How to play a Tibetan singing bowl
TECHNIQUES FOR PLAYING THE SINGING BOWLS
There are several techniques for playing the singing bowls.
The two main and most commonly used are: striking the bowl with a mallet and rubbing "around the rim" with a drumstick to "make the bowl sing".
It is important to know which part of the bowl to play on and how to play with both the mallets and the drumsticks, as the sound varies depending on how you play.
The lower tones (bass tones) of the bowls are at the bottom of the outer walls and the higher tones (treble tones) a little below the rim of the bowl.
The sound produced when striking or rubbing depends on the weight and hardness of the mallets and sticks. In general, the harder they are, the louder the sound.
To strike the bowl with the mallet, depending on the size and/or weight of the bowl, you put it in the palm of your hand (without your fingers touching the bowl to avoid stopping the sound) or on your fingertips.
Then, you strike the top of the bowl wall, just below the rim, to get the sound containing the lowest and highest tones. The striking movement should come from shoulder, arm and hand.
To rub the bowl with the drumstick, you put it in the palm of your hand or on your fingertips.
And with the other hand, you hold the drumstick half-lengthwise, with all the fingertips pointing downwards. Gently, before you start rubbing the stick, you can tap against the side of the bowl to "warm it up", although the ideal is to rub directly with the stick, just below the outer rim, in a clockwise direction.
The movement comes from the shoulder and we will keep the stick straight, without tilting it. It is not a wrist movement.
It is important to apply just the right amount of pressure while rubbing because the friction of the stick against the outer edge produces vibrations that emit a sound.
We suggest experimenting with pressure and speed and letting the sound build up slowly as the bowl picks up the vibration. It's all about finding the balance. With too little or too much pressure or speed, the stick starts to vibrate.
Other interesting advanced techniques allow amplifying and doubling the sound or isolating the fundamental note.
Special sound effects can be produced by adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the bowl.
This produces a sound like dolphins singing. It is also really nice to experiment with the different sounds produced by changing the amount of water. Both children and adults love to put their hands and feet into a bowl full of water while tapping.
It is a pleasant tingling sensation due to the physical vibration that is induced, especially with larger bowls. After using water, it is very important to dry the bowls very well just after use.
For more information, you can take a workshop with Jacomina Kistemaker, one of the most respected singing bowl teachers in the world, or the on-line training provided by her which you can find exclusively on our website.