• Aksana Kavaliova

Happy to Integrate the HAPI (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument) into Music Therapy Sessions

As music therapists, we use a variety of instruments in our practice. In addition to more traditional instruments, there are lots of less common, “exotic” instruments. Now, of course, what for one country is exotic, for another is natural (as an example, Native American flute, which is not common in East Europe, or the use of a button accordion in Russia/Belarus, which is hardly used in the West). In my own collection of instruments, I have a few folk pieces (e.g., Middle Eastern ney flute, which I still have to master, or darbouka drum that I love but wouldn’t dare to play in public yet).

One instrument I love and often use in my work is a steel tongue drum. It is also called a HAPI (hand activated percussion instrument) drum, or tank drum, hank drum (a combination of the words “hand” and “tank”).

It was invented by Dennis Havlena in 2007, as a more affordable, lighter and smaller version of the Hang drum. Now they are produced all over the world. I have two, 20cm and 30cm, with six and ten notes. Both come from Russia, custom-made (the latest, done by the Kosmosky workshop, is a beautiful dark-turquoise glossy double-sided jewel, tuned to D-minor and C-major respectively). The first drum is a simple version, A-minor pentatonic, and now I can play together with a client using C-major tuned side of the new drum! It is not tuned as a simple scale; therefore, you can’t really play many songs, but it is a great improvisational tool, with a rich, deep sound of lower tones and cosmic feeling of the higher ones. It is loved by my clients of all ages and nationalities. We use it to boost our energy or to relax and regulate. If you put it on your body, you can feel vibrations! A great instrument to have, without any doubts!

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