My First Tambourine

My First Tambourine
photo by Simone Weissman 2.6.2015

When I was 18 in 1965 and studying art at Universidad de Madrid, Spain, and at the Prado Museum, I traveled to the Spanish walled city of Avila to watch the bullfights and party with the toreadors.

As a memento of my fun adventuresome time, I purchased this pictured painted tambourine, and then back in NY in time for college, presented the tambourine gift to a young gal, Simone (maybe 10 years old), for whom I babysat. It was that babysitting money that got me my ticket to Spain. 50 years later, Simone still has the timbrel. This for me is my 'Love Story'*, touching deeply my heart.

In Spain, for myself, I purchased a kinetic jingly tambourine gold charm, still on my charm bracelet. Didn't know at the time that I was allowed to actually 'play tambourines'. I watched the flamenco dancers play them.

I bought my first tambourine for myself in 1991 when I traveled to Sibolga, Indonesia with Simone's mother, z"l. Or was it the first hand-made primitive tambourine when I purchased one possibly earlier from a church woman in the island of Jamaica.  I'm still regularly playing lots of timbrels today!

(Photography warning: While in Spain and photographing from behind a low bush, Generalisimo Francisco Franco, the gendarmes/police confiscated my camera because it was illegal to shoot the Generalisimo.)

Note from Simone: Thank you Joy! I looked long and hard at this when I was packing up my ancestral home and I didn't want to let this go—I had no idea of the story behind it but I knew it was from you! I had it in my room as a child and then it lived on the shelves behind the bar in the basement, along with souvenirs from our family's travels.

*  Love Story Week # 6 (52Frames)




Percussion Is My Passion

  - Joy Krauthammer   
April 2011

At the end of Shabbat services, where I serve spiritual communities as world-beat hand percussionist, people ask me questions: How long have I been drumming? What kind of drum is the big one? Did I go to music school? How did I become a drummer? How do I do it? The last is my favorite.

I love these telling questions because I love it that people are interested, and appreciate my music with its subtleties and expansiveness. I love to share my story, one of visions, Hashgachah Pratit / Divine Providence, and of a joyous, passionate Jewish woman drummer.

I share with people that I play with joy for them--because I receive their joyous soulful energy that circulates; I feel that and it excites me. Accompanying cantors, singers, dancers and rabbis brings out the rhythmic best in my music. More of that truth is that I connect with the Source of All BlesSings, and to Miriyahm HaNeviah, biblical timbrel player. I have gratitude, and become a vessel for Hashem’s music. I am ‘played’ by the Holy One. I am inspired to “Serve G*d in Joy”. (Psalm 100:2)  My kavanah / intention is knowing that my ‘Sounds of Joy’-- the gift that G*d gave to me, can assist neshamahs / souls to lift their tehilim / prayers to the Divine One; as a dance going up, and for a shefa / abunDance of conscious connection with healing and wholeness, to come down through the Kabbalistic Four Worlds of Spirit, Mind, Heart and Body.

To be ethereal was my yearning when I asked the Creator to give me a drum—naively thinking that music would not take the great physical space that my own ceramics work had occupied. (That's an oxymoron for a percussionist. I'm learning to be ethereal.)

Many vessels of sound I play were designed (some customized to my desire) by my renowned international teachers (Paolo Mattioli, obm), were purchased during world travels, or were inherited from my mother, z"l (especially gongs and bells). My instruments that I lovingly play, stroke and caress (not 'beat' or 'bang') with my hands or mallets include large wood and natural skin African djembe, Middle-Eastern dumbeks (metal, vegetarian synthetic, or ceramic), frame drums, and (Remo) timbrels (aka riqs) with heavy metal brass (or other alloys) jingles, seed jingles, cymbals, ting shas (small hand cymbals), chimes (72 double row, and energy chimes), triangle, and such ‘small’ hand-made, ethnic traditional percussion as bells, rattles (chajchas, kpoko-kpoko, seeds, Buffalo rawhide), shakers (natural woven caxixi, gourd gita, maracas, shekeres, and axatse), scrapers (guiros), clave, and mu yu (slit drum). Additional ethnic percussion from many nations I have learned include: tambourine, tar, tamborim, bohdran, djun-djun, ashiko, talking drum, klong yaw, cuica, timbau, surdo repinique, agogo, bongo, congas, cowbell, tubano, pandeiro, kanjira, sakara, fruit and vegetable shakers (of plastic, wood or metal), as well as sound shapes.

For meditative and healing moments, I play organic rain sticks, ocean drums, gongs, Asian bells, and crystal and Tibetan singing bowls tuned to lev / heart chakra.

For the last decade, I mamash / truly have loved playing percussion for Lev Eisha / Heart of Woman women and men at our gevaldt / awesome Shabbat services where Shechinah dwells. I have been drumming since 1986, through both challenges and simchas.  The secret? This eisha / woman plays with her lev.

BlesSings for Sounds of Joy,
Joy Krauthammer

This story is published in Lev Eisha site:
For a more fully illustrated magical musical story with my responses, please read:

Drumming Love Story

"To Sister Joy. One Love. Baba Olatunji. Nov. 7. 1996."
© Joy Krauthammer 2.7.2015

In this Joyous Personal Love Story ~ following my heart and passion about drums since I was a teen, 
I share that I became a drummer 23 years after teen years, and my first drum interest. I'm still performing world music on ethnic hand drums 29 years after my first drum kit lesson in 1986.
Pictured is my beloved large djembe, commissioned and made personally for me by master drummer, Paolo Mattioli, obm, over 2 decades ago. 

Today, as I do most weeks, I 'performed' with my djembe. I love it that master Babatunde Olatunji*, obm, autographed my drum when I was accompanying him Nov. 7, 1996, at a club on the Santa Monica Pier.

Olatunji's "Drums of Passion" was the very first LP album that I ever purchased. As a teen, I traveled by myself from Queens into Manhattan with my babysitting hard earned dollars, to a big music store and this is the album that deeply touched my soul. I knew nothing about African music.

My first renowned drum teachers were Baba's colleagues, and then finally, the LOVE STORY with drumming continued when I got to play with Baba, and not only listen to his album. 

A dream I had never even imagined. A beshert story from the very beginning.

*Story of Babatunde Olatunji

Ayo Adeyemi

August 27, 2017

AYO ADEYEMI, my first djembe teacher, is on FaceBook and I wrote to him. 

Dear Ayo, It's been over a couple dozen years since you were my FIRST African djembe teacher when I shlepped to Los Angeles every week for my private lessons, and also to your glorious moon ceremonies. I'll never forget how we first met in the park when your tribe performed in full costume during an ARTS festival and then I led you all, my new friends, in an auto procession to the Jewish art exhibit opening reception. I was amazed that your friends from Africa knew Hebrew. They taught me about the Ibo's from Hebrews.

Guess that I won't see you at Remo anymore because Remo RMC just sadly moved away from the SFValley. 

Over a decade ago I wrote a 'love' letter to Babatunde Olatunji, obm, (whom I gratefully met in your home) and created a web site for BABA. There's a couple photos of YOU too. 

Because of you I have 'Olufunmilayo'. (G*d gives me joy.)

(With djembe I'm still serving at my various spiritual communities since 1990.)

 BlesSings, Joy - translates to 'Ayo' in Yoruba.  :)

~ ~ ~