Practicing your finger cymbals while in dance posture is important, as the habits your form while practicing are what will stick. Remember the addage: “Practice how you perform!” Strong posture with structured/intentional arm positioning, other fingers gracefully extended and not cupping around the zills, while standing and/or walking is ideal. The sooner you get your feet moving the better. Same goes for your arms and hands. Just playing triples and moving your arms slowly from table-top to overhead and back again is a great way to start. You won’t be looking directly at your zills when you are dancing, so don’t watch your hands when you practice. Concentrate on the feel and the sound.

Basic Triples

Afsana has created a great, simple practice video for working on your triples. Not only will this get you stepping to the beat and playing your triples, it also frames your playing well in sets of 4’s and 8’s. Really great drill for beginners! You’ll get to try similar drills in Deep Roots Dance classes and beginner workshops!

Basics & Beyond

And here is a quick n’ dirty video Shay created as a humble home practice companion for learning some rhythms beyond triples:

Additional Drill Suggestions

Here are some drill suggestions to get you jamming. The drills move from simplest to more complex, so gain some comfort with each step before moving on to the next

  • Alternate between triples and military, 8 counts of each.
  • Perform triples while your arms are at table top, military while arms are overhead. Practice smoothing out your transition with your arms while maintaining the patterns.
  • Run through 8 counts of all four rhythms.
  • Perform the above drills while walking. Then try it with alternating step-touches.
  • Pair each of the four foundation movement families with one of the rhythms: Triples with hip bumps Military with Egyptian Beledi with shimmy Singles with Arabic Perform 8 counts of each rhythm with each movement.
  • Continue with previous drill until you feel comfortable with the move-pattern pairings; then randomize, mixing the moves around in different combinations, maintaining the rhythm pairings as you dance.

Bonus Rhythms

Ready for the next challenge? Here are a selection of other rhythms to play with when you feel ready. We don’t currently use these patterns in our improvisational performances, but we use these in our Old School Bellydance classes, and they can be used in performances as musical accompaniment, finger cymbal choreographies, and solo work. Each spans a four-count measure except where otherwise noted.

123 12345 12345
123 12345 1 123
5-5-5-5-512345 12345…
(5 sets of 5=2 measures = 8 counts)
123 12 12 12345


Additional Study Materials
Available in The Deep Roots Dance Shop

Shop for Finger Cymbal Study Materials