The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Taking Care of Your Hands: Part IV

Preventing Splits, Cuts, and Blisters:

Let’s move on to the skin.  It is a touchy subject, but I think we can handle it smoothly.  (That was fun.  Love to hear the reader groan like that…)

Keep your fingernails neatly trimmed.

This will really prevent any splitting or cracking on your fingertips, not to mention greatly reduce damage to your cuticles and fingernail-beds.

Hangnails are a drummer’s bane.

Keep the nails short, and round the corners just a bit.   File them to keep the edges blunt, not sharp.  If you have thin fingernails don’t hesitate to use a finger polish gloss to strengthen them, it really helps.

Keep your hands clean.

Wash your hands before, and after, you drum.  Each time.

It will not only decrease the wear and tear on your skin, but it also will increase the lifetime of your drum heads.  And, by not getting so much dirt and oil on the drum to begin with it will improve the tone of your drum.   And no, I am not joking even a little bit.  Clean matters.

Use moisturizer.

Slather your hands with a good skin lotion after each and every practice and performance.  Smooth, supply skin is far less likely to tear and crack.

Use cloth tape.

If you know that you have a long set to play you can make use of cloth tape.  The tape used for sports wrapping and bandages is ideal.  It cuts down on friction, puts one more layer between the drum and your hand, supports the muscles and ligaments of your finger and even serves as a reminder for proper technique and hand position.

For every reason a professional athlete tapes up, the same reasons apply to drummers.

Take a break.

If you are developing a lot of redness, or soreness, or have a blister or cut, then stop playing.  Tend to it.  Use a bandage, tape it up, or put on some extra lotion.

This is especially true when you are in practice or rehearsal.   During a live performance, in front of an audience and with other players or dancers then I can understand “toughing it out”, but even then, the moment you are off stage or between sets get it taken care of.

I keep small bottles of lotion and hand cleanser in my drum bag, along with a nail file, nail clippers, a couple of small band-aids and a roll of cloth tape.  Drummers need first aid too, from time to time.  Keep yours handy, just in case.  The one time you use it, or have it for someone else to use, you suddenly look like a big time professional.

2 Responses to “Taking Care of Your Hands: Part IV”

  1. This is good stuff!

    Though I don’t drum much…or that much….I think we all need to read this….I have had problems with my fingers (keyboard stuff) and since I write a blog and novels….shoot! I get something annoying in this usage.

    I there some way to clean the skins of the drums?? Mine are a few years old, but I have passed them around to lots of people. I have my bellydance students drum, because when I see them NOT getting rhythm in their movements, I pass out the drums and make them drum to Steven Flynn’s “Rumi Rapture”.

    That gets them toned up. LOL! That cd is wonderful for the various rhythms and I think it really can help any drummer if they apply themselves to follow.

    Thanks for your great articles!!!

    Lady Nyo

    • Cleaning the drum heads really depends on the “skin” of the drum head. If it is a synthetic head, then any simple cleanser works well. I personally use Simple Green and Dawn dish soap, a soft cloth, and warm water.

      On a natural skin use a damp (not wet), soft cloth and a bit of facial cleaner. (Think Ivory soap.) Rub dry with a clean, soft cloth, and then be prepared to let them dry out for a few hours, if not a full a day. Which means, don’t clean your natural skin heads an hour before you are going to perform.


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