Arts & Entertainment, Music

Playing the Timbales

Sheila E.

Lesson time 17:02 min

Sheila is one of the first musicians in popular music to front a band on the timbales. From stick grip techniques to playing on cowbells, Sheila shows you how to play timbales as a solo artist or with a band.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Getting Started: Basic Timbales Setup and Sounds • Altering Your Sound • Stick Choice and Grip Techniques • Practice Pattern: “The Glamorous Life” • Grooving With My Band • Putting Funk Into the Timbales


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC - SHEILA E. - "THE GLAMOROUS LIFE"] [00:00:12.73] SHEILA E.: When I became a solo artist in the '80s, I fronted my band played the timbales, something I'd never seen before in popular music. I still do it today. It's one of my favorite instruments because it allows me to dance, sing, play, all at the same time. [00:00:31.63] (SINGING) --it ain't much. [00:00:40.78] These are called timbales. Timbales are another Latin percussion instrument. Most of the time, timbales are a 14 inch and a 15 inch drum, which means one's higher and one's lower. Then high-low cowbell. This bell, the big bell, is called the mambo bell. And the smaller bell is called the cha-cha bell. You can use a symbol, if you like. Latin music, you're mainly playing time here with this cow bell. Sometimes, you're playing time with this cowbell. And you use these drums as a fill, or playing a break, something like that. Sometimes-- [00:01:27.27] The side of the timbale is cascara. You can use both sides. Basically, I'm hitting the side of the drum and using my finger, this forefinger right here, as I play like this. This feels right for me. It might not feel right for you. Because some people hold the stick like this. I like to hold it like this when I'm playing on the sides of the timbale. [00:02:05.56] However, playing the cowbell, I would hold the stick differently, without my finger being here. I would hold it more like this. Even though some people play like this. Some play like this. Some play like that. As you notice, the pattern that I just played, this cowbell comes out here. And the wider the bell, the lower the tone. Here at the top, it's high. So you can get two tones. [00:02:41.39] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:02:49.24] This cowbell is smaller, so you basically play the end of it or the edge of it. [00:02:55.58] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:03:07.03] Very simple. Now you try with me. Grab some sticks and practice on whatever you've got, pots, pans, a chair, even a pillow. One, two, three, four. [00:03:19.43] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:03:33.42] Excellent. [00:03:40.44] Couple of sounds on the timbales. You just hit the middle of the drum. However, if you hit the edge of the drum with the stick and hit the rim, it sounds different. [00:03:53.97] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:03:57.69] It's almost like the slap in the conga drum. That's the open hand. [00:04:02.34] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:04:03.88] Sound like you would play on the congas, the slap like you would play on the congas. [00:04:08.31] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:04:16.01] You can also muffle like I did with the congas. [00:04:19.01] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:04:28.10] Right. Same thing with the low drum. Open. Hit the rim. And it's a little bit different hitting the rim on the low drum. It doesn't sound as nice. I'd rather just do it on the high drum. [00:04:40.12] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:04:42.84] Doesn't sound the same. [00:04:44.32] [PERCUSSIVE SOUND] [00:04:50.26] Sometimes when I do accents wit...

About the Instructor

Raised in a family of musicians, Sheila E. has collaborated with icons like Marvin Gaye and Ringo Starr and was named one of the all-time greatest drummers by Rolling Stone. Now she teaches you how to find your rhythm. Learn the principles of percussion—with or without a drum set—and discover techniques for dynamic solos and fills. Jam with the Escovedo family and find your own groove, as a beginner or as a bandleader.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Sheila E.

Legendary drummer Sheila E. welcomes you to the world of percussion and teaches you how to express yourself through rhythm.

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