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Drum Buddies!

Play drums with a friend or family member to have fun and explore different ways of relating through music!

What you’ll need: Two drums (this activity is great with two djembes, but will work with upside-down saucepans and pencils, or even clapping or body percussion), one other person

What’s it for?

This activity will help you to appreciate different ways of relating through drumming together. Try these different ways of playing and think about all the different ways we communicate with others using words and gestures - are there any similarities or differences?

Check In:

Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.

  • How are you feeling?

  • What are you thinking?

  • How does your body feel?


What follows are descriptions of different ways that you can play together. Try each of them. If you're feeling very creative, you might combine several and turn them into your own drumming composition or performance.

Copying Game

Take it in turns to lead and copy.

  • Player one plays a short pattern.

  • Player two repeats it directly afterwards.

  • Carry on like this for a few turns, then switch.

You can turn this into a game by gradually increasing the length of the pattern for each other. How long does it have to be before it becomes impossible to remember and copy? How does it feel to hear your own music copied back to you?


Can you guess when the other person is going to strike their drum?

  • Player one leads and plays at unpredictable times.

  • Player two tries to predict and play at exactly the same time.

  • Carry on until Player Two predicts correctly, then it’s their turn lead.

How easy is it to predict when the other person will play? What's involved - gesture, guesswork, feeling, a mixture?


  • Player one plays a pulse (a steady, unvarying beat)

  • Player two joins in and plays at the same time.

  • Swap around and try different speeds of pulse (slow, moderate, fast).

  • Also try very gradually changing the pulse to become a little faster or slower making sure that both players are together.

Is it easier to play a slow, fast, or medium pulse?

Was it possible to follow when the pulse changed?

How did it feel to play at different speeds? How easy was it to lead and follow?


This is a bit like the copying game from earlier but more creative!

  • Player one plays a short rhythm.

  • Player two responds with a short rhythm which has some relationship to player one’s.

  • Player one responds with a short rhythm which has some relationship to player two’s.

  • Continue alternating until you’re ready to stop.

Experiment with different ways of responding to each other. Try:

  • Almost playing exactly the same but with some small difference.

  • Play at different dynamic levels (soft or loud)

  • Play something that’s different but shares the same underlying pulse.

  • Play something completely different!

How did this feel compared to the copying game earlier?

Call and Response

You can do this activity in a variety of ways, but try the following.

Make up a Response which you both play together. This will be a short rhythmic pattern which is easy to remember and play. If it helps, you might want to link it to some words, like:

Go! Go! Drummer play!

[Pattern: Long-Long-Short-Short-Long]

Practise the response together until you’re both very confident with it.

The ‘Call’ will be a short solo which can be made up on the spot by the drummer (it doesn’t need to be the same each time, in fact it’s more interesting if it’s different). Follow it with the ‘Response’ where both of you play, so the whole pattern will be something like this:

  • Player one: Call

  • Players one and two: Response

  • Player two: Call

  • Players one and two: Response

  • Player one: Call

  • Players one and two: Response

  • Player two: Call

  • Players one and two: Response

How easy or tricky did you find it to sustain this play? Did it work first time, or did you have to practise it? How easy was it to think of something to play in between the responses?

Transforming Beats

  • Player one starts playing a simple rhythmic pattern and repeats it.

  • Player two joins in and keeps playing until completely synchronized with player one

  • Both play the same pattern together for a moment

  • Player one plays a new pattern with the same pulse while player two continues.

  • Player two adapts the playing to match player one until completely synchronized with player one.

  • Both play the same pattern together for a moment

Continue for as long as you like, and then switch roles.

This play can feel like going in and out of focus! How easy was it to lead or follow in this activity?


  • Player one plays a simple pattern and repeats it. It helps if the pattern has a few spaces in it.

  • Player two introduces their own pattern on top - different but interlocking.

  • Play together until the new interlocking pattern feels established and secure.

Switch roles so player two has a chance to establish a pattern while player one ‘interlocks’.


  • Player one establishes a simple pattern or pulse and continues playing it while player two tries to disrupt the pattern by playing distracting patterns at the same time.

This activity is not so much about being “Drumdies” (Drum Buddies) but “Drumemies” (Drum Enemies)!

Extra Activity: Try recording yourselves playing in these different ways and listen back. You can do this on an audio recorder, mobile phone, laptop, or tablet. One challenging extra activity would be to use your voice instead of the drums - and go through the same processes.

When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you learn anything new about yourself while you did this activity?

  • Which sounds most satisfying to you and your drum buddy?

  • Which ways of drumming didn’t you like?

  • What was the most fun?

  • What was the most challenging?


This activity helps you to think about the different ways we communicate with each other. Sometimes we do this in very elaborate ways, and sometimes very simply. One difference in playing music to talking, is that it’s possible to play at the same time and for the whole to make sense to someone listening.

Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?

If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity, or would like to send us any pictures ( Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!

Created by Ian Grundy © September 2020


Creative Arts Used: Music

Psychological Areas Explored: Communication, Relationships, Self-Exploration

If you enjoyed this activity, you might also like:

These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.

This website was made by CAT Corner to help you explore your feelings through fun creative arts activities. The people using the website and the people responsible for them need to make sure they stay safe (full disclaimer on About page).

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