Gilded Serpent presents...

Drumming for Bellydancers and Bellydance Drumming Wannabes

Baby Beginner Doumbek Workshop with Carmine T. Guida
Rhythms of the Arab World Vol. 1, Essential Technique and Rhythms by Karim Nagi 
Doumbek Technique & Rhythms for Arabic Percussion – Bellydance – Drum Circles with Amir Naoum

by Amina Goodyear
posted February 13, 2010

These days if you want to learn how to belly dance you have countless instructional DVDs to choose from but most are not inclusive enough to cover all that is needed to be the dance video for beginners. Many are made specifically for the beginning student, but in my opinion, most do not really have sufficient material needed to train the beginning dancer to performance level. While there are many specialty instructional DVDs (arms, veils, combinations, props, choreography…) that can be used to accompany the primary instructional dance DVD, they are quite numerous and can take quite a toll on one’s bank account.  It can take years to reach real performance level as there is so much material to cover.  And when one learns it all, it is only to learn that there is yet even more to learn. It all depends on the degree of expertise the dancer wants to achieve.

I might say the same for instructional Middle Eastern drum DVDs.

However, the three "how to play the drum" DVDs I am reviewing really do introduce the beginning drummer to the drum and, if used as a three unit package, these three DVDs can take the drummer or dancer/drummer from absolute beginning level to the stage.

All three drummers are from back East – New York City and New England.

In the DVDs, all three use on screen dum tek notation, not musical notes notation. All three DVDs have great tables of contents, indexing and tracking. They are all quite easy to maneuver and readily jump from chapter to chapter. The chapter selection menus give easy access to the rhythms and exercises, and other features. All three drummers are non-threatening, using the gentle "drumming for dummies" technique. Middle Eastern drumming is a folk art – and the three drummers teach traditional drumming, but from three different perspectives.

American drummer Carmine Guida teaches the drum for drum circles and drumming for American style bellydancing; Egyptian Karim Nagi teaches workshops for dancers and drummers implementing Arabic drum technique and Syrian/Lebanese Amir Naoum is a concert and club drummer who teaches Arabic drumming in the "less is more" style.

All three drummers teach the basic drum rhythms needed for bellydance performances.  In my opinion, if you bought all three of these DVDs, started with Carmine’s humorous, gentle method, continued and mastered Karim’s technique drills and then continued on and absorbed Amir’s method of getting that Arabic  feeling and sound – (the spaces are just as important as the hits), you would have all you needed to know about basic drumming for dancers, be they American style, Tribal style or Arabic style. For this I would give all three DVDs 4 + zils.

One important disclaimer: Except for drum circles, before performing, you first need to find, listen to, learn to identify and play along with recorded Arabic and bellydance music.


Baby Beginner Doumbek Workshop with Carmine T. Guida 

4 zil rating
Zil Rating: 4

 Carmine Guida’s DVD is filmed during two workshop classes. He is a very likable person and has a comfortable and entertaining manner. He makes drumming fun and easy. It truly is baby beginner level, as it is not complicated at all. Anyone can learn to play the drum using his method.  In his chapter calle d "Extras" he includes "I play" then "You copy" drum riffs. This is extremely fun and informative. It makes you think you’re as good as a professional drummer and with practice you too can become one.

Below are excerpts from Carmine’s liner notes:

This instructional video breaks down the basic hits "Doum", Tek" and "Ka" and introduces you to your first rhythms: Maqsum, Baladi, Saidi, Ayub and Chiftelli. Filmed live in three different locations, this DVD captures Carmine’s enthusiasm for teaching and his ability to make drumming accessible to everyone. Carmine is an accomplished instructor, teaching doumbek both nationally and internationally. Located in New York City, Carmine is a member of several music ensembles including the Middle Eastern fusion group "Djinn" and the traditional music group "The Turkish Band Camp All Stars". Carmine has been featured as a musician on several other CDs and DVDs. 

Artist’s website with purchase info:


Karim NagiRhythms of the Arab World Vol. 1
Essential Technique and Rhythms by Karim Nagi 

4 zil rating
Zil Rating: 4

 Karim Nagi is a serious scholar of Arabic music and rhythm. He devotes his life full-time to teaching and performing Arabic music and is quite versatile as he teaches dance, culture, rhythm and music from the latest pop, to traditional to the most classic. I have had the honor and pleasure to learn privately with him as well as play alongside him. He is a dedicated teacher and as I personally experienced, he truly enjoys teaching. When performing with him I would enjoy the extra tips he would offer. Besides relating to me how he, himself, would obsessively practice, as encouragement for me to practice, he told me to throw myself into the rhythm – meaning "if you can move with it, you can feel it and therefore, you can play it." He is, indeed, fun to watch  – an inspiration – as you see him completely immersed in the rhythm -rocking and swaying and becoming part of the rhythms he is playing. This is evident in the DVD and is a fun way to learn to drum.

Below are excerpts from Karim’s liner notes:
With Rhythms of the Arab World Volume 1, world renowned percussionist Karim Nagi will teach you the essential technique and rhythms so you can play with live bands, drum circles and dancers. Karim Nagi is a native Egyptian teacher and performer of Arab music and dance. He is an internationally known percussionist who specialized in the Egyptian Tabla (aka Doumbek, Darabuka) the Riq (tambourine), as well as frame drums and finger cymbals. His projects include the internationally sold Turbo Tabla CDS, the ultra traditional Sharq Ensemble and his Arab Dance Seminar. his appearances include New England Conservatory, Yale University, The Kennedy Center, and the Egyptian Cultural Bureau. DVD produced by Mher Panossian and Lauren Boldt

Artist’s website –,
dvd available at FilmBaby or Hollywood Music


AmirDoumbek Technique & Rhythms
for Arabic Percussion – Bellydance – Drum Circles
with Amir Naoum  

4 zil rating1 extra zil
Zil Rating: 5 (!)

 Many years ago (like about way over 30) I worked at the Bagdad Cabaret with a drummer named George Dabai who decided that all the dancers in the club needed to learn and understand the music and drum rhythms. We all agreed and once a week for a few years we eagerly studied drum from him.

It was the best thing I ever did to improve my Middle Eastern dance education. It was better than taking more dance lessons.

He taught us more than how to play the drum, he taught us music – how to hear and to identify rhythms. He taught us how to play the drum the way the Arabic musicians played the drum – the way we heard them played in the records. Cassettes, CDs, MP3s and so on were really not around yet. This is the same approach to teaching that Amir Naoum teaches. It is natural. It is simple. It is invaluable. It is real. It is essential.

Below are excerpts from Amir’s liner notes:
If you are a dancer, Amir Naoum’s clear introduction to the most popular bellydance rhythms and their subtle variations will help you learn to recognize the rhythms, even in their most sophisticated forms. If you are a beginning drummer, this DVD will serve as a very accessible, friendly and solid introduction to the art of Middle Eastern percussion. This program is a beginner level doumbek instructional course with a lot of beyond the basics information and spectacular demonstrations of Middle Eastern drumming and dance rhythms. Born in Syria and raised in Lebanon. Amir Naoum attended The Studio al Fann (The Art Studio) the most famous and renowned conservatory of music in Beriut. Since coming to the United States in 1977, Amir has performed in NYC Middle Eastern nightclubs, for family celebrations and bellydance shows and has contributed generously to the success of most NY star bellydancers and Middle Eastern percussionists.

Artist’s website with purchase info:

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