Storybag by Norma Livo. One - "Osebo's Drum" - is from Ghana and the other, "The Drum," is a Bantu story from the Congo.

5) The Cat's Purr by Ashley Bryan is his version of an Africa tale in which Cat and Rat are good friends until Rat tries to play Cat's special drum that was given to him by his uncle. As their quarrel proceeds, Cat ends up swallowing the drum and now only Cat can choose who will play his drum.

6) Uganda folklore. Most regions use drums in a variety of contexts. Historically, drums were often closely associated with positions of power in many regions. These "royal drums" are personified and treated as living entities. In pre-colonial times, to possess one of these drums legitimated one's position of social power and importance. Aerophones such as flutes and sets of tuned horns (called amakondere, agwara or amagwara in different regions) are also used as are a seemingly endless number of shakers, rattles, and bells.

7) Musical instruments. The musical instruments of sub-Saharan Africa include a wide variety of resonant solids (idiophones) such as rattles, bells, stamping tubes, the mbira (thumb piano), and the xylophone. Parchment-head drums (membranophones) are found in many forms, such as goblet drums; kettledrums; cylindrical, semicylindrical, and barrel-shaped drums; and hourglass drums with variable-tension heads... Body percussion is also exploited, the most common being handclapping and foot stamping.

In selecting any instrument for music making or communication, consideration is given to its melodic and rhythmic capacities, its evocative or dramatic power, or its symbolic references. The tuning systems, scales, and rhythms associated with instruments tend to be more complex than those of songs. Rhythm patterns in one line or several simultaneous lines may interlock, overlap, or form polyrhythmic structures. Such structures may utilize cross-rhythms or alternate double and triple rhythms in linear patterns...

8) Bird Biology and the Arts. Native Americans living on the northwest coast of our continent were consummate bird artists. They used stylized depictions of ravens (which were considered gods and played a central role in their religion), eagles, and oystercatchers, etc., in carved masks and rattles as well as on painted screens, drums, and boxes. While the symbolic use of birds (and parts of their anatomy) is ancient, depictions of bird biology are by no means a modem invention. For instance, a stylized tick bird picking parasites from the back of a bull is painted on a piece of pottery dating to the late Mycenaean, more than a thousand years before Christ, and an early English book contains a picture of an owl being mobbed.

9) The Shinto Trinity... The mitsu tomoe often appears on the surface of drums and the ends of corner roof tiles. Tomoe may swirl in either directions. Some families use them as their family crest...
(URL no longer valid)

10) The Bronze Drums...Many different symbols are represented on the bronze drum. These drums were a way for people to broaden their lives, moving them from rice cultivation to music. On these drums many symbols from in their daily lives can be seen. The figures allowed people to pass on to future generations what things were important to them...

11) "Bringing the African Culture into the Church" by Buti Tlhagale.
Drums, Dance and the Clapping of Hands
In the past, the tearing of the skin of the drum was a symbol of conversion to Christianity. This was based on the belief that the drum was a medium of communication between the traditional healer and the ancestors. The sound of the drum is believed to arouse the ancestral spirits. It is believed that through the sound of the drum together with the accompanying rhythmic dancing and the clapping of hands, the traditional healer can bring about the presence of the ancestral spirits. It is believed that in the context of a healing ritual, dancing soothes the pain. It restores the lost equilibrium. It is therefore seen as a physiological therapy. Wells records that many healers said that they would often beat the drum before sleeping in order to request the ancestors to communicate with them through dreams.

The use of drums as a means of communicating with the ancestral spirits remain valid at a symbolic level. It is an intentional invitation to the spirits to heed the requests of the supplicants. It also has the effect of summoning the applicants to be attentive. It is for this reason that in some African cultures drums are being used during consecration not only to create an appropriate spiritual disposition but also to acknowledge the divine presence after the words of consecration have been pronounced.

12) Not Just For Children Anymore - book source
In the Time of the Drums (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner) by Kim Siegelson, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. 1999. Powerful and mystical, this tale of slaves who chose death over slavery by walking into the ocean rather than onto land originates with the Gullah people of the Sea Islands of Georgia and North Carolina. Ghostly yet so real, the drums of this tale call one to greater faith, conviction, and the desire to remain free.

13) A teacher at my daughter's school uses this story. She asked my help learning where it came from. I'm not familiar with it. Does anybody know its cultural origin and published sources? The plot outline: A drummer sits on a mountaintop, drumming day and night, never resting. The drumming disturbs an eagle, who eventually comes and tears off the drummer's hands. The drummer continues, so the eagle tears off the drummer's arms, then legs, and finally head. But the heartbeat continues the drumming. The eagle attains enlightenment, restores the drummer's body and life, and humbly asks to learn to drum. This sounds like it could come from several places. Does anybody know for sure?

Sounds like a Jataka tale, what with the eagle's enlightenment. This might have been one of the previous incarnations of the Buddha!

14) Query: Can anyone recommend a CD that features drumming? I'm putting together a preschool rhythm band and would like a CD with constant drumming to keep the beat as I encourage them to add their instruments.
Also: I have some rhythm instruments, but would like to add to the collection. Can anyone recommend a good site for purchasing inexpensive instruments. Colorful, interesting would be good too.
Sue B. 2/25/07


a) Many of Ella Jenkins CDs/albums have drumming and rhythm. This one could be a good introduction to using rhythm instruments.
Adventures in Rhythm
Check out her other CDs too.

Beverly C. 2/26/07

b) You can go to online party stores like this one and buy different items to make your own set.

This is a good online book with lots of activities to do with the young ones using musical instruments; 101 Musical Activities for Young Children. It's a long URL so make sure to paste in the entire address.

I found this drumming cd online, great reviews and you can even listen to some music clips before you decide to buy.
Planet Drum: A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm

Karen C. 2/25/07

c) Yes, there are so many stories that can be enhanced with big drums, small drums, hand clapping, toe-tapping, patting on legs, calling out in rhythm, wonderful interactive experiences. If the story makes you want a drum, get a drum! Once you have one, you'll find yourself wanting to use it. The sound is primal, connecting with the beating of your own personal drum, your heart--good medicine!

Also: The Leopard's Drum, Punjabi/English-Language Edition: An Asante Tale from West Africa, retold from an Ashanti (Asante) folktale by Jessica Souhami.

Osebo the Leopard has built a huge and magnificent drum that everyone can hear. But Osebo won't permit anyone to try the drum, not even Nyame, who is Sky-God. Nyame promises that anyone who can bring Leopard's drum to him will receive a wonderful reward for teaching the leopard a lesson about his greedy, disrespectful ways. Then Nyame waits.

Python (Onini) tries to get the drum. Osebo's sharp claws and teeth, and terrible growl, scare Onini away. Elephant (Esono) tries; Osebo scares him away, too. Monkey (Asroboa) tries, using a mask to disguise himself, but Osebo scares Asroboa away, too.

Finally, Tortoise (Achi-cheri) tries to get Osebo's drum She is small and soft-shelled, and would love to wear a harder shell to protect herself. Other animals tease her because of her size, but Achi-cheri tries anyway. She tricks Leopard by telling him his drum isn't really very big, only middle-sized, but nice; she tells Osebo that Nyame's drum is the biggest she's ever seen, so big that Sky-God can climb inside it and not be seen at all.

The leopard brags that he can climb into his drum and not be seen, too. Osebo crawls inside, squeezing himself completely into the drum, which the tortoise seals with a cooking pot. Then Achi-cheri drags the huge, heavy drum to the place where Nyame waits. Nyame laughs at the lesson that the little tortoise has taught a big, bragging leopard. As a reward, Nyame gives Achi-cheri the strong, hard shell that the tortoise wears to this day.
This is what I can remember. Please don't think these are the exact words from Ashley Bryan's book, The Cat's Purr (this is an old folktale, with versions from West Africa to the Antilles:

Cat and Rat are friends; they live next to one another, and work together in their huge garden. One night, Cat's uncle brings him a very small drum that makes a wonderful sound--purrum, purrum--when it is gently stroked; the drum has been passed down in the family from one generation to the next. Rat hears Cat's drum early the next morning; Rat wants to play the drum, which is meant to be played only by the cat family. Rat reminds Cat of how they shared Cat's bamboo flute, but Cat will not share the drum.

Rat claims to be hungry, too hungry to work without breakfast; Cat feeds him, and while Rat eats, he tries to think of a way to play that drum. Rat eats and eats until his belly is as tight as a drum itself, and its time for lunch (or tea?--I can't remember). Cat feeds Rat, but warns him that he's going to make himself sick; this gives Rat an idea.

When he has finished eating, Rat complains that his belly hurts too badly for him to work. Cat tells Rat to rest in his bed ("cool his belly"), while Cat works. As soon as Rat is sure that Cat is gone, Rat jumps out of bed, gets the drum, hugs it, sings (I can't remember what the words might be), and plays the drum. Cat hears, and runs from the fields; when he gets to his house, Rat is in the bed, with the covers pulled up to his chin. Cat wakes Rat; Rat claims he was asleep and didn't hear a thing. Cat tucks his friend back into bed, and goes back to work in the fields.

Rat plays the drum again. Cat hears. The same thing happens. But this time, Cat waits close to the house, creeps in through the window, and hides under the table. Rat jumps out of bed, and gets the drum, and sings a teasing song about fooling Cat and playing his drum. Cat leaps out from under the table, meows and growls and chases Rat. Cat runs with his mouth wide open as he yowls and howls with anger. Cat leaps toward Rat, who pushes the little drum into Cat's open mouth, then runs as fast and as far as he can.

Cat swallows the drum, which settles in his belly and purrums and purrums when Cat rubs his own stomach.

Ever since then, cats have chased rats, and will try to eat them for what Rat did to Cat. But when you gently stroke a cat, you can hear the little drum inside--purrum, purrum.

Lyn F. 2/20/07

Additional reading list for books about drums:

Art and Heart of Drum Circles (The) by Christine Stevens. (2003)
Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing Drums (The), 2nd Edition by Michael Miller. (2004)
Danni The Drum Fairy (Music Fairies) by Daisy Meadoes. (2010 - Ages 4-8)
Drums For Dummies by Jeff Strong. (2006)
Healing Power of the Drum (The) by Robert Lawrence Friedman. (2000)
Little Critter: Just a Little Music by Mercer Mayer. (2009 - Ages 4-8)
Sun (The) and the Drum: African Roots in Jamaican Folk Tradition by Leonard E. Barrett. (1979)
To Be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman. (2000 - Ages 4-8)
Walking Drum (The) by Louis L'Amour. (1985)
When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm by Layne Redmond. (1997)


The Kalimba was old. It was passed from father to son for 5 generations. Every time the Kalimba sang, it sang a different song. This is because the song came from the Kalimba itself, instead of the "player." The Kalimba had a magic spirit inside which sang. From father to son for 5 generations it was taught that you must respect & keep the secret of the Magic Kalimba. Never must anyone know that you are not the real player

So it was that the Kalimba came to the 6th generation to a boy who had grown up loving the sound of the Kalimba singing. The boy's name meant Hunter of Something Better.

Hunter of Something Better was given the Kalimba because he had become a man. He was so pleased that the Kalimba was now his that he decided the Kalimba needed something special, too. Hunter of Something Better looked at the Kalimba, which already had been through 5 generations of his family, & he knew what he wanted to do for the Kalimba. It needed a protective pouch to protect it from the weather & the bumps & jolts of travel. Because he was also a hunter, Hunter of Something Better searched until he found a special antelope, an albino antelope, whose hide was as pale as the moon's own light. Hunter that he was, he stalked the albino antelope by the light of the sun & the moon's own light until at last it was his.

With the Kalimba on the rock beside him, Hunter of Something Better skinned the antelope, singing "Antelope of the pale moonlight, guard my Kalimba both day & night; Guard my Kalimba & keep it free; Preserve it
from harm for my family; Let it sing for you & for me."

After the antelope was skinned, he stretched the hide upon a frame he made to dry it. As he tied the hide to the frame, again he sang "Antelope of the pale moonlight, guard my Kalimba both day & night; Guard my Kalimba & keep it free; Preserve it from harm for my family; Let it sing for you & for me."

Only after the hide was stretched out upon the frame did he build a fire & roast the antelope meat. And as he roasted that meat, he hummed & sang, & you know what he sang. . . "Antelope of the Pale Moonlight, guard my Kalimba both day & night; Guard my Kalimba & keep it free; Preserve it from harm for my family; Let it sing for you & for me."

Now many will tell you that you are what you eat & Hunter of Something Better had eaten many animals he had hunted. He had eaten the brave Lion, the silly Monkey, the talkative Birds, &, yes, the swift, swift Antelope. He went to sleep that night without playing his Kalimba for he was so sleepy he didn't even need to hear its song. However he knew that the Kalimba had no pouch to protect it & so something made him curl up to sleep with it in his arms as he lay beside his fire.

While Hunter of Something Better slept with the Magic Kalimba by the fire warming him & the hide of the Antelope of the Pale Moonlight, a woman came by. This woman knew many secret & magical things, unfortunately she used them only for her own benefit for she craved power & wealth & was a wicked sorceress. She had heard of the Magic Kalimba & had travelled from far away, stalking it just as Hunter of Something Better had stalkedthe Antelope of the Pale Moonlight. Imagine her frustration when she saw the Kalimba safely cradled in the young man's arms!

She watched as he slept & never in his sleep did he let go of the Kalimba. At last as the dawn came she went away to a nearby place to sleep & try again later to get the Kalimba.

When Hunter of Something Better arose he stirred up the embers of the fire enough to roast the last of the antelope meat for his breakfast. Then he checked on the hide. The fire & the dry heat of the grasslands had worked incredibly swiftly upon the hide. He decided to stitch it up right away into the pouch he had planned for the Magic Kalimba &, as he cut & stitched, again he sang "Antelope of the Pale Moonlight, guard my Kalimba both day & night; Guard my Kalimba & keep it free; Preserve it from harm for my family; Let it sing for you & for me."

When he had finished he went to pick up the Kalimba. Only then did he play that Kalimba. The Kalimba sang a song of the rains that watered the plains & the sun that shone upon them & of the long, long time it had
been a part of this family. Hunter of Something Better looked deep, deep, deep into the tone hole of the Magic Kalimba & was so surprised that he nearly dropped the Magic Kalimba. Deep, deep, deep inside the Magic Kalimba he saw the faces of his ancestors smiling up at him. Then the spirit, which lived inside the Magic Kalimba & made it sing, said to the young man, "Because you have treasured me & your ancestors, I will give you a special gift. I can answer one question for true. Is it yes or no for you?"

Well Hunter of Something better was surprised by this gift. He had never eaten an animal known for its wisdom that I can recall, so perhaps it was the wisdom & training of his ancestors that helped him decide to thank
the spirit of the Magic Kalimba & say that he would have to think a while on what that question might be.

He thought about what he should ask as he worked on the rest of the hide of the Antelope of the Pale Moonlight turning it into an outfit for himself. Should he ask where the best hunting could be found? No. The question had to be answered with a yes or a no. Should he ask if he would live a long life? No. What good would come of that? If it was yes or no he would live no better & maybe even worse for knowing. Perhaps it was best to save his question for a time when he had a big decision to make.

While he was thinking these things, the sorceress who wanted the Magic Kalimba came back. She decided to act as if she was in danger & call for help. Using a spell she knew, she conjured up a giant snake & wrapped it about herself. "Help! Help! Somebody save me!", she screamed with all the terror she could manage. Hunter of Something Better heard herscreams & ran to her aid. He ran as swiftly as an antelope, but that snake disappeared even faster before his raised spear. Then he turned to the beautiful woman crying softly. He held her, comforting her & saying he was there to protect her.

She saw the Magic Kalimba was safely in the pale white pouch on his hip, so she wept a bit longer & said between her sobs that she wished there was some soothing music to calm her. Hunter of Something Better took out the Magic Kalimba to play it, but the tune was fast & jumbled & he made excuses that it was because of the excitement in saving her.

All that day & for several days after that they travelled together. Each night the Magic Kalimba would play & the sorceress would marvel at the neverending variety of songs. She begged Hunter of Something Better to tell her the secret of the songs, but he just smiled & said it had been in his family for five generations & was his to protect & play now. She asked to hold it, but he said that only his family could touch it. At last she asked, "Would it ever be possible that I might become one of your family?"

Until this time Hunter of Something Better had always carefully lain each night away from his travelling companion, respecting the fact that she was a woman alone. Now he began to find himself picturing her as his wife. His dreams & daydreams were filled with pictures of the two of them happily married & raising a family. Then when he still did not ask her, the dreams became wilder, picturing a life together without the bother of children & supporting them. When the dreams became wilder still, he woke up & took the Magic Kalimba to a riverbank & played it.

His playing woke the sorceress, but she hid in the shadows, watching & listening. Hunter of Something Better looked deep, deep, deep into the tone hole of the Magic Kalimba & saw the faces of his ancestors. They did not look happy. He was so surprised that he stopped playing. Once again the spirit inside the Magic Kalimba spoke to him, "I can answer one question true. Is it yes or no for you?"

Putting the Magic Kalimba down on the ground beside him, Hunter of Something Better closed his eyes & asked, "Should I spend my life with this woman?" As he did this she stole silently towards the Magic Kalimba that lay for the first time unprotected.

"NO!" shouted the Magic Kalimba even as she reached to seize it. Hunter of Something Better opened his eyes to see her grabbing the Magic Kalimba. She turned into an antelope & ran away into the night, but Hunter of Something Better ran with all the speed of the Antelope of the Pale Moonlight after her. As he ran, he realized he had been as foolish as a monkey & now as talkative about the secrets of the Magic Kalimba as a bird. At last he cornered her at a rock face alongside a wild stretch of the river. She had nowhere to run & so she changed herself into the giant snake that he had first seen threatening her. Brave as a lion he dashed forward plunging his dagger again & again into the writhing coils of the snake that still grasped the Magic Kalimba. At last the snake was near death, so it released the Magic Kalimba & slid into the raging waters of the river.

Exhausted, Hunter of Something Better cradled the Magic Kalimba in his hands. A few new scratches were added to its surface, but the Magic Kalimba sang a happy song for him. In reply the young man sang "Antelope of the Pale Moonlight, guard my Kalimba both day & night; Guard my Kalimba & keep it free; Preserve it from harm for my family; Let it sing for you & for me." With that he tucked the Magic Kalimba back safely inside its pouch, but not before he looked deep, deep, deep within its tone hole. By now the sun was just starting to rise & he could see the faces of his ancestors. They were smiling.

After that he returned to his village & also travelled with the Magic Kalimba to many other villages letting it play its everchanging song. One day a lovely girl caught his eye. He worried that now he had no way of asking the Magic Kalimba if she was right for him, but when he looked deep within the tone hole of the Magic Kalimba the faces of his ancestors were smiling. And so it was that he married her & had a family & if the Magic Kalimba still plays, well that's a secret that they would never tell you or me. We will just have to enjoy its music.

Submitted in the late 1990s by LoiS Sprengnether Keel, archived by Mark Wilson.
Entered 6/8/11.

Created 2004; last update 6/8/11

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