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Handpan tips - play the notes

September 27, 2022 3 min read

In this blog series, we will highlight different playing techniques to help you find ideas and improve your technique. To help you, we have collected the most interesting and helpful videos to make your approach and learning as easy as possible.

How to hit the notes 

The handpan is an instrument that allows a lot of freedom. Many players have different ways of playing. Some players use their index finger, some use their middle finger and some use their whole hand to create a note. You can practice and choose the method you are most comfortable with. In this article we will see how to play the notes of the handpan correctly and make it sounds the best way possible.

To make a note sound right on the handpan, it will be necessary not to stay on the note. Imagine that the instrument is very hot ! Once you've tapped the note, pull your finger out quickly to make the note vibrate. It's kind of like gently whipping the note off the instrument. You will notice that if you stay too long on a note, the sound will be muted and the note will quickly fade away or even remain silent. So, tap the notes as quickly as possible with your finger. 

Don't forget your other hand

When training, it is important to keep in mind that the use of both hands is important. You will always have a dominant hand which you will find easier to use, but it is always good to test each technique with both hands. This will allow you to be more comfortable with your instrument and to create more creative sequences.   

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What fingers to use ? 


When using the thumb, index or middle finger, you will notice that the hand movement is different. First, make your hand as flexible as possible. It is going to be difficult to play if your hand remains rigid. 

Using the thumb will be useful to reach certain notes, often those closest to you. If you use your index finger it can become complicated and will force you to put yourself in an uncomfortable position. To avoid contorting yourself in all directions, using the thumb is a good solution. To play with the thumb, you will have to play with your wrist and make it flexible. The rotation with your wrist is called a roll rotation. 

To play other the notes, you will use the index or middle finger. Here again, you will have to make your wrist flexible to make the handpan notes sound and improve. The movement will be called a pitch rotation. 

Make the note sound

Start practicing with the ding which is the easiest note to play. To do this, tap the ding in the middle to get the best sound possible. You can also follow a particular tempo and tap the ding with both hands following the rhythm. For this, feel free to use a metronome. You can try for example 60 beats per minute. Once you manage to make your handpan sound, you can combine all the notes of your handpan. You can start by playing all the notes of the scale from the bottom to the top and then start creating your own melodies.  

This video from the channel David Urban is great for you to start your training.
Do not hesitate to follow them and check all their handpan lessons. 

alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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