Have you ever wondered how to use a singing bowl? In this post, we provide a complete guide to playing a singing bowl using the most common methods. We also share several tips and tricks to make the singing bowl easier to play. Let's dive right in!
Many of our customers who are new to singing bowls come to us with questions about how to play their bowl. Playing a Tibetan singing bowl for the first time can be challenging, but with a little practice, it can be easy, fun and rewarding!
There are two ways to play a singing bowl. The first is to strike the side of the bowl with a mallet. The second is to rub the rim of the bowl with a mallet. In this blog post we explain each method more thoroughly as well as some advanced techniques you can also explore once you become more familiar with playing singing bowls.
Method 1: Striking
Striking is arguably the easiest way to play a singing bowl. This is a great introduction to playing the bowl and is suitable for all ages.
- Simply hold the bowl in the palm of your non-dominant hand, and the mallet in your dominant hand.
- Hold the mallet like a baton and lightly strike the bowl with the padded side of the mallet on the bowl’s mid-exterior wall.
- Striking the bowl will produce a pleasant, rich tone.
- We recommend striking the bowl once and letting the sound and vibrations fully dissipate before striking again.
Method 2: Rimming
This method can be more challenging but can easily be mastered with practice. If it is your first time attempting to play a singing bowl, anticipate practicing a few times before being able to master this technique. Patience is key!
- Begin in a relaxed seated position with a straight spine while maintaining a natural breath.
- Hold the bowl in the palm of your non-dominant hand, and the mallet in your dominant hand.
- This time, grip the mallet in the center with your forefinger and thumb like a pen with the padded end of the mallet gently resting in the web between the thumb and forefinger.
- Lightly strike the bowl on the mid-exterior wall to ‘warm-up’ the bowl and before the vibrations dissipate, immediately position the mallet vertically near the rim of the bowl and begin circling the rim in a clockwise motion. It is important to start circling the rim as soon as you make contact with it to start the singing. If you place the mallet against the rim without moving it, the initial sound from striking will be dampened and you will have difficulty making the bowl sing.
- Circle the bowl at least five times using a full-arm movement until you begin to hear the female overtone build. The circling motion is similar to stirring a pot and it’s important to keep the mallet vertical.
As the female overtone builds you can slow your speed and make firmer contact between the mallet and rim. As you continue, the female overtone will sound sweet and clear. It’s important to continue to apply pressure as the friction between the mallet and bowl produces vibrations which result in the singing sound.
You may also start circling the rim without first striking the bowl, however we find the vibrations produced by initially striking the bowl make it much easier to play for beginners. As you get the hang of it, you can experiment with different techniques.
Breaking in Your Mallet
When you receive your new Tibetan singing bowl, it comes with a mallet made of Himalayan hardwood with a padded surface. When you play your bowl with the rimming method, the friction of the mallet produces vibrations which result in sound. To start, the mallet will be smooth on both ends, but as you use it, it will begin to develop ‘micro-grooves’ which help grip the rim of the bowl better. We generally recommend playing your bowl with a new mallet for about five minutes to sufficiently break in the mallet. As you continue to use the mallet, you will notice the bowl has improved sound and is easier to play.
For a visual instruction on how to play a singing bowl, please see our video below. Like our video, you can place the bowl on a flat surface like a tabletop, cushion or carpet to play. Alternatively, you can also rest the bowl in the palm of your hand or on your fingertips as per the rimming instructions above. Holding the bowl can be easier and also feels amazing because you can feel the resonance from the bowl as it sings.
Water Bowl Sounds
Adding a small amount of water to the bowl produces a very special sound reminiscent of dolphins singing!
- Add about ¾ cup of water to the bowl being careful to not get any water on the rim or outside of the bowl.
- Play the bowl using the rimming method outlines above.
- Move the mallet away from the rim and let the bowl continue to sing.
- Tilt the bowl slightly so the water moves towards the rim. Continue tilting the bowl until the water begins to swirl.
- Afterwards be sure to empty the bowl and dry thoroughly.
Try this method with different amounts of water to see the different effects. Generally the least amount of water produces the most beautiful sound but the amount needed can vary depending on the size of the singing bowl.
Rimming with a Padded Mallet
You can also circle the bowl with the padded side of the mallet for a different sound. We love the sound of a singing bowl when played with the padded side of the mallet, but it can be more challenging. Follow the rimming method outlined above but hold the mallet with the padded side facing down and use a lighter pressure when circling the rim. This method will produce a more of a bass tone that is very pleasant and relaxing.
We invite you to get your own Tibetan singing bowl or crystal singing bowl today!
Did You Enjoy This Article?
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the following articles: Singing Bowl Meditation: The Complete Guide and Singing Bowls: Complete Guide
May 24, 2023 • Posted by Shanti Bowl
Hi Patti, thanks for your question! All our Tibetan singing bowls come with beautiful padded mallets, so you must have bought you bowl elsewhere. If you want a padded mallet please consider buying one of our bowls! Please click on the link at the top of our website entitled “Shop” to see our collection. Please let us know if you have any other questions!
May 24, 2023 • Posted by Patti Nichols
My mallet didn’t come with any padding can you tell me how I can additional my mallet?
Apr 14, 2022 • Posted by Ryan
I work in a factory with constant machinery noise. I find that after a long day, using my singing bowls helps to clear the noise and reset my mind.
Jan 10, 2022 • Posted by Shanti Bowl
Hi Beverly, thanks for your question! Given that the bowl will sing when on the cushion, it means that your bowl is fine and it’s just a matter of technique! Try to keep your hand completely flat so that the surface area touching the bowl is as small as possible, and then give that a try. Good luck!
Jan 10, 2022 • Posted by Beverly Bethea
Hello, my bowl will sing with the cushion but not in the palm of my hand. I have my hands and fingers flat and I’m not cupping the bowl. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Aug 20, 2021 • Posted by Shanti Bowl
Hi Robert, thanks for your question! Making a singing bowl sing with the padded part of the mallet can be more challenging than using the unpadded part, but please keep trying! The challenge makes it so much more rewarding when you finally make it sing. Good luck! :)
Aug 20, 2021 • Posted by Robert Burns
Wow, my little one sings fine when I used the unpadded portion of the mallet as you note, but is very difficult to get singing using the padded portion.
Mar 01, 2021 • Posted by Shanti Bowl
Hi Joan, thanks for your great question! Any time is a great time to play your singing bowl, but it depends on your particular needs and preferences. We find that playing a singing bowl can be quite relaxing and soothing, so we enjoy playing our singing bowl first thing in the morning as we wake up to greet the day as well as before bed at night. That said, some people find playing their singing bowl to be very energizing, and so they would use it in the morning and during the day but avoid it before bed. Experiment with your bowl and see what works best for you. We hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions!
Mar 01, 2021 • Posted by Joan david
When is the best time to play the tibetan singing bowl? In the morning, in the afterboon or in the even8ng?
Jan 19, 2021 • Posted by Shanti Bowl
Hi Tami, thanks so much for your question! Yes, you can absolutely treat your wooden mallet with a little bit of oil every now and then in order to keep it in tip top shape. This is especially a good idea if you live in a drier or less humid climate. Good luck and happy playing!
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