It was a beautiful winter morning. Davka looked out the window. It was snowing lightly. The sun was shining adding a beautiful shimmer on the snow.

She sat down in front of the TV, turned on the cartoon station, and buttered her toast. "Saturday mornings are fun!" she thought.

There was a loud knock at the door.

"Who's there?" asked Davka.

Nobody answered.

"Who's there?" asked Davka.

Nobody answered.

Davka got up and opened the door. Nobody was there.

"Hello." She heard.

Davka looked and saw nobody.

"Hello." She heard again.

Davka walked down the steps and looked behind the bushes. She was sure that it was Juan her next-door neighbor. He was always playing jokes on her.

Nobody was behind the bushes.


She turned around. She saw a small drum.

"Hello." said the drum.

"Hi" said Davka.

"I'm a drum. My name is Danny."

"My name is Davka."

"May I come inside? It's cold." said the drum.

"Sure." said Davka.

"This should be fun." thought Davka.

"I can't carry you. You'll have to walk."

"No problem." said Danny.

To Davka's amazement Danny walked inside her house.

"Do you know Juan?" asked Davka.

"Who's Juan?"

"He's the one playing the joke on me."

"What joke?"


Danny turned red. "I'm not a joke."

Davka saw that she had hurt his feelings.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to insult you. I've never seen a talking drum before. I thought Juan, my next door neighbor was playing a joke on me."

"Apology accepted. I'm a special drum. I can talk, walk, and think. I'm also good with rhythm."

"Why did you knock on my door?"

"I'm lost."


"Yes. My friends and I were going to practice. We're performing in a concert tonight. I stopped to look in a store and when I came out my friends were gone."

"Where is your concert?"

"I don't know."

"You can stay here for awhile. I like drums. They're fun to play. My mom doesn't like drums. She thinks they make too much noise."

Danny laughed.

"Sometimes we can make a lot of noise." said Danny. "However, we can be soft, make you want to dance, keep time and add to the personality of the song."

"Wow! I never knew drums could do that much."

"Yes, my family and I can do a lot of different things."

"You have brother and sister drums?"

"Yes. My family is the percussion family and my relatives are drums, bongos, congas, timpani and other percussion instruments."

"Wow! I never knew there were so many types of drums."

"We are the oldest musical family. We make music different ways. We produce sound when we are hit by hands, mallets, and sticks."

"Does that hurt?"

"Not at all."

"What are mallets?"

"A mallet is like a small hammer. It consists of a stick and a round head. The head is padded. Besides drums, mallets are used to play instruments like xylophones."

"I know what you mean. I once had a toy xylophone when I was a little girl."

"I can tell you a lot about drums and percussion instruments."

"O.K. Why do you say drums and percussion instruments? Are they different?

"Drums are members of the percussion family of instruments. There are different families of instruments. For example, guitars and violins are members of the string family of instruments."

"I understand."

"There are many types of percussion instruments. Bongos are a Latin American instrument popular in Cuba and South America. Bongos come in sets; a set consists of two bongos. Each hand plays a bongo. Here is what they look like.

Danny closed his eyes and imagined a pair of bongos. Slowly he became a set of bongos. He then raised his hands and played the following.

"Nice!" exclaimed Davka.

"Congas are also a Latin American instrument that is also popular in African music. They are much larger than a set of bongos. They, like the bongos are also played with the hands."

Danny closed his eyes and transformed into a conga. He raised his hands and played the following.

"Timpani are popular in classical music. They are large and are played with mallets. Sometimes they are called kettle drums because they look like large cooking kettles.

A timpani can be tuned like a guitar or piano. They can play melodies."

Danny became a timpani and played the following melody.

"That's neat" exclaimed Davka. "Percussion instruments look like a lot of fun."

"They are. I have relatives from all over the world. We have a lot of fun when we play together."

"Who is your favorite relative?"

Danny thought for a moment. "Promise you won't tell? Some of my relatives are quite sensitive."

"I promise."

"The tabla."

"What's a tabla?"

"A tabla is a drum from the country India."

Danny closed his eyes and transformed into a tabla. He raised his hands and played the following.

"That sounded real nice."

"Thank you. There are many different percussion instruments. I have a very large family. Do you want to know more?"

"Yes." answered Davka.

"There is the drum that you hear in many types of music, for example, rock and jazz music. Here is a drum kit from the 1970's."

"Nice, but ancient." said Davka.

They both laughed.

"Here is another drum kit, an 80's pop drum kit with some some funky Latin beats

"That's cool!"

"Thanks, I like Latin music."

"Here are some electronic drums."

"There is one other type of percussion instrument that you will find interesting. They are instruments that you shake. They are like rattles. Some American Indians use this type of instrument in their ceremonies in addition to drums."

"Percussion instruments are really popular." said Davka.

"Yes. Every culture in the world uses percussion instruments." Danny said with a proud look on his face.

"Play me some shaker instruments!" Davka exclaimed.

"Here is an instrument called a shaker."

"And here are some maracas, another Latin American instrument."


"Rhythm is very important to percussion instruments. Different styles of music have different rhythmic patterns."

"What is rhythm?" asked Davka.

"Rhythm is sounds and silences over a period of time."


"When I played a percussion instrument you heard both sounds and silences. Sometimes the sounds came fast and other times there were longer periods of silence. This pattern of sounds and silences form rhythm."

"How do you know which patterns to play? Do you make them up?"

"There are many different rhythmic patterns. Many of them are repetitive. This repetition makes it easy to dance to those rhythms. Rhythmic patterns however don't have to be repetitive."

"Play me some examples."

"OK. As I said, many rhythmic patterns are dance related. This one is the cha cha."

"The cha cha is a Latin dance. Rhythm is very prominent in Latin dances. Here are some other Latin dance rhythms." "What's that?" asked Davka.

"That's the beguine."

"I like that one a lot." said Davka.

"Here's another nice one. It's called the bossa nova."

"And here are some faster ones. This one is a rhumba."

"And here is a samba."

"And now the merengue."

"And of course, the tango.

"Are rhythmic patterns only Latin?"

"No. All cultures and nationalities have rhythmic patterns. Here are some American examples. First, the always popular swing rhythm."

"My mom and dad like swing." said Davka

"If they like swing they will also like these rhythms. Here is a Dixieland rhythm."

"Here is a jazz ballad."

"And here is a jazz waltz"

"Do you know any hip rhythms. You know, new stuff, not the ancient." said Davka.

"Sure, here's some hip hop."

"That's cool!" exclaimed Davka. "Your family really does get along."

"Yes. That's the beauty of rhythm. We can mix and match into any pattern with any member of the percussion family. Here's an example with a little bit of everything."

"That's really neat! You can really mix rhythms together and they get a long and sound well together." exclaimed Davka.

“Knock knock!”

Danny and Davka looked at each other. “Who’s there?” they both asked.

Davka and Danny opened the door. Danny smiled. At the door were guitars, violins, cellos, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, saxophones, a piano, and all the other instruments of the orchestra.

"We found you." said Paulo the piano.

"I got lost." said Danny. "This is my friend Davka."

"Hi." said Davka.

"I‘ve been teaching Davka about the percussion family of instruments."

"Nice." replied Olivia the oboe. "It's getting close to concert time. We should be leaving soon."

"Let's all play some music for Davka. She's been very nice to me."

"OK!" the entire orchestra yelled. "We'll play you a song and we promise to come back and visit you."

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