This page contains information about the Irie Tones shekere. Although
we don't claim that it is exhaustive, we hope it gives you a solid basic
understanding of your instrument. If you need clarification or have something
you feel would be useful to add, please contact us. We'd be happy to help!
To Play Your Shekere
Position and Technique - The shekere can be played
while seated, standing, singing, or dancing. Hold the shekere by the
handle in one hand. With the other hand you can a) tap the head like
you would a tambourine, b) lightly pull the strings from the tuft on
top, causing the shells to hit the head, c) place the palm on the shells
and push them back and forth, d) do nothing, one-handedly shaking the
shekere like a maraca. The shekere forms part of the djembe ensemble,
and is used throughout religious and cultural ceremonies and celebrations
in western Africa.
Caution - Although the gourd is quite sturdy, do
not attempt to play it with a heavy beater or tap it against a hard
surface. It would be safe to use a light wire hanger as a mallet if
How To Care for and
Maintain Your Shekere
- Transport and Exposure - Although the gourd is quite
durable you should avoid exposing it to the elements (direct sunlight,
extreme heat or cold, dampness, rain, snow, etc.). Changes in climate,
humidity, and altitude will not affect the instrument. Make sure your
shekere is well padded for transportation. Avoid dropping it from any
- Cleaning - Your shekere may be cleaned with a damp
cloth, but don’t apply cleansing agents or other cleaning tools.
Avoid playing with dirty hands or leaving your shekre exposed to sand
- Maintenance - Yyour shekere does not require any
oils or treatment to keep it in shape. Should any of the strings become
broken or unraveled, tie it off with a secure knot, and burn the loose
ends with a flame to prevent unraveling.
History of the Shekere
The shekere originated in Africa centuries ago, functioning
as a shaker, rattle, and drum. Dried gourds were wrapped in a labyrinth
of stones or clay beads, allowing the player to twist or tap the gourd.
Some larger gourds had holes in the top and an open handle so the shekere
could be used to create drum-like bass notes. Today there are a variety
of synthetic shekeres available on the market, as well as those of lesser
quality made of plastic or glass beads and gourds. The Irie Tones authentic
shekere is of the highest grade available that we are aware of.